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The ROHbot Report: Ring of Honor Year-End Awards and More

By James Bullock Dec 31, 2017 - 7:58 AM print

Welcome to another edition of The ROHbot Report – the only article you need for all the Ring of Honor news you have to know. With 2017 coming to an end it’s time to find out who was the best of the best in ROH during 2017 with The ROHbot Report Year End Awards.

As you know, the end of the year means various lists and awards start popping up, but none matter more in the world of Ring of Honor than the ROHbot Year End Awards where the best of the best in ROH are honored. Now, lets see our award recipients.

Breakout Star of the Year:

Marty Scurll

2016 culminated in grand fashion for ROH as its roster was booming with fresh talent already grabbing the fans’ attention with impressive performances and, most importantly, big wins. No better example of someone grabbing the figurative brass ring as 2016 concluded was Marty Scurll. The UK star made his ROH debut when the company returned to his home country for a three-night tour and ended the tour by becoming the ROH World Television champion. From November 2016 to May of 2017, Scurll established himself as the number two wrestler in ROH and the face of ROH TV by reigning supreme as the TV champ – defeating the likes of Adam Cole, Frankie Kazarian, Ken Anderson, Sonjay Dutt, Juice Robinson, and even international stars Dragon Lee & Will Ospreay with everything from his Crossface Chicken Wing, infamous umbrella, or some trickery a la Eddie Guerrero. Though Scurll failed to continue into the 2017 summer season as the TV champion by losing his title to Kushida, his most important action came right at the tail-end of his title reign: joining The Bullet Club. By attacking Adam Cole alongside The Young Bucks, Scurll formally joined the mega-faction and became one of the group’s focal points both in ROH and eventually New Japan Pro Wrestling, as well The Elite’s “Being The Elite” Youtube show. From that point Scurll’s stock skyrocketed; culminating in him becoming the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champion and having a star-making performance at “Final Battle” against Jay Lethal. Tyler Black, Davey Richards, Michael Elgin, Eddie Edwards and Adam Cole have all won this award in the past and turned it into a World Championship win. Could Scurll be the next name on that list? If Marty Scurll’s rise from an international perspective in 2017 was any indication, “The Villain” Era could be very near.

Event of the Year:

“15th Anniversary”

Over fifteen years ago the pro wrestling world was shaken up thanks to the closures of WCW and ECW. Vince McMahon had destroyed & bought his competition, leaving one major wrestling company in the United States and hundreds of independent promotions that were either able to benefit from “The Attitude Era’s” success for long periods of time or were here one day, gone the next. February 2002 saw RF Video team with protégés of Paul Heyman to create a company that would be something of a summit for the brightest rising stars of indie wrestling, Ring of Honor. On a card that would feature multiple future World champions by the night’s end including Eddie Guerrero, Bryan Danielson, Low Ki, and Jay Briscoe. But one man who stepped into the Murphy Rec Center for the inaugural ROH event poised to be a World champion just couldn’t reach his potential in Ring of Honor or any major promotion he called home; that man was none other than Christopher Daniels. On the opposite end of the spectrum was someone who not only achieved World champion status, he gained the title once destined for Daniels’ possession three times in historic fashion. A brash, boastful voice backed by the most prominent faction in wrestling today held the championship Daniels only experienced in his possession secondhand thanks to his dealings with actual champions like Xavier. Adam Cole, an individual who hadn’t even started his wrestling career when Ring of Honor came into existence, stood across the ring with the ROH World Championship in his possession to defend the title against a man whose career was on the downturn; closer to its end than its beginning or even peak. That was the story that made up ROH’s “15th Anniversary” pay-per-view finale.
The exceptional main event that saw Daniels finally become a World champion wasn’t the only highlight from the show as it also featured an insane Triple Threat Las Vegas Street Fight where The Hardys defeated The Young Bucks and Roppongi Vice to retain the ROH World Tag Team title, Jay Lethal overcame Bobby Fish in one of the hardest-hitting technical bouts of the year in ROH, Marty Scurll prevented Lio Rush from winning the TV title in a match that started off rough only to the bring the crowd to its feet by the end, and even a Six-Man Mayhem match that lived up to its name. The show wasn’t perfect thanks to the Six-Man Tag title match running short due to TK O’Ryan breaking his leg, but that didn’t take away from it being the best all-around offering from ROH in 2017.

