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Former NXT wrestler wins ROH world title shot as surprise entrant in Honor Rumble

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One promoter’s trash is another promoter’s treasure. A recently released NXT wrestler made a surprise appearance to win a world title shot in the Honor Rumble on the Ring of Honor PPV pre-show for Death Before Dishonor.

The man known as Ari Sterling returned to ROH as Alex Zayne. He entered the ring as a surprise participant in the 16th slot of the 16-man rumble.

Zayne, PJ Black, and Flip Gordon were the final three when Zayne executed a sweet flipping super double hurricanrana.

Gordon was eliminated by Zayne after being shoved out on a springboard bounce. Zayne danced with Black for a bit, then Zayne used quick wits to survive for victory. Black charged for a running crossbody against the ropes. Both men toppled over. Zayne hooked the ropes for safety, while Black’s momentum carried him down to the floor. Zayne was left as the winner with a prize of a future world title shot on TV.

Zayne last competed for ROH in early 2020. He joined NXT in December of that year, and he was released in August this year. The angle ROH is running to build hype that Zayne could actually win the world championship is his previous record in ROH. He was 2-0 with one of those wins coming against current world titleholder Bandido.

The Honor Rumble order of entrance was Brian Johnson, Brian Milonas, Beer City Bruiser, Danhausen, Caprice Coleman from the commentary table, Sledge, PCO, PJ Black, Dak Draper, Silas Young, Rey Horus, Dante Caballero, Flip Gordon, Joe Keys, World Famous CB, and finally Alex Zayne.

Amusing story beats included Johnson against the world as a loudmouth curmudgeon and Gordon with retrograde amnesia.

Johnson was first to come out and had the unfortunate draw to go up against the heavyweight Bouncers tag team. Johnson’s mortal enemy Danhausen was next and offered no aid. After a spurt of eliminations, Sledge and PCO completed Team Danhausen for a 3-on-1 advantage to beat up Johnson. Help eventually arrived with mentor Black assisting Johnson, but Black tried to dump Johnson for a sneaky elimination. Johnson ended up surviving until the final four. His payback on Black backfired. Black avoided elimination by hugging the ropes. In the process, it lowered the top rope and made it easier for Gordon to toss Johnson out.

As for Gordon, he suffered a potential concussion a few weeks back. In the locker room, he was asking for the Young Bucks thinking they still worked for ROH. It turns out that Gordon’s mind was stuck in 2018.

When Gordon arrived for the Honor Rumble, he was clean shaven with a fresh haircut and waving the American flag. Gordon even did a Too Sweet in the ring.

The bright side is that Gordon’s skills were still on point with flashy moves galore.

The full order of elimination was:

1. Beer City Bruiser by Caprice Coleman
2. Brian Milonas by Coleman, Brian Johnson, & Danhausen
3. Coleman by Johnson
4. Sledge by Dak Draper
5. Danhausen by Johnson
6. PCO self-elimination after short circuiting
7. Silas Young by Flip Gordon
8. Dante Caballero by Draper
9. Joe Keys by Draper
10. Draper by Alex Zayne
11. World Famous CB by Rey Horus
12. Horus by Johnson
13. Johnson by Gordon
14. Gordon by Zayne
15. Black by Zayne
Winner: Zayne

The Honor Rumble is available for free for your viewing pleasure.

Are you excited for Alex Zayne’s triumph? Where do you think he fits in the ROH pecking order?