Ring Of Honor, that little wrestling company that some consider the number 3 or even sometimes the number 2 wrestling company in these United States are having their annual Top Prospect Tournament. And yes, as I’m writing this they have already taped most of the tournament but I’m still going to write my thoughts.
My thoughts are going to be rough, some people will not like them. My thoughts are going to be blunt, honest and well, my feelings. You can say I don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m just a fan and have never set up a ring, spent hours training or whatever else. But the fact is I’ve spent most of my life watching wrestling, attending live wrestling shows. Which includes driving hundreds of miles, spending half the day in the car and if that’s not good enough for you than you really will not like anything I’m about to say because really, it’s the truth.
Before we jump into the bridge burning rant I’m about to spit out, let’s take a look at the wrestlers that Ring Of Honor has decided to be part of their tournament. A tournament that is currently celebrating it’s fifth anniversary. A tournament that has seen huge big names like Mike Bennett, Michael Elgin, Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Jonathan Gresham, TaDarius Thomas, Silas Young, Matt Taven, ACH, Raymond Rowe, Hanson, Cheeseburger, Andrew Everett, Donovan Dijak, Dalton Castle, and many more.
This year they have brought in eight men like they usually do, yet they have introduced a four way match with the winner moving on to be part of the final eight. Somewhat like what the NCAA March Madness Tournament has done with play in games. They have announced that this match will air exclusively on their YouTube page.
So they’re actually bringing in 11 men and those men are LSG, Outlaw Ken Phoenix, David Starr, Brian Fury, Shaheem Ali, Punisher Martinez, Colby Corino, Action Ortiz, Leon St. Giovanni, Lio Rush, Jason Kincaid and Foxx Vinyer.
What I’m going to do now is review each of these participants, some of which I have seen live and feel yes, these dudes deserve to be here. While others, you know, I don’t think they’re quite ready and I think they’re only there because of well, luck of the draw I guess.
Good old Foxx Vinyer, the surprise entrant into this tournament, and a main reason that has spurred me to write all of this. I have see Foxx wrestle a couple times as he lives in and around the same town I do. He’s a good talent, he has a wonderful gimmick. He has a unique look and that’s something that needs to be done to get yourself noticed. While I think he’s a little rough around the edges, but then again, aren’t all these guys!? But like last year when Dalton Castle got picked into the tournament and brought with him a unique look, he also brought a unique talent. Castle has gone toe to toe with some of the premier wrestlers in the business, while Foxx has gone toe to toe with a couple of decent wrestlers. From what I’ve heard Foxx has been attending a lot of Ring Of Honor shows, helping out backstage, to playing security or even helping carry tables around. And maybe that’s how he got that spot. He’s got talent, he’s working hard on working with what he has, and I respect that. But as you can tell from this match against Sean Carr from back in July you can see where Foxx is a little rough, he should play the crowd a little more, his move set isn’t like the new generation of wrestlers coming up, he’s got more of a old school, hoss type style of punching, kicking and power slams. He is working hard at his game and I’m happy for him that he got his break. I feel like instead of working backstage with ROH maybe he should be working in the ring at various companies and perfecting his in-ring ability, but that’s just what I think.
Outlaw Ken Phoenix
Now this guy is pretty young, a student of various schools such as Storm Wrestling Academy, Ring Of Honor Dojo and CZW Wrestling Academy. I have not seen him perform as according to his Internet Wrestling Database page he has performed in numerous Ring Of Honor house shows, CZW Dojo shows and after watching a few videos I found on YouTube he has also made appearances in Lancaster Championship Wrestling and Elite Wrestling. Watching him wrestler, granted most of the videos I could find are from early in his career back from 2012, he’s a little rough and of course needs more training, but that being nearly 4 years ago and that may have occurred. But with his resume he sure has the heart for it, and I will look for more videos on him, and try not to judge him from videos I watched from a wrestling school.
