Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

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Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » May 14th, '12, 08:58

25. Kyle O'Reilly- zero successful defenses, and the only time he got to defend the title was when he lost it on the undercard of another promotion's show in a spot where, based on last year's experience, the booker had to know that they wouldn't be given enough time to have a match that was anything better than good. Kyle deserved so much better than this.

24. Homicide- Cide only had four title defenses (3 successful ones, then his loss), none of which were impressive. Couple that with the lack of any story at all (aside from him and Joe having mutual respect, which was really more set up and developed during his chase for the belt), and it is clear that Cide's title win was about the chase, rather than the reign... which is perfectly fine booking, but it doesn't change the fact that his title reign wasn't good.

23. Low Ki- Ki's title reign was a cleverly inverted version of the above. Ki's reign was not about the chase and the win (although the win was important) as much as it was about the way he lost it, which got great heat on The Prophecy.

22. Adam Cole (3rd)- Cole didn't really have any stories at all during his short title reign. He did have two awesome matches, but neither of those matches came close the Danielson vs. Gibson classic that ended Gibson's title reign so he winds up placing here.

21. James Gibson- Gibson's only storyline during his short title reign (even shorter than Cide's) was his feud with Spanky. Due to the short amount of time both men had left in ROH at that point, they only had time for one match, which was very disappointing. Gibson's other two title defenses were a great match against Cabana, and the amazing, show-saving match with Dragon in which he lost the title. Like Cide's, Gibson's title win was more about the chase (of first Aries, then Punk) than the reign, as well as ROH giving Gibson the recognition as an awesome wrestler that they feel he deserved, and that WWE wouldn't give him, but it gets a higher spot than Cide's (and Cole's) due to both having a story (albeit a disappointing one) and having an amazing match against Dragon.

20. Jay Briscoe (1st)- Jay's reign started off with a hot win over Kevin Steen, but went downhill from there. Aside from his first title defense, a very under-delivering match against Adam Cole, no one thought there was any chance of Jay losing the belt in any of his defenses until his final defense against Matt Hardy, and then it was only a very small segment of the fanbase who thought ROH might actually put the belt on Matt. Jay's reign also didn't have many matches of the level required of an ROH World Champion, with only the American Wolves being able to pull 8/10s out of him, and his two iPPV defenses were both disappointing. Factor in the disappointing end to the title reign (Jay vacated the belt to a kayfabe injury as a result of wanting to take time off, breaking the lineage of the ROH World Title for the first time in the belt's history), and you have a very underachieving title reign.

19. Jerry Lynn- Jerry's reign was another one of those short, "feel-good" title reigns for the old veteran. While Lynn's matches for the belt were mostly all awesome and he definitely proved that he could still go against the younger guys, it really lacked any sort of storyline at all, and at no point did anyone think that Jerry was going to lose the belt... until his match with Aries at Manhattan Mayhem III was announced, at which point everyone was certain he was going to lose it that night... and he did. The title reign was a personal and professional success for Jerry, but not really for ROH.

18. Jay Briscoe (2nd)- Like his first title reign, Jay's second title reign was largely disappointing. It almost always felt like the quality of his defenses had more to do with the quality of his opponent than they did with Jay's skill, which is not good. A champion is supposed to be able to bring other wrestlers up to his level. He shouldn't be the one being carried. For a nine month title reign to only have two feuds is a bit ridiculous, and Jay really didn't have any top-quality defenses. His title reign feels, in some ways, like a longer version of Xavier's specifically because of how much it felt like his opponents were carrying him, but the difference is that with Xavier, you were supposed to feel that he was an unworthy champion, while with Jay, you were supposed to be believe he was the best wrestler in the company, which often felt like a stretch. Don't get me wrong: Jay had some awesome title defenses... it's just that I was almost always wishing it was someone else in there in Jay's place.

17. Xavier- The point of Xavier's title reign was to get heat on The Prophecy... and boy did it work! The Prophecy's cheating got great heat, and people were clamoring for the babyfaces chasing him like AJ Styles, Paul London, and Low Ki to get the belt off of him. Like with Cide, though, the actual in-ring quality of his title defenses really wasn't up to ROH standards.

16. Michael Elgin- While Elgin's reign will almost certainly be remembered for the backstage controversy surrounding its premature end, it should not be forgotten that Elgin defended the belt quite often (only Austin Aries in his first reign and James Gibson defended the belt as often per average), and at quite a high level. Unfortunately, because of both its comparatively short length and the fact that Adam Cole ran through all of the challengers before dropping the belt to Elgin, none of Elgin's defenses aside from the one against Ciampa (ironically his only disappointing one) felt like they had any real gravity to them.

