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|Headquarters||Bristol, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|Key people||Cary Silkin – President|
Ross Abrams - Executive
|Parent||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
|Headquarters||Bristol, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|Key people||Cary Silkin – President|
Ross Abrams - Executive
|Parent||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
Ring of Honor (ROH) is an American professional wrestling promotion, founded in 2002 by Rob Feinstein and Gabe Sapolsky. From 2002 to 2011, the promotion was under the ownership of Cary Silkin before being sold to the Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG), an American telecommunications company that operates the largest number of local television stations in the United States, in May 2011.
ROH currently runs shows each month throughout the country. It has also held shows in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada. Annual shows include the Anniversary Show, "Supercard of Honor", "Border/Global Wars" (held annually in Toronto), "Death Before Dishonor", "Glory by Honor", and "Final Battle" (the last show of the calendar year). Tournaments on a semiannual basis include Survival of the Fittest and Tag Wars, while the Top Prospect Tournament is held annually since 2011 (with the exception being 2012).
ROH records the majority of its shows and sells them on DVD through mail order and through its online store, which has developed a fanbase for the promotion in the United States and beyond. In 2009, ROH signed a television deal with HDNet, which aired shows every week until 2011. As of September 2011, ROH's flagship broadcast Ring of Honor Wrestling has been syndicated by parent company Sinclair Broadcasting, and airs on Sinclair owned stations across the country.
ROH cards are also broadcast on The Fight Network in Canada, on Samurai TV in Japan, and previously aired in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Select shows are broadcast as internet pay-per-views on ROH's website.
ROH was featured in the 2008 film The Wrestler, where it promotes the final bout of the film between Randy "The Ram" Robinson (played by Mickey Rourke) and The Ayatollah (played by Ernest "The Cat" Miller).
In April 2001, the pro wrestling video-distribution company RF Video needed a new promotion to lead its video sales when its best-seller — Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) — went out of business, and the rights to its brandname were purchased by WWE. RF Video also videotaped events held by other, less-popular, regional wrestling promotions; it sold these through its catalog and website. After months of trying to join CZW, RF Video's owner, Rob Feinstein, decided to fill the ECW void by starting his own pro wrestling promotion, and distributing its made-for-DVD/VHS productions exclusively through RF Video. The first event, titled The Era of Honor Begins, took place on February 23, 2002 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the former home area of ECW. It featured nine matches, including a match between Eddy Guerrero and Super Crazy for the IWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship; and, a triple threat match between Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson and Low Ki (who would become known as the "founding fathers of ROH"). In its first year of operation, Ring Of Honor confined itself to staging live events in a limited number of venues and cities — primarily in the northeastern U.S.A. Ten shows were run in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; two in Wakefield, Massachusetts; one in metro Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and, one in Queens, New York. In 2003, ROH expanded to other areas of the United States, including Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland. It also began to build its international identity by co-promoting an event with Frontier Wrestling Alliance in London, England.
In 2004, Feinstein was caught in an internet-based sting operation, in which he allegedly tried to solicit sex on the internet from a person that he thought to be an underage boy (but was actually an adult, posing as a minor). After this was publicized by some news outlets, Feinstein resigned from ROH in June 2004. In the aftermath of the scandal, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) ended its talent-sharing agreement with Ring of Honor, abruptly withdrawing all of its contracted wrestlers from their prior commitments to perform in ROH shows—including major ROH draws A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels, who each either held or were about to hold ROH championships. Doug Gentry eventually bought Feinstein's stake in ROH, and later sold it to Cary Silkin. ROH then started its own mail-order and online store operations, which sell DVDs of its live events, plus shoot interviews with wrestlers and managers—even some competitors' wrestling-related merchandise.
On January 23, 2007, ROH announced plans for a Japanese tour, resulting in a July 16 show in Tokyo co-promoted with Pro Wrestling Noah and a July 17 show in Osaka co-promoted with Dragon Gate. Shortly after, ROH became the first U.S.-based promotion to have its titles held entirely by non-American wrestlers: the Dragon Gate team of Naruki Doi and Shingo held the ROH World Tag Team Championship while at the same time their fellow-countryman, Pro Wrestling Noah star Takeshi Morishima, held the ROH World Championship.
