Ring of Honor is perhaps the closest thing to a third major professional wrestling company in North America (after WWE and TNA).Founded in February 2002, ROH began as a company to take the place of ECW for RF Video - the supplier's main stream of revenue. In 2004, thanks to dramatic Real Life happenings, RF Video and ROH went through a messy divorce, leaving the company with Cary Silkin as owner but leaving Gabe Sapolsky as booker/writer. In October 2008 Sapolsky was replaced by former ROH in-ring wrestler Adam Pearce. Pearce was later replaced by a team led by the wrestler Delirious and longtime wrestling booker Jim Cornette. In 2011, ROH was acquired ... but not by another promotion. They were instead, acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group, who bought it mainly to give themselves weekend programming on its large and growing chain◊ of The CW and MyNetworkTV stations (though other Sinclair stations with a big four network also carry it).Placing more importance on in-ring action than promos or storylines until recently, ROH is the alternative to TNA's alternative. It is also a breeding ground for new talent for TNA and WWE - World Champions Samoa Joe (TNA), CM Punk (WWE), Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) (WWE) and Austin Aries (TNA) all initially found fame in ROH, and a host of other names did the same. A number of ROH wrestlers have done tours in Japan with other promotions as well as vice versa; 2005 had the famous Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi match, which led to Kobashi's home company Pro Wrestling NOAH working with ROH for over three years, some ROH wrestler tours in NOAH, and eventually even a few ROH shows in Japan.The dedicated Internet fanbase are either affectionately or mockingly named ROHbots.ROH's former sister promotion, by way of sharing a booker, was Full Impact Pro, based in Florida. The FIP title has been brought to and defended on ROH events. As Gabe Sapolsky, the booker for each promotion, left both companies in October 2008, the relationship wound down, and FIP is now running pretty much on its own.As of 2011, ROH has been bought by Sinclair Broadcasting and now has a weekly TV show in markets where Sinclair owns a station, which is then broadcast online a few days later.The all-women promotion SHIMMER is featured off and on (mostly off since the Sinclair purchase) as ROH's play-by-play announcer Dave Prazak is SHIMMER's founder.As an addendum, Ring of Honor was prominently featured in The Wrestler as the promotion for Randy "The Ram" Robinson's 20th Anniversary rematch with The Ayatollah, and the match itself was filmed at a Ring of Honor show.
" Tropes of Honor":
Aborted Arc: The Pick Six contenders' series. Kevin Steen and Steve Corino's attempts to lure Tyler Black to their side. The latter got dropped when Black left the company.
Ascended Meme: Between Glory By Honor VIII and Supercard of Honor V, Austin Aries's matches included a "TWINKIES!" chant. At SCOH V, what would Aries give Delirious a peace offering? Well, Twin.. err, Golden Snack Cakes! The fans even responded with a "Golden Snack Cakes" chant, prompting a fitting quote from Aries:
Aries: "Oh, to be the puppeteer! Oh, to be the puppets!"
Ax-Crazy: Kevin Steen. Or until El Generico sent him packing.
Disqualifications, unclean finishes, under two minute squash matches? The ROH crowds hate that stuff.
TNA, for the live crowds. TNA and ROH shared some of their wrestlers back when both were starting out, but when TNA stopped the fans took it badly. Even years later, merely alluding to TNA's existence at an ROH show is guaranteed to start loud "Fuck TNA!" chants. Not helped by TNA rekindling hostilities through similar stunts later in time, though some of the wrestlers did come back, one way or another.
Boring Invincible Hero: A complaint frequently directed toward the Briscoe Brothers, especially by detractors of the promotion in general. This only applies to them as a team though.
Always common in wrestling, but special mention goes to Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer. After a run as tag champions, the two engaged in a hot year-long feud with each other - and while Jacobs reinvented himself with a fresh and innovative Emo Teen gimmick, Whitmer relied on bloodbath wrestling to keep his popularity up during their feud. While Whitmer seemed poised for greater things, especially during the feud with CZW, he completely lost his momentum and direction after taking a definitive loss to Jacobs - who went on to be successful as the leader of Age of the Fall.
Also seen with Age of the Fall in Jacobs' feud with Tyler Black- it propelled Black into the main event picture, while Jimmy's momentum was stunted.
Davey Richards was the Butt Monkey of the No Remorse Corps stable. Roderick Strong and Rocky Romero would frequently task him with watching their bags while they went bar-hopping, resulting in a particularly funny promo where Davey, at their urging, tried to ask out a girl with this oh-so-tempting offer:
Davey Richards: "Wanna watch bags with me?"
Even worse: Bobby Dempsey for Sweet 'n' Sour, Inc. Entire segments would be devoted to Larry Sweeney, Chris Hero, and Tank Toland abusing him in every way possible.
Senior referee Todd Sinclair will always be at the top of the Butt Monkey food chain.
