There was some huge news in the world of indie wrestling that broke over the weekend. Tyler Black, the current ROH World Heavyweight Champion, signed a developmental deal with the WWE. For a company that is losing its top contender, Davey Richards to that same title to retirement at the end of the calendar year, this is terrible news for the short-term. Long-term though, ROH may not be in as much trouble as one might think. There are a ton of talented wrestlers on the roster who are ready to take the mantel of top star in the company. Some have been there before. Some are new to the main event scene in ROH but have been there in other indie companies. Still others are guys ROH has a chance to elevate and make stars of their own. Here is a list of guys who could defeat either Black for the strap or defeat Richards for it after Richards is chosen to be the one to unseat Black before he heads off for Florida:
Necro Butcher – Necro is probably the most recognizable face on the indie circuit who hasn’t been a prominent member of either TNA or WWE, thanks to his role in The Wrestler. He’s also one of the most over faces on the entire indie circuit. Of course, in ROH, they had the bright idea to turn him heel and align him with The Embassy. While I don’t think it was the best move, he’s still a prime candidate to win the title. While he’s been used mostly as a special attraction his whole career, I think he’d be a bankable Champion if given the chance.
Roderick Strong – He’s been an indie favorite for years based on his incredible workrate. Fans have been clamoring for him to win the World Title for years, and there’s a vocal contingent of ROH faithful that thought it should have been him and not Black to be the one that dethroned Austin Aries for the World Title in the beginning of the year. I find him a little on the bland side in terms of character, and even for a fed that values wrestling ability more than the two national feds, you need someone who’s more than just a worker to win the title.
– He’s been there twice before, in fact, the only two-time Champion in ROH history. He’s definitely got the cred to become a three-time Champ. However, I just don’t know if the company would put the belt on him so soon after he lost it. I wouldn’t complain though, as A Double is one of my two favorite wrestlers in the world (the other being Chris Jericho if you couldn’t tell from last week’s column).
Christopher Daniels – For the amount of time that Daniels has been in wrestling and the amount of influence and acclaim that he has garnered, he has never won the ROH (or TNA for that matter) World Heavyweight Championship. For a company that put the strap on Jerry Lynn, an ECW import with a bad back, putting the strap on a guy who’s still mobile and still has a lot of cache with both indie and mainstream crowds would be a no-brainer, right? Right? Maybe not, but I have to admit, there would be far worse choices than to put the title on the Fallen Angel.
Delirious – Delirious is currently the head trainer for ROH’s wrestling school, and he’s the only head trainer in history who’s never held gold for the company. What better way to repay him than to give him a run with the title. It’s not like he’s undeserving otherwise. His frenetic, high-energy in-ring style and his unintelligible yet lovable character has made him one of the most over wrestlers on the roster.
– Steen has already gotten a taste of the main event with a title match against Black recently. While he’s been embroiled in an epic feud with his former tag team partner El Generico for most of the year, title aspirations have never been far from his mind, and said feud has been a main event feud on some cards. Steen’s character has grown in leaps and bounds since turning heel, and I think he’s a fine choice to carry the title once Black and Richards leave.
El Generico – On the same token, Generico is about as close to an über-face as ROH has right now with Black leaving. Crowds take to him no matter where he goes, so it’s obvious that he’s a good choice to carry the strap. He has also proven that he can ratchet up the intensity, as he’s played the personal vendetta card very well in his feud with Steen.
Kenny King – King has gotten the hard push in the last year although part of that may have been just incidental heat from him accidentally injuring Lynn’s neck. Still, he’s gotten some traction with the crowds. Yes, he’s been shunted back into the tag ranks with his partner Rhett Titus as the All-Nite Express, but in ROH that’s not necessarily a bad thing. More than TNA and WAY more than the WWE, ROH values and pushes tag team wrestling. Their tag titles are almost as prestigious as the World Championship. While he’s an outside-shot to win the World Title, he deserves to be in the conversation if only because ROH is so high on him.
Eddie Edwards – The final choice may be the most obvious choice if Richards ends up ending Black’s reign. Richards has already put Edwards over once, allowing his tag partner to become the first ever ROH Television Champion, a title he still holds. Since then, ROH has given Edwards a ton of time on tapings and at live shows to get himself over. It would be the ultimate torch-passing, and it’s something that I could see them doing.
There are other out-of-leftfield options available, but those are the guys I think are most likely to topple Black and/or Richards on their ways out of the company. However, regardless of who defeats the exiting Champion, there’s one thing for certain – ROH isn’t in as much trouble as some people think it is.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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