Ring of Honor‘s presence in the WWE Universe is undeniable. For the past decade, it’s arguably been the WWE’s top feeder indie promotion, with such WWE Superstars such as Samoa Joe, CM Punk, AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Joey Mercury, Jamie Noble, Cesaro, Cedric Alexander, Michael Kanellis and Luke Harper all coming through ROH on their way to the WWE. NXT is also currently sporting many ROH alumni, which seemingly hasn’t gone unnoticed by NXT’s creative.
According to PWInsider, there are those in the WWE – in particular the creative and management at NXT – that are discussing a possible Ring of Honor stable to emerge to declare war on the NXT roster. This potential stable – whom we’ll offer the name of The Honor Guard to Mr. H and Mr. Regal – could feature some very solid names, based simply on those already in NXT.
Should these reports prove true, here’s a look at who could potentially be in NXT’s Honor Guard and bring an indie invasion angle to Full Sail University.
HIDEO ITAMI, ROH Alumni (2005-2009)
Before he came to NXT, Hideo Itami was indie superstar KENTA, who enjoyed a huge amount of success internationally. In Japan, it was with Pro Wrestling NOAH, but it was in Ring of Honor from 2005 to 2009 that he cemented his legacy in North America, feuding with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, Davey Richards and Low Ki, to name a few. Itami has been a frustrated character of late, blaming a lack of respect from the locker room and the fans for his problems. He could easily decide that only true indie wrestlers respect his work and go back to the US indie promotion he had his greatest North American success in to gain support.
ADAM COLE, ROH Alumni (2009-2017)
3x ROH World Champion, ROH TV Champion,
It’s pretty much universally assumed that Adam Cole is heading to NXT as soon as his indie dates are finished up, and with TakeOver: Brooklyn III coming up quickly, the tradition of seeing new recruits may very well end up being the debut of Adam Cole. But what if he isn’t sitting front row in the manner that we’ve seen Drew McIntyre, Bobby Roode and Asuka? What if instead, he comes out to the ring to take out Drew McIntyre or Bobby Roode in the main event to fire the first shots? INVASION TIME BAY-BAY!
RODERICK STRONG, ROH Alumni (2003-2016)
ROH World Champion, 2x ROH TV Champion, ROH World Tag Team Champion
Roderick Strong is in the midst of a pretty solid face run, that’s seen him pushed to the main event of NXT. But his growing frustrations with Bobby Roode – the face of NXT – and seemingly with William Regal‘s handling of everything (as seen this past Wednesday) could lead to Strong snapping and turning heel. With no current match at TakeOver: Brooklyn III, perhaps it’s Strong who brings in Adam Cole to attack Roode at the end of the event itself.
KASSIUS OHNO, ROH Alumni (2005-2014)
2x ROH World Tag Team Champion
Before he was Kassius Ohno, he was better known as Chris Hero, where together with current Raw Tag Team Champion Cesaro, was part of one of ROH’s most dominant tag teams of all time, The Kings of Wrestling. While Ohno would seem a likely fit with an ROH stable, if Itami is indeed spearheading it, there’s a fair chance that the NXT born again Kassius “Don’t Call Me Hero” Ohno may actually ally with Team NXT this time around.
LIO RUSH, ROH Alumni (2015-2017)
ROH Top Prospect Winner ’16
Lio Rush was just emerging as one of ROH’s top new prospects the past year, but he’s stopped taking indie bookings and his last date is the week before TakeOver: Brooklyn III. All signs seem to point to Rush heading to NXT, which is a goal he’s been very vocal about chasing. Lio Rush would add some aerial majesty to the stable and prove to be their high flying Cruiserweight star.
reDRagon, ROH Alumni (2012-2017)
3x ROH World Tag Team Champions
Kyle O’Reilly: Alumni (2009-2017), ROH World Champion
Bobby Fish: Alumni (2012-2017), ROH TV Champion
Both members of another of ROH’s greatest tag teams, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish, have now made their NXT debuts, both falling to rising megastar Aleister Black. A feud between the two members of reDRagon against Black is quite possible, with the potential of both taking him out down the road for handing them both losses on their debut nights. The WWE has taped all their episodes up until TakeOver: Brooklyn III, but one of our potential candidates for this faction – Hideo Itami – is facing the very man who both men lost to at the event, Aleister Black. Should Black get the upper hand against the man formerly ROH’s KENTA, could reDRagon come in to get Itami’s back?
DONOVAN DIJAK, ROH Alumni (2014-2017)
ROH Top Prospect Winner ’15
Donovan Dijak was another rising ROH star who left the promotion this year and recently announced he too was not taking any more indie bookings. He still has a few big ones on his calendar – most notably PWG‘s Battle of Los Angeles in a few weeks – but he would provide some big man muscle to an ROH stable.
TOMMASO CIAMPA, ROH Alumni (2011-2015)
ROH TV Champion
Before he arrived in NXT, Tommaso Ciampa was an ROH World Television Champion. He got his first big break on the indies in Ring of Honor where he finally got the grit and intensity he was lacking previously. While he’s on the injured reserve right now, he could easily be a mouthpiece for the stable until he’s mended, and then his feud against his former tag team partner Johnny Gargano could take place as part of the ROH vs NXT war.
WAR MACHINE, ROH Alumni (2013-2017)
ROH World Tag Team Champions
Hanson: ROH Top Prospect Winner ’14
They’re currently free agents in the grand ol’ pro wrestling galaxy, having fun tearing it up in Japan and the UK (as well as per-appearance deals with ROH). Raymond Rowe‘s girlfriend Sarah Logan (aka Crazy Mary Dobson) is currently in NXT and they’re definitely on WWE’s radar – reports of their interest has been rumoured for months now. If reDRagon isn’t the stables tag team of choice, a surprise debut from War Machine could become the stables enforcers. If War Machine does indeed become involved, it wouldn’t be surprising if Sarah Logan becomes the stable’s Women’s Division participant – after all, Logan herself was an early part of ROH’s Women of Honor.
AUSTIN ARIES, ROH Alumni (2004-2010)
2x ROH World Champion, ROH World Tag Team Champion
“But WAIT!” I can hear everyone scream. “They just RELEASED Austin Aries!” True. But what if the whole release has been a work all the time? Aries was given time off anyway to promote his new book, Food Fight. Reports of the supposed shake-up after SummerSlam seemed to indicate more of an NXT transfer – going both ways – that a draft like earlier this year. What if they “released” Aries to set up a bigger angle? Austin Aries’ fiancee, Thea Trinidad (now Zelina Vega in NXT), just joined NXT. Aries himself is a master of illusion when it comes to kayfabe and sleight of mouth. What if he supposedly “left” the WWE due to frustrations, only to return to NXT with a band of other ROH alumni – Aries himself is a former ROH World Heavyweight Champion – to declare war on the WWE for holding back smaller indie talent, starting with their own attempt at indie wrestling, NXT.
While groups like SaNitY would probably battle somewhere in the middle, NXT could put together it’s own core of NXT defenders, with Drew McIntyre standing up for NXT and bringing with him Johnny Gargano, No Way Jose, Aleister Black, and the Authors of Pain (who almost seem ready to turn face in their battle against SaNitY). They’ve done it before in the WWE with the ECW Invasion during the Attitude Era and then the WCW Invasion angle in the early 2000’s – Vince loves his invasion angles. And if the stable proves to be a success in NXT, they could always get called up to Smackdown Live, where a certain General Manager may feel inclined to bring in his own team to exercise his authority on the Blue Brand.
Who do you think would be in The Honor Guard if the angle actually makes it out of the creative room discussion stages? Let us know in the comments!