On May 2, 2007, Ring of Honor announced the signing of a PPV and VOD deal with G-Funk Sports & Entertainment to bring ROH into homes with In Demand Networks, TVN, and the Dish Network. The deal called for six taped pay-per-view events to air every 60 days. Because of the move to pay-per-view, TNA Wrestling immediately pulled its contracted stars (Austin Aries and Homicide) from ROH shows, although TNA performers have since returned to the company. The first pay-per-view, titled "Respect is Earned", taped on May 12, first aired on July 1 on Dish Network.
Ring of Honor continued to expand throughout 2008, debuting in Orlando, Florida on March 28 for Dragon Gate Challenge II, in Manassas, Virginia on May 9 for Southern Navigation and in Toronto, Ontario on July 25 for Northern Navigation. On May 10, 2008, Ring of Honor set an attendance record in its debut show, A New Level, from the Hammerstein Ballroom in the Manhattan Center in New York City. It had plans for shows in St. Louis, Missouri, Nashville, Tennessee, and Montreal before the end of 2008. On October 26, 2008, the company announced the departure of head booker Gabe Sapolsky, and his replacement by Adam Pearce.
On January 26, 2009, Ring of Honor announced that it had signed an agreement with HDNet Fights for a weekly television program. The first tapings for Ring of Honor Wrestling took place on February 28 and March 1, 2009 at The Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After nearly a year of producing weekly television broadcasts, ROH announced on January 20, 2010 that it would commission a new title, the ROH World Television Championship, to be decided in an eight-man tournament beginning February 5, 2010 and ending February 6, 2010 on its Ring of Honor Wrestling program. Due to a North American blizzard, however, the second half of the tournament did not take place until March 5, 2010, when Eddie Edwards defeated Davey Richards in the finals.
On August 15, 2010, Ring of Honor fired head booker Adam Pearce and replaced him with Hunter Johnston, who wrestles for the company under the ring name Delirious. On September 8, 2010, Ring of Honor and Ohio Valley Wrestling announced a working relationship between the two companies.
On January 11, 2011, Ring of Honor announced the ending of Ring of Honor Wrestling, after the completion of the promotion's two-year contract with HDNet. The final tapings of the show would be taking place on January 21 and 22, with the final episode airing on April 4, 2011.
On May 21, 2011, Ring of Honor and Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that the broadcast carrier had purchased ROH. Former ROH owner, Cary Silkin, has remained with the company in an executive role. The promotion's programming began airing on September 24, 2011 on Sinclair stations, mainly in weekend primetime on their CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates, which are not programmed by those networks.
Throughout its history, Ring of Honor has had various working agreements with international wrestling promotions. Some of these promotions have included; All Japan Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Zero1, Pro Wrestling Noah and most recently New Japan Pro Wrestling. In the past, ROH shows have had international championships defended on them and on some occasions, wrestlers have held ROH and international championships simultaneously (such as the current ROH World/IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks). In February 2014, ROH and NJPW announced a pair of supershows, Global Wars and War of the Worlds, that will be taking place in May 2014, in Toronto and New York City respectively.
ROH distinguished its image from other wrestling promotions through the "Code of Honor", a set of rules dictating how wrestlers should conduct themselves during matches. The Code of Honor aimed to infuse Ring of Honor's matches with a feel similar to Japanese professional wrestling. Initially, the Code of Honor included five "Laws", mentioned at some point during each ROH production. ROH considered it a moral requirement to follow these rules, which usually appeared in the following order:
The Code of Honor (especially its first three rules) helped heels get over more quickly than in other promotions. The first rule applied especially to Christopher Daniels, whom the promotion pushed as its first major heel. Daniels and his faction, The Prophecy, rejected the Code of Honor and refused to shake anyone's hand. The fourth and fifth rules emphasized the finishes of ROH matches — the vast majority of which ended decisively (with clean pinfalls, submissions, or knockouts) — unlike what most rival promotions at the time did. On the rare occasion that a match did end with outside interference, with a "ref bump", or with some other traditional heel scenario, the live audiences reacted much more negatively than rival promotions' live audiences. In ROH's early days, on-air commentators even suggested (within kayfabe) that getting disqualified in a match may result in that wrestler never appearing in ROH again.
In early 2004, ROH's booker at the time, Gabe Sapolsky, began to feel that the Code of Honor had run its course. As a result, wrestlers no longer had to follow it. The Code of Honor eventually re-appeared — revamped — as three rules:
Originally, Ring of Honor had no formal way to determine challengers for its World Championship. When Xavier, a heel champion, began to avoid challengers, Ring of Honor set up a "Top Five Ranking" system to establish contenders to the title. It ranked wrestlers based on their general win-loss record, and on their win-loss record against other ranked competitors. The top contender held the Number One Contender's Trophy, which the company treated as a second championship at the time, and defended as such.
