It was Monday morning and I have never been more excited to wake up at 4:45 AM. I quickly packed my bags and killed my alarm to avoid waking up Colt Cabana. A few quick texts and the rental SUV was loaded up and headed to Will Rogers Airport.
We were all thankful for the weekend that was behind us and thankful for the week ahead.
With sellouts in San Antonio and Dallas and a new, first-time venue in Oklahoma City with a hot crowd, The Best Wrestling on the Planet concluded a stretch of five huge events in ten days. Throughout the locker room, we were all quietly aware and appreciative of this moment, a moment in time where Ring of Honor is as big as it has ever been, growing as fast as it has ever grown with the best young and experienced talent converging from the US and around the globe to create a professional wrestling organization built for 2018 and beyond.
And we wouldn’t be where we are today without you, the fans.
You line up hours before doors open, drive sellouts now weeks in advance, buy our t-shirts, and meet our stars. You choose with your dollars but more importantly choose with the connections made in your hearts and minds with the ROH stars.
You chant for the two most under-appreciated and hardest working men in ROH, Todd Sinclair and Paul Turner, in between matches and have signs for the newest of stars as they arrive. You respectfully greet us in airports and give us space to eat but make us feel like a million bucks when you tell us how much you enjoyed being at the event. You are a part of the family that ROH World Champion Cody speaks of when he takes the mic after giving it his all, putting his opponent through a flaming table in a match that meant so much to him and his opponent even though it was not aired on television or Pay Per View. You appreciate and applaud the international stars from CMLL, New Japan, and RevPro that compete in our ROH rings.
Ring of Honor is not where it is without you. And while I could list a thousand more reasons why ROH is thankful for you, I want to list a few that come straight from my heart.
I’ve become nostalgic the last few weeks. My family and I moved to Allentown, PA a few weeks ago. It isn’t easy to pack up and move everything, especially with a one-year-old. But, being married to the strongest, most patient woman of all time has its perks, and when she suggests you move back home, you take it seriously.
We live in our dream house now. By most standards, it is modest but we hope to live here for the rest of our lives. We hope Zach grows up to be the man we know he can become in this house and that he one day becomes the best big brother he can.
Because of the timing of the move, my mind has been scattered the past few weeks but it was you, the ROH fans, that have helped recalibrate it. And that wasn’t any more apparent than in Florida.
On his Art of Wrestling Podcast, my colleague and friend Colt Cabana shared a similar story. Colt lost his grandmother right before we were to be in Florida. With both of our minds scattered, we embarked on something ambitious: raising money for Puerto Rico.
I had the option of returning home. Colt is a hero in his hometown of Chicago. For many of the folks of Puerto Rico, that option is an altered one. Still without necessities like power, clean drinking water, and clean clothes, Colt and I hoped to raise money to return a bit of normalcy even to just one survivor of the devastating hurricanes that rocked the island territory.
With the help of Rocky Romero, Bobby Cruise, and Cody, who donated signed posters and Bullet Club memorabilia, we exceeded our internal goal of $500. In fact, we tripled it. Because of you, we raised and immediately donated $1,550 to Unidos Por Puerto Rico, an organization that uses 100% of all donations for immediate relief. Some gave in exchange to take a photo with us and to receive a signed 8x10 but others gave for nothing in return. Your generosity warmed our hearts and I have never been happier, and more thankful, to be able to participate in something like this.
On those nights in Fort Lauderdale and Lakeland, we found out just how thankful we are to have our fans.
As Ring of Honor continues to grow, we hope to never lose the feelings that fans felt in the Murphy Rec Center—the feeling of seeing something they wouldn’t see anywhere else that featured the very best professional wrestlers in the world and the feeling that they could make real connections to the wrestling stars they are seeing in the ring. As we continue to grow and fill larger buildings with fans like you, we hope to engage in more of these events to connect in more, new, and different ways.
I formulated these thoughts on the plane and as the plane landed, I quickly turned on my phone to text my wife that I had landed. One of the first things I told her about was how thankful I was for the big crowds and how thankful I was that so many of you, the fans, had seen the tongue-in-cheek graphic welcoming me back in Dallas.
Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year. As my family and extended family grows, we are happy and healthy. We have roofs over our heads and more than we could ask for. But what is really neat about this Thanksgiving is that it is my first in the lead announcer role, my first spending time with you each and every week when you choose to watch ROH or order our DVDs, VODs, and PPVs. In addition to the many thanks I have to give this year, one of the biggest is to you, the fans. It has been the biggest year in ROH history and the biggest in my professional career and for that, I am very grateful.
Happy Wrestling and Happy Thanksgiving.