A shroud of dishonor enveloped the ROH Championship when Chris Jericho defeated Claudio Castagnoli at Grand Slam to capture the title. Last Wednesday, Jericho kicked off his 8th world title reign with a successful title defense over former ROH Champion Bandido.
It was a fantastic main event that prompted AEW to immediately offer Bandido a full-time contract. However, the show ended with a despicable decree.
Jericho announced the “Ring of Jericho” mission statement. Simply put, he will desecrate the legacy of ROH by beating every former champion, commentator, referee, and ring announcer.
He challenged Bryan Danielson for AEW’s Toronto debut on October 12 and knocked out ROH ring announcer Bobby Cruise with the Judas Effect.
Jericho’s pro-sports entertainment doctrine as the leader of the Jericho Appreciation Society is the antithesis of ROH’s sport over spectacle presentation of professional wrestling.
From Low-Ki to Chris Jericho, 36 reigns between 30 wrestlers encompass the illustrious list of former ROH World Champions. With Jericho already dispatching Claudio and Bandido and his third dance with Danielson set, 27 targets remain.
“The Ocho” taking on any of the former titlists would make for an intriguing contest. Unfortunately, contracts, injuries, politics, and legal issues make it impossible for Jericho to wrestle all of them.
Let’s look at the list of former ROH World Champions and see where their fate lies with Chris Jericho’s Ring of Dishonor.
To immediately scratch some names off the list, Jamie Noble, Kevin Owens, Nigel McGuinness, Roderick Strong, Cody Rhodes, and Seth Rollins are off-limits as they’re signed with WWE.
6 names down, 21 to go.
Pro Wrestling NOAH star Takeshi Morishima retired 7 years ago due to diabetes complications, and the second ROH Champion, Xaiver, sadly passed away in 2020.
Some of the more controversial names on the list have little to no chance of squaring off against Chris Jericho in an AEW ring.
Michael Elgin is persona non grata due to alleged scandals and legal issues.
Austin Aries has burned bridges with all the major promotions in North America, and his right-wing commentary on social media has essentially canceled him.
The inaugural ROH World Champion Low-Ki was a big name on the independent scene before it was cool to be a big name on the independent scene. Depending on who you talk to, “The One World Warrior” is either highly overrated or one of the most talented wrestlers to see the inside of a ring.
The years haven’t been kind to Low-Ki’s reputation within the industry. He was fired from various promotions, quit several others, and sometimes gets a little too real in the ring. Even if AEW wanted to bring in Low-KI for a one-off, it might be more trouble than it’s worth.
15 names remain
Davey Richards has a deal with Major League Wrestling, while Eddie Edwards, Matt Taven, and PCO are under contract with Impact Wrestling.
AEW and Impact have a working relationship, and Taven’s contract is reportedly up this month. In the case of Richards, several MLW talents have found ways out of their deals in the past and jumped to AEW.
We’re down to the final 11 wrestlers, and they’re all signed with ROH/AEW. However, some of them are easier to access than others.
Jerry Lynn retired from in-ring action in 2013 and works for AEW as a producer. While his wrestling days are over, Lynn could participate in a backstage segment where he falls victim to a Jericho sneak attack.
“The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels will be forever linked to ROH. He was in the main event of the promotion’s inaugural show and the first person to spurn the code of honor. Daniels finally won the world title after chasing it for 15 years by defeating Adam Cole.
Today, Daniels’ primary role in AEW is a producer and match agent. However, he regularly wrestles on AEW’s YouTube shows and in Japan. Chris Jericho’s current villain role would serve as a great counterpoint to Daniels’ “Fallen Angel” persona.
Jonathan Gresham quit AEW/ROH in July due to creative differences following his title loss to Claudio Castagnoli. While there is no word whether AEW has granted Gresham an official release, both sides have been radio silent on the matter.
Kyle O’Reilly recently had neck surgery and will be out for the foreseeable future. Adam Cole is out with an undisclosed injury, and the rumor mill constantly changes when he will return. CM Punk is suspended, recently had triceps surgery, and might not return to AEW.
5 More Names to go
The pride of Sussex County, Delaware, and 2x world champion Jay Briscoe is as diametrically opposed as it gets to Chris Jericho’s anti-pro wrestling persona. Their duels on the microphone and battles in the ring would produce a feud that would print money.
Unfortunately, Warner Bros/Discovery has banned Jay Briscoes from appearing on TBS and TNT due to his past homophobic remarks. Briscoe is signed to ROH, but he can’t appear in AEW. A Briscoe/Jericho program could only happen on an ROH internet PPV.
RUSH and Jay Lethal battling Jericho for the honor of ROH would cut off their legs as heels. However, turning Lethal babyface could bear fruit since he’s considered one of the better world champions of ROH’s past.
And then there were 2.
Dalton Castle is one of the best wrestlers to see live. His Vegas showroom act with peacock flair is a charismatic delight. Castle can also go in the ring and is known in some circles as having a legitimate grappling pedigree.
In some ways, Castle and Jericho are two sides of the same coin. Opposite forces that travel a similar creative path. A lingering back injury essentially put Castle out of the wrestling consciousness for the last couple of years.
AEW would need to rehabilitate Castle before programming him with Jericho so the audience would care about both wrestlers. Unless Jericho is going to crush him in a one-off match, Castle is someone who should come in after a few former champs have fallen.
The final name on the list is Samoa Joe, arguably the best ROH World Champion of all time and the current ROH TV Champion. Joe hasn’t seen much action due to filming commitments for the Twisted Metal television show.
However, filming has wrapped, meaning Joe could be back in AEW regularly and in time to thwart Jericho’s assault on Ring of Honor’s legacy. Joe and Jericho are two different arc types who can do it all, making for an engaging story of the badass chasing the blowhard.
AEW has an excellent opportunity to make Chris Jericho’s incursion of ROH something unique. Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, Dalton Castle, and Jay Briscoe are four different personalities that can engage in four separate stories in pursuit of the championship.
Guest appearances from outside talent and some creative booking with current talent will be the difference between a memorable story and good to great matches with no payoff. If all goes right, Tony Khan could find ROH a permanent home on television.