First of all I'd like to clarify I loved Ring of Honour as a company and the product it produced but ever since the Sinclair deal they seemed to have lost their edge in what was supposed a time of prosperity for them. Most of the facts will be taken from external site such as Wiki as I'm useless with dates and the like. Anyway now onto my evaluation, it probably won't be terribly long and exciting it's just a fans viewpoint on the excellence and mediocrity of the company. The Roster The first issue with any company is it's talent, they're the ones on the front line who go out every night and ensure your product is all it can be, Ring Of Honour was blessed to have such a stream come in such a short period of time, the company was founded in 2002 and it's first ever show included Eddy Guerrero, on his hiatus from the WWE due to drug issues facing off against Super Crazy for IWA Intercontinental and more importantly the three founding fathers clashed to be the first champion of this Philadelphia based company, these were Christopher Daniels, Low Ki and Bryan Danielson, these were obviously not the talents they were soon to become but they embodied everything Ring Of Honour stood for, wrestling. None of these guys had the superstar look but they understood how to structure a match and how to execute it. More importantly they all seemed to care about the company, it was odd these guys weren't in it for the money or the fame, they were there to learn their craft and become the best professional wrestlers walking on the planet. [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3JlAGkBd1M[/yt] [size=xx-small]The match which started it all, warning it has no sound so you may struggle to watch it, I'd advise putting on headphones and listening to music.[/size] Our next stop is fast forwarding to 2004, The Rob Feinstein incident has gripped ROH talent causing another young upstart company Total Nonestop Action to cancel their talent exchange agreement, many talents including AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels retreat back to TNA angering a young upstart, a man who had clashed with the dominant World Champion Samoa Joe three times during the previous year and come up short every time. The charismatic blonde haired up start who had taken IWA by storm with his wicked whit and phantom microphones, it was of course CM Punk. It seems almost sad to skip Joe's epic 15 month reign but I really don't have enough knowledge to do him justice as I only started following near the end of his run with the title, however his biggest clash I know very well. Punk would go on to win the title at Death Before Dishonour 3 but we'll cover that later. [size=xx-small]The match which got me hooked on wrestling outside of the WWF/E as a mark this made me realize wrestling was more than the make believe superheroes I grew up with. Two guys busting their balls and a crowd who appreciated every second, what they lacked in numbers they made up for in vocals, the other matches are there but I don't want to clutter this up with too many videos [/size] A year later Punk and Joe had left but the company managed what I believed was impossible, they managed to top Punk battling Joe with the rise of Nigel McGuiness and Bryan Danielson. I'll tackle Nigel first, mainly because I have one of his matches open on YouTube currently. [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkZsUpqglgY[/yt] [size=xx-small]Nigel defeats Samoa Joe to be crowned the pure champion, notice the use of the ropes at the end. That's how you protect a dominant face while putting over a cunning heel.[/size] [size=xx-small]Bryan Danielson defeats James Gibson for the ROH title in a face vs face clash.[/size] These two clashed multiple times throughout the year with the pinnacle being a title vs title match at Unification, held in Nigel's home country of England, in Liverpool. Sadly the unified match is one I can't find on YouTube or Dailymotion at this time, here is a match before in which the two show good chemistry and Nigel once again builds heat with his cunning character for the finish. The crowd once again was immense. This was the glory period of the ring of honour main event scene admittedly but let's compare it to the present day, the only people who would fit into that scene would have been Kevin Steen and Michael Elgin in my humble opinion, even Elgin I'm unsure on and this is my first issue with Ring of Honour wrestling in the present day, they lost Austin Aries, Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuiness, CM Punk, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe and replaced them with Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards and Jay Lethal. This isn't a criticism of these guys but they're not the elite wrestlers this company once boasted. Now I'm sure you're all thinking seabs, what about the rest of the card, anyone can pluck names from the main events and say what are great company. Ring of Honour boasted one of the greatest lower card and tag team divisions on the planet during this time too, they boasted teams like Colt Cabana and CM Punk during 2003, The Prophecy (Daniels and Donovan Morgan) as inaugural talents, two incredible high flyers in AJ Styles and Amazing Red plus the Briscoes, who are one of the most consistently entertaining teams of all time from my perspective, then later on you had the Kings of Wrestling. The pure title was also held by amazing talents at varying levels of their career before it's retirement in 2006, you