In fall 2005, 600 fans packed into a small rec center in Suffolk County just three miles north of the Long Island Expressway to watch a wrestling show presented by a company called Ring of Honor. In one of the night’s main events, a fearless 5-foot-8 grappler defeated a hard-nosed southerner for the ROH World Championship after more than 30 minutes of grueling action. Those two men? Daniel Bryan and Jamie Noble. Today, they are two of the most integral individuals in WWE. Bryan is one of the company’s biggest stars and Noble has become a key producer and locker room mentor.
For a company that most recognize from the climactic scene in the Oscar-nominated “The Wrestler,” Ring of Honor has developed a hardcore fanbase by cultivating a unique mat style and an impressive rolodex of in-ring talent. Bryan and Noble aren’t the only two competitors to come from the scrappy Pennsylvania-based organization. Since the ROH’s inception in 2002, several of its stars have found their way to the WWE roster. Most have won major championship gold, and others are waiting in the wings down in Florida at NXT. Even one of NXT’s top trainers, Sara Amato, was a major star in Ring of Honor.
Over the past 10 years, as more and more Ring of Honor alumni have found their way to the broad spotlight of Raw and SmackDown, there has been a noticeable shift in the wrestling style and type of stars that have risen to the top of WWE. But how did one company that never even aired on basic cable change sports-entertainment? We spoke with many of the men responsible to find out.
You can read the full article, with comments from Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Antonio Cesaro, Colt Caban and Gabe Sapolsky at this link. It’s interesting to note that CM Punk isn’t mentioned in the article for obvious reasons.