Published Mar 19 2020 By Hakeem Fullerton Of Wrestlingwithwrestling.com
Intro: When you think a wrestling promotion whose notorious for having a few scandals or controversies under it's belt the first few names you think of are the original ECW, WCW under Vince Russo, WWF/E or TNA/Impact.
You most likely don't associate Ring of Honor with this kind of group when it comes incidents that end up ruining the company's reputation in eyes of fans and the wrestling media, however ROH like all wrestling promotions has had it's fair share of problems under it's near 20 year existence and here are 11 scandals and controversies in Ring of Honor history.
11. Willow The Wisp At Death Before Dishonor 2003
To say that Jeff Hardy's professional wrestling career has been problematic is probably the biggest understatement in the history of the sport.
Hardy's personal demons have become well known to fans as his issues with substance abuse have been on displayed both behind the scenes and onscreen for the entire world to see.
People tend to remember his infamous match at Victory Road 2011 against Sting as the first example of Hardy's problems being shown to the world, however Ring of Honor actually has TNA beat by a couple of years when it comes to demonstrating Hardy's destructive lifestyle onscreen.
During the 2003 ROH PPV Death Before Dishonor, a match took place which saw Joey Matthews (aka Joey Mercury) take on a man known as Krazy K and Jeff Hardy under his alter ego of 'Willow The Wisp' in a triple threat match.
This was Hardy's first appearance in a wrestling ring after being released from the WWE that same year for a multitude of reasons including erratic behavior, failure to go to rehab, sloppy performances in the ring, no showing events and mentioning how he lost his passion for the business.
On top of this Hardy was also addicted in painkillers and crystal meth around this time.
The match didn't start off on the right foot as the ROH crowd, who are well known for their smarky behavior could be heard saying things like "Hardy Sucks", "We Want Matt" and "You Got Fired" throughout whilst the commentators failed to cover up this fact for the viewing audience.
The action was nothing special as Hardy's sloppiness showed in this match and the crowd absolutely booed Jeff to no end and although he won the match the fans had already tuned out and Hardy would never be seen in Ring of Honor again until 2017 along side his brother, Matt Hardy.
10. Kenny King Double Crosses ROH
Jim Cornette is one of the most recognizable and controversial figures in pro wrestling due in no small part to Cornette's views on certain wrestlers, promotions and his outspoken opinions that have resulted in the 'Louisville Lip' being blacklisted from almost every single wrestling promotion in the United States.
One of these promotions were Ring of Honor and over the years, Jim has done numerous interviews and videos talking about his time in ROH and the issues he dealt with while under their employment.
One of these issues involved former TNA X Division Champion Kenny King, a Las Vegas native who made his return to ROH in 2015 after his first run in the company ended in 2012 under some underhanded circumstances.
According to Cornette on his podcast "The Jim Cornette Experience" He talks about his dealings with Kenny King during his time with Ring of Honor and mentions how King was considering his options as he was thinking about heading to TNA for a tryout match while also thinking about retiring from the sport in his early 30's.
King along with his tag partner in ROH, Rhett Titus were set to face off against Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin for the ROH tag team titles, but there were a few problems.
You see, Titus signed a two year deal contract with Ring of Honor but Kenny King didn't as he was unsure of his future in wrestling, Cornette also mentions how Titus and Kenny were a popular team at the time and if they lost their match against Haas and Benjamin, then it would have killed their momentum in the eyes of the ROH fans.
Cornette, who was an executive at the time gave Kenny in writing a 90 day contract extension telling King that if he manages to negotiate a deal with TNA or plans on retiring, then he and his partner will have to drop the belts in the near future on ROH programming, but if the negotiations fail to go through then King and Titus would remain the tag champions.
King agreed via a hand shake agreement and as a result the match went on as followed with Kenny King and Titus Rhett becoming the new ROH tag team champions, but of course if you've read the title for this article as well as the title for this entry then you can probably tell what happens next.
So mere days after wining the titles, Cornette discovers that Kenny never officially signed the contract extension before the tag team title match and that he was in Florida where TNA was at and Kenny told Cornette and other Ring of Honor executives that he was going to wrestling a match for TNA whilst still the ROH tag team champion (also ROH and TNA wasn't working with each other after a shocking sex scandal, more on that later).