had McGuiness being propelled into the main event by it after toppling former World Champion Samoa Joe and it's initial champion, no other than AJ Styles, a former NWA champion at the time and one of the most exciting young high fliers at the time. ROH had depth now they have talented performers but none of them really stand out like the others did, the tag teams seem shorter on talent, Mark and Jay aren't as exciting as they once were, injuries seem to have taken their toll and the Kings departed to Stamford. Once again a big whole was placed in the framework of the company. The storylines Now this is something Ring Of Honour really worked well with, they weren't holding back their performers they let them be who they wanted to be. They weren't afraid of the risky stories, they let CM Punk threaten to go the WWE holding their world title, a story which was replicated 7 years later, even down to the metaphorical pipebomb. Then there was the clash with CZW when the Ring of Honour champion Bryan Danielson did the unthinkable, he showed up on another show representing Ring Of Honour, stuck a finger up to the Combat Zone Wrestling fans and brawled with their champion, ironically enough a man who would become another Ring Of Honour icon, Chris Hero. [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_abWGZ_xZE[/yt] Now Ring Of Honour did come close to replicating something like this with Kevin Steen, the buzz was back as Kevin become the Anti-Christ of professional wrestling, he battled his old partner El Generico in fight without Honour. Generico prevailed and the heel had been banished, the one problem? As common with a lot of Ring Of Honour crowds throughout America they craved the great wrestlers, they loved seeing Kevin. After a year long hiatus in which Steen won the Pro Wresting Guerilla Championship. Examples of Steen's work during and after the Generico build leading up to his return. [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6hp4X-cVKs[/yt] [size=xx-small]This video summed up all that was right with this feud, how real it felt, the build it seemed very old ROHish.[/size] [size=xx-small]The match itself, one of the greatest the company has ever produced in my opinion the two meshed incredibly well.[/size] I'm sure you're wondering why I pointed out a great point when the company was supposed to be at a low point currently, the answer is painfully simple this was a rare aspect, the company really lacked anything else that was really interesting going on. The American Wolves each had a reign with the world title, Davey in his wrong role, rather than an arrogant heel he was a dull babyface who faux intensity often bored me to tears, this is just personal taste admittedly but as someone who lists Kurt Angle as his favourite wrestler an intense nature should be a major selling point, sadly it isn't with Davey. Things don't fit right. Fortunately Steen ended up his reign at Border Wars with a hot Canadian crowd backing him with every shot. I was going to use this moment to mention Jim Cornette but anyone who is interested in this thread will know how poor he is and how his arrival seems closely linked with my lacking interest in this product. Competition Ring of Honour isn't the only kid on the block now, there was a time where the only place in North America you could see the Indie / Puro dream matches was here, Punk vs Joe and it's sequels, Joe vs Kobiashi, Danielson vs Kenta, Danielson vs Morishima, McGuiness vs Morishima, the list goes on. [size=xx-small]Danielson vs Kenta [/size] [size=xx-small]Mcguiness vs Morishima [/size] [size=xx-small]Danielson vs Morishima [/size] [size=xx-small]Joe vs Kobiashi [/size] Now you have Pro Wrestling Guerilla pulling off better matches due to giving the wrestlers more freedom and the Japanese shows being more readily available those dream matches no longer are as rare to find as they once were. The prime example of PWG doing it better than Ring of Honour is to take the best of the current ROH product and compare it to PWG. Steen Wolf vs Final Battle 2012 Kevin Steen (c) vs El Generico Sadly I can't find these videos, but if anyone has them you'll notice one thing the PWG one was better structured and although it lacked the holy shit moment of the package piledriver onto the ladders it told a better story and had a special return at the end. This is a consistent, ROH talents are tearing the house down in PWG then coming back home and languishing around the good matches mark. The problem? It's freedom of expression, what made the company so great was professional wrestlers delivering the best matches on the planet consistently. Now they hit gold once or twice with Steen / Generico for example but this seems rarer than before. The solution. This will be the shortest of all my paragraphs here, the company needs to identify what it wants to be, it's gone from being something special a kind of TNA / ROH hybrid, it lacks the individuality a PWG for example has, they don't care about anything but great wrestling, they have their market which although not the largest they cater to and the fans are coming back. ROH needs to decide if it wants to go back to it's roots or evolve further into something new but most importantly it must be something they can put their mark on and be the best in as they were all those years ago. If you read this all, thank you. It was an enjoyable thread to write, possibly my favourite in my time here. This post wasn't as long as I expected it to be fortunately for you all.