Ring of Honor Wrestling (ROH) is, in many ways, a successor to Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) as a breeding ground for new, young talent and a home for those that may not fit a mold created by Vince McMahon and the WWE. Times have changed, ECW was a product of a different generation but their contributions to the wrestling industry mirror those of Ring of Honor today.
Launched by RF Video in 2002 to create marketable video content following the demise of ECW, Ring of Honor quickly established itself as the No. 1 independent wrestling promotion in North America by featuring an all-star lineup of emerging stars. Much like ECW had been, ROH became a place for young wrestlers to establish themselves in front of a wider audience, network with colleagues and hone their craft in an attempt to become mainstream stars in the WWE or TNA.
Over the years ECW provided a platform for the likes of Mick Foley, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Raven and the Dudley Boyz. Ring of Honor has done the same for the likes of CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Antonio Cesaro, Austin Aries, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins. Unofficially and independently, ECW were and ROH are regarded as a development territory for larger promotions, WWF/WCW during the Monday Night Wars and WWE/TNA in today’s modern era.
While comparable to ECW in their purpose and place within the wrestling industry, Ring of Honor has ironically experienced a similar fate to WCW when owner Cary Silken sold ROH to Sinclair Broadcasting Group that operates the largest number of local TV stations in the United States. Similarly WCW, then Jim Crockett Promotions, was sold to Ted Turner in the late 1980’s to become a ratings juggernaut on TBS and TNT.
ECW was considered the No. 3 wrestling promotion in North America, a position now held by Ring of Honor. As they continue to carve their niche in the marketplace 11 years after their inception, Ring of Honor continues to produce the next generation of talent, exposing them to a wider audience than smaller independent promotions can provide. Many current ROH stars are poised for bigger and better things including current champion Adam Cole, Michael Elgin, Mike Bennett and Tomasso Ciampa. It’s worth mentioning that former ROH star El Generico now known as Sami Zayn is getting rave reviews in WWE’s development system, NXT.
Those that don’t fit the mold have also found a home in ROH, just as ECW provided a home for similar talent in the 1990’s. WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan never fit the WWE mold but the experience gained in ROH combined with passion and drive overcame those obstacles just as Mick Foley or the Dudley Boyz had done in ECW. Today ROH features several wrestlers that wouldn’t necessarily cut the mustard with WWE czar, Vince McMahon. The infinitely talented Jay and Mark Briscoe as well as the ever popular Kevin Steen come to mind.
Comparatively, the in-ring product that ROH produces and the one ECW used to produce are very different. Their position in and contributions to the professional wrestling industry, however, are very much the same. If you’re interested in watching tomorrow’s superstars today it’s worth seeking out Ring of Honor Wrestling on any number of Sinclair Broadcasting TV stations, just be sure to check your local listings!