Ring of Honor held their very first “Future of Honor” in a little town outside Shippensburg, Pennsylvania called “Newville.” I was excited the moment I heard this, as Newville is less than an hour away from me, so I ordered a ticket immediately. I also lucked out, as Ring of Honor mistakenly sold front row seats that first day, for only ten dollars! From the second day forward, front row seats were twenty-five dollars. I called a friend, and he also ordered a ticket, and we were set for the big show. We arrived a little early and the doors were wide open. We could see wrestlers walking around, the ring, and even got to great Kevin Kelly as he arrived and entered the building. Doors opened at 6:30pm, and hour before the show, giving us time to take pictures, shop the tables, and talk to other fans in attendance. I got to speak to Larry Legend, a man I admire, and respect, before settling down in the front row of section C.
The show began promptly at 7:30pm, as advertised, in front of what I estimated to be around 300 people. The crowd instantly came to life as Larry introduced #AllEgo (Ethan Page), a stand out wrestler from AAW, trained by, and often partnering with, Michael Elgin in that promotion. He would be taking on the younger brother of WWE Superstar Justin Gabriel, Zizou Middox. In a very entertaining match, where Middox played the South African heel, saying how much he hated the United States, and Canada, as well as getting heat for his “rat tail” hair style, that #AllEgo was too happy to point out to the crowd, Page got the victory to start the show off with a bang, making the crowd happy.
The second match saw Brutal Burgers (Bob Evans & Cheeseburger) take on the massive Moose and his partner, Stokely Hathaway. NFL fans may be familiar with Moose under his given name of Quinn Ojinnaka, a former offensive guard for the New England Patriots. While Moose is still rather green in the ring, his presence demands respect, and if he plays his cards right, he could be a major player on the wrestling scene. He has also been appearing regularly as The Bravado’s bodyguard in Dragon Gate USA. Stokely has been seen on ROH TV as RD Evans personal referee. ROH fans should be well familiar with Evans and Cheeseburger. This match was fun, as it displayed the massive power of Moose quite well, as well as the fighting spirit, and heart of “Brutal Burgers.” I will say that I thought we’d get to see Moose toss around Cheeseburger more than we did, but instead we saw Evans take nearly all of Moose’s’ offense. Several times a face turn for Moose was teased, and honestly, I can see things going that way before too long, if he makes ROH TV. After tension between Moose and Stokely all night, Evan and Cheeseburger got the pin on Stokely, angering Moose, but he and Stokely left the ringside together.
The third match of the night was my biggest surprise as new female wrestler Mandy Leon, veteran, and well-traveled, Jenny Rose, in a “Women of Honor” match. Mandy, having never had a match before, looked great! Of course so did Rose, but I expected that of her. I didn’t know what to expect from Mandy, but I don’t expect anyone to be as good as she was, in their first match. After a very entertaining, back and forth contest, the much more experienced Rose got the victory. Afterword’s Veda Scott made her way into the ring and ran down Mandy, saying she was “just another pretty face” and that she was disgusted that someone as skilled, and well-traveled, like Rose, would shake the hand of someone like Mandy Leon. Rose then attacked Leon and left the ring with Veda. I knew that I had to catch Leon for an interview, after being wowed by her the way that I was! Here is what she had to say.
Adam-How did you get into wrestling, I mean, when did you become interested in professional wrestling?
Mandy-I’ve always been really interested, but in the old days my mom would force me to sit and watch the WWF with her, and she was a big fan of Razor Ramon. However, the moment I first saw Lita, I just fell in love. I knew then I wanted to do it. Then I saw Chyna, and Trish Stratus, and I was like, Wow! I would sit and play WWE video games and make little divas all day, and I would tell myself, as soon as I turn 21 I am going to train to become a professional wrestler. I am going to save up my money to start training, and go in there and do it.
Adam-So you the Ring of Honor Dojo is your first training experience? You’ve not trained anywhere else?
Mandy- That’s right, I’ve only trained here, with head trainer Delirious, and it’s amazing!
Adam- and tonight was your very first match?
Mandy-Yep, very first match here at Future of Honor, and I loved it!
Adam- Everyone I spoke to tonight loved it too. Your opponent was great too of course, what are your thoughts on Jenny Rose?
Mandy-Jenny Rose is amazing! She not only has a ton of experience wrestling here in the United States, but also in Japan. I think we had a great match together. I have no idea what the deal was with Veda though. I did not see that coming, and I was shocked when Jenny just completely turned on me.
Adam- I know you mentioned Lita, but did you have any other role models in wrestling?
Mandy- Oh absolutely Lita, and by the way, congratulations to her for her induction into the 2014 Hall of fame. I looked up to Chyna a lot, just because of her look, that exotic look, and how she presented, and carried herself. I loved Trish’s look, with the Cowboy hat and long jacket. Lita again just blew my mind because she was doing things I had only seen the guys do in the past. If there is a current Diva that I would say I look up to, it would be Melina.
Adam- You’re definitely a wrestling fan. What I mean by that is you’re not just using wrestling to boost a modeling career, or to make a quick name for yourself. You really seem to love wrestling, and are happy to be a professional wrestler?
