The Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament is an annual tournament created by Ring of Honor in 2011. The tournament has been held every year expect 2012. Ring of Honor gather aspiring ROH wrestlers to compete in an Single Elimination 8 Man Tournament Brackett (3 Rounds) with the winner of the Top Prospect Tournament will receive a Ring of Honor contract but also receive a shot at the Ring of Honor World Television Championship.
The Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament was designed to give up and coming wrestlers the opportunity to showcase their skills and talents in front of the promotion, ultimately receiving a Ring of Honor contract. Mike Bennett won the very first Top Prospect Tournament in 2011, later that same year challenge then Ring of Honor Television Champion Christopher Daniels for the ROH Television Championship. Mike Bennett became unsuccessful in his attempt to capture the ROH Television Championship but he went onto become a Ring of Honor mainstay superstar. The tournament took a year break and returned in 2013; Matt Taven won the 2013 Top Prospect Tournament going on to challenge then ROH Television Champion Adam Cole at the Ring of Honor 11th Anniversary Show. Matt Taven associated himself with Truth Martini and defeated Adam Cole to become the new Ring of Honor Television Champion. Matt Taven went on to become the longest reigning Ring of Honor Television Champion in Ring of Honor History.
The winner of the Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament is truly destine for greatness and have the tremendous opportunity of obtaining an guarantee contract from the top Independent Wrestling Promotion in North American; competing alongside some of the most performers in the world. The 2014 Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament is loaded with some of the best upcoming independent wrestling talent in the country such as Andrew Everett, Romantic Touch, Kongo, Hanson, Benchmark Bill Daly, Cheeseburger, Raymond Rowe and Corey Hollis.
I had the pleasure of interviewing three of the participants in the 2014 Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament; Cheeseburger, Benchmark Bill Daly and Raymond Rowe. These three amazing competitors each gave a unique insight into their backgrounds, strategy, and expectations for the Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament.
1).)What inspired you to get involved in the wrestling industry and what wrestling superstar you admire?
Cheeseburger: “Well I been a wrestling fan as long as I can remember. However once I enter high school, I completely stopped watching wrestling. It wasn’t until January of 2010, my junior year in high school, I basically rediscovered professional wrestling and fell in love all over again. I spent most of that year catching up on all the wrestling I missed, during which I learned about independent wrestling. July 2010 after my 17th birthday, I realized all I wanted to do was somehow become involved in the wrestling industry. I made the decision to tell my mother I wanted to be a professional wrestler and she was behind me 100%. My biggest inspiration in wrestling was Jushin Thunder Liger. If I were to model myself after anybody it would be him. He had the ability to do everything; highflying, technical wrestling, Lucha, brawling, etc. He’s one of the most iconic characters in professional wrestling and is still going strong to this day despite being nearly 50 years old”.
Benchmark Bill Daly: “It was something I was born with, it’s a God given talent this business runs through my veins. I grow up watching Hulk Hogan as a young child and as I became a teenager I watched and admire Stone Cold Steve Austin because of his intense; you can easily tell, Steve Austin was having a lot of fun, that’s want it’s all about”.
Raymond Rowe: “I been watching wrestling since I was five years old. My dad and I went to different church services to get home in time to watch Sunday Morning WWF Wrestling seeing superstars such as Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and Andre the Giant. I grow up as a wrestling fan my entire life. As I got older I got into sports, wrestle from grade school all the way through college. I played football was a big physical and accomplish athlete. During my senior year in high school, my high school wrestling coach introduce me to an individual whom can help begin my training as a professional wrestler at the same time, I got my very first Ring of Honor DVD I believe it was the first show ever. The main event was a three way match, Bryan Danielson vs Low Ki vs Christopher Daniels, I watch what they did and I was unlike anything I have ever seen. After watching that match I knew actually that’s what I want to do. People ask me all the time what’s my goals do I want to go to WWE or TNA. My response always been either I’m going to make a career in Japan or Ring of Honor. I started my professional wrestling career in 2003, just this past year I been getting my opportunity to compete in Ring of Honor. They ultimately inspired me to get involved in professional wrestling”.
2). What will be your strategy going into the ROH Top Prospect Tournament?
Cheeseburger: “I plan on studying all the big professional wrestling tournaments to help prepare for my very first professional wrestling tournament. I’m talking about the King of the Ring, Super J Cup, GI Climax, Champions Carnival and more. I also been working on some new things down in the ROH DOJO to surprise the competition”.
Benchmark Bill Daly: “I have major sponsors such as Retro Fitness, 989 On Demand and Jersey Pump whom invest in Team Benchmark because I’m a super sponsor athlete and to be quiet honest I’m not thinking about first round, second round nor third round because I’m going to give it 100%. Simply without a shadow of doubt I will win the 2014 Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament, receive a contract and Ring of Honor will because another major sponsor. Afterward, I will become the new Ring of Honor Television Champion”.
Raymond Rowe: “My strategy will be the same for every match, straight forward approach. I will hit you mouth, head and mouth again; I’m capable to adopt to any type of style. If your able to stand up for it the first time, if happen to stand up the second time, if you stand up the third time you will not get up again because I will continue to beat you down until you cannot answer the bell. I been very successful in that approach throughout my career”.
3). Cheeseburger, Benchmark Bill Daly, and Raymond Rowe have you ever participated in a Tournament loaded with this type of talent?
Cheeseburger: “I have not, this is actually my very first professional wrestling tournament. I’m excited as tournaments are always something I enjoyed just because you get to see so many different matchups. Everyone in the tournament is fantastic and I think even the most skeptical fans will be impressed”.
