In a time when pro wrestling is having a great renaissance in accessibility and international options for wrestlers outside the WWE, the curse of previous regimes of Impact Wrestling has created a level of doomsayer cult followers who, despite never having watched the product in years, continues to lament it’s current product (which has been fantastic, by the way, since just before the Bound For Glory in Ottawa last year). Much of the naysayers fuel comes from the constantly resharing of headlines by said cult of doomsayers in online forums, Facebook groups, and Twitter when it comes to wrestlers leaving Impact Wrestling. But while fingers are always pointed sternly at Impact Wrestling for wrestlers requesting to leave Impact Wrestling, there’s another company who has actually seen more top names depart their company than Impact in the past two years who gets none of the same finger pointing or venomous water cooler talk: Ring of Honor.
First, a disclaimer: if you were to add up every single person who has departed Impact and Ring of Honor since 2016, Impact would be much, much higher than Ring of Honor. There’s no argument there. But under the change of ownership last year, there was a lot of releases that came. Most of those releases were not exactly things those wrestlers may have wanted, so they’re not included in this list. We’re only looking at wrestlers who asked for their releases or opted not to re-sign with the company when their contract did in fact expire. But since the doomsayer cult insists on using the names of people who asked to leave or chose to leave Impact Wrestling as signs of the Apocalypse, we’re only going to examine those people on Impact who did just that. In turn, we’re also only looking at members of Ring of Honor’s roster from the past two years – during the same timeframe of 2016 to today – who also chose to depart the company. People who left due to retirement (such as Gail Kim or Davey Richards) are not listed, nor are people who signed on for short term or per-appearance deals.
Departure Lounge: Impact Wrestling
Ok, let’s look at Impact Wrestling first. In 2016, they saw only two real big departures and both happened in tandem. In March 2016, both Bobby Roode and Eric Young were granted their release from the company, with both showing up in NXT not long after. The ownership change to Anthem following the Billy Corgan-Dixie Carter fiasco in late 2016 lead to a series of departures, starting in early 2017 with Knockout Marti Belle in January, followed by The Broken Hardys (Broken Matt & Brother Nero) and Drew Galloway (aka Drew McIntyre) in February. In March, Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis left the company to head to the WWE, while Knockout Jade departed the company to return to the indies as Mia Yim. In April of 2017, Aron Rex (formerly Damien Sandow in the WWE) left the company in order to pursue acting, while former Decay leader Crazzy Steve also departed, seemingly intent on working with WWE (although he had a tryout last year, he’s yet to sign anything and continues on the indies). Following the decision to move tapings and offices to Canada in late 2017, returning Knockout Taryn Terrell left as abruptly as she’d arrived, although she later claimed it was to pursue other ventures outside wrestling (she hasn’t wrestled since his November departure), followed by the announcement that TNA Original “Cowboy” James Storm was also leaving when his latest contract expired at the end of the year. Last month saw a flurry of departures (which overshadowed the monstrous amount of talent that had arrived in the months prior, including the January tapings), including EC3, Rockstar Spud, Laurel Van Ness, Bobby Lashley and Jeremy Borash. That’s 18 major names to depart the company in two years. Now let’s look at who they signed (and have retained) in that same time period, as well as the promotions they have alliances with in order to use their talent on television.
Arrivals: Alberto El Patron (March 2017), Austin Aries (January 2018), Brian Cage (January 2018), Caleb Konley (April 2016), Dezmond Xavier (April 2017), “All Ego” Ethan Page (as Chandler Park, November 2017), EYFBO (as LAX, Santana & Ortiz, March 2017), Fallah Bah (March 2017), Hakim Zane (as Rohit Raju, April 2017), John Morrison (as Johnny Impact, August 2017), Kevin Matthews (as KM, March 2017), Kiera Hogan (January 2018), Kongo Kong (April 2017), Matt Sydal (April 2017), Moose (July 2016), OvE (Dave & Jake Crist, August 2017), Petey Williams (August 2017), Sami Callihan (November 2017), Su Yung (January 2018), Taya Valkyrie (August 2017)
Working Alliances: Pro Wrestling NOAH, AAA, Lucha Underground, various indie promotions (Border City Wrestling, DEFY Wrestling, Wrestle Pro, Destiny World Wrestling, etc.)
Departure Lounge: Ring of Honor
Ring of Honor’s long list of The Departed kicked off as 2016 began, when The Kingdom’s Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis jumped ship to Impact Wrestling. That started a huge list for 2016 that saw such long time ROH stars like Cedric Alexander, Roderick Strong, ACH and Michael Elgin all leave for other opportunities elsewhere. Two other stars who left ROH in 2016 after short runs were Moose, who also left for Impact Wrestling, and Women of Honor‘s Veda Scott, who returned to the indies. Last year was also a big hit to the roster – while Impact may have lost more in sheer volume adding in the releases, the amount of people who requested their release or opted not to re-sign was far greater for ROH than it was Impact. It began in January of 2017, when one half of reDRagon, Kyle O’Reilly, left the company after dropping the ROH World Championship. February saw two of their emerging big men, Keith Lee and Donovan Dijak, both leave the company to pursue further interests in the indie circuit. Long time announcer Kevin Kelly left the company to call for NJPW’s English announce team, and another Women of Honor star, Taeler Hendrix, also left the company, just as WOH was building up steam. O’Reilly’s tag partner Bobby Fish departed in March, along with one of ROH’s brightest young prospects, Lio Rush. Matt Sydal left the company in April (to head to Impact) and in May, 3x ROH World Champion Adam Cole finally made his farewell. Another WOH emerging star, Faye Jackson, departed in October and in January they said goodbye to Hanson and Raymond Rowe (War Machine). Will Ospreay has also seemingly opted not to engage his second year option of his ROH contract, as he’s working for EVOLVE on WrestleMania weekend and working for other indies outside his normal alliances. That makes 21 major losses in the same span that Impact lost 18. And while ROH has the luxury of bringing in NJPW stars for several of its shows each year, they brought in far less new talent to replace the 21 departed stars, seemingly relying on the NJPW stars to offset the load.
Arrivals: Brandi Rhodes (July 2017), Chuck Taylor (May 2017), Cody Rhodes (July 2016), Deonna Purrazzo (January 2018), Flip Gordon (April 2017), Josh Woods (February 2017), Karen Q (April 2017), Marty Scurll (August 2016), Scorpio Sky (September 2017), TK O’Ryan (October 2016)
Working Alliances: NJPW, PWG, RevPro UK