15. Jay Lethal- Contrary to what Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino try to tell us at every opportunity, Jay Lethal’s reign was not the greatest reign in the history of the ROH World Title. It’s not even close. Unlike most of the disappointing long reigns on this list, though, this was almost entirely not Jay Lethal’s fault. Nine times out of ten, Lethal delivered when he was given the time and opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, most of the time, the booking did not give Jay that chance. He was given very few chances to defend the belt against upper-card opponents, or in well-built title matches, or with adequate time in big situations. Jay Lethal’s title reign was about seven months’ worth of material stretch out over twice that time. He only defended the title four times in the first six months of his reign, rarely won cleanly, and despite a fourteen month title reign, didn’t tie up 99% of his loose ends. Jay Lethal is a great wrestler who got screwed out of a great title reign by piss-poor booking, but that doesn’t change the fact that his title reign was not good. If not for the Roddy matches and the AJ match, I would have rated him even lower than Xavier’s.

14. Adam Cole (2nd)- the moment that Cole won the belt for the second time we all knew the time and place that he would lose it, but they were able to build up Jay Lethal as a very credible challenger with whom Cole had a perfect 10/10 match, and his other title defenses, while no one really thought the belt would change hands, were all of an ROH World Title-level quality.

13. Adam Cole (1st)- Cole's title reign is a bit hard to place. When I thought back on it, I was pretty down on it. I remembered him just not delivering in his title matches aside from those on the biggest shows (his defense against Jimmy Jacobs at Pursuit: Night One and his final successful defense against Tommaso Ciampa at Road to Best in the World 2014: Night 2 being the exceptions). Then I looked back at my notes, and it turned out that this wasn't really the case. The only times where he really didn't deliver was a brief period in the winter of 2014 when he had a match against Matt Taven that was a missed opportunity to elevate Taven to the next level, and his two defenses against Chris Hero, which while great, weren't at the level most fans were expecting. Aside from the two Hero matches, Cole delivered in every big title match he was put in, which is what a champion needs to do, especially in ROH.

12. Davey Richards- ROH fans could not wait to see Davey Richards win the ROH World Title. Davey was the best in the world, and he was going to have a long, epic, ROH World Title reign, like Joe, Dragon, and Nigel before him, and like Tyler likely would have if he had not been signed by WWE. Well... Davey's title reign was long... but it was nothing close to epic, and is generally considered to be a huge disappointment. Davey only defended the belt eleven times in eleven months... and the first two were not even on ROH shows. Instead, he spent most of his time in tag team matches, first with Eddie Edwards as the American Wolves (whom, at the end of the year before, ROH had been saying were breaking up for no given reason), and later with his protege Kyle O'Reilly. The major angle of Davey's title reign was his disappointing angle with Eddie Edwards in which animosity seemed to just appear between Eddie and Davey and between Eddie and Kyle for reasons that completely go against all three guys' characters.
Like with Lynn, most people had no doubt that Davey would retain going into almost all of his title defenses, and a lot of the most-hyped matches were slightly disappointing. The only reason that I'm not giving Davey's title reign an even worse spot are his match with Michael Elgin at Showdown In The Sun: Day 2 (which even Meltzer had to come to his senses and give the full five stars to), and the bit of character damage that Davey repaired towards the end of his reign in setting up his title matches with both Adam Cole and Kevin Steen. Davey's title reign wasn't particularly bad, but it was certainly disappointing. These would have been more than acceptable from almost anyone else, but from the new "best in the world," awesome wasn't good enough... and many of Davey's defenses weren't even awesome. Even the end of Davey's reign, resulting in Kevin Steen's long-awaited ROH World Title win, though it was awesome, was still disappointing because it came up short of the epic proportions the angle required.

11. Eddie Edwards- Eddie Edwards only had four ROH World Title defenses and his title win came when no one expected it... so why is he ranked this high? The answer can be summed up in one word: Quality. The champion is usually expected to have the best match on the card. To perform at a certain standard of excellence which justifies the booker's decision to give him or her the strap. Eddie had four title defenses (Daniels, Hero, Roddy, and losing the belt to Davey). The average score of my ratings of those matches: close to 9.25/10. Even if you factor in his two tag team matches as champion, the average ratings to 9/10. That is absolutely phenomenal. That is even above and beyond the quality expected of a world champion. Yes, the angle with Davey was slightly rushed and a bit out of character for Davey, but it worked... and Eddie's perfect match with Hero more than makes up for the disappointing part of it. It is difficult to put on a perfect match, but do to so in what is, essentially, a throwaway match where no one thought that the title would change hands going in is even more difficult (because the crowd is less predisposed to get into the match), but Eddie managed to do it. ROH needs to give him a second run with the belt at some point.