As a result, Kenny wrestled a match for TNA and eventually signing a contract with the promotion, this however led to ROH management stripping Titus Rhett and Kenny King of the tag team title belts leading to Titus, Benjamin and Haas getting infuriated over the double cross by King and leaving Ring of Honor scrapping to find a way to solve this crisis with the tag team titles.
Bafflingly ROH re-signed Kenny King in 2015 where he continues to wrestle to this day.
9. Bully Ray's 2019 Fan Incident
Considering his alleged reputation for not being the nicest person in the business coupled with his abrasive personality, it's not hard to understand how Bubba Ray also known as Bully Ray has seen his fair share controversy throughout his career.
The most recent example of this would have to that time Bully Ray pulled a fan backstage and had a stern conversation with that fan.
According to a video posted on the Solomonster Sounds Off YouTube channel, the incident took place during an ROH show in Portland Oregon, when Ring of Honor star Mandy Leon reportedly spat on a fan early in the show.
Later on in the show, Leon and as well Angelina Love and Velvet Sky are cutting a promo in the ring when the same fan who got spitted on by Mandy Leon begins heckling the ladies by saying a number of unpleasant comments before mentioning Velvet's boyfriend, Bully Ray and called him "That Fat Turd, Bully Ray" before referring to the ladies in the ring as "The Tramp Stamp Trio".
A short while later, the fan was asked by security to leave his seat and head to the backstage area instead of being asked to leave the show for his lewd comments and was confronted by Bully Ray who allegedly had a quick talk with the fan about his comments before he was sent back to his seat to enjoy the rest of the show.
However, things began to take a strange turn when that fan went to social media to talk about the conservation with Bully, which then led to both ROH and Bully himself explaining the rest of the story with fans in attendance even mentioning how the fan who made the lewd comments was doing this throughout the show thus leading to Ring of Honor executives to say that there was an investigation into this matter and that the situation should of been handled differently and proper protocol was needed to handle this situation.
Now to be fair, this incident isn't truly scandalous as some of the other entries on this list but it does show how there's a lack in proper etiquette and protocol for handling situations like this.
8. Enzo Amore and Big Cass At The 2019 G1 Supercard
In early 2019, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling were advertised to air a joint wrestling mega event called the G1 Supercard.
During that event, former WWE superstars Enzo Amore and Big Cass were seen jumping over the guard rail to the surprise and soon afterwards anger of fans in attendance.
The reason for the fans anger toward Enzo and Cass is mostly due to the scandals both men manage to as Enzo was fired from the WWE due to a rape allegation leveled at him in 2017, which saw the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion get released, Cass meanwhile was fired the next year due to a long list of reasons with one of them being that time Cass was suppose to beat up a midget wrestler on an episode of Smackdown but ended up assaulting him far more than the company wanted.
Nonetheless, in the video that I'll link at the bottom of this article the duo could be seen invading the Supercard event unexpectedly before a number ROH stars including PCO, the Briscoe Brothers and Bully Ray begin to brawl with Enzo and Cass with a large number of swears including the F word being bellowed out by wrestlers and the fans.
Security limply tries to restrain the wrestlers before Enzo and Cass give the people in the Madison Square Garden area the middle finger and walk off.
It didn't take long for people on the internet to suspect that the whole thing was worked public stunt and they were partially correct.
During a 2019 appearance on the "Talk Is Jericho" Podcast both Enzo and Cass explained that an unidentified source working for Sinclair contacted them about making an appearance at the event that would become the brawl that took place.
However, the problem was that security and especially the locker room were not informed about any of this, thus making the hijacking look realistic, the also mentioned how Sinclair never contacted them back after the incident without so much as a call of appreciation for doing the deed they were asked to do. It probably doesn't help that the hijacking stunt also happened the same night when Bret Hart was assaulted by a fan who jumped the guard rail during a Hall of Fame Speech.
Ultimately, ROH higher-ups admitted that the whole thing was a work and axed the idea of Enzo and Cass coming back to ROH to finish the job, which was unfortunate for the duo as Cass would mention in during the podcast "We put our f###### lives on the line, we didn't even get a god damned Thank you".
