Here's Where ROH's Best Wrestlers Should Go Next
Wrestling fans were hit with some shocking news on October 27, 2021, when it was revealed that Ring of Honor would be going on a long hiatus after its Final Battle event in December.
Plans have now been put in place by ROH to reinvent the company’s image and pivot to a new approach that will hopefully make it relevant again. It’s hard to be inspired by those plans when you learn that all of ROH’s contracted talent will be released from their contracts at the end of the year, however. With a roster full of some of the best wrestlers on the planet, it’s pretty heartbreaking to learn that they’ll be released from the home company they represented so proudly through the pandemic. While they’ll certainly get on their feet thanks to incoming offers from independent companies such as PWG and GCW, they’ll be without exclusive contracts from the major wrestling feds at the time being. Eventually, those premiere wrestling organizations will send out feelers to ROH’s released talent in a bid to bolster their rosters.
As someone that’s followed ROH since its inception and taken a liking to its current roster of superstars, I put together a list of the very best and where I’d like for them all to sign with next once the ball drops to mark the start of a new year.
1. Bandido - All Elite Wrestling
Bandido is one of the most electrifying luchadors on the wrestling scene. Every time he steps through those ropes, you just know you’re in for something extra special. His high-flying antics are crisp and his surprising strength has regularly left my jaw on the floor. At this year’s Best in the World, Bandido pulled off his biggest accomplishment to date when he bested Rush for the ROH Championship. It’s pretty criminal how Bandido’s reign has been super lowkey since it’s taken place within the confines of the ROH bubble that puts on shows in front of no fans. Even still, he continues to produce amazing performances against the rest of the competition.
Out of all of ROH’s wrestlers, Bandido is one of their biggest free agents. At All In, Bandido competed in the main event alongside fellow Lucha Libre superstars Rey Mysterio and Rey Fénix. And now that AEW is prospering as the second-largest wrestling company in the world, I’d love to see him resurface and mix it up with the likes of Andrade El Idolo, Penta El Zero M, and Fénix. Dream matches with Kenny Omega, Jungle Boy, and Bryan Danielson also stick out as the sort of bouts I’d love to see from Bandido if he joined AEW.
2. The Briscoes (Jay and Mark Briscoe) - Impact Wrestling
When you consider the longevity of The Briscoe Brothers’ ROH run, it’s pretty insane. They’ve been there from the very start and have hung around long enough to prosper within every era of the promotion. Jay and Mark Briscoe have practically grown up in front of my very eyes during their storied tenure - watching them actually wrestle each other and eventually develop into one of the best tag teams in the world has been a dream. Now when it comes to them competing outside of ROH, the reason for that is simple - Jay sent out a homophobic tweet a while ago that pretty much kept the sibling duo relegated to ROH and plummeted their chances of joining the bigger wrestling feds.
Now with all that being said, I don’t think WWE or AEW will consider signing them at this point in time. And to be honest, I could totally envision Impact Wrestling being the ones giving The Briscoes an offer over anybody else. Let’s keep it a stack, y’all - for some reason, Impact has a penchant for signing some of the more, let’s say, “controversial” picks in the wrestling industry (Michael Elgin, Moose, and Tessa Blanchard immediately come to mind). Seeing Impact take a chance on The Briscoes sounds like a safe bet if you ask me? Even with Jay’s past Tweet still placing him in hot water, Impact could still be the one that brings him and his brother into the fray.
3. Brody King - All Elite Wrestling
Brody King scares the ever-loving shit outta me! The dude looks like he would have fit right at home with the likes of “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Stan “The Lariat” Hansen, and Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy during their epic All Japan Pro Wrestling run. In this day and age, Brody grabs everyone’s attention due to his impressive stature and tatted-up appearance. Thank god he has the quality in-ring skills needed to match his intimidating aura.
Now if you’ve been paying attention to PWG’s recent shows, then you already know that Brody and Malakai Black captured the company’s tag team titles under the awesome name of “The Kings of the Black Throne.” I’m dying to see that indy act make its way onto primetime TV. And since “The House of Black” exists within AEW with its leader as its sole member, I think it’d be amazing to see Brody pop up to bolster its roster. AEW’s booking of big men has definitely been spotty at best (Lance Archer and Brian Cage should be doing a lot more, in my opinion). But I think Brody’s chances of succeeding in AEW are high since his alignment with Malakai would keep him in the Dynamite/Rampage mix on a weekly basis.
4. Dalton Castle - Impact Wrestling
If there’s one thing I’ll always lament about ROH, it’s the fact that they have a bad habit of never really striking while the iron is hot when it’s time to crown a new World Champion. It took far too long for the fed to put the big strap on Nigel McGuinness, Tyler Black, and the man I’m about to speak of here. When Dalton Castle finally captured the belt at Final Battle 2017, I cheered my ass off! But I still felt like this moment should have happened much sooner.
