It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Yes, it’s Voices of Wrestling Secret Santa time again, everyone. The brainchild of JR Goldberg (@wrestlingbubble), VOW Secret Santa sees all participating website contributors give their fellow contributors, the greatest gift of all: wrestling matches!

VOW Secret Santa Archives:

Roderick Strong vs. Kazuchika Okada
August 22, 2015

Reviewed by Suit Williams (@SuitWilliams)

Gifted by Andrew Rich (@AndrewTRich)

As I sit down to review this Secret Santa match, “this era” of Ring of Honor has ended. Looking back on it now, the Sinclair-era of ROH helped form a lot of my fandom as time went on. I started dipping my toe in the water of ROH in the tail-end of the Jim Cornette era, where he had to push Kevin Steen as his top guy through teeth so gritted he could bend steel. I still remember the Steen/Generico video package from Final Battle 2010 that first caught my interest and made me aware of Ring of Honor.

I’d stay aware of ROH for a while until a fateful night in 2013, when I saw Ring of Honor on my cable guide on a random Friday night. I made sure to keep track, watching on the weeks where I wasn’t going out on a date that same night. I never missed an episode. My first show was at WrestleMania Weekend 2014 at the Alario Center in New Orleans. Anyone who’s lived in New Orleans would chuckle at that considering the Alario Center is about a half-hour out of the city, but nevertheless. That’s where I saw Jay Lethal’s main event push kick-off, as he beat Tommaso Ciampa in two straight falls and joined the House of Truth.

I’d go to my next Ring of Honor show at WrestleMania Weekend 2018, where Cody Rhodes and Kenny Omega had their long-awaited first match in front of the then-biggest crowd in company history. I chose ROH over the NXT Takeover happening 15 minutes away, a Takeover that was one of the best that promotion ever ran. ROH was my gateway into independent wrestling, where I would fall in love with PWG in that dumpy armory and Progress Wrestling in the Electric Ballroom. It was my gateway into the world of puro and the peak of New Japan in the modern era. So much of that came from this era of ROH. While some people may not remember these days as fondly as the Gabe Sapolsky-booked, Punk/Danielson/Joe-led days, I still maintain that there is a treasure trove of excellent pro wrestling in these years. And now that’s gone.

Whether you want to attribute it to COVID or not capitalizing more on the momentum they garnered, and whether they do make a comeback in April, this version of the promotion that was pivotal to my fandom going the way it has is gone. 

Looking back at it now, I don’t know how much I appreciated what we had. We’ve got a hot crowd of 2,000 in this baseball stadium for a Field of Honor show, which looks really cool. Check out just some of the matches that were on this show.

  • Adam Cole vs. Christopher Daniels
  • War Machine vs. Killer Elite Squad
  • ACH, Matt Sydal & The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice & The Kingdom
  • The Briscoes vs. The Time Splitters

This was all on one show! Matchmaker Nigel McGuinness outdid himself on this one. I don’t say this to dump on GCW or the current independent scene, but there’s not a GCW undercard that could touch a show like that. It’s impossible for them to match this, the level of talent ROH had at their disposal was absolutely ridiculous. It’s not just nostalgia either, even though I would be lying saying that I didn’t have the warm-and-fuzzies watching this one.

These two had a banger here, one that wouldn’t have been out of place in a big G1 show in Osaka or Korakuen Hall. It was a stellar match in a stellar time in a once-stellar promotion. It hurts a little knowing that it’s gone, but the memories are still just as nice.

Big thanks to whoever gave me this one, maybe this is good karma for the gift I gave.