7. CM Punk's Signs His WWE Contract On The ROH Championship
CM Punk is a man who needs no introduction, his one of the best wrestlers of a generation whose mic skills manage to bring back many jaded fans to watch the WWE back in July of 2011 after delivering his infamous pipebomb promo in the closing moments of an episode of Monday Night Raw.
While people today still remember Punk's pipebomb promo as a case of blurring the lines of kayfabe and reality in professional wrestling this wasn't the first time that he did something like this...
In the early to mid 2000's, CM Punk wrestled for Ring of Honor and was seen by many to be one of the company's most talented stars especially after his match with Samoa Joe for the ROH title which ended in a 60 minute time limit draw, which garnered the company a five star match from Pro Wrestling Observer, Dave Meltzer.
In 2005 Punk had a tryout match for the WWE and came up short, however he allegedly signed a deal with the WWE despite being with Ring of Honor which got Punk and ROH at lot of attention. At the Death Before Dishonor 3 PPV Punk defeated Austin Aries to become the new ROH World champion and then went on to cut a scaving post match promo in which he insulted the fans and the company by proclaiming that he would take his newly won ROH title to the WWE, meaning that WWE could of actually announced to the world that they hired the Ring of Honor World Champion onto their roster.
It probably also doesn't help that Ring of Honor like TNA at the time was competition for the WWE, so having one of your most talented wrestlers never mind the world champion wrestling on your archenemies promotion was bound to make ROH look weak in comparison.
However, fans weren't able to tell if the angle was a storyline made up by the higher-ups of ROH or Punk serious about leaving the company; In 2005, Punk appeared in front of a very snarky ROH crowd dressed in a suit and holding the company's top prize, Punk would go throw the events that led him to this situation from his brief time in TNA to the promises made by guys like Low-Ki and AJ Styles that they would stay with ROH no matter what to of course winning the ROH world title.
In a move that left the fans enraged, CM Punk called out a friend of his to hold onto the Ring of Honor championship as he would take a WWE contract that he had inside his jacket and literally placed it on top of the company's most prestigious title as he signed his name on the contract before showing it off to very pissed off crowd of ROH fans.
This point in time was known as ROH's "The Summer of Punk" as Chicago's favorite wrestler was not only at the center of one of the biggest angles in Ring Of Honor history, but it also made Punk into one of the biggest heels outside of the WWE machine.
Punk would of course lose the championship to wrestler James Gibson on August 12th before wrestling his last match with ROH on February 11th 2006 in a tag team with partner Bryan Danielson (aka Daniel Bryan) against Adam Pearce and Jimmy Rave.
Regardless if the contract signing was staged or not, the footage of seeing your companies most prized wrestler/champion sign a deal to work for a rival promotion right on top of the companies world championship not only devalues the championship that your wrestlers are suppose to be fighting for but, it also hurts the credibility of the company as well.
Meanwhile CM Punk would join the WWE in 2006 and the rest as the say is history.
6. Taeler Hendrix Accuses Jay Lethal of Sexual Assault
In April of 2017, Pro wrestler and valet Taeler Hendrix, best known for short run in TNA/Impact from 2012-13 was released from Ring of Honor, It was later revealed by Hendrix herself that the reason she was taken off of ROH TV was due to the fact that she refused to sleep with former TNA X Division star and multiple time ROH Champion, Jay Lethal.
Taeler went onto her Twitter account in July and responded back to a fan of Jay Lethal's by saying "the dude your standing up for is the same dude that told me because I didn't sleep with him they sabotaged me and took me off TV. that being the almighty Jay." She then made more comments hours later and mentioned how got a lawyer to look into her case while saying that she could remain silent about this and that an investigation would be conducted over these claims.
Considering these claims were made in 2017, a year in which the Me Too Movement came into affect and destroyed the careers of many names in Sports, TV and Hollywood you can probably see why this was a colossal PR disaster for Ring of Honor.
These claims caught the attention of the masses on social media as Ms. Hendrix would reveal screenshots on her Twitter account that were sent to her allegedly by Lethal.
The information she reveals paints Jay Lethal in a negative light but also Ring of Honor as she questions ROH's believability into comments that the company takes matters like hers very serious and mentions that during a live event she and Jay had a conversation in which she says is when Lethal pulled her to the side and told her that she'd be pulled from ROH TV because she didn't sleep Jay.
