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Mat Matters: WWE raids may end ROH
By MARK XAMIN - SLAM! Wrestling


He's in it to win it, WWE. Be warned, Nigel McGuinness is coming. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea


Word has spread like wildfire among the internet wrestling community of Bryan Danielson's signing with the WWE. And while we'll cover what that means for both WWE and ROH, there is some breaking news today. Danielson isn't going alone -- he's bringing another huge ROH star with him.

Not only has WWE signed American Dragon, they've also signed former ROH World Champion, Nigel McGuinness. These two signings are the equivalent of an NHL franchise drafting Sidney Crosby and John Tavares in the same year. Over a year ago, I wrote a piece on wrestling's future. In that article, I listed Danielson and McGuinness as the top prospects in all of wrestling. You're about to find out why. You think CM Punk climbed the ladder quickly? Meet the two men who will be joining him in leading the WWE into a brand new generation.

For those of you who don't know, Bryan Danielson was trained by Shawn Michaels. He built his name mainly in Ring of Honor, and became ROH World Champion in 2006, dominating for over a year in an unforgettable reign that was direly needed, as the popular independent promotion was about to lose Samoa Joe, A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels, and a whack of other TNA stars that had built ROH from the ground up. Danielson put on wrestling clinics each night out, battling for an hour with Nigel McGuinness and Colt Cabana on consecutive shows... and oh yeah, he did it with a dislocated shoulder. Dubbed The American Dragon, Danielson is a breath of fresh air -- a bootlegger's dream. He is undoubtedly the best technician in professional wrestling today; yes, I dare say even better than Kurt Angle. He is a psychological master, he can work the mic as well as anyone, and his wrestling style is a throwback to the days where mainstream wrestling was headlined by the likes of Bret Hart. I'm salivating over the dream matches we are sure to see in the coming years already -- not the least of which will be Bryan Danielson versus Shawn Michaels, his trainer, and Bryan Danielson versus CM Punk, the first ROH graduate to make a splash on WWE's main event scene.

And then there's Nigel McGuinness, who if not Danielson's equal in the ring, comes in at a very close number two. Nigel is also a former ROH World Champion, wrestling through an equally impressive championship reign as Dragon, and arguably with a weaker roster to work with than Danielson had during his reign. He is a British wrestler who plays a heel like a true professional, and will surely be a major player in the WWE in the near future. Oh, and by the way, when Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness climb into the ring together, they put on a wrestling clinic, the likes of which we haven't seen since... well, ever. It is truly a sight to behold, and if you don't believe me, check it out for yourself. Their series of matches are some of the most memorable in ROH history.

Now aside from what this means for the WWE (I actually have hope that we will be entering another golden age of wrestling now), what does this mean for ROH? It's two top stars are leaving, and ROH is already facing a tremendous amount of turmoil. Where do they go from here?

The sad truth is that this could be the final nail in ROH's coffin. The company was already reeling after the loss of booker Gabe Sapolsky and has been on a downward spiral ever since, but its one saving grace was that it was the place to see Danielson and McGuinness in action. While both men have dabbled in other independent promotions and Japan, ROH is the biggest and grandest independent promotion in North America -- but its survival now hangs in the balance as ROH bookers will now frantically attempt to build a new star to cushion the devastating blow.

Were I in charge, Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black would get the nod as the ones to carry the ROH banner. Perhaps better suited for TNA than WWE, given their smaller stature, both of these guys could be the next stars to emerge from ROH. Davey Richards, as solid as he is, probably will never get much mainstream attention -- or if he does, he will last about as long as Colt Cabana did.

WHAT YOU THINK
Of these two Ring of Honor graduates expected to debut in WWE soon, who do you think will find more success sooner?
Bryan Danielson - 30%
Nigel McGuinness - 31%
Neither have much of a shot - 39%
While these could indeed be the final days of Ring of Honor, what a dream run they have had so far. Producing stars such as CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuinness, Austin Aries (who will be back in the mainstream some day, I hope), the Briscoes, Claudio Castagnoli, Chris Hero, Delirious, and so many others. They have shone a new light on women's wrestling, putting the Sara Del Rey, Lacey, Daizee Haze, and many others at center stage and showing what true women's wrestling is all about. They've given new life to guys like Brent Albright, who was ousted from WWE after a sad run as some kind of Chris Benoit impersonator (going by the name Gunner Scott). ROH's contribution to wrestling rivals that of the real ECW of years past.

I sincerely hope this does not spell the end of ROH, but I am unbelievably optimistic about what this means for WWE. Buckle up, wrestling fans... you're about to enter a new age of wrestling.

RELATED LINKS

  • Past Mat Matters columns

    Mark Xamin is a huge Bryan Danielson fan, if you couldn't tell. You can reach him at mark_xamin@yahoo.ca, and you can discuss wrestling with Mark over at Mywrestlingforum.com.