One of the biggest complaints about ROH from regular viewers (myself included) is that the champions (save for ATHENA) aren’t on Honor Club enough or only defend their titles on AEW programming. The Honor Club show has been around for just over 30 episodes, but ATHENA is the only champion consistently on their programming. If she’s not wrestling, she’s in backstage segments. Sometimes, she’s doing both or holding minion training.
Better Than You, Baybay (before Cole’s injury) and the Hung Bucks have yet to appear on Honor Club. The ROH Television champion, Samoa Joe, has his sights set on MJF’s AEW World Championship. Do any of these champions give a damn about ROH?
On the media call prior to WrestleDream, I asked Tony Khan if the AEW wrestlers with ROH titles would be on Honor Club and if AEW and ROH would have separate rosters. He didn’t answer my second question. He put over all the great talent that is currently ROH champions and said we’d see “more top stars in ROH.”
When Eddie Kingston defeated Claudio Castagnoli for the ROH World Championship, many of us hoped that would mean the title would actually be defended in ROH. He has defended both the ROH World Championship and the NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship individually and together. Before the “Title Tuesday” episode of Dynamite, he defended both titles against the legendary Minoru Suzuki.
On episode 33, Kingston made his first in-ring appearance since winning the ROH World Championship. He opened the show in a Proving Ground match against Serpentico. Prior to their match, Serpentico talked to Dasha Gonzalez and said all he needed to do was last 10 minutes and he’d earn a title shot. Unfortunately, he lasted about two minutes.
Following the match, Angélico protected his Spanish Announce Project partner. Kingston got a mic and said his opponent getting hurt was part of the game. He brought up their friendship and asked if he was going to stab him in the back for a title shot. Angélico wants a title shot the next time (Kingston is in ROH?).
A couple of matches later, ATHENA had her own Proving Ground match. She frequently competes in these types of matches, often against up-and-coming talent. On Thursday, she defeated Mazzerati in five minutes. Billie Starkz, who usually disapproves of ATHENA’s post-match shenanigans, seemed to enjoy them today. Maybe her minion training is paying off.
While it was good to see two champions on Honor Club, it needs to happen on a regular basis. All of the champions should regularly appear on ROH programming. Joe is defending the TV title on Collision this week. While it could be a good advertisement for Honor Club, they don’t even advertise the service during AEW programming.
The prevailing theory is that Khan is shopping ROH for the eventual MAX deal, but there needs to be more balance of champions appearing between brands.