10. Austin Aries (first reign)- Aries took on just a grueling schedule and managed to have awesome matches every time out, against opponents ranging in style from Cabana to Homicide to Gibson to Danielson. Add in his personal feud with Alex Shelley and cap it off with a perfect match against Punk when Aries lost the belt, and you have an awesome title reign.

9. Roderick Strong- A heel champ getting chased by a whole slew of super-over babyfaces like Christopher Daniels, Jay Briscoe, El Generico, Homicide, and Davey Richards, and all of his defenses were awesome matches (aside from the one against Cide, but Cide absolutely stunk up the joint the whole time in 2010-2011). What more could you ask for?

8. Kevin Steen- Steen's title reign came at a very tough time for Ring of Honor. It was clear that Jim Cornette's view of wrestling was not quite clicking with the fans and that the company was on a major downswing. The only real creative success of the Cornette Era was the build-up to Kevin Steen winning the ROH Title, and while the product as a whole did not improve, people still tuned in for one reason: Kevin Steen. Once Cornette was replaced by Delirious, the quality title defenses started flowing in against the likes of Michael Elgin, El Generico, and Jay Lethal, and the addition of more members to SCUM helped Steen's reign pick up even more steam towards the end.

7. Takeshi Morishima- An absolute monster heel getting chased by Dragon and Nigel. Morishima was the perfect champ for the early era of ROH PPV, as he was a great monster heel for a big babyface to dethrone. Morishima defended the belt with regularity not just in ROH, but in Pro Wrestling NOAH as well, helping the ROH World Title gain prestige in Japan.

6. Austin Aries (second reign)- An absolute douche of a heel champion, chased by guys like Tyler Black, Kenny Omega, Delirious, Colt Cabana, and Petey Williams. Aries' second reign started off in a slightly disappointing fashion, as his constant dodging of challengers meant that he had very few quality title defenses, but his weekend of defenses in November changed all of that, with absolute classics against first Davey Richards, then Kenny Omega the next night. Aries' time in the spotlight also gave a major rub to Kenny King and Rhett Titus, whom he had taken under his wing, helping them get over, and his ability to be a complete and total jerk was just so perfectly infuriating. Aries' second reign was like Roddy's, except it was longer, had more defenses, and Aries cut some just plain awesome promos. The biggest mark against this title reign is that (IMO) it was a huge mistake in the first place. I was in the building for Manhattan Mayhem III, and the whole place was ready for Tyler to win the belt that night. ROH missed the chance to strike while the iron was still hot, and the smarky fans turned on Tyler decently early into his title reign because of it.

5. Tyler Black- Tyler's title reign was the first extended run a babyface had had with the belt since Joe lost it in December of 2004, and it was a much-needed breath of fresh air. Factor in the decent length of Tyler's title reign, his feuds with Roddy and Davey (as well as his angle with Steen which never got off the ground due to Tyler leaving the company), and the amazing quality of all of his matches and defenses, including his perfect match against Davey at Death Before Dishonor VIII, and absolute classics against guys like Hero, Roddy, Steen, and Aries, and you have an amazing title reign.

4. Samoa Joe- Twenty-one months. Do I really need to say more? No... but I will anyway. Samoa Joe's title reign made the ROH World Title what it is today. Many people say that his trilogy with CM Punk (especially their first two matches) saved the company, and his feuds against guys like Homicide, Daniels, and the Briscoes, as well as his classic title defense against the likes of Bryan Danielson at The Midnight Express Reunion showed the world that the ROH World Title was more than just a belt in a good indy company. It was the belt in the indy company.

3. CM Punk- Three words: Summer of Punk. Possibly the best angle in wrestling history. Punk was being chased by a whole slew of guys, such as Gibson, Daniels, and Joe, cut some absolutely brilliant promos and did just plain amazingly despicable things. It was impossible to not hate Punk when he signed his WWE contract on the ROH World Title, or assaulted James Gibson with a steel chain, and used illegal leverage to cheat guys out of the ROH World Title. The most beautiful thing about this angle was that because of Punk's WWE contract, every defense felt not only like it could be the one where Punk would finally drop the belt... but like it had to be the one where Punk would finally drop the belt.

2. Bryan Danielson- Fifteen months, thirty-eight defenses, three sixty-minute broadways in the short span of just three weeks, outstanding title chases by Roderick, Nigel, Cabana, Joe, and KENTA, PERFECT matches against Nigel, KENTA, and Roddy, unifying the belt with the Pure Title, and awesome one-off defenses against everyone from AJ Styles to Naomichi Marufujji to Chris Sabin to Lance Storm. THIS is what a World Title reign in pro wrestling should be, and it elevated the ROH World Title to an even higher level. Through this title reign, Dragon proved to everyone that he was exactly what he claimed to be: "the best wrestler in the world."