The Marty Jannetty of Juicy Product, David Starr has become something to look at as one of his many moniker’s would want you to do. I first saw Starr back in 2014 when I attended a XWA show in Rhode Island where he was involved in a main event four way dance for the Chris Dickinson, Matt Taven and Jason Blade. Going into this I had previously watched a few Juicy Product matches but was instantly impressed by Starr and his ability to work the crowd and carry a match. He would go on to win that match and the next day I saw him battle another participant in this tournament by the name of Brian Fury. Starr since breaking away from JT Dunn, has made quite the name for himself and he’s popping up everywhere. With trips to Mexico, Atlanta and just today to PWX. Starr deserves to be in this tournament and hopefully gets that opportunity.
Leon St. Giovanni
I have yet to see LSG perform live missing him by a month or a week or so in various shows I have attended. Based out of Central Jersey he has performed for numerous companies from Inter-species Wrestling to C4 in Canada. I found a match of his from Beyond Wrestling’s About Time on YouTube where he plays a heel versus JT Dunn in front a room full of other wrestlers. A match that occurred all the way back in 2011 it showcases decent in-ring action and while he may not work the crowd, the crowd sure as heel works him. He seems like a hardworking talent, while I haven’t seen much of him, I’ll sure as hell want to see more.
Now this pick.. Oh this pick. Let me tell you my thoughts on Fury getting picking to be involved in this tournament… WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG!? Fury has been one of the premier athletes in the Northeast. Was this due to his win at Beyond Wrestling’s or is it because of his appearance change? He used to wrestle in a black wife beater and black jeans and now actually has approved ring gear, stuff that won’t get him confused with a lackluster talent. Fury as I previously mentioned I saw him wrestle before, and he’s helped to train some of the premier athlete’s in this business including numerous names that have performed in this tournament in previous years. Fury should win this tournament, if I have anything to say about it. Because he deserves more than just this tournament, because he’s not a top prospect, he’s a little bit more than that.
With all my knowledge of wrestling from shows I’ve attended and matches I’ve watched, I have yet to hear of Shaheem Ali. From a quick scan of his CageMatch page he was trained by Larry Sharpe and is 30 years old. He’s spent the last few months playing Captain Jobber in Ring Of Honor, thus meaning he has already been discovered, and really isn’t a Top Prospect, but more of a well, I guess he’s there. I guess when I see the Top Prospect Tournament I see something completely different than what Ring Of Honor has put together. But as far as Ali, I haven’t seen much of him, but I again found video of him on YouTube and it’s from a match from August against Jonathan Gresham from Ring Of Honor. He’s good, and probably one of the surprising talents I don’t know about. He’ll have a good future in front of him, especially if he continues wrestling like this.
Another Monster Factory graduate in this tournament, Martinez stands tall at 6’7″ inches. While he once again isn’t a talent I’m familiar with, he is impressive especially with his size. I’m surprised the machine hasn’t picked him up yet. Watching a fan cam I found on YouTube where he faced Billy Damiana you see he uses a move set that’s usually used for guys not of his size. A little sloppy but he has a sweet submission move similar to a Texas Cloverleaf that he uses to finish this match off. He’ll be a great talent to have, maybe bring him in as a tag team with another one of these prospects.
The son of Steve Corino, Colby is destined for greatness. I have haphazardly been following his career for a while, and with his aunt being Allison Danger you know he’ll be talented. I saw him once at Xcite Wrestling and while he was a little rough it’s kind of expected because well he’s younger than the infamous nWo, yes, that’s young! While my wrestling viewing career is longer than his life, he’s not only got the heart and the aforementioned bloodlines, he’s got a different look than his father, while he may be a little smaller, he sure will be used perfectly, and already has been used greatly in ROH. While I’ve spoken a lot of his family, his in-ring talent and his charisma is not to be forgotten as you can tell in this match from YouTube versus Jakob Hammermeier where he runs his mouth quite perfectly. Hopefully he’ll have a nice long run of his own.
Formerly known as Ben Ortiz, I watched him once battle Chris Envy at Dynasty Pro show where another top prospect also performed that in Foxx Vinyer. I first saw Ortiz at a House Of Hardcore show where he lost to Lance Anoaʻi and the next night lost to Drew Gulak in a three way dance. He’s a big guy, he’s gotten comparisons to a Spanish Bam Bam Bigelow, because his ring gear is similar. Like Bam Bam he is versatile in his move set and has even some MMA training as well as being a graduate of House Of Hardcore’s wrestling school. While I think we should see something similar to a few of the past participants Raymond Rowe and Hanson as they formed a tag team, I’d like to see Ortiz team with Martinez maybe form a tag team called Punisher Action.