CamelCase: Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly's team is called reDRagon.
Coconut Superpowers: More like Coconut Wealth. Prince Nana would constantly talk up the luxuries he was providing for his wrestlers and claiming that they had just flown in by helicopter; none of this was actually shown.
The defining trait of the promotion is the code. There have been two versions of it. The first:
1: You must shake hands before and after every match
2: No outside interference
3: No sneak attacks
4: No harming the officials
5: Any action resulting in a disqualification violates the Code of Honor.
Refusal to follow any part of the code could result in disciplinary action against the offending wrestler, 4 and 5 were particularly important, as violating them could lead to being dismissed from the promotion. Gabe Sapolsky eventually did away with the code however, when he felt there were too many wrestlers violating it to punish them all. After he was fired the code was reinstated but simplified and with no punishment for breaking it:
1: Shake hands before and after the match if you respect your opponent
2: Keep the playing-field level
3: Respect the officials.
The Comically Serious: A role frequently taken by anyone feuding with Colt Cabana, such as Homicide and Nigel McGuinness.
Commuting on a Bus: Ricky Reyes is a former Tag Team Champion along with Rocky Romero, but he has made sporadic appearances in the promotion since 2007.
With Shimmer and CZW often. Ring Of Honor also made some pretty big stars by having them defend the championship in other promotions. Formerly did these with FIP and TNA. The commentators will tell you where in the world their absent talent is currently performing too.
Other promotions extends to those across boarders and over seas. Ring Of Honor used to crossover with Dragon Gate to the point Dragon Gate wrestlers Naruki Doi and Shingo held the World Tag Team Championships. They also crossover over with NOAH and it resulted in Takeshi Morishima, holding the World Championship at the same time as the Dragon Gate Wrestlers. They continued to see Noah but less so with Dragon Gate. Global Wars and War of The Worlds featured collaboration with New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Jim Cornette got them to do some crossovers with OVW, to help that company get back on its feet after WWE severed ties with them and revived FCW. OVW has since had crossovers with Ring Of Honor's regular affiliates too, excepting 2011-2013 when TNA had decided to use OVW for developmental.
Determinator: Fighting Spirit is all over the place, but Nigel McGuinness's face character was nothing but this. (This would end up being part of the reason for his character sliding into becoming less popular and eventually turning heel).
Deep South: The Briscoe Brothers embody just about every nasty Southern stereotype in the book: they're drunkards, loud, reckless, ugly (Mark even lost two teeth, which fit in phenomenally well with their image), implied to be a little stupid, clad in Confederate flags, and they constantly brag about their exploits in bar brawls. Ironically, they're from Delaware and announced as such. They don't call it Slower Lower Delaware for nothing. Alexis Laree from Virginia had a noticeable Southern drawl and had come to Ring Of Honor to get away from the ridiculousness of other Northern promotions. Then there was AJ Styles from Georgia, who showed up on the third show and became Ring Of Honor's first pure wrestling champion.
Disproportionate Retribution: Homicide tried to murderColt Cabana in the ring three or four times over a few insensitive and borderline racist comments. You'd think the original parking lot beating would have been enough.
BJ Whitmer was written out of ROH after objecting to Sweet 'n' Sour Inc.'s takeover of the Hangm3n. The angle aired in clip form during a short highlight package on ROH PPV.
This also happened to The Resilience as a group. They lost most of their matches against the No Remorse Corps, most notably one where the loser of the fall was banned from ROH for 60 days. Not only did Matt Cross drop the fall, but Davey Richards injured Erick Stevens's arm in the post-match. At Glory By Honor VI: Night 2, Austin Aries quietly disbanded the group to put the final nail in..
Cornette gets a beat down from the rest of the Prophecy because he decided to shake the hands of AJ Styles and Homicide, who came together to defeat The Prophecy, after they had injured AJ's regular partner Amazing Red. Also Dan Maff, who wasn't a big fan of the Prophecy's lying ways. The whole stable was against the code of honor but couldn't help but show respect for The Great Muta.
Not even Tyler Black or Joey Matthews could contend with Jimmy Jacobs's harassment of Lacey.
After having blood feuds with Austin Aries and Delirious within that year, Roderick Strong stood right beside them (along with Kevin Steen) at the Sixth Anniversary Show when Nigel McGuinness attempted to get out of his title defense against Bryan Danielson by getting himself disqualified. This was the same Roderick Strong who won the FIP World Heavyweight Championship a week prior via countout, which was the same exact way Nigel would retain the Pure Championship.
Filler: At the time of its inception, Ring Of Honor was praised for trimming parts of the promos, brawls, entrances and such on their videos, shortening everything but the matches.
Final Battle: Well, duh. It's only the name of one of their biggest shows, and, since December 2009, their last PPV, of the year, after all.
