Whether or not Dec. 11’s Final Battle was the last Ring of Honor PPV ever, or just “The End of an Era” like the show’s tagline proclaimed — a lot of wrestlers who rose to fame in ROH marked the occasion by sending in videos reflecting on what the promotion means to them.
Messages from stars like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson & Eddie Edwards played throughout the broadcast, and were shared on social media during and after the show. But there was nothing from Ring of Honor alumni currently working for Vince McMahon. The assumption was that WWE didn’t let folks like Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Seth Rollins say goodbye (at least for now) to ROH.
That assumption was fueled by comments from ROH, like this one from Kevin Eck in his weekly column on Ring of Honor’s website:
“It was very classy of AEW and Impact Wrestling to allow their talent to appear at Final Battle and send in video tributes. If only every major wrestling company was as classy.”
But Owens says that’s not why. As he told Pat Laprade’s Les Anti-Pods de la Lutte podcast [quotes translated from French and provided by Laprade]:
“The answer is quite simple: Ring of Honor didn’t ask any wrestlers from WWE to do that, nor contacted anyone at WWE. I knew it was going to be their last show, but I didn’t think to send a video so they could play it at the show. I’ve watched it. I was at a WWE show, and I was watching it on my phone, so it was not something I simply ignored. I’ve read some people on the internet saying that probably WWE didn’t let us do it, but that’s incorrect. It’s just ROH who didn’t ask us, and I bet that if they had, we could have done it, but that wasn’t the case.”
Somebody’s not telling the truth, but we’ll likely never know who. We do have some idea what the man who wrestled for ROH as Kevin Steen might have said in his video. Although, by the time Laprade asked KO what the company meant to his career, perhaps he was already unhappy with with the pro-AEW and Impact slant Eck & others put on the whole situation? Either way, it’s an honest, not entirely sentimental assessment:
“It’s funny cause I often ask myself that same question. Of course, it gave me a very important platform in the United States. But at the end of the day, William Regal saw me at a PWG show. And even before I started full time with ROH in 2007, I had a good name on the indies because of PWG. So sometimes I wonder if things would have not become what they became with ROH, if I would have made it to WWE anyway. Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know.
“But at the same time, there was a point in my career where I thought ROH would be where I would spend my whole career. Even if my goal was always to go with WWE, [there] was a point in my life where I had my son and my wife, and I was thinking that traveling so much like I would have had to do in WWE was not the best thing for me, so I was thinking that the more time I can make a living working ROH, that’s what I would do. However, with time, my priorities changed a little, my family’s priorities changed a little, and that’s when WWE became my goal again.
“So ROH was a big influence and a huge part of my career, but I often wonder if ROH would have not been part of my career, if I would have made it to WWE anyway. A huge part of me thinks so. That said, I have plenty of good and fun memories with ROH, and I’m very happy to have been apart of ROH for all those years.”