Ring of Honor has always shown respect and appreciation for the wrestling legends who helped make the sport the huge success it is today. Over the years, a number of the biggest names from yesteryear have appeared on ROH shows in various capacities.
Here are the most memorable legends appearances:
5. TERRY FUNK
Meaner than a rattlesnake, tougher than shoeleather and more dangerous than a hollow-eyed scorpion, the ageless former NWA World Champion squared off with a young CM Punk at Glory By Honor II at the Murphy Recreation Center in Philadelphia in 2003. As most Funk matches tended to do, this one degenerated into al all-out brawl, complete with tables and chairs being used as weapons.
After Funk’s knee got banged up during the match, Punk immediately targeted the weakened limb. Eventually, the referee had no choice but to disqualify Punk for his relentless attack and refusal to adhere to the rules. Even though Funk was closing in on his 60th birthday, he proved that he could still mix it up with the best in the world.
4. BOBBY HEENAN
Two of the greatest managers of all time -- Heenan and Jim Cornette -- engaged in an in-ring debate at an ROH show in 2004. A bitter Cornette said he was tired of always being compared to Heenan throughout his career and wanted “The Brain” gone from the wrestling business. Rather than attempt to take matters into his own hands by getting into a physical altercation with Heenan, Cornette called upon Generation Next’s Roderick Strong and Jack Evans to do his dirty work. With Heenan in peril, Colt Cabana and Jimmy Jacobs came out to intervene.
That led to an impromptu tag match pitting Strong and Evans (managed by Cornette) against Cabana and Jacobs (managed by Heenan). As he had done so many times with members of his “Heenan Family” over the years, Heenan guided his team to victory.
3. RICKY STEAMBOAT
“The Dragon” played an integral part in CM Punk’s career in ROH. In 2004, after Punk blamed his loss to AJ Styles on Steamboat, who was the special referee, things got physical between the brash Punk and the former NWA World Champion. That led to a heinous act that saw Punk viciously attack Steamboat, culminating with him coming off the top rope with the ring bell and driving it into Steamboat’s throat in a sick recreation of an infamous incident with Steambat and Randy “Macho Man” Savage two decades prior.
A few months later after Steamboat had recovered, he had an opportunity to exact revenge by using the ring bell as a weapon on Punk. But Steamboat, always a man of honor and integrity, showed mercy and challenged Punk to be the man Steamboat knew he could be. At that moment, Generation Next (Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, Alex Shelley and Jack Evans) hit the ring to attack Steamboat, but Punk came to his aid to the delight of the rabid crowd. From there, Steamboat would serve as a mentor to Punk.
2. DUSTY RHODES
Newer ROH fans might be surprised to learn that Cody is not the first member of the Rhodes family to wrestle in an ROH ring. Cody’s father, “The American Dream,” participated in an “I Quit” Bunkhouse Riot Match in 2003, teaming with Homicide and Iceberg against C.W. Anderson, Jack Victory and David Young. Several other wrestlers, including female stars Becky Bayless and Simply Luscious, got involved in the chaotic brawl. In the end, Rhodes’ team emerged victorious and the crowd erupted into a “Dusty” chant.
The three-time former NWA World Champion made another memorable appearance with ROH the following year. During a Scramble Cage Match between Special K and Carnage Crew, Rhodes hit the ring and took out all four members of Special K with Bionic Elbows. Eventually, Rhodes fell victim Special K’s numbers advantage. Then, in a truly surreal moment, Ox Baker, who had a violent rivalry with Rhodes in the 1970s and early 80s, came down to ringside to attack Rhodes, and the two legends brawled their way to the back.
1. BRUNO SAMMARTINO
Pro Wrestling’s “Living Legend” made several appearances with ROH, beginning in 2006 at Glory By Honor V in New York, the city where he headlined Madison Square Garden for 20 years. The two-time former WWWF Champion spoke to the crowd about his appreciation for ROH’s style of wrestling, and the fans responded by enthusiastically chanting his name. Sammartino also appeared at an ROH show in 2012 in his adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, where ROH COO Joe Koff presented him with a lifetime achievement award for his many contributions to wrestling.
His most memorable appearance occurred in 2007 at All-Star Extravaganza III in Detroit. As Sammartino was addressing the fans, he was interrupted by the disrespectful trio of Chris Hero, Larry Sweeney and Tank Toland. Things quickly escalated, and Sammartino was ready to fight all three of them until Nigel McGuinness came out to even the odds a bit. McGuinness neutralized Hero and Toland, and Sammartino took out Sweeney with one punch.