The new era of Ring of Honor wrestling may have hit a big speed bump, two to be exact. Two of Ring of Honor’s biggest stars have reportedly had WWE tryouts and could be finishing up long before ROH TV hits the Sinclair Broadcasting network.
PWinsider.com reports that former Ring of Honor tag team champions Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli otherwise known as the “Kings of Wrestling” worked out for WWE officials this past Monday and Tuesday night. The loss of the Kings from Ring of Honor would be arguably the biggest blow the company has suffered since it lost Nigel McGuinnes and Bryan Danielson around the same time in 2009.
The fact that both were brought in together tells me that the WWE is looking at these two as a package deal. The tag team division in the WWE has been bleeding buckets for years. The last time that the division had any relevancy was arguably back in 2002 when you had Edge and Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle, and Los Guerreros feuding over the tag team championship on SmackDown. Just the fact that they are even looking at bolstering the tag team division is a positive sign for fans like me who grew up on classic tag team wrestling in the WWF, NWA, and the AWA.
This would not be Claudio’s first dance with the WWE. Claudio was actually signed by the WWE in 2006 to a developmental deal. In one of the biggest mysteries of the independent pro wrestling scene, Claudio was released shortly after being signed by the company. I worked with Claudio at the time in CZW and knew him well. I asked him about the circumstances surrounding his release and I could never get a straight answer out of him. Regardless, it is one of those stories that come up from time to time that has never been officially answered.
I will be the first to tell you that I don’t watch a lot of independent wrestling today. But I did work for over ten years as a wrestling announcer and commentator on the indies. During my time as an announcer, there was nobody that could touch these two guys as a pure wrestling team. Other than Bryan Danielson, I didn’t think anyone came close to their singles skills either.
These are also two guys that aren’t just your run of the mill independent wrestlers. Both guys have over ten years of experience. I don’t mean ten years of just working local high school shows, I mean ten years of real experience. Both guys have traveled all over the world and are versed in just about every pro wrestling style imaginable. If the WWE lets these guys show off their full potential, you are looking at two major players in the future WWE.
Chris Hero and CM Punk made names for themselves over ten years ago with a great series of matches they had for Ian Rotten’s IWA Mid South Wrestling. Personally, I always thought Hero got the short end of the stick in that series because it was Punk who wound up benefitting more from the publicity. Unfortunately at that time I think it was Hero’s look that kept him back more than anything. I always felt that Hero really made those matches, again just my opinion and something I expressed to Chris years ago. It would certainly be something to see Chris Hero vs. CM Punk on WWE television over a decade later.
Is this a coincidence or just bad timing for Ring of Honor? The tryout comes less than a month after television broadcasting company, Sinclair Broadcasting bought Ring of Honor. Is this a sign that the WWE sees ROH as potential competition or just good timing for a new tag team? Who knows, but I am sure the ROH die-hard fans will take this as a sign of some kind of wrestling war.
Personally, I hope the WWE does the smart thing here and sign two of the best wrestlers on the market. It is about time after ten years of wowing fans around the world that Hero and Claudio get an opportunity to showcase their talents to the mass audience in the WWE Universe. It is also about time that these guys make some real money to compensate for the years of agony they have put their bodies through.
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