Match of the Year:

Ladder Match: The Young Bucks vs. The Hardys (“Supercard of Honor XI”; April 1st, 2017)

“Final Battle 2016” was an absolutely grand moment in the careers of Nick & Matt Jackson as they achieved a goal long thought impossible by successfully defending the ROH World Tag Team Championship against The Briscoes on pay-per-view. But the aftermath is what really had people talking as Matt Hardy in all of his broken glory appeared on screen to put out the challenge to “The Bucks of Youth”. According to Hardy, he and his brother are on a quest that has taken them throughout time & space to prove themselves the best tag team in wrestling history, and one of the ways to accomplish that feat is by besting one of, if not the best tag teams in all the world on their home turf. For the first time in years (in the case of Jeff, over a decade) The Hardys were to make their returns to ROH with the intent of proving that even in an era that should’ve passed them by they are still one of the best tandems wrestling has to offer. But then the unexpected happened and Matt & Jeff were not only able to arrive a month earlier than expected, they came to ROH and immediately challenged for the championship. And in an even more surprising twist, The Hardys defeated The Bucks to become the new ROH World Tag Team champions at “Manhattan Mayhem VI”. Keeping the momentum strong, Matt & Jeff successfully defended the championship in a crazy Triple Threat Las Vegas Street Fight during the “15th Anniversary” pay-per-view.

During The Hardys’ post-match celebration they decided to take The Bucks’ vanity title belts in the Superkick title; setting the stage for a Ladder match between defending champions Matt & Jeff Hardy and The Young Bucks. the evening’s main event can’t be done proper justice in the form of a written recap as The Hardys and The Young Bucks stole the show in one of the craziest matches seen anywhere during wrestling’s biggest weekend of the year. Nick Jackson doing a 450 splash to the floor to put Jeff Hardy through a table; Matt Hardy biting Matt Jackson’s foot to stop him from climbing and subsequently pushing him over the top rope from the ladder so Matt could fly through two tables at ringside; Nick taking a suplex by both opponents to destroy a ladder in the process. In grandiose fashion, the match came to an end when “The Bucks of Youth” successfully invited The Hardys to a #SuperKickParty atop the ladders before retrieving both the ROH World and Super Kick Championship belts. While not as great as Ladder War VI, this was nothing short of a classic that will probably rank at least number three in the all-time greatest Ladder matches in ROH history thus far (joining the aforementioned Ladder War VI, and the original incarnation). Just as great as the much was The Hardys putting over The Young Bucks as the future of tag team wrestling in a way that didn’t feel staged or hollow, but a true moment where the torch was passed from one generation to another. The Hardys’ short run in ROH was absolutely delightful and the company, for a short time, was better off for having them on the roster.

Feud of the Year:

Silas Young vs. Jay Lethal

It had been over two years since Jay Lethal and Silas Young shared a ring in singles competition before ROH’s “Reloaded Tour” in 2016. Then, “The Last Real Man” was just getting his footing in ROH after failing to overcome some of the best ROH had to offer including Mark Briscoe. Jay Lethal, on the other hand, was attempting to return to the mountaintop he once occupied as the ROH Television champion. From their previous encounter that saw Lethal overcome Young, “The Greatest 1st Generation Wrestler” went on to become not only a two-time ROH World Television champion, but also the ROH World champion a year-plus after he bested “The Last Real Man”. Then came this year’s conclusion of the “Reloaded Tour”. The two men fought not once, but twice in one night. Their first encounter was a singles bout that saw the same result from their previous match where Lethal walked away as the victor. Though Jay won the battle that night, the spoils of war went to Silas Young as they both men were involved in the Honor Rumble match. They kicked off the match and wrestled throughout until they were the last two men standing. And in a somewhat shocking twist, Young eliminated the former World champion to earn himself a future ROH World title opportunity. Only two weeks after their clash during the “Tour”, Lethal and Young did battle yet again with “The Last Real Man” being unable to avenge his singles loss while Lethal continued to his quest toward regaining the championship he lost at “Death Before Dishonor XIV”.
It would take another six months before these two men found themselves standing across the ring from one another. During this encounter, Young had the home field advantage and took advantage of the situation to pick up a clean win over “The Franchise of ROH”. Young’s victory gave Silas the belief that he was deserving of more from ROH, but it was ROH management going to Lethal with opportunities presented such as sponsorship commercials. Attacking Lethal to make his point that Jay was less of a man deserving fewer opportunities in comparison to him, Young put a target on his back that Lethal looked to hit literally. Coming close to accomplishing his goal early was Lethal on ROH TV, but Beer City Bruiser took the figurative bullet before a tag match alongside Young against Lethal & Bobby Fish (another man who Silas angered over the last couple of months) turned out successful for them. It seemed Lethal would finally get his revenge at “Best in the World”, but things went south for the former World champion after he pinned Silas. Furious, “Milwaukee’s Worst” attacked Lethal post-match and put him on the shelf by brutalizing Jay with Bruiser’s beer keg before BCB put Lethal through a table courtesy of his frog splash.