Lethal would go on to deny these claims and mention that Taeler's story was false; The investigation into these claims are still on going whether on the claims are true, this is certainly not the kind of PR that ROH was hoping for.
5. ICP At Glory By Honor
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope also known as the Insane Clown Posse are infamous in the music world as they have been noted to insight violence within their fan base known as the Juggalos, so much so that they have even been labeled as a gang by the FBI.
Raps most infamous clowns are also big fans of pro wrestling as the two clowns not only run their wrestling promotion, Juggulo Championship Wrestling (JCW) but they've also appeared and wrestled in various U.S. promotions like WWF/E, WCW, ECW and even TNA/Impact.
However, the one place you probably wouldn't expect the controversial face painted clowns to appear at is a promotion that's all about wrestling and zero gimmicks aka Ring of Honor...
On October 5th 2002, the Insane Clown Posses appeared at ROH event in Philadelphia Pennsylvania called Glory By Honor where they took on wrestlers Oman Tortuga and Diablo Santiago. The match itself only last a matter of seconds as the clowns defeat their opponents with ease all while the ROH fans chanting "Posse Shit", "You Suck" and "Don't Come Back" to the Insane Posse.
The match apparently was such an embarrassment for the company that they removed this match from future home video releases but it would end up seeing the light of day on the Ring of Honor Uncensored Vol. 1 DVD.
4. Ric Flair Screws ROH Out Of Money
After his "in ring retirement" following his match with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24 and his depart from WWE TV in early 2009, Flair would end up in TNA in early 2010 and would be there until 2012.
While many tend to forget the memorable moments Flair had during his TNA tenure like his feud with Jay Lethal in 2010, his partnership with AJ Styles, the formation of 'Fortune' and his matches with Hulk Hogan, Sting, Mick Foley and his participation in the 2011 lethal lockdown match, Flair also made his way to Ring of Honor in 2009 and if you can't remember Flair's ROH...well your not alone.
In 2009, Ric Flair appeared in Ring of Honor as an ambassador/authority figure for the company where he would make few appearances on TV.
Unfortunately that's were all the good stuff about Flair in ROH ends as the Nature Boy was reported to have no showed events and would leave certain events before they even concluded but not before getting his money first before leaving the company high and dry for Jeff Jarrett's wrestling promotion (Say what you will about his time in the company but at least Flair showed up and stayed for his events in TNA).
Former Ring of Honor owner, Cary Silkin was very upset about Flair's run in the company so much that he tried and failed to sue Flair for the sum total of $41,000 and mentioned on Twitter in May of 2016 that he would be attending a signing event that Flair would be at just so he could get back the money Flair swindled out of ROH.
If you want to know more about this, there is a interview with Cary Silkin about Flair's time with Ring of Honor I've linked down at the bottom of the article.
3. Teddy Hart No Sells His Injuries and Pukes Inside A Cage
The nephew of wrestling legend and WWE hall of famer Bret Hart, Teddy Hart is known for a lot of things: being apart of the legendary Hart Family, that time he beat CM Punk in a real life fight, being a phenomenal wrestler and garnering a reputation for getting fired or let go from the very promotions his worked for.
The most infamous example of this would have to that time he no sold the injuries he got from a previous match and ended up puking all over the place.
November 1st 2003, Teddy Hart along with some other wrestlers took part in a "Scramble Cage Match" however the most infamous moment came when after the match was over Teddy began climbing to the top of the cage at which point he would do a moonsault from the top and land safety onto his feet which got the ROH crowd cheering then Teddy proceed to do the exact same stunt three more times on each side of the cage as the crowd's cheers began to quickly deteriorate with each moonsault but it was during the fourth and final attempt when Teddy began puking which allegedly caught a few fans in the front row.
Teddy would land, however he continued to puke until the ring was almost completely covered in Teddy's breakfast, lunch and possible dinner; He was then escorted out the cage as the fans looked on in angry and disgust.
What makes it worse is that it wasn't even the last match on the show as Samoa Joe was scheduled to have his match next.
When Joe saw what Teddy Hart did in the ring, the Samoan Submission Machine got pissed off and it led to a heated argument in the back and eventually Teddy's dismissal from the company, although he does blame the vomiting incident on the fact he suffered a concussion in the previous match.
