Ring of Honor’s flagship pay-per-view event Final Battle served as a goodbye for company cornerstones—sans Marty Scurll—The Elite. With All Elite Wrestling set to change the landscape of wrestling, ROH’s recent moves show that they’re not going to miss out on locking down top independent names in 2019.
The Elite have been at the forefront of Ring of Honor’s programming for years, aided by the promotion’s years-long partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling and the popularity of The Elite’s former group, Bullet Club. The collaboration has resulted in multiple dream matches and increased exposure for both promotions.
However, one of the top complaints towards Ring of Honor was that its booking has been heavily centered around New Japan, making its homegrown talent look like afterthoughts in the process.
Dalton Castle’s long-awaited coronation as ROH World Champion was swiftly overshadowed by Bullet Club, namely the brewing power struggle between Kenny Omega and Cody. By the time Castle lost the title, it was clear that his momentum was in shambles.
In recent years, ROH has been criticized for failing to properly utilize the prospects they’ve had or aggressively pursue the potential next-big-things floating around the independent circuit.
This has caused them to miss the boat on the likes of Keith Lee, Cedric Alexander, ACH, Tommaso Ciampa, Lio Rush and others.
In 2019, the wrestling scene on a national scale is the most robust it has been in decades with ROH, WWE, Impact Wrestling, the newly formed AEW and the recently revived MLW.
For the wrestlers, it gives them multiple venues to increase their notoriety. For management, it means there is a crowded race to sign top-level free agents to exclusive deals.
WWE snagging ROH talent on expiring contracts is nothing new, but the formation of All Elite Wrestling meant Ring of Honor was going to take some big losses.
ROH—realizing this—has become more aggressive in signing talent than arguably ever.
PCO and Brody King—now both members of Marty Scurll’s “Villain Enterprises”—were among the first to sign with the promotion. The signing spree continued as ROH added young luchador standout Bandido and United Kingdom independent standout, Mark Haskins who announced the news on Twitter last month.
“Darewolf” PJ Black, former Evolve mainstay “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, Los Ingobernables leader Rush were all recently confirmed to be a part of Ring of Honor’s roster for 2019. These pickups are likely not the end of ROH’s free agent purge but already, the promotion has put itself in a good place.
Rush and Bandido bring a lucha libre flair to ROH that has helped MLW stand out since its return. Fans get to witness the growth of Mark Haskins, Tracy Williams and Brody King, all of whom possess the potential to be key players. PJ Black and PCO add a strong veteran presence to an increasingly loaded roster.
At first, it was unclear how Ring of Honor would respond to losing The Elite, but the moves they’ve made since have put them on pace for an exciting 2019.