At 46 years of age, what many have thought was unthinkable happened: Christopher Daniels became the Ring of Honor World champion. To some, it may be thought of as being nothing more than giving Daniels a championship before his career is done. It wouldn’t necessarily be wrong to think that, and many probably thought Daniel was simply someone being fed to Cole, to ensure his title was retained and he was able to move onto the next challenger. For the better part of the last decade, Daniels has worked alongside Frankie Kazarian as a unit, either as Bad Influence or The Addiction. These two have been very successful, capturing titles in TNA and Ring of Honor. So, when someone who is essentially a tag team competitor is placed in a championship match, there is some belief that a singles win was unlikely.
Those that have followed him and watched his career can safely say that isn’t the case. What Christopher Daniels achieved at Ring of Honor’s 15th anniversary is so much more than simply defeating Adam Cole and the Bullet Club. The congratulations he has received from the locker room as he was hoisted up on their shoulders was certainly genuine. In all the stories about Daniels, fans will never hear an ill word about him. He is gracious, a friend, and to many a mentor. Daniels has paid the price for success, as anyone that commits twenty years to competing at such a high level would.
When you have traveled the world and seen it all, it can be easy to wonder what is next. However, in the case of Daniels, he appeared happy with how things were. He knew he was valued by his employers, by his peers, and if championship success came his way, then so be it. Daniels deserved better, and those around him knew that. Much like when Tommy Dreamer captured the ECW championship (although in WWE,) it is a celebration. It is a thank you for all his hard work and dedication. It would be easy for anyone in any field to simply rest on their laurels, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with Daniels.
As articulate as he is on the mic, Daniels is as swift in the ring. The ‘Best Moonsault Ever’ is just as good today as it ever was. It would be easy to assume that after being in the ring for nearly a quarter century an athlete would lose a step. For Daniels, that isn’t the case in the slightest. It takes a special type of athlete to bring the best out of their competition, and in his case, he not only brought the best out of his opposition, they brought the best out of him. Many fans of WWE may not be privy to the in-ring skill of the Fallen Angel. To think that someone wrestling outside WWE wouldn’t be all that formidable of a wrestler couldn’t be more inaccurate of a statement. In fact, a rumor had circulated some time ago that Christopher Daniels was slated to be in WWE, but very few knew about it. Unbeknownst to him, during the Attitude Era, he was apparently being considered as the third member of The Brood with Gangrel and Edge, but Edge lobbied hard to have his good friend Christian take on the role.
That didn’t define Christopher Daniels career. He first made his mark on the TNA roster as part of their X-Division, competing against his good friend AJ Styles. Whether they were allies or adversaries, Daniels and Styles put on breathtaking matches that still stand today, fifteen years after they faced each other for the first time. Daniels has seen it all and done it all. He has faced the best and made weaker challengers appear better than they probably were. His win at 15th anniversary suggests that everyone he trained, ran the ropes with, discussed strategy with, shared a laugh or even a smile with, didn’t forget that about him.
When Adam Cole lost to Christopher Daniels, it had to be seen as so much of an honor and privilege, to lose to someone that is so highly regarded by his peers, that the ‘job’ didn’t matter. The fans in attendance and watching around the world celebrated Daniels’ win, as did his peers because he was more than just a wrestler or partner. He means the world to those that he stands by, and means the world to those he calls his friends and his peers.
In a day and age where many people will spend too much time caring for how they appear to others, Christopher Daniels continued to just be himself. While the decision to make him the Ring of Honor champion may be predetermined, the admiration that he received from a live audience had to be overwhelming. He has received praise and compliments from peers both publicly (and I’m pretty sure privately) for all his work. His best friend both on camera and off, Frankie Kazarian, was just as pleased as anyone to see Daniels walk away as the champion. Whether he holds the title for one day, one week, one month or even one year, he is already a champion without holding the world championship. That says something about a person that for years was considered a fallen angel, but in reality, is arisen champion.