ROH abolished the ranking-system with the appearance of the new Code of Honor (See Above). The ranking system disappeared, replaced by the "Contenders Ring", a more complex polling system whereby ROH officials would submit rankings after each show. Wrestlers who appeared on more than 75% of the ballots were considered to be in the Contenders Ring, which earned them title shots for both the World and Pure Championships.
In January 2005, Ring of Honor did away with the Contenders Ring. Instead, wrestlers who wanted a title shot had to submit a petition to ROH officials. After receiving such a petition, ROH officials kept track of the petitioner's record, quality of opposition, respect shown towards the Code of Honor, and inherent skill. These factors determined who would receive a title shot. Despite the petition system, ROH officials retained the ability to determine number-one contenders.
Upon the naming of Jim Cornette as ROH Commissioner in October 2005, Ring of Honor management confirmed the return of the "Top Five Ranking" system. Cornette and other ROH officials voted on the "Top 5" only during the first week of every month. Selection depended on won/lost record and quality of opposition, with a heavy emphasis on the previous month.
In July 2006, Ring of Honor again dropped the "Top 5" concept, as it had not consistently determined ROH World Title challengers. The champion at the time, Bryan Danielson, had instead sent open contracts to wrestlers in other promotions around the world, with ROH officials also choosing contenders from within the company. Subsequent champion Homicide would continue Danielson's policy, eventually losing the title to Takeshi Morishima from Pro Wrestling Noah. After Morishima won the belt, it seemed that he could choose his challengers, as he defended it (with ROH and Noah approval) at Noah's show on March 4, 2007, at Budoukan Hall against KENTA.
On Jim Cornette's return to ROH in 2009, the promotion re-implemented a ranking system – called the "Pick Six" – for contenders for a world championship. A tournament was held during Ring of Honor Wrestling tapings on November 5 and 6 to determine the first six members of the Pick Six, and each winner also received a cash bonus courtesy of HDNet. Once the Pick Six was implememted, ROH announced that only wrestlers ranked in the Pick Six would be eligible to challenge for the ROH World Championship, although contenders to the championship can still be determined via a special bout or official ruling, for example ROH's annual "Toronto Gauntlet" earns the winner a championship match. The higher a wrestler is seeded in the "Pick Six", the more leverage he has in determining the scheduling of championship matches. Wrestlers can only enter the Pick Six Standings by defeating a ranked wrestler. An unranked wrestler that defeats a Pick Six Contender assumes that wrestler's rank and the other wrestlers all move down one rank. If a ranked wrestler defeats a higher seeded wrestler, the winner assumes that seeding in the Pick Six, while the losing wrestler and those ranked lower drop one rank. ROH later added more rules to the Pick Six, including the right to remove a wrestler from the ranking due to inactivity. This rule is known as the "Castagnoli Rule", after wrestler Claudio Castagnoli, who was stripped of his seeding. ROH later decreed that wrestlers in the Pick Six who receive and lose consecutive championship matches will be removed from the rankings. The Pick Six was discontinued in the autumn of 2010.
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won||Days|
|ROH World Championship||Adam Cole||1||September 20, 2013||261||11||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Death Before Dishonor XI||Jay Briscoe|
|ROH World Tag Team Championship||reDRagon|
(Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish)
|3||May 17, 2014||22||1||New York, New York||ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds||The Young Bucks|
(Matt and Nick Jackson)
|ROH World Television Championship||Jay Lethal||2||April 4, 2014||65||3||Westwego, Louisiana||Supercard of Honor VIII||Tommaso Ciampa|
|Championship||Final Champion(s)||Defeated||Date Won||Location||Event|
|ROH Pure Championship||Bryan Danielson||Nigel McGuinness||August 12, 2006||Liverpool, England||Unified|
The ROH promotion also runs a professional wrestling school, the "ROH Wrestling Academy" in Bristol, Pennsylvania. As of 2009[update], Delirious and Daizee Haze operate as head trainers of the school; previous head trainers of the academy include former ROH World Champions CM Punk, Austin Aries, and Bryan Danielson. As of 2009[update], three classes of students had already graduated and started wrestling on the US independent circuit, including in preliminary and exhibition matches at Ring of Honor events. From 2005 to 2008, ROH used a "Top of the Class" trophy to promote the students on the main show; while wrestlers win and lose the Trophy in matches, the School's head trainer chooses the winners.
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