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WWE.com has a front page story about Ring of Honor's influence in today's WWE

This is interesting. The sports entertainment giant has a lengthy article and oral history of the independent company that fed guys like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and Antonio Cesaro to the big leagues. Get the link, some highlights and our thoughts.

via WWE.com; courtesy of George Tahinos

For a while now, WWE.com has been the bridge between the internet wrestling community (IWC) and the promotion that doesn't even call what it does 'wrestling'. Articles and features that bend if not break the rules of kayfabe pop up fairly regularly, and several staff writers at the site definitely have a slant that leans toward the anti-"five moves of doom" mentality that internet fans are generally assumed to have.

Ring of Honor has been a part of WWE's on-screen product since CM Punk name-dropped them during his famous "Pipe Bomb" in 2011 (and its existence acknowledges earlier, when the company casually promoted Darren Aronofsky's 2008 film The Wrestler, whose climactic scene prominently featured ROH logos and banners).

But a full-blown front page story about the independent company and its influence on WWE is an unprecedented step. But it's exactly what we got today, complete with extensive quotes from employees of the Stamford, Connecticut-based corporation like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and Antonio Cesaro, former employees of both company's like Colt Cabana and independent promoter Gabe Sapolsky, who booked ROH during the time that those other names were regulars there.

It's a really good read, and WWE.com's staff* deserves props similar to the ones that are routinely rained down on the company's video production staff. Joey Styles and his team* do a great job on the regular, and this is no exception.

The overt acknowledgement of a "competitor" isn't even the most noteworthy thing about the piece, though. Wrestling is discussed openly as an art form, and a craft that the artist who perform it have to master over years and under different masters. While the guys under WWE contract are always referred to by their WWE trademarked names, people like AJ Styles, Kenta Kobashi and Christopher Daniels are discussed. Guys who left WWE, sometimes under allegedly uncomfortable or unprofessional circumstances are name-dropped, like Chris Hero, Low Ki and...

CM Punk.

The Best in the World is kind of hidden, to the point where it becomes noticeable that you're halfway through an article about a company he was synonymous with featuring an interview with his best friend that hasn't mentioned him yet. But he comes up, including some pictures and a tag to his Superstar profile page at the articles end.

Let the work/shoot debate continue. (It's not a work, but some of it will become one)

More interesting to me is the article as an olive branch to a constituency that WWE has always been able to count on that now seems legitimately pissed off. In the past, hacked off smarks were guaranteed revenue. But the triple whammy of a Royal Rumble that was received like a shipment of anthrax, Punk's walkout and a big ratings drop with no competition on Monday night has to have some executives on edge.

Especially on the eve of a Network launch that is counting on hardcore fans as the early adopters.

In reality, while we're mad, we're still most of us giving the company our credit card numbers on February 24th. And one web article that hypes up ROH from the aughts is just a different kind of nostalgia than the Hulk Hogan 80s or Monday Night War 90s marketing to which we're accustomed.

But it's a sign that they know we're out there. And if recent events are followed by some tangible numbers from their over-the-top distribution product showing that we like to watch ROH alums more than Big Show, Batista or Giant Gonzalez...maybe change will eventually come to WWE.

* The article discussed here was written by Zach Linder. It remains a really good read.

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