ROH needs to work on expanding its roster. Since debuting on the Sinclair stations TJ Perkins, Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander have been signed to contracts by the promotion, but things are still light at the top of the card. There are currently only a handful of men who could be seen as legitimate threats to Davey Richards’ ROH world championship, and all of them are former champions.
The quality of match between Perkins and Richards would be perfectly fine, but nobody would believe for a moment that TJP could topple ‘The American Wolf’. If ROH is to grow and continue to be seen as a company which promotes competitive action more people need to be signed from the early days of ROH or who have existing star power from previous employment (i.e. WWE).
This isn’t a popular view with many Ring of Honor fans, but to think the company can prosper without an immediate injection of star power is naive. Main event talent in ROH is thin on the ground and Richards needs a healthy number of challengers to plough through before his inevitable program with Kevin Steen begins sometime next year.
The success of Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas demonstrates how well former WWE stars can do in the promotion if they’re capable of working the style and are used correctly.
I’ve come up with a list of five men currently under contract to WWE that I feel would improve the Ring of Honor product by providing new characters and feuds for fans and wrestlers alike. I’ve avoided picking guys like CM Punk, Seth Rollins and Bryan Danielson because listing former ROH wrestlers would make the exercise a little pointless: they’re already a proven success in the organisation. It’s not intended as a list of guys could sign now, more as ideas for how former WWE stars could slot into the company and improve things in both the short and long term.
So, without further ado...
Windham Rotunda – Husky Harris
Rotunda looks like a Ring of Honor champion to me. He has a physique not unlike Takeshi Morishima and Samoa Joe that would allow him to convincingly take a beating from kick specialists such as Davey Richards, and he’s big enough to be credible as a powerhouse in ROH. His status as a third generation star would help to set him apart in a company that has never been heavy on such competitors.
Give the guy a lariat or superkick as a signature move, an impressive power move as his finisher and book him consistently and I think he could get over pretty quickly. I think he would work very well in a powerful babyface role and could have very enjoyable matches against smaller men such as Andy Ridge, Kyle O’Reilly, Grizzly Redwood and, of course, Davey Richards.
Naofumi Yamamoto – Yoshi Tatsu
A mid-card division is clearly something ROH is trying to build to stand alongside its main event and tag divisions and I think Yoshi Tatsu would be a great addition. He would bring an international flavour to the company (which it has been keen on in the past) and could produce some exciting matches against stars on the rise Adam Cole, TJ Perkins and Andy Ridge as well as TV champion Jay Lethal.
Even little things such as the design of his tights indicate that Tatsu would fit in well in Ring of Honor. The federation needs all the naturally charismatic babyfaces it can get so if this guy ever gets released (not an impossibility) they should seriously consider bringing him in. He’s wasted on Superstars (but then isn’t everyone?).
Kofi Sarkodie Mensah – Kofi Kingston
I think it’s safe to say we’re wandering into fantasy booking territory with this suggestion. Kofi Kingston is a current WWE tag champion (alongside former ROH tag champion Matt Sydal/Evan Bourne funnily enough), a key part of WWE’s mid-card scene (such as it is), and one of the few genuine babyfaces the company has, Kofi would have to do something very silly to wind up in a position where ROH could hire him.
That said he’d make a strong addition to the Ring of Honor roster. He wrestles a quick style that would serve him well against the faster guys on the roster and would work perfectly in an underdog babyface role against larger guys such as Rhino, Michael Elgin and Tommaso Ciampa. I’d personally love to see him face Roderick Strong and Eddie Edwards too: those are two matches that I think could be highly enjoyable.
Nic Nemeth – Dolph Ziggler
As with Yoshi Tatsu this is firmly fantasy booking territory because Ziggler has a very safe spot on the WWE roster. His matches against Bryan Danielson and Low Ki (as Daniel Bryan and Kaval respectively) late last year show that he can work enjoyable matches against Ring of Honor guys, but it would be his charisma and verbal skills that would be of most benefit to ROH.
Ziggler has improved drastically over the last few years when it comes to promos, to the point where he would likely be considered the number one talker if he were to join ROH tomorrow (his only real competition would be Corino). While it’s a company that’s never placed microphone skills over in-ring ability it’s undeniable that the ability to cut a passionate, logical promo is an advantage to any modern wrestler. Ziggler would be capable of carrying a feud with anyone in the promotion as far as non-wrestling segments are concerned, and is talented enough to produce great matches with ROH’s existing main event crew. He also knows how to carry himself as a top talent and would be able to elevate guys lower down the card.
Also he’d have to drop the Dolph Ziggler name and could use his superior real life name of Nic Nemeth. That’s a plus point in anyone’s book!
John Hennigan – John Morrison
Fantasy booking or searing insight? We’ll see in a few months when it’s revealed whether or not Morrison is re-signing with WWE.
‘The Monday Night Delight’ has something in common with Shelton Benjamin: both are ultra-athletic workers who have failed to rise above the mid-card scene in WWE due to the feeling that WWE champions should work a more ground-based, punch-kick style. Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio and Jeff Hardy may have made it to the top with styles comparable to Morrison’s but they made it based on their charisma as much as their wrestling skills.
In Ring of Honor Morrison would be not be hindered by his lack of verbal skills and would be permitted to get on with what he’s good at: working exciting matches with men of all experience levels. If he reverted to being a narcissistic heel, complete with elaborate robes and sparkly tights, he would have a gimmick different to anyone else on the roster and be effective as a top heel. JoMo would be more than capable of carrying his weight in top line feuds against the Strongs, Edwards and Richards of the company, aand perhaps the world would finally get the Shelton Benjamin v John Morrison match that does both men justice.
Is it likely we’ll see these five men in Ring of Honor in the near future? No. Even seeing one of them there would seem unlikely at this point. But it’s not impossible to imagine we’ll see Tatsu and Rotunda there at some point in the future. It’s even possible Morrison will elect to leave WWE when his contract expires and turn down the inevitable TNA offer.
Whether it’s one of these men or someone else, Ring of Honor should give a little thought to bringing in one or two former WWE guys to see if they can get a ratings boost and entice more people to buy their next internet-pay-per-view. Signing someone to a six month contract as an experiment seems like a good idea to me.