Benchmark Bill Daly: “I experience a lot of things throughout my career, and to be honest their just dudes and bunch of guys, if they going to pay me a lot money I’m going to out there and destroy everybody it doesn’t matter if big or small, medium or large, Benchmark is not worry about it buddy”.
Raymond Rowe: “Not in professional wrestling. I made my career in amateur wrestling taking on different team tournaments competing against the best of the best. While in college we traveled all over the country competing against the best in the nation. My whole life I grow up participating in different tournaments, participating in 8 man tournaments and 16 man tournaments. I truly believe those experiences will help prepare me for this tournament. This will be my first 8 Man Bracket Style Tournament in professional wrestling. I have years and years of experience underneath my belt. In this tournament style it’s do or die, if you lose your out”.
4). Which participant your looking forward to face in the first round?
Cheeseburger: “I’d like to face Corey Hollis in the first round, but it’ll better if we face each other in the finals”.
Benchmark Bill Daly: “Well you can easily flip a coin. I would like to get my hands on Cheeseburger, especially after what happen at Final Battle. I want to take his head and drive it towards the mat and finish him 1, 2, 3. It probably be a record time for Ring of Honor match. I will definitely hold the record if I get my hands on Cheeseburger. It’s a freakin joke, Cheeseburger perception on reality is very twisted. I’m a 6’3 240 pound guy. I can flick him like a freakin bulgur off my finger”.
Raymond Rowe: “Whoever steps inside the ring. I’m focus on competing and gaining the opportunity it does not matter. I not going to allow anyone to stop me from pursuing my goal”.
4). What will it mean for your career if you won the ROH Top Prospect Tournament? If you don’t win the ROH Top Prospect Tournament, whom do you think have a chance of winning?
Cheeseburger: “My stock in Ring of Honor would rise exponentially, it could mean more opportunities and maybe even a contract. The winner of the tournament also gets a ROH Television title opportunity against the newly crowned champion Tommaso Ciampa in Philadelphia at the 12th Anniversary Show, which is a daunting task at itself. If I get eliminated from this tournament, Corey Hollis would be the guy I hope wins the tournament. He’s incredibly underrated wrestler who had been waiting to get his shot as a singles competitor”.
Benchmark Bill Daly: “This tournament will be another stepping stone for Benchmark Bill Daly. As stated before it doesn’t matter whom I face in the first round, second round or third round, I’m coming for you. This tournament will mean I will receive a Ring of Honor contract, gain a tremendous sponsor which will pay me quiet bit of money. Ring of Honor has some of the best talent in the world and Benchmark Bill Daly wants to be surround by the best. I take as an insult for asking me who I think have a chance of winning the Top Prospect Tournament if I get eliminated; lighting must strike in order for Benchmark Bill Daly not to win the Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament. I will dominate the competition on January 4th, 2014. Afterward go on to Pittsburgh defeat whomever in the finals and receive an opportunity for the Ring of Honor Television Championship at the 12th Anniversary Show”.
Raymond Rowe: “Winning the Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament will mean validation from the hours spent in the gym, the hundreds of miles traveled up and down the roads and dealing with all sorts of injuries throughout my career such as bruised ribs, sore knees and separated shoulder. However at the same moment none of the stuff in my background does not matter anymore because now I’m competing against the best of the best, all the stuff I did before was great and it was worth, it but now I can’t focus on the past. I have to move forward; winning this tournament and receive an opportunity to compete for Ring of Honor Television Championship. This tournament is full with great competitors, if have great pool of competitors and throw them into the mix anything can happen, one mistake can determine either victory or defeat, it’s a complete tossup. The thought of not winning this tournament never cross my mind. As stated before it doesn’t matter whom I face in the tournament I come out victorious”.
5). What should Independent Wrestling fans expect from you in 2014?
Cheeseburger: “While I’m looking forward to the Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament as a singles wrestler. I also plan on taking on tag team scene with Brutal Bob Evans. We picked up our first victory as a tag team at Final Battle and the future looks bright for Brutal Burgers. Ring of Honor has one of the best tag team divisions in wrestling and Brutal Burgers plans on jumping in head first in 2014”.
Benchmark Bill Daly: “I want to be realistic, I’m like rest of the lock room. Benchmark 100% is pacifically there with his best friend and corner man Will Ferrari without a shadow of doubt will evaluate ROH TV Rating so freakin high because we’re television superstars. Myself and Will Ferrari will are super sponsor wrestling stars and there’s nobody in the locker room like us period”.
Raymond Rowe: “If you follow my career, I will be competing on a bigger platforms continuing my straight forward approach, with a smash mouth style of wrestling. I been competing in wrestling for about 10 to 14 years, I started wrestling in Cleveland, Ohio for about 7 years and 4 years now currently in Texas. I have many years of experience facing all types of different opponents; experiencing different styles and techniques which can serve to my advantage entering this tournament. I’m in the best shape of life. I really hope the fans in 2014, appreciate what I bring to the ring”.
The Ring of Honor Top Prospect Tournament four opening round matches and the semi-finals will all take place in Nashville, Tennessee on January 4th, 2014. The finals will take place on January 25th, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at “Wrestling’s Finest”. The winner will be names the ROH 2014 Top Prospect and will get a Ring of Honor Television Title Match on Friday February 21st, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the ROH 12th Anniversary Show. Please go to www.rohwrestling.com to retrieve more information.
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