Ring of Honor is one of the more important brands in pro wrestling. The small promotion has developed many stars and helped create the next stage of the wrestling business during its first few years of existence following the deaths of WCW and ECW. Wrestling needed more promotions and ROH launched with the intention of creating super-shows featuring the best independent talents from all over the country. Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and many more future WWE stars were born in ROH. The current style of fast-paced action and young workhorses tearing it up on a nightly basis may have popularized in ROH over the last decade before WWE adopted it.
While ROH has definitely created a historically significant legacy in pro wrestling, it is not widely watched by the vast majority of fans. WWE still monopolizes the industry and TNA was on national television for almost a decade. Ring of Honor may have created stars but the outreach wasn’t there to expand to a broader audience. The product is still quite strong today with many of the top wrestlers in the industry performing with the hopes of creating must-see matches every show. Fans looking for an introduction to ROH will see quite a bit of familiar faces on the roster.
Many talents that once worked for WWE, TNA or achieved equal success in the business are currently contributing to ROH and represent a great way for new viewers to become acclimated with the product. The roster has great stars that have yet to emerge on national television such as Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Moose but the addition of familiar names being utilized in an effective manner makes for a complete roster. We’ll look at some of the wrestlers today that the average wrestling fan may not realize now resides in Ring of Honor. These are the top fifteen stars from ROH you didn’t realize you know.
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15 Jay Lethal
If you’re unfamiliar with ROH, the first person you should know about is Jay Lethal. Most fans remember Lethal from his time in TNA with his hilarious impressions of Ric Flair and Randy Savage leaving the most memorable impact on the viewer. The stellar body of work by Lethal in the X-Division was forgotten and underappreciated until he signed with Ring of Honor. With a chance to showcase his overall abilities, Lethal has developed into one of the best wrestlers in the world and is currently the ROH World Champion. Lethal is arguably the face of ROH and you are in for a pleasant surprise if you only remember his TNA days.
14 Christopher Daniels
“The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels deserves to be in the top ten all-time list of the greatest TNA performers, but he has since moved back to Ring of Honor. With various stints in ROH, Daniels has signed an exclusive contract to become a full-time member of the roster. Daniels goes back and forth between impressive singles matches and tag team work. The veteran is at the end of his career but still has enough left in the tank to perform at a high level. The career of Daniels may go down as one of the most underrated in the history of the wrestling business and is adding to the highlight reel in ROH.
13 Frankie Kazarian
Christopher Daniels' partner also works in both singles and tag team action. Frankie Kazarian had all the tools to become a star in the business but bad timing in WWE and poor booking in TNA prevented him from elevating himself into a more noteworthy role during his prime. With Kazarian getting up there in age, the veteran is likely in the final stage of his career as a member of ROH. Kazarian held ROH tag team gold with Daniels in 2015 and recently worked in singles action on ROH’s tour in Japan. You won’t see Kazarian in the main event picture any time soon but he’s contributing to the depth of Ring of Honor.
12 Mandy Leon
Mandy Leon is an up and coming women’s wrestler with a great deal of potential. Why does she look so familiar? Leon has appeared on WWE television many times as a member of the Rosebuds when Adam Rose would come to the ring with a group of partiers in wacky costumes. It was easy to see Mandy stand out among the array of extras and many believe she’ll find her way into the WWE system sooner or later. ROH is currently in the early stages of building a women’s wrestling division and recently filmed a pilot show with the concept. Leon would be the face of the division given how highly valued she is by Ring of Honor.
11 Scarlett Bordeaux
Similar to Mandy Leon, Scarlett Bordeaux is another member of the “Women of Honor” that looks familiar for the same reasons. Scarlett was a part of the Rosebuds multiple times and was featured in a Tough Enough promo for WWE’s reality show with part of her audition tape airing. There’s no doubt her great look could catapult her into a WWE deal but she’s currently working as a ring announcer for ROH. Scarlett spent time as a valet for the House of Truth and still wrestles occasionally in other promotions so she offers a lot of depth to Ring of Honor with the varied roles.
10 Roderick Strong
Fun fact: The first TNA match on Spike TV featured AJ Styles vs. Roderick Strong.
Strong was put in the position because TNA knew how talented he was and expected him to deliver an impressive match that put over Styles. Despite his TNA tenure not working out in the long run, Strong has become one of the greatest ROH stars of all time and is currently one of the biggest names in the company. Ring of Honor was built on hard working wrestlers putting on great matches and Strong exemplifies that. The company signed Strong to an exclusive contract after rumors circulated that WWE was trying to sign him to an NXT deal.