Dalton’s lingering back issues sadly hampered his reign and brought him down a peg on the ROH ladder. Today’s Dalton may be forced to wear a back brace during competition, but it hasn’t kept him from keeping me enthralled thanks to his outlandish entrance and suplex-filled repertoire. I feel like Dalton would fit Impact like a glove - the company’s usage of colorful characters and the way it showcases them via its more light-hearted backstage segments would do wonders for wrestling’s beloved peacock. Dalton’s act would mesh so well with the likes of Johnny Swinger, No Way, and Zicky Dice. Plus Dalton’s amateur wrestling background would definitely prove fruitful if it was ever pitted against Josh Alexander!
5. Danhausen - Impact Wrestling
Danhausen’s appeal as a humor-filled madman has earned him quite the fervent fanbase. His recognizable face paint, the reoccurring act of throwing human teeth at his opponents, and the supernatural abilities he believes he has have made Danhausen an indie darling. Seeing as how Impact helped give rise to the twisted universe of “Broken” Matt Hardy, I think Danhausen could really prop up his career within Impact. His big fan following is already in place and I’m sure all the zany antics he employs in the ring would get over within the Impact environment. With the Decay running wild in the company, Danhausen could match up really well with them and add his own batshit insane hijinks to the ongoing stable. For some reason, I could totally see Danhausen and Ace Austin putting on a better-than-expected matchup with the proper time given to it.
6. Dragon Lee - New Japan Pro Wrestling
ROH’s collection of Lucha Libre talent has been bolstered to impressive levels in recent years. One of the standout superstars from that corner of the company is the great Dragon Lee, who’s already won the company’s World Television and World Tag Team Championships thus far. His alignment with the La Faccion Ingobernable stable allowed him to flourish as a super cocky heel and show a bit more of his character work in the ring.
Before he focused on wrestling for ROH, Lee wowed audiences in New Japan thanks to his amazing feud with Hiromu Takahashi. Now’s the time for Lee to return to the NJPW brand and try his hand at dominating its Junior Heavyweight division once again. Lee could do great things within NJPW’s American arm for the time being and put on some bangers with Will Ospreay, TJ Perkins, and Robbie Eagles. And once NJPW starts flying in talent from the States once again, Lee could hop on a plane to fly over to Japan and amaze the company’s homegrown audience once again.
7. Flamita - Major League Wrestling
Flamita may have started out in ROH as a beloved babyface. But now, he’s fully embraced the dark side and renamed himself “Demonic Flamita.” And ever since he made that change, Flamita has turned into a fiercer foe for anyone and everyone on the ROH roster. His non-ROH work has been pretty fun to watch as well (please seek out Malakai Black and Brody King vs Demonic Flamita and Black Taurus from PWG Threemendous VI!). Once Flamita’s ROH contract comes up, I’d prefer if he made his stay in Major League Wrestling. MLW has a roster full of equally talented Lucha Libre wrestlers, such as LA Park, Hijo De La Park, and Puma King. Flamita could have amazing matches with them, plus he could produce some magic with the likes of Gringo Loco, TJP, and Matt Cross.
8. Flip Gordon - Major League Wrestling
FLIP! FLIP! FLIP! One of the homegrown guys that have risen up the ROH ranks is the high-flyer known as Flip Gordon. The military veteran came into the company as a babyface and eventually morphed into a badass heel mercenary for hire. He soon reverted back to being a lovable good guy and continues to tap into his arsenal of awe-inspiring maneuvers and mixes it all in with some slick submission work. I truly feel like Flip’s act would get over real well within the confines of MLW. His moveset would deliver plenty of shock and awe within the confines of the Middleweight Division. On the dream match front, I’d pay all the money in the world to watch Flip try his luck against Myron Reed, Davey Richards, and even Yoshihiro Tajiri!
9. Jay Lethal - All Elite Wrestling
When all is said and done, ROH fans will always place Jay Lethal at the very top of the list when the best World Television champions within the company are mentioned. Jay’s heel swerve and his association with Truth Martini & “The House of Truth” did wonders for Jay’s second run within the fed that gave him his start. He eventually captured the ROH World Championship and fulfilled his destiny as one of the very best to ever do it. Jay made waves in Impact Wrestling, but the company sadly let him go instead of pushing him further to the top of the ladder.
Now it makes all the sense in the world for Jay to ply his trade with the second hottest wrestling company in the world - All Elite Wrestling. Jay’s the type of talent that deserves to flourish on prime-time TV these days. His excellent in-ring acumen could work well in tandem with the majority of AEW’s roster. Watching him rekindle his beef with Cody Rhodes and possibly lock horns with Kenny Omega sounds like the type of matches I’d love to see. Jay can be a huge asset in a singles role and even do great things as a member of a very slept-on tag team with the next pick on this list...
10. Jonathan Gresham - All Elite Wrestling
ROH’s resident “Octopus” can take over any part of his opponent’s body and work it until they just can’t endure the pain being done to them anymore. Jonathan Gresham has blossomed into one of the very best technical wrestlers on the scene today - he proved that with his strong tournament run and ultimate victory that led to him winning the revived Pure Championship. Alongside Jay Lethal, Jonathan opened more eyes to his potential as an amazing tag team wrestler when he captured the Tag Team Championship from the Briscoes.