Mandy-Absolutely! And to address Veda Scott, I am not just another “pretty face.” I came in here to work hard, and kick butt just like the guys.
Adam- Is there anybody in wrestling at all, Ring of Honor, or not, that you’d love to face, even in a dream scenario?
Mandy-On the indy scene, I’d love to have a match with Cheerleader Melissa, or Ms Chif. Cherry Bomb is also awesome. As far as WWE, if I can go fantasy like you said, it would be a four way match between Lita, Trish Stratus, Melina, and Mandy. That would be cool.
Adam- You really seem to have your head on straight and goals in front of you. Is there anything you’d like the fans, and our readers to know about you?
Mandy- Yes, this is all about working hard, training every day, striving to get better, and be the best wrestler that I can be. It’s about one day becoming a Diva, but before that, it’s just about earning it. Ring of Honor is amazing, and if I’m ever privileged enough to make it onto the Ring of Honor roster I am going to do my best to prove I’ve earned it. So keep a look out, you are going to see more of me in the future from here on!
Adam- Speaking of Ring of Honor, do you know anything about a “Women of Honor” show? I mean I can’t walk away from this without asking an insider question.
Mandy- (laughing) of course, but no, I don’t know anything about that. I mean I’m just not subject to that kind of information. However I think it’s a great idea, and I would love to see that. I mean there are so many excellent female wrestler’s out there, that are as good as the guys, and it would be awesome to see a “Women of Honor” show, but unfortunately just don’t know really.
Adam- Mandy, thank you for taking this time with us. We very much look forward to following your career from this point forward.
Mandy- Thank you so much! I really appreciate you talking with me tonight.
The fourth match was a “Proving Grounds Match” that saw the head of ROH security, and ROH Dojo graduate, as well as frequent Lancaster Championship performer, Jay Diesel, take on ROH TV champion, Jay Lethal. This may have been one of the best matches of the night, as Diesel took it to Jay Lethal, and stood toe to toe with the veteran, and bonafide hall of famer for a long, solid, match. Diesel won the crowd to his side quite easily as he scored several near falls on the TV champion, but the skills and wiles of the veteran, Lethal, overcame in the end, and gave him the victory.
In the fifth match, Vinny Marseglia, Nick Blackwell & Jimmy Nuts took on Sam Shields, Tim Donst & Ken Phoenix. Vinny has appeared a few times on ROH TV, never winning, Blackwell and Nuts are ROH Dojo graduates, and Nuts is a star in the Pittsburgh area VOW promotion. Shields is a long time indy player, Donst is a major star for AIW and CHIKARA, and Phoenix trained with Lance Storm and the ROH Dojo, and has appeared frequently for Lancaster Championship Wrestling. All six guys put on a very memorable performance. At one point I had to scramble quickly, from my seat, as every man took a turn diving out of the ring, onto an opponent, until the area I had been sitting in, looked like a construction zone. After lots of back and forth action, Vinny, Blackwell, and Nuts stood tall with the victory. I caught up with Tim Donst after the show.
Adam- Tim, thanks so much for talking to me. What did you think of the match, and of the overall show tonight? I mean this was your premier in Ring of Honor!
Tim-I thought the match was very good. Obviously I feel it would have been better if I got the pin fall or submission, but other than that, I thought it was very good. I thought the overall show was great, obviously the future is very bright for Ring of Honor.
Adam- Any word on a return to Ring of Honor?
Tim- Not yet, I’m always rolling the dice, but you see, that’s kind of how I like it. When nothing is certain you have to keep hustling in order to survive. You know?
Adam- I do, and I am very familiar with your work in AIW. Anything to say about what’s going on there?
Tim-Yeah, that’s great, I love AIW, I think it’s starting to get a lot of hype lately. I really consider it the melting pot of the independents. AIW has ROH guys, DGUSA guys, Evolve guys, PWG guys, CHIKARA guys, a really good mix of just about everybody. I think AIW is really hitting its stride.
Adam-What did you think about some other performances? Did anybody else stand out to you tonight?
Tim-I think everybody really stood out, everybody really busted their ass tonight to prove that they belonged here. Nobody here has egos, they all just want to work hard, and get better, and that’s exactly what you want from performers on a card like this.
Adam- Let’s say you are invited back, is there someone in particular on the ROH roster you’d like to face?
Tim- Sure, as far as the ROH roster as a whole, I have always felt that me and Michael Elgin could really tear it down! I mean he’d tear me down probably (laughing) but hopefully I could get a few licks in.
Adam- I’m sure you’d do fine. What’s coming up for you next? What would like our readers to know about?
Tim-Sure, I am pretty sure some stuff is working out with Evolve and Dragon Gate, I should be on the next set of FIP shows in two weeks, and of course I’ve got Alex Shelly on the 25th of this month in AIW. It’s a good month for me.
Adam- Wow, the Shelly match should be amazing. Being that you’re from Lancaster, Pa. let me toss this out there. Are you familiar with Lancaster Championship Wrestling?
Tim- I have heard of it. I’ve not gotten the chance to wrestle there but being from Lancaster I have indeed heard about them. By the way, I’m not Amish.