9 Kenny King
The most recent wrestler to ditch TNA for ROH is Kenny King. While King originally left ROH for TNA before switching back, King was on national television for a few years and his highlight with TNA came when he defeated Rob Van Dam to win the X Division Championship. King has a natural charisma that shines any time he is on the camera and is back in ROH’s tag team division reforming the All Night Express with tag partner Rhett Titus. The work of King in TNA was impressive but nowhere near his potential and he’s best used in ANX thanks to his natural chemistry with Titus.
8 Steve Corino
Former ECW World Champion Steve Corino has been in ROH for a few years. Corino worked in matches against Kevin Steen, served as a manager for various wrestlers and is now the color commentator for ROH’s television show. The humorous Corino has become beloved for his quick-witted banter and the patented screaming of “SUPERKICK!” any time The Young Bucks deliver the move. Corino’s legacy will be the bloody brawls in ECW but his current commentating gig may be providing the most entertaining part of his career. Very few wrestlers have the personality and timing to translate the knowledge into broadcasting but Corino is excelling at it.
7 Kevin Kelly
The other member of the ROH broadcast teams comes in here as former WWE broadcaster Kevin Kelly does the play-by-play work for the company. Kelly worked in WWE during The Attitude Era with various roles as a commentator and backstage interview. You probably remember him most as being the guy that The Rock made pick his nose during a promo. Kelly has become the voice of ROH and is the lead announcer for every televised show. Kelly's job extends beyond the commentary table as he also has a role in the company scouting new talent that comes in for training camps.
6 Alex Shelley
Alex Shelley may be the saddest story of a wrestler’s career that was wasted in TNA for far too long. The young and innovative Shelley was one of the most exciting performers in the world but TNA refused to do anything of note with him until he formed the Motor City Machine Guns tag team with Chris Sabin. Shelley and Sabin made up the greatest tag team in TNA history but Sabin suffered a serious injury that saw Shelley get moved to the sidelines. After requesting his TNA release, Shelley went on to become a valuable asset in Japan and is now once again in ROH hoping to add more memorable moments to his career.
5 Chris Sabin
The other member of The Motor City Machine Guns is also in Ring of Honor. Chris Sabin returned to the company in 2015 as a new ally to Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. The talented Sabin has been dealing with an injury that kept him out of the ring until a few months ago. With his health back on track, Sabin is involved in a storyline with former partner Alex Shelley that may see The Machine Guns reform very soon. Many fans are excited to see the most underappreciated team in the history of the business unite one more time to see if they still have it. Sabin’s 2016 will be fascinating to watch play out.
ROH is hoping to add credibility and excitement to the women’s division. The biggest name to come into the company for that purpose has been ODB. TNA had something special with ODB during the early years of the Knockouts division but they let it pass by until she became a stale comedic act. ODB wrestles in the occasional Women of Honor match but has also been used as a manager for The Briscoe Brothers. Jay and Mark Briscoe are hilarious redneck chicken farmers, which has made the pairing with ODB result in entertaining comedic segments. ROH will likely make her one of the cornerstones of the women’s division if it takes off.
3 The Young Bucks
Matt and Nick Jackson are arguably the hottest non-WWE wrestlers in the business today. The Young Bucks have been having stellar matches and delivering hilarious promos in ROH, New Japan, PWG and various other promotions for the last few years. TNA squandered The Bucks during their time in Orlando as Generation Me and the tag team finally found their identity after leaving the company. ROH recently signed Matt and Nick to the most lucrative deal in Ring of Honor history and they may be the biggest stars in the promotion today. Wrestling fans who only know them from the TNA days would be stunned to see how much more exciting they have become.
2 Matt Sydal
Daniel Bryan and CM Punk are deservingly credited as being the first independent wrestling stars to make in WWE but Matt Sydal was a part of that too. Sydal achieved great success in WWE as Evan Bourne and was one of the more memorable midcarders in the company for years. His aerial displays and great matches made him a must-see act but the company would eventually release him after drug test failures and injuries. Sydal has used the firing to rejuvenate his career and is one of the best wrestlers in the world today. The high-flier is having the best matches of his career and has become an important part of ROH.
1 Trent Barreta
Trent Barreta endured a lot of bad luck during his WWE career that saw his potential never get fulfilled. The young talent was best known for being in ECW during its final days as a WWE brand and on NXT during its early days of becoming its own entity. Trent never had the chance to stand out in WWE and his eventual release was the best thing for his career. Over the past few years, Barreta has become a premiere wrestling talent with success all over the world. The current team of Trent and Rocky Romero as Roppongi Vice is one of the best in the tag team divisions of ROH and NJPW. Barreta is the best case of someone you likely weren’t aware of making it in Ring of Honor.
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