If I’m Tony Khan, I’m getting Jonathan on the phone immediately and presenting him with a worthy contract offer. Why, you ask? Because there’s money to be made and big ratings to pull in by announcing Jonathan vs. Bryan Danielson, Lee Moriarty, Pac, and CM Punk. There are also some huge opportunities in place for AEW if they ever put Jonathan & Jay back together to compete against FTR, The Lucha Bros, and The Young Bucks. Jonathan’s a national treasure that needs more eyes on him and his brutal submission work. AEW’s the perfect place for that to happen.
11. Josh Woods - Major League Wrestling
Josh “The Goods” Woods is a very scary individual - his collegiate amateur wrestler and MMA training credentials present him a force to be reckoned with whenever he’s in the ring. As the current holder of the Pure Championship, Josh has proven to be an essential member of the ROH roster. He’s grown in front of my very eyes thanks to his career-defining feud with Silas Young. And now he’s doing great work as the face of the Pure Division. MLW needs to scoop up Josh as soon as they get the chance to do so. His legit skills and character that exudes a ton of believability go hand in hand with much of the company’s roster. Josh has the in-ring acumen needed to mesh well with the likes of Alex Hammerstone, Jacob Fatu, Davey Richards, TJP, etc.
12. Rey Horus - Impact Wrestling
When Lucha Underground was still a thing, one of its many highlights was the Lucha Libre wizardry that was regularly put on display by Dragon Azteca. The green-masked luchador wowed me thanks to his dizzying displays of high-flying madness during matches with Dezmond X, King Cuerno, and Marty “The Moth” Martinez. Ever since that beloved wrestling show got discontinued, the man now known as Rey Horus raised his stock in companies such as PWG, MLW, and ROH. I’d love to see Rey join Impact Wrestling and wow audiences the same way he does me as the newest member of the X-Division. Rey’s chances of producing jaw-dropping performances with Trey Miguel, Black Taurus, Chris Bey, and Laredo Kid are extremely high.
13. PCO - Impact Wrestling
PCO’s late-career resurgence has been such a pleasure to watch. The man who once went by the name of Pierre Carl Ouellet (who’s now known as “Perfect Creation One”) found a way to alter his gimmick and appeal to the hardcore indie wrestling crowd years after he competed for other major wrestling feds. He ditched his role as one of The Quebecers/The Amazing French Canadians and turned into a Frankenstein-like monster in 2016. Fans took to him quickly when they watched him put his body on the line with extremely risky maneuvers and come to blows with fellow big men like Walter.
PCO’s second wind truly played out in ROH - he fought his way to Rush and ended up beating him for the World Championship in 2019. PCO still has some gas left in the tank and I think he should give the last remnants of his career to Impact Wrestling. His act would get over quite well there due to the company’s penchant for producing wild vignettes for gimmicks like his. Plus his insane bumps would play well during hardcore wars against Moose, Joe Doering, Moose, and even Rhino!
14. Rush - Impact Wrestling
When Rush came over from CMLL (Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre) to ROH, a rocket got strapped to his back. He earned quick wins over established talent and eventually defeated Matt Taven for the World Championship in 2019. His reign of terror was noteworthy as it further showcased his viciousness in the ring and his connections as he put together the La Facción Ingobernable stable. Besides CMLL and ROH, Rush has already done great work in AAA and MLW. So I think it’s time for him to make a play for the Impact Wrestling stage. Rush’s impressive physique and badass persona are World Championship material, so he’d make for the perfect superstar heel if he ever got picked up by Impact. I’d be all in if Rush ever got booked against Moose, Josh Alexander, and Jake Something!
15. Shane Taylor - Major League Wrestling
It’s pretty crazy when you remember that Keith Lee and Shane Taylor used to tear the roof off of smaller arenas nationwide during their clashes with War Machine (who’re now known as WWE’s The Viking Raiders). Once those three big boys moved on from ROH, Shane evolved into a singles star that left plenty of destruction in his wake during his World Television Championship run. Plus he made himself even more of a marquee act for ROH during his World Six-Man Tag Team Championship reign with his two Shane Taylor Promotions stablemates. Shane’s massive stature and underrated mat abilities could play well within the confines of MLW. MLW is home to a lot of big men and smaller wrestlers that could give Shane a platform to work well with. Just imagine the hype bouts you’d get to see between Shane and superstars such as Jacob Fatu, King Muertes, and Calvin Tankman!
16. Silas Young - National Wrestling Alliance
The always surly Silas Young refers to himself as the last real man - he’ll always come off to me as that curmudgeonly old dude next door that hates all those Fortnite dances the kids do these days. And to be honest, I feel him! Silas’ ROH run saw him run roughshod over much of the younger talent and make a habit out of using every backhanded trick to get one up on them all. Once he becomes a free agent, I’d love to see Silas make his way over to the rejuvenated NWA brand and try his hand at prospering in that old-school promotion. Silas has always given off “throwback wrestler from the 80s” vibes, so he’d fit in perfectly alongside the likes of Trevor Murdoch, Nick Aldis, and Chris Adonis. I’d pay good money to watch Silas try his hand at besting D'Angelo Dinero or James Storm!