Fix Fic: Delirious and Machismo King Jay Lethal redid the Ultimate Warrior/Randy Savage retirement match the way it should have gone. It was almost a spot of spot reproduction, excepting Delirious's inability to gorilla press as high as Warrior and one small change however.
Foreign Wrestling Heel: Subverted, as the foreign talent are usually the most popular wrestlers on a show, the ROHbots even took a liking to Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov. Played straight with "Very European" Claudio Castagnoli and Ares (who challenged for the World Title in Germany but is Swiss)
Fun with Acronyms: When Roderick Strong turned fully heel in 2010, it was largely because he had chosen to make Truth Martini his manager despite several faces telling him that Truth was just using him and manipulating him. Truth Martini, by the way, describes himself as a "Life Intervention Expert".
Gambit Pileup: This is the Jimmy Jacobs-Austin Aries feud in a nutshell.
BJ Whitmer earned himself the title of "smartest man in wrestling" by actually referring to an on-screen insult that Lacey made in his absence, defying the usual required Genre Blindness whereby wrestlers have no knowledge of segments in which they were not on screen.
Samoa Joe frequently got a big reaction by casually walking out of the way of a missile dropkick, and Colt Cabana similarly pulls off various tricks simply by taking advantage of his Genre Savviness.
Gorgeous George: Inverted by JAPW alumni the Christopher Street Connection. They claim to be openly gay yet openly harass the opposite sex if given the opportunity.
Jimmy Jacobs's last ROH appearance saw him getting hanged in the rafters by his legs; he debuted the Age of the Fall by doing the exact same thing to Jay Briscoe. Bonus points for both incidents being held in Chicago.
Kevin Steen began his feud with El Generico with a chair shot to the head. A year later, El Generico would send Kevin Steen packing from ROH with a chair shot to the head.
Jerkass: Probably the best way to describe CM Punk's color commentary. He took the opportunity to be an insufferable, arrogant asshole who made fun of absolutely everybody and used frequent Hypocritical Humor. With Punk's departure, Austin Aries became probably the biggest Jerkass in ROH.
Required in any wrestling organization, but Bryan Danielson probably deserves the most credit for his absolutely convincing Narm Charm "Best in the World" persona.
While Prince Nana's true authority is suspect, he does have a very authoritative presence voice.
The entirety of the original Sweet 'n' Sour, Inc. ensemble, with leading ham Larry Sweeney backed up by the showboating Chris Hero and "All-Natural Superior Athlete" Tank Toland, with Butt Monkey Bobby Dempsey sticking around as a target for their combined ham.
Lightning Bruiser: Former ROH champions Samoa Joe and Takeshi Morishima. Also the towering Swiss luchadore Claudio Castagnoli and the beer-gutted high flier Kevin Steen.
Power Stable: Usually at least two kicking around. The Second City Saints, Special K, The Prophecy, Lacey's Angels, The Rottweilers, Generation Next, The Embassy, The Carnage Crew, Age Of The Fall and S.C.U.M. for a sample. Many of them bled into other federations such as Pro Wrestling Unplugged, FIP, AAW, JAPW or Pro Wrestling Guerilla.
Put on a Bus: ROH sent Alex "Sugarfoot" Payne for more seasoning in the Pro Wrestling NOAH dojo.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Especially when main eventers up and leave for WWE. CM Punk's departure was probably the most dramatic, as he won the title in the match that was scheduled to be his last - unknown to the fans, Punk was actually still available for a half-dozen or so more appearances, and his performance as a Dirty CowardSmug Snake champion threatening to steal the belt and break the title's line of succession for his own ego has reached legendary status. An altered version of the storyline ran in WWE to critical acclaim, well, until they altered it too much.
El Generico against Kevin Steen and Steve Corino. Culminated with Generico knocking Steen out of Ring of Honor.
Homicide's "Road of Homicide" in 2006 against Adam Pearce (for serving Jim Cornette), the Briscoe Brothers (rivals since 2004), and Steve Corino (stemming from Homicide slapping Corino so hard, he caused Corino to go deaf in that ear) came before challenging Bryan Danielson at Final Battle '06.
Romantic False Lead: Colt Cabana to the Jimmy Jacobs — Lacey romance. Cabana was actually the face despite being a textbook Jerk Jock who was very condescending toward Jacobs...at least at first. Cabana eventually took a liking to Jacobs and encouraged him to ditch the manipulative Lacey, but Jacobs sided with Lacey anyway to cement himself as a true heel (whereas before that he was more like a face working for a heel).
Serious Business: Aside from the near-mandatory use of the trope in pro wrestling, ROH is known for bragging about being far more Serious than WWE and TNA.
Smug Snake: CM Punk and Nigel McGuinness as World Champion. Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli filled this role as tag champions, but Hero quickly became far too lovable in his Large Ham role after breaking up with Claudio to fulfill his Smug duties.
