This reporter was a big fan boy at Ring of Honor’s HonorCon, on February 22, 2014. Oh sure, I went with my “journalist” mind set too, but the wrestling fan just took over. How could it not? When I arrived at the National Guard Armory, in Philadelphia, Pa. a big banner welcomed fans to the event. As the journalist in me snapped a picture of it, he melted away as Maria Kanellis walked by, on her way to the rest room. Thankfully, the professional in me remained, not taking her picture on such a trek. However, the fan in me almost broke through, when a man stopped her for a picture, on her way back from the rest room, and as she walked away from him, after agreeing to the picture, she said “it’s Maria.” Apparently this man hadn’t known who she was! Are you kidding me? A few moments later, Veda Scott made her way out to use the facilities as well, allowing me to be professionally excited once again.
It got a little frustrating as it was nearly 1:30 until they finally opened the doors, and let all of us in, that had been waiting since about noon, but all that frustration vaporized as soon as I hit the doors, and saw the ROH ring, and multiple tables where the ROH wrestlers sat, ready to meet and greet their fans. I immediately made my way to The Ring of Honor World Champion, Adam Cole’s table. He had the World title belt sitting in front of him, to be admired, and I must say, it is an even better looking title belt up live, and in person. I shook Adam’s hand, as he asked me my name. When I told him it was Adam, he smiled and said “great name.” I accepted a personalized autographed picture, and then posed with him for a quick picture. He shook my hand, and thanked me for coming out. I told him that I was there for The Indy Corner, and he said that he was familiar with us, and told me to enjoy the event.
From the champ, I went on to meet Kevin Steen, T.D. and ACH, Cedrick Alexander, Jimmy Jacobs, BJ Whitmer, and Roderick Strong. I then went on to meet the Briscoes. Jay actually let me hold his “world title” which was very cool. The Hoopla Hotties were right in front of me, after leaving the Briscoe’s table, so of course I had to get a shot with them. I finished up by getting pictures with Jay Lethal, Steve Corino, and one of my all-time favorites, Nigel McGuiness. Of course, it would have been foolish of me to not stop a guy that had been walking around on the floor all day, for a quick thank you, and picture, Cary Silken!
Not wanting to stop interacting with the ROH stars, I managed to, and made my way to a ring side seat for the start of the arm wrestling competition. I wasn’t sure how entertaining such an event would be, but I was pleasantly surprised. Every wrestler came out together, under lights and music, for the match ups. It began with Michael Elgin vs Romantic Touch, and the audience laughed, as Michael Elgin did visibly as well. It was over as soon as it began, as Elgin pinned RT’s arm in less than two seconds to move forward into the tournament. Elgin asked the crowd who we thought was going to win it all, and I got a quick look, and gestured threat, from Mike Bennett when I shouted “Maria.” Another match up was Cheeseburger vs. Bobby Fish. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilley really did a great job at being entertaining. Their antics were hilarious, and Fish won the match up when Kyle spit his drink in Cheeseburgers face, as it appeared Cheeseburger was starting to get the best of Fish. Mike Bennet vs. Tomasso Ciampa was a very good match up. As Maria worked her feminine charm on Ciampa, it backfired, as he shouted “WHORE!” and then quickly pinned Bennett’s arm. The finals would wind up seeing Michael Elgin vs. Tomasso Ciampa. It was a pretty even battle for a while, but Elgin kicked it in over drive, and won the match up, the trophy, and the $2,500 check, presented to him by Cary Silken.
Next up was the question and answer panels. The first group came to the ring with Adam Cole’s theme, and consisted of Adam Cole, Mike and Maria, reDragon, and Steve Cariono. Larry Legend fielded questions from the audience, and the first one was terrefic. A younger boy in the audience asked Mike Bennett to fight him in a no holds barred match. Mike, fighting back laughter, told the young boy to take off the stupid shirt he was wearing (CM Punk) and get himself a blue one, like a fan several seats down was wearing (A Mike Bennett shirt) and he would fight anyone of us! The kid wearing the Bennett shirt removed it, and offered it to the kid in the Punk shirt, who swapped shirts. Bennett got up, removed his shirt, then turned back around and said “Nah, I’m busy today.” It was a very humorous moment, and great way to open discussions. Some other questions included Adam Cole being asked what it was like to be the second best member of “Future Shock,” and Cole putting over Kyle pretty big, but in the end saying “he’s no Adam Cole.” Cole was also asked about making the WWE, if he’d get a “Yes! Yes! Yes!” or a “No! No! No!” Cole seemed slightly annoyed, and stated strongly that he’s the best wrestler in the world today, and that the best wrestler in the world, needs to represent the best wrestling company in the world, and that he was very happy doing so, for Ring of Honor Wrestling!”
The next panel came to the ring with Michael Elgin’s theme, and consisted of Michael Elgin, Jay Lethal, The Briscoe Brothers, and Kevin Kelly. One question asked was for each panel member to name their ultimate tag team partner. Elgin said his was Bret Hart, Jay’s was Randy Savage, The Briscoe’s both said Shawn Michaels, as did Kevin Kelly (who said in his prime, that’s who he’d love to see in ROH). I asked the panel to give me a name that is an “unsung future star.” To tell me someone that doesn’t get the attention they might deserve as an up and comer. Kevin Kelly said there are just too many to name, but mentioned Hanson, and Michael Rowe. Michael Elgin said that “Michael Page doesn’t get nearly the attention he deserves as a future star.” Jay Lethal seemed to think very hard for a moment, and said “I don’t know man, I guess I’d say the entire PWG locker room.” Both Jay and Mark insisted that people don’t give Cheeseburger enough credit, and that both of them strongly feel that he’s a future ROH star. Kevin Steen said that he recently wrestled Jake Manning, and that few may know who he is, but that we really need to watch out for him, and that he deserves a spot on the ROH roster.
After the question and answer panels it was time for the big announcement. Ring of Honor COO Joe Koff and former star, trainer, and booker, Delirious, were introduced to make the announcements.
Koff began with the announcement that ROH is working closely with toy companies to introduce ROH toys and action figures. Finally, the major announcement came with a video packe of New Japan Wrestling, shown on the big screen. The fans came to their feet, as Koff announced that ROH will be working closely with New Japan. Already set for Border Wars, on May 10th, in Toronto, Canada, will be an invasion of New Japan into ROH! Followed closely by another one, in New York, on May 17th! Koff then introduced New Japan chairman, Naoki Sugabayashi, and his translator, Tiger Hatori, who told we ROH fans how delighted they were to be working with Ring of Honor.
With that, ROH thanked the fans for coming out, and I was off to get my picture taken on the ROH entry ramp. To my surprise, and delight, Larry Legend stopped me for a possible spot on ROH TV! He asked me my thoughts about HonorCon, and how it went. I’m hoping I make the TV show, or at least the Facebook page, so you can see how I replied then. Needless to say, it was very positive, as I had an awesome time, and will return to Philadelphia, anytime ROH is there. If you missed HonorCon, you missed a terrific event. I want to thank Ring of Honor for hosting such a great event.