1. Nigel McGuinness- One of the best heel turns in wrestling history, awesome chases by Dragon, Tyler, and Steen, as well as great ones by Hero, Lynn, and Claudio, Nigel McGuinness' ROH World Title reign was an emotional roller-coaster ride of awesome, with perfect matches against Dragon (twice), Tyler Black, and Austin Aries, as well as just plain amazing matches against Aries (again), Steen, and Generico. Even more so than Danielson, Nigel McGuinness managed to put on amazing matches as the ROH World Champion, despite battling through several major injuries. Nigel cut some of the best promos of all-time during this title reign, and like Joe, Aries, and Dragon before him, Nigel took the ROH World Title to new, unprecedented heights of prestige and meaning in the world of professional wrestling.


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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by RedSon » May 15th, '12, 15:50

nice read, I would have rated Low Ki's a bit higher since it was the first roh reign ever
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Apr 15th, '13, 21:13

Updated for Kevin Steen
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Jul 22nd, '13, 21:06

Updated for Jay Briscoe
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Jun 23rd, '14, 19:57

Updated for Adam Cole
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Feb 9th, '15, 23:03

Updated for Michael Elgin.
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by cero2k » Feb 10th, '15, 09:22

well placed really, can't argue. The one i just can't get over is Cole's being under Roddy's
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Feb 10th, '15, 09:30

cero2k wrote:well placed really, can't argue. The one i just can't get over is Cole's being under Roddy's

Roddy's defenses were just better, IMO. His defenses against Davey and Eddie were both better than any defense Cole had. I also felt that when Roddy was champ, all of the people chasing him were hotter than the non-Elgin wrestlers chasing Cole were.
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Jun 23rd, '15, 08:51

Updated for Jay Briscoe (2nd reign).
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Aug 20th, '16, 22:59

Updated for Jay Lethal.
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by cero2k » Aug 21st, '16, 01:38

I'm really surprised where you placed it. To me just the fact that the reign started with a title vs title match, he defended the title in japan, mexico, and the UK. Surely when he barely started he was winning due to Truth or shenanigans, but later on he had convincing wins by himself, and well, 427 days is not an easy feat many achieve. Taking in account your order, i'd place it next to Steen's, either above or below depending how much one likes Steen
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Aug 21st, '16, 01:57

cero2k wrote:I'm really surprised where you placed it. To me just the fact that the reign started with a title vs title match, he defended the title in japan, mexico, and the UK. Surely when he barely started he was winning due to Truth or shenanigans, but later on he had convincing wins by himself, and well, 427 days is not an easy feat many achieve. Taking in account your order, i'd place it next to Steen's, either above or below depending how much one likes Steen
A good title reign is made up of chases. Lethal had very few good chases. A great title reign has multiple challengers chasing at the same time. Lethal never came close to having more than two, and he only had two for a few brief moments. Lethal's 427 days becomes a lot less impressive when you realize that he only defended the belt four times in the first 180 or so, and his defenses outside of the US/Canada didn't mean anywhere near as much as those of Dragon, Joe, Nigel, Aries, or Morishima because with the exception of the Elgin match at the Dome, ROH never made a big deal out of them the way they did with the others'. Lethal did eventually start to win on his own (the Kyle defense is debatable), but none of those were great matches. To be fair, it mostly wasn't his fault, like I said, but the fact remains that many of Lethal's most hyped title defenses (both Cabana defenses, Briscoe, Kyle at All-Star Extravaganza, and the Anniversary Show defense) did not deliver to the level an ROH World Title defense should.
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Jan 4th, '17, 20:33

Updated for both Adam Cole's second reign and for Kyle O'Reilly's.
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Mar 30th, '17, 01:00

Updated for Adam Cole's 3rd reign.
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by cero2k » Jul 14th, '17, 02:00

not ranking Daniels? it should be easy, he's like 25 if not 26
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Re: Ranking the ROH World Title Reigns

Post by Big Red Machine » Jul 14th, '17, 09:26

cero2k wrote:
Jul 14th, '17, 02:00
not ranking Daniels? it should be easy, he's like 25 if not 26
I want to see at least his defenses against Taven and the one against Martinez/White. Plus I am planning on watching at least his defense against Zack and Cole in WCPW at some point. As of right now he's at worst between Cole 3 and Low Ki, but unless the defenses I haven't yet seen are outstanding I don't think he's beating Briscoe 1, either.
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