In the wake of Ring of Honor’s Final Battle: End of an Era event, there was much chatter online regarding the assorted video messages sent from across the wrestling world to commemorate what may have been the final Ring of Honor event.
There were messages from a variety of AEW talent, including Matt Hardy, Jay Lethal, Cody Rhodes, Adam Cole, The Young Bucks, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, and AEW World Champion, Hangman Adam Page.
But conspicuous by their absence were those ROH alumni who remain employed with WWE. Men like Adam Pearce, Steve Corino, Cedric Alexander, Damian Priest, Tommaso Ciampa, Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles. Fans also hoped to hear from former ROH World Champions Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Roderick Strong, and Kevin Owens.
In the lack of any alternative explanation, the internet ran with their own interpretation regarding the absence of WWE talents on these video messages, the most common one being that WWE refused to let their talent participate.
Speaking to the Les Anti-Pods de la Lutte, TVA Sports’ wrestling podcast, Owens, however, sought to set the record straight, and revealed that the truth was much simpler.
“The answer is quite simple: Ring of Honor didn’t ask any wrestlers from WWE to do that, nor contacted anyone at WWE,” he said.
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.Kevin Owens
In the course of the interview, Owens also discussed ROH’s impact on his career, as well as the idea of whether or not he would have reached WWE were it not for his time there.
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. 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’s 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 a part of ROH for all those years.Kevin Owens
h/t Pat Laprade, via Fightful for the transcription.