ROH Honorable Mention: Cole’s Crop of Challengers
At Final Battle 2016, Kyle O’Reilly vanquished his long time nemesis and former Future Shock tag team partner, Adam Cole, becoming ROH World champion for the first time in his career. However, his reign would be short lived as he dropped the title to Cole at Wrestle Kingdom 11, making Cole the only three time champion in ROH history. ROH recently made announcements for Cole’s defenses over the new few months.
One half of reDragon, Bobby Fish has been a ROH tag team champion alongside the former champion Kyle O’Reilly and most recently also held the ROH World TV title before dropping it to Will Ospreay during the Reach for the Sky tour. During the Survival of the Fittest tandem of shows, Fish won the eponymous tournament, earning himself a future title shot. The prospect of reDragon battling each other in a true test of competition had many salivating at the idea, but O’Reilly’s loss has changed those plans.
In a recent interview with Running Wild Podcast, Fish intimated that he valued his time with the ROH television title but he is now focused on the ROH title. With Kyle having dropped the title to Cole, Fish has real reason to avenge his friend’s loss and finally garner a goal that he has set for himself this year. He will get his opportunity on March 4th at ROH’s Manhattan Mayhem, taking place at the Hammerstein Ballroom, the very same venue in which O’Reilly was able to dethrone Cole for his first title reign. It will be interesting to see if Fish is able to follow in the footsteps of his partner and claim the title for himself.
No matter who walks out the victor from the Manhattan show, at ROH’s 15th anniversary, “Almighty” Christopher Daniels will get his crack at his first world title. Daniels competed at the very first ROH event and has been a stalwart for the company, even if the top prize has eluded him this entire time. In an interview with LWOP, Daniels spoke to the Decade of Excellence tournament and the opportunity to wrestle for the title at the anniversary show.
Speaking before ROH’s recent event in Atlanta, Daniels passionately spoke to his desire to earn a match against Cole. He was clear that his goal was “to be in the finals of the Decade of Excellence Tournament where a title shot at the 15th Anniversary Pay-Per-View is at stake. You know, my job is not done yet. I still have to wrestle Jay Lethal or Jay Briscoe. But I am very confident in my abilities and right and I feel that I am on a good streak. We will see what happens. I know that either one of those guys would be a test but I think that my experience will be the thing that carries the day for me and then being able to wrestle for the World Championship, if that’s what happens, it’s been awhile since I have wrestled for a World Championship. But it is something that has eluded me up to this point and I feel that I know that those chances don’t come very often, so I am going to take full advantage of it, if I get it.”
Although the footage has not aired of yet, Daniels ultimately defeated Jay Briscoe to earn his title shot and will challenge the winner of the Fish/Cole match. Daniels’ entire demeanor has changed since losing the ROH tag team titles at All Star Extravaganza in September and has had earned the respect of fans and his peers. A title win for him would be a great personal accomplishment to add to his list of accolades storied career and be a feel good moment.
In an interview with LWOPW before Final Battle, Castle made it clear that his intention in 2017 is to claim the ROH World title.
“I want a title around my waist. I want to throw twice as many people over the guardrails into the fans. I’m sorry if anyone gets hurt, I apologize in advance-I didn’t ask for these muscles. 2017 is going to be the Year of the Peacock again again.”
Castle has made strides in the company, but has yet to get a taste of a championship. His bid against Fish for the television title fell short and put a strain on their friendship. In a pairing of seemingly like-minded individuals, Castle teamed with Colt Cabana during 2016, but the title shot they earned at All Star Extravaganza was, according to Cabana, squandered when they lost to the Young Bucks at the Glory by Honor event. The failure to capture the titles led to strife between the two which has yet to be finally resolved.
The Party Peacock was able to score a pinfall victory on Adam Cole before O’Reilly won the title and inserted himself into the title picture, feeling that he deserved a shot. He will get his opportunity at Supercard of Honor XI on April 1st. However, it bears watching whether or not the continued hostilities between Cabana and Castle’s could jeopardize Castle’s title shot.
The dynamics of each match can change drastically based on who walks in as champion to each event. Ring of Honor historically does not flip flop titles often, so with Cole recently winning the title, it would be a break from company tradition to have him drop the title quickly. Cole’s has made no bones about one day getting his Wrestlemania moment, so it will be interesting to see if his status with the company may or might not influence who ends up walking out of Supercard of Honor as champion. The one thing that is certain is that Cole ROH’s announcement of the challengers to the title sets a clear path for the company and creates a compelling narrative for the next three months.