Adam- (laughing) I don’t think I anyone would suspect that of you, or of Adam Cole, another Lancaster area resident.
Tim- You got, that’s right.
Adam- That would be a great match there, you versus Adam Cole, two Pennsylvania boys who made it big.
Tim- Absolutely, especially with it being in Ring of Honor, especially with it being a title match. I totally agree with you.
Adam-I saw on Twitter that a ton of indy wrestling fans were excited to see that you were going to be a part of this event tonight. Anything to say about that?
Tim- Sure, it was awesome to see that. I think it’s great that we live in this new age, where fans really can dictate who wrestles where, for what promotion, and tell companies what it is they want to see, so I really want to thank my fans for helping me out in that way. I really am ecstatic that I feel like I’m finally contributing so much to wrestling, that I can finally begin to give back to wrestling, that’s given so much to me.
Adam- Of course I could look this up on Wikipedia or something, but lets get it straight from you instead, how long have you been doing this?
Tim- Oh no, I’d prefer you ask me, as of about five or six days ago it’s been right about seven years.
Adam- and yet you’re still a pretty young guy, and have so much more time to keep moving up
Tim- While my body often doesn’t feel so young, yeah, I like to consider myself a pretty young guy.
Adam- WWE, anybody there you really admire or look up to?
Tim, yes, absolutely, especially right now with all the guys that are on top that busted their ass to get there. I think the product is really good right now, with those guys. I love seeing Dean Ambrose, who I had a few tangles with in HWA, in Cincinnati. I mean to see a guy like that succeed as much as he has. A guy like Cesaro too, a guy who had a hand in my training, to see him where he is today is just awesome.
Adam- Cesaro had a hand in your training?
Tim- Oh yeah, Cesaro, Chris Hero, and Mike Quakenbush.
Adam- Wow, that’s a good base right there.
Tim-Yeah, some pretty good guys (laughing)
Adam- Is there anything your fans may not know about you that you’d like them to know?
Tim-(laughing) I try really hard to keep all of my skeletons pretty far into the closet, and then I have a key to shut and lock them up in there pretty far. How about this, the first concert I ever attended was a Hanson Concert! There’s one funny fact.
Adam- I suppose The Young Bucks may appreciate that one.
Tim- Oh absolutely, I think so.
Adam- Thank you so much Tim Donst for taking the time with us tonight.
Tim- Hey thank you for all the support, thanks to the fans for supporting me, and anywhere I go. Thanks for all the Tweets, and Facebook messages. Normally I am really, really, good at getting back to people, but lately I’ve been so overwhelmed I just haven’t had the time, so thank you all, and I want you all to know I read every one, and I really, really, appreciate it.
The sixth match saw KONGO take on Psycho Mike Rollins. While this wasn’t my favorite match of the night, Mike won me over. Even though many around me were saying how much he resembled “Dirty Chris Dickenson, of CZW, I still loved his antics, and style. I was highly surprised when KONGO won the match. That’s not meant to put the skills and ability of KONGO down, as he’s a pretty good big man, but Mike seemed to be in the lead, most of the way. I would definitely pay to see a rematch.
It was then time for the main roster players to hit the ring, as the seventh match saw Team Benchmark, Bill Daly and Will Ferrera take on The Briscoe’s, Jay and Mark, along with their uncle Jethro in their corner. Daley and Ferrera pulled out all the stops against one of the best tag teams in the world, but couldn’t overcome, as Jay and Mark nailed a Jay Driller, followed by Froggy Bow, for the victory. While I was a little sad not to see The Doomsday from the Briscoes, I couldn’t be disappointed with such an awesome match, and the fun antics of the Briscoes with the crowd, when it was all over.
Finally, it was main event time, as we would get to see a rare appearance from the one, and only, Delirious as he would challenge Adam Cole, for the ROH world title! I want to say right now, with all due love, and respect, for the departed Ultimate Warrior, I really don’t think Warriors intensity had anything on Delirious! How Delirious was ready for a match, after the entrance he made, is beyond me. I got a little winded watching the Wildman run back and forth, interact with ringside fans, and simply lose his freakin mind! Adam Cole was then introduced, and quickly exited the ring, insisting that Delirious was insane and how was he supposed to deal with that? When the match finally began, every time Cole would get the upper hand, delirious would somehow come back even stronger and attack Cole from pillar to post. At one point in the match, Cole begged off Delirious, going so far as to kneel down, and kiss his bare feet! Numerous near falls had the crowd so excited, that at one point, several streamers filled the ring when it appeared that Delirious may have gotten a three count, to become the new champion, but it wasn’t to be, as the crafty Cole, won it in the end, by continuing to fight, and hitting the Florida Key for the 1-2-3, retaining his championship. Delirious remained in the ring, and celebrated the awesome debut of “Future of Honor” by interacting with us fans like I’ve never seen. He high fived many, hugged some, and took the hat from my friends head, and hanged it over the camera lens. Every fan in attendance chanted “please come back” as Larry Legend thanked us for coming and told us all to drive safely home. It was a night to remember, and if this is Ring of Honor’s Future, then their future is bright indeed!