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Challengers | Ring of Honor Wrestling

Updated: May 8

The year 2024 has seen a tremendous transition in championships for AEW and ROH, with many of our latest champions having won their titles since December 2023. This was cemented at AEW Dynasty, where 50% of AEW’s titles changed hands. With that in mind, the opportunity of new or unique matches and challengers are at an all-time high. Due to this, I decided to undertake a little exercise, naming some unlikely contenders who should challenge for these titles, both in ROH and AEW. Let us begin with Ring of Honor…


Title: ROH Women’s Television Championship

Current Champion: Billie Starkz

Challenger and Why: As the first Women’s Television Champion, Billie Starkz has made her mentor Athena proud, even faking a severe neck injury in her tournament final match against Queen Aminata to take advantage and secure the title. With this change in attitude, Billie now will look to defend her title to prove herself as dominant as the ROH Women’s Champion. But who to face first? As an opening feud, I’d like to suggest ‘Legit’ Leyla Hirsch, who featured in the original tournament, and has been a previous challenger for both Athena’s ROH Women’s Championship and the NWA Women’s Title. As a much more physical and mat-based competitor, Hirsch could offer a difficult challenge for Starkz, her submissions playing on the crowd’s mixed emotions for Starkz after Billie’s recent deception. Hirsch could even be a handpicked challenger by Athena, wanting to see whether Starkz can equal her mentor’s previous performance and current expectations.


Title: ROH Pure Championship

Current Champion: Wheeler Yuta

Challenger and Why: Wheeler has been a successful inclusion in the ROH Pure Division, regularly having tremendous matches on ROH PPVs whilst simultaneously featuring heavily for the Blackpool Combat Club in AEW. However, there is a possibility that he’s now outgrown the Pure Division and needs to return full time to AEW. With that in mind, who could benefit from possibly defeating and becoming a focus in the Pure Division? At the risk of being deemed blasphemous, I’d like to suggest Hook, as he’s already demonstrated his technique, and impressed in his recent match against Samoa Joe, but still uses the FTW rules matches. By moving into the Pure Division, Hook could expand on his current moveset with more submissions and have a set match style that incorporates more rules to allow him to demonstrate further evolution. Having a character like Hook needing to work around the Pure Division rules even allows him to show his intensity still while focusing his in-ring work more. I’d even be tempted to suggest that the FTW Championship get unified with the Pure Championship and allow it to be retired with Hook.


Title: ROH Television Championship

Current Champion: Kyle Fletcher

Challenger and Why: Fletcher originally came to AEW as a tag-team specialist alongside Aussie Open partner Mark Davis, but after Davis’ injury, Fletcher has taken the opportunity to prove himself in the singles division, combining his agility and speed with a growth in muscle and stature. Fletcher has now become a tremendous all-rounder, often physically overpowering his opponents, and it would take a great talent to challenge him. One I think serves as an excellent contrast with Fletcher is one of AEW’s best originals, a past champion in both the singles and tag-team divisions, the always consistent Bastard, PAC. Unsuccessful recently in challenging Okada for the Continental Championship, PAC earned a standing ovation from an appreciative audience, and is always a favourite for title opportunities. Personally, I would love to see PAC face Fletcher on a ROH PPV, possibly win the title, and have PAC defend the title for 3-4 months while Fletcher battles back from this setback, culminating in a rematch where Fletcher wins back the title. Either way, PAC is always a good option.


Title: ROH World Tag Team Championships

Current Champion: The Undisputed Kingdom (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett)

Challenger and Why: With MJF likely injured for longer than expected, with comments that he might even need surgery, it will be quite a while before the Undisputed Kingdom can likely conclude their storyline with the former World Champion. Due to that, it might be of benefit to have the Undisputed Kingdom move back to AEW fully, or possibly even partner with Wardlow for a chance at the Six-Man Tag Team Championship. In the meanwhile, it would be good to see the Undisputed Kingdom gather more momentum with the titles and gather tremendous heat. Due to that, I’d like to suggest seeing ROH capitalise on some recent ground support growing for JD Drake and Anthony Henry, the latter who revealed on 13th March that he wouldn’t need surgery on his broken jaw, just 8 weeks recovery. That would take us to about the 8th May, and Tony Khan’s recent decision to invite Henry back to ROH means they still have time to take advantage. If Henry and Drake returned in May to ROH, attacking the current champions, and being challenged to prove their worth in a series of matches, it could help legitimise them as challengers, and culminate in a big PPV match, where the Undisputed Kingdom cheat to survive. Regardless, it would be wonderful to see two fan favourites get the attention they deserve.


Title: ROH Women’s World Championship

Current Champion: Athena

Challenger and Why: The MVP of ROH, Athena has taken on all challengers and defeated them, with twenty major successful defences and over 500-days as champion. She’s knocked down names such as Nyla Rose, Hikaru Shida, Kiera Hogan, Willow Nightingale, and Billie Starkz. But there’s a surprising member of the roster that the closest Athena has gotten to was tagging alongside on an episode of AEW Rampage. Athena has defeated some former AEW Women’s Champions in Rose and Shida, but there is a former TBS Champion who might be an excellent challenger in Kris Statlander. Tall, strong, and experienced, Statlander could easily offer one of Athena’s biggest challenges in her reign, akin to the recent feud with Shida, and it could even tie into Statlander’s current storyline with Willow and Stokely Hathaway. Either way, it could be an awesome ROH PPV main event.


Title: ROH World Championship

Current Champion: Mark Briscoe

Challenger and Why: A wonderfully emotional title victory for Mark Briscoe as he won the ROH World Title, in memory of his beloved brother who had previously been champion twice. Mark has taken time to transition into a singles career, but he’s a crowd favourite with unique offence, great spirit, and a willingness to try anything. But what has been missed so far, is that bitter, hateful feud with a real nemesis, the one that can help legitimise Mark as ROH World Champion. Because of that, I wanted to think of a brilliant wrestler, great workrate, and an ability to make the fans hate him, who could make this feud personal. My recommendation for Mark’s first major feud as champion, is Christian Cage based on the colossal heat and vitriol that Christian generates from the fans, the depths he sinks to as a manipulative and nasty snake, and the collection of great matches he’s had as TNT Champion and even challenging Kenny Omega for the AEW World Title. The promos, the passion, the intensity, this has the potential to last for several months and leave Briscoe as an undisputed main-eventer in ROH.

[Editor's Note: this piece was written before last night's Dynamite revealed Christian Cage as the top contender for the AEW World title instead. Not that challenging for the ROH World title might not still happen down the road.]


So those are my thoughts and suggestions for possible upcoming title challengers that Ring Of Honor could feature, next time we will move onto All Elite Wrestling…


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