2. Joey Mercury Blows The Whistle On Ring Of Honor's Backstage Atmosphere
Possibly the most damaging scandal on this list, former WWE and Ring of Honor star Joey Mercury was fired from his backstage role in November of 2019, the reasons for his firing have not been made clear however some speculate that it may have something to do with drugs and alcohol but again there's no evidence to backup those claims.
In November of 2019, a disgruntled Mercury went to social media to air out some of Ring of Honor's dirt laundry by exposing a myriad problems that have been going on with the company like a lack of security for events and shows, No medical staff to attend to wrestlers, having unsafe working conditions, telling talent the reason why shows are doing poorly is because their not draws, having no female writers to help book the shows among many other things.
The accusations would be confirmed by many of the talent working at ROH thus, making the claims even worse for the company.
By far the worse of all these allegations would have to be the situation with Kelly Klein, a mainstay within Ring of Honor's women's division and the ROH Women's champion (as of the time I'm writing this article).
Klein is one of the many people who not only confirmed Mercury's claims but it was revealed via emails with Mercury that Klein asked ROH higher-ups Joe Koff and Greg Gilleland for a raise $24,000 a year but was deny because if she was paid that much money than all of the women would have to be paid that much money.
To make matters worse, Klein was suffering from a concussion after wrestling in some matches for ROH in the U.K. yet despite this she still had to wrestle matches for the company whilst having an injury.
When the news about Mercury blowing the whistle became public and Kelly Klein admitted that the claims were true, she was fired from Ring of Honor...while still being their Women's champion and suffering from a concussion.
Following this, Klein's former husband, BJ Whitmer and other sources have gone on to report these claims via twitter and wrestling new sites.
While many talents like Silas Young and Angelina Love have actually tried to disprove the claims, the allegations be leveled at ROH are beyond scandalous and have made fans and wrestlers look at Ring of Honor in much different.
It's unclear if these issues will get fixed but considering that even Jim Cornette has been complaining about similar issues since his ROH run back in the early 2010's you can only hope that ROH cleans up the mess their in.
1. The Rob Feinstein Scandal
This is considered to be Ring of Honor's very first major scandal and the one that actually lead to a ripple effect the affected not just one but two companies.
Rob Feinstein who was the owner of RF Video, a video distribution company to Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was looking to find a wrestling promotion that would allow RF Video to continue selling DVD's and VHS tapes about pro wrestling after the original ECW was bought out by the WWE in 2001.
Feinstein as a result created his own wrestling promotion that would allow him to sell more DVD's whilst providing a wrestling alternative for fans who were sick of Vince McMahon's Sports Entertainment and the company Feinstein made was Ring of Honor.
The company would partner with various promotions like Full Impact Pro, Frontier Wrestling Alliance and most notably TNA (now Impact Wrestling) which helped to get more eyes on the product and considering that TNA was starting the same time as ROH the two companies decided to band together to produce the best wrestling product outside of the WWE, unfortunately this partnership would not last
In early 2004, it was revealed through a internet based sting operation that Feinstein to obtain sexual favors from someone off the internet he believed was a 14 year old boy, in reality it was an adult posing as a minor; When these shocking turn of events were revealed and publicized by various news sources this caused a large scandal for Ring of Honor as the founder of the company was revealed to be a sexual predator.
When this news broke, TNA ended their relationship with ROH out of fear that this negativity press could affect their reputation. This caused problems as the two companies were having a talent sharing agreement at the time meaning that wrestlers like Low Ki, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels were pulled from any future ROH events and names like Roderick Strong were pulled from future TNA events.
Plus, we can't forget the fact this whole scandal with Feinstein is seen as one of the major factors as to why CM Punk's time in TNA was cut so short.
In the end, Feinstein resigned as founder of Ring of Honor in March of 2004 and sold his stakes in the company eventually going to Cary Silkin, who helped in branching out ROH's product through online stores that distributed their content among other things.
While Ring of Honor would go on to achieve success and partner with various other promotions after this incident including New Japan Pro Wrestling, the Feinstein Scandal ultimately became a scandal that not only affected the TNA/ROH relationship but in a way it helped to set the foundation for all they other scandals and controversies that the company would go through to this very day.
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