If someone is picking on ROH without ever seeing it, expect them to accuse the promotion of being nothing but Spot Monkeys. As is, ROH was home to the Special K stable, which served as a Lampshade Hanging on the concept - their gimmick was that they were a bunch of barely-trained and coked out kids who could do nothing but fancy flips.
There was also an incident involving Teddy Hart showing off everything wrong with the style - see the Spot Monkey page for details.
Strictly Formula: Due to the promotion having a lot of well balanced (to the point of being generic at times) wrestlers, a lot of their matches have a very similar structure, around five minutes at the beginning of the wrestlers locking up and exchanging amateur throws and pins, then one wrestler starts using high impact maneuvers, both wrestlers will work a body part as they trade momentum this all concludes with a series of near-falls with a climactic finish. Which is a nice structure...if they don't use it. All. The. Time. Roderick Strong is especially guilty of this.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Tank Toland, notable for being a dwarf of a wrestler with an outrageously muscular physique that everybody knew was steroid-enhanced, turned the "Ste-roids!" chants into an Insult Backfire by proclaiming himself an "All-Natural Superior Athlete!"
Tag Team: The Backseat Boyz, The Murder City Machine Guns, The Briscoe Brothers, The Havana Pitbulls, The American Wolves, Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team, The All Night Express, Alabama Attitude, reDRagon, Forever Hooligans, The Young Bucks (AKA, Generation Me), Adrenalin Rush, The C&C Wrestle Factory, Outlaw Inc.
Take That: Subtly, but if you know Ring Of Honor's history you know exactly what taglines such as "The Real Wrestling Alternative" or "We Don't Imitate, We Innovate" are referring to.
After being the Butt Monkey of the No Remorse Corps and experiencing Badass Decay as a result, Davey Richards is not to be fucked with in 2010.
Can also apply to his tag partner, Eddie Edwards. Existing mainly as a jobber in 2007 and 2008, Eddie joined up with Davey as the American Wolves in early 2009. He quickly went from bland nobody to total badass, culminating in a legendary weekend where he broke his elbow on Friday, then wrestled a ladder match the next night. The ROH fanbase were completely won over by that, and Edwards has had an amazing 2010, becoming the first Television Champion.
This culminated with Edwards winning his first ROH World Championship on March 19, 2011, also becoming the first ever recognized Triple Crown Champion in Ring of Honor.
On June 26, 2011, both men met in the main event of Best in the World 2011 for the World Title. It was an epic, 36 minute Match of the Year candidate that showed just how effective that level they took was.
The Undefeated: Lacey's Angels were largely made up of Special K's gone sober (Izzy, Deranged, Cloudy, Cheech) starting with The Lovely Lacey herself.
Weak, but Skilled: How many of the wrestlers are billed due to the fact that the roster is much smaller, on average, than WWE's. Bryan Danielson and Jimmy Jacobs were probably the epitome of the trope, both being average (Danielson) or tiny (Jacobs) but eschewing the high-flying tactics of most wrestlers their size. Jushin Thunder Liger, draws attention to this trope when the larger wrestlers mock the petite Cheeseburger, insisting he will train him to be skilled enough to make up for the difference.
5/22/2004 - Generation Next: Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, Jack Evans, and Roderick Strong all made their debuts by destroying Special K, The Christopher Street Connection, The Ring Crew Express, John Walters, and Jimmy Rave. They also had enough in them to beat Special K in a trios match, and then the team of the Briscoes, Walters, and Rave in an eight-man tag later on.
2/17/2007 - Fifth Year Festival: Philadelphia - Takeshi Morishima unseats Homicide to become the new ROH World Champion less than two months after Homicide's title win at Final Battle 2006.
The Unscripted shows fall into this - Unscripted: The Prophecy wins all of the belts on ROH with Xavier defeating Low Ki for the World Title, and Christopher Daniels and Donovan Morgan defeating Michael Modest and Bryan Danielson to become the first ever Tag Champions. Unscripted II has the one night return of CM Punk. Unscripted 3: Jimmy Jacobs scores a clean win over Bryan Danielson.
Wrestling Psychology: Critics have always said Ring Of Honor showcased kids fresh out of wrestling academies who haven't learned their psychology because that can only be learned first hand in the ring. Of course, one of the main reasons for the promotion's existence was to showcase the best wrestlers in the world, always having a good sampling of veteran talent. Mainstays of the ROH roster included plenty who had been wrestling for a decade or longer, e.g. Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, Colt Cabana, Christopher Daniels, Roderick Strong, Homicide, El Generico, Kenny King, Rhett Titus, Steve Corino, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas, and the Briscoes. Still Dave Meltzer has long maintained that all ROH main events are "one or two kick outs too many" from a great match. In that there tends to be a ludicrous series of near falls before the final pin.