For over a month, Lethal didn’t make a ROH appearance as he tried to recover and earn accolades elsewhere – plotting his revenge in the process. Young seemed to be ready for everything Lethal had to offer, besting him in their rematch during ROH’s debut in Edinburgh for the finale of the company’s first “War of the Worlds: UK” tour. But Lethal wasn’t overcome by one loss; taking out his anger on the other man who was responsible for putting him in the hospital: Beer City Bruiser. Using Bruiser’s own beer keg against him, Lethal apparently crushed BCB’s leg with the item normally used to provide joy and good times. The message was clear: only one man could stand tall to finish this feud. How fitting was it then that in their conclusive confrontation the only rule to victory was by being the last man standing? The match was barbaric to state the least and Silas Young ended up pulling off his second LMS victory in a row while ensuring his spot as a future top-tier star for ROH. This was the epitome of everything a great pro wrestling feud is & should be: an extended series of battles between two highly capable competitors that eventually elevates the victor without diminishing the loser’s status as seen by “Final Battle” where Young became the ROH World Television champion in front of an appreciative crowd while Jay Lethal was called out by and had to outsmart another would-be future ROH main eventer Marty Scurll in the show’s arguable Match of the Night.

Biggest Story of the Year:

Attendance on the Rise

The greatest hope Sinclair Broadcast Group could’ve had for Ring of Honor when it purchased the company in 2011 was a consistent growth that would turn a company once struggling to make it from show to show actually being profitable. That growth was slow thanks to both the economy and SBG not infusing the company with enough money to take that next step. Thanks to a newfound relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling and certain stars finally reaching the heights of their talent such as Jay Lethal and Kevin Steen, ROH found itself as the second-most important promotion in North America. 2017 was a greater example of how far ROH has risen in status since that faithful day in 2011 when it was announced the SBG era had begun. For the first time in the company’s history ROH succeeded in reaching audiences around the world to convince an average of 1000 people to come to each event (of course there were events more or less densely populated overall). To top that off, ROH broke its attendance record during “Wrestlemania” weekend with over 3000 attendees to see “Supercard of Honor XI”. ROH even shortchanged itself this past October with its “Global Wars: Chicago” event by settling for 2500 fans in a building that could hold twice as more as send during the days of the original ECW when they ran the same building for events like “Anarchy Rulz”. ROH’s biggest upswing was seen two years ago during the height of the simultaneous title reigns of Jay Lethal. 2016 didn’t feature a significant drop, but one that was noticeable as fans claimed ROH was in the middle of another restructuring. In truth, ROH still is restructuring itself thanks to its roster being poached and a reliance on New Japan stars for “tours”. But for all its flaws ROH has found great success in 2017 that could translate into a record-breaking 2018 if things are planned smartly & efficiently.

Tag Team of the Year:

The Young Bucks

Unlike last year where several teams were the focal points of the division including the eventual winners, this year, however, there’s no denying only one team had the two-on-two and eventual Six-Man divisions built around them: Nick & Matt Jackson. The year started off incredibly strong for The Young Bucks as they entered 2017 as ROH World Tag Team champions and made sure they stayed that way against long-standing duos and fresh teams alike. Then came “Manhattan Mayhem VI” where The Young Bucks were confronted and eventually defeated by The Broken Hardys to set the stage for not only a rematch, but also the most highly attended ROH event in history thus far. The Bucks regained the gold in a Tag Team Ladder match; defeating The Broken Hardys in a fantastic match that capped off the record-breaking event. The Young Bucks spent the next several months continuing their third reign as ROH World Tag Team champions with great matches against the likes of War Machine, Best Friends and Roppongi Vice. After Dalton Castle raised the ire of Bullet Club member Cody, The Young Bucks alongside Adam Page went after Castle & The Boys; defeating the trio to become the fourth ROH World Six-Man Tag Team champions and the only team in ROH history thus far to hold both ROH Tag titles simultaneously. Though The Bucks’ reign as the ROH Tag Team champs ended a month after their other championship victory when The Motor City Machine Guns finally attained golden glory in ROH, the brothers Jackson continued to dominate the Six-Man division with both Page and Kenny Omega thanks to them utilizing the now dubbed “Bullet Club Rule” where any member of The Bullet Club could defend the Six-Man title in ROH. The Young Bucks ended 2017 just as they began: as champions – something no other ROH competitor accomplished. While The Young Bucks garnered praise for their in-ring talents in 2017 and before, it was 2017 that the brothers gained notoriety for their business acumen including getting Bullet Club/Young Bucks merchandise in Hot Topic stores. The Young Bucks have become more than just a great tag team in the ring. In actuality, Matt & Nick Jackson became household names without the WWE machine supporting them – something very few, if any wrestlers has accomplished since “The Attitude Era”.

And here we are, the biggest award of them all for a single Ring of Honor wrestler. It’s amazing to think this history this man has made when less than a couple of years ago he was thought of nothing more than a joke character. Ladies and gentlemen, the ROH Wrestler of the Year goes to…

Wrestler of the Year:


Bet on yourself – it’s a phrase used so much in reference to people looking to take that next step in creating the life someone sees for themselves it’s become cliché. In 2016, Cody bet on himself in grand fashion by convincing WWE to give him his release from the company in an effort to reach the heights of prominence he always believed he was destined to achieve be it in his original home promotion or elsewhere. Unlike so many other WWE released talent, Cody had a plan that extended beyond the simple goal of working various independent wrestling shows infrequently at an exorbitant fee. Cody, in an effort to convince any indie company hoping to anchor an event on having a former WWE Superstar in the main event, priced himself in an affordable manner while promising to be the best wrestler he could be no matter what. Cody’s plan worked and every company in the world that could get a Cody match for their event did just that. RevPro, PWG, Impact Wrestling, New Japan Pro, and eventually ROH all hitched their respective wagons to Cody in some way shape or form; with the latter two giving the Rhodes Scholar a platform to finally reach his potential. Cody made 2017 his own, defeating a bevy of competitors internationally before besting Christopher Daniels at “Best in the World ‘17” to become the twenty-seventh ROH World champion.
Cody topped off the victory with some impressive first-time matches and opportunities including headlining the first New Japan event held in the United States, being the focal point of ROH’s three-night tour of the UK, and headlining a majority of the ROH pay-per-view offerings in 2017. But Cody did have a knock against him in 2017 as his in-ring output was inconsistent. Though some have lambasted Cody for his performances against the likes of SANADA, Minoru Suzuki and even his last title defense with Dalton Castle, people ignore the fantastic bouts he was involved in during 2017 including his Bullrope match with Jay Lethal at “Supercard of Honor XI”, his Two Out of Three Falls World title defense against Christopher Daniels on ROH TV, and, arguably, his best ROH match to date against Kushida during the “Global Wars” tour. Add that to the fact Cody’s been a part of helping ROH’s growing presence in the mainstream eye and ROH attendance records & PPV buyrates have risen since Cody was given the reigns as ROH’s “it” guy – which is exactly what you’d want from the World champion. Cody bet on himself and it’s paid off in spades – potentially creating a blueprint future released WWE stars can follow while ROH upped its presence alongside the son of a son or a plumber.

Britt Baker vs. Deonna Purrazzo

Dalton Castle vs. Jushin Liger

And there you have it. Show that love, or like, for The ROHbot Report and Honor Nation on its Facebook page. Also, if haven’t already, make sure you listen to the latest FREE “Honor Nation” as I talk about ROH in 2017 and more (http://www.wewantinsanity.com/am2/publish/free_audio/34_Mins_Honor_Nation_ROH_In_2017.shtml). And don’t forget to send those questions in for the next “Honor Nation either through the comments section below, on Facebook (The ROHbot Report and Honor Nation on its Facebook page), on Twitter (@fasjab), or by e-mailing me at Bullock@wewantinsanity.com.
Here’s to a great week for you and yours; and as always, thanks for reading.

Till Then.

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