Another talent I have not been able to see live, but I’ve heard and seen a lot of him. He’s a young high flyer out of Maryland with a different look and sort of reminds me of Rich Swann. He deserves to be here and if you don’t believe me here check out this highlight video of him. I just wish I could find more of him on YouTube.
Being a wrestling fan in the Northeast I have had a lot of chances to see most of this talent, yet Kincaid has well, how you say alluded me. He has spent most of his career in the southern states only briefly coming up near me, but his look and talent has been something I’ve seen and enjoyed. He is obviously deserving of this spot, he had a previous shot at TNA, but they didn’t end up signing him. He did face Chase Owens in his lone match at TNA, and also faced him in NWA for the World Junior Heavyweight Championship as you can see here on YouTube. He would be a great fit into Ring Of Honor and bring a unique look that would insight the fans.
And now is when I rant…
It’s perfectly fine to pick a few guys to jump onto your up and comers tournament. But it’s also not right to make the fans think they have a voice. All of these guys, according to Bob Evans, have participating in one or numerous versions of of Ring Of Honor seminars and various other seminars.
Which is good. People should go out of their way to learn, become a better person, and make themselves known. But if being one of the first people in and around a wrestling show and being the last one doesn’t make you talented. It makes you a loser.
I’m a loser. I’ve done this, I have written about this. I have arrived at wrestling shows before the truck has gotten there. I have also attended wrestling shows where I’m one of the last one’s left. The ring has been packed away back into the truck, and the fans had long gone home. But I’m still there.
Does that make me qualified to be a Ring Of Honor Top Prospect?
Now I’m not going to try and blast Bob Evans, he seems like a real good man. I’ve never personally met him, but yeah, he does some good things. Get your name out there, train, train and train. Learn from the best. Drive hours. If you really want it go out there and make it. You’ll only your name out there.
Some people aren’t born with natural talent. Sometimes you’ll end up being Marty Jannetty though. But if you really want it, keep your head clear, and listen.
I really dislike that Evans and others are saying that the only reason most of these guys made this tournament is because they’ve attended seminars held by Ring Of Honor. They put in the hours, carried tables and well.. That’s like saying Johnny WWE Mark is qualified enough to be a WWE superstar. Just because he’s spent hours playing with the action figures, buying all of the merchandise that machine has spit out. He’s the one that plays The Shield’s theme song when he walks down the stairs. He’s the one who’s never heard of the Young Bucks. He’s the one who’s favorite wrestler is John Cena. And not because Cena busted his behind years ago, but because the machine has busted their behind for the last decade to shove him down our throat.
There’s plenty of great talent all around the world who should have been called upon before some of these names. And I’m not going to rant on certain people, because I have already attempted that on social media. If Ring Of Honor and others don’t know who they are, then they shouldn’t belong in the wrestling business. There’s tons, and I mean tons of great talent out there. Talent that has performed from here to there, talent that drives hours and hours, crosses state lines more times than some people go to the bathroom in a day. Guys that have dedicated their young lives putting their name out there. Trying to earn that money and because of that not being able to attend seminars. Talent that has become so much better than some ring rat.
But then again… maybe they said no.
A bunch of these guys Ring Of Honor picked have one thing in common. They’re raw, heck, the guys I would have loved to see involved in this tournament are raw. But if Ring Of Honor is going to be the answer that I have personally hoped they were over a decade ago then they are going to need to open their eyes and see that their is ton’s of talent out there. And if attending a seminar is a reason to be part of the roster than they should cut the Young Bucks right now. They should unsign more than half their roster.
But then again, if you’re a wrestler, think you’re a wrestler, want to be a wrestler you need to do one thing. Tell you family it’s been fun but you need to put them second. If a huge opportunity gets laid at your feet tell them you’re going to take this and forget about Grandma’s last birthday. You’re going to get near gear, arrive early and stay late. And maybe just maybe they’ll choose you.
Because after all isn’t that how Mick Foley got signed?