For quite a while the talk on the independent wrestling scene revolved around a few men. Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuinness, and Chris Hero. All of them except one have moved on to either the WWE or TNA.
Yet Hero remains in ROH where he seems to be at the same place he's been since losing the tag team titles back in 2006.
Following that, many including myself believed that he'd be ROH World Champion at some point. Getting close to four years later, it still hasn't happened. So why hasn't Hero moved on?
Well to begin, the answer to that could be for a number of very simple reasons. Either he doesn't want to, or no one wants him which I find hard to believe.
Hero had an incredibly entertaining heel run with Larry Sweeney back in 2007 and 2008. He annoyed the fans to a fever pitch doing flips and spins and twists instead of engaging his opponent.
It was effective but soon enough it just stopped. For a while, Chris Hero became... boring. A kiss of death in the wrestling world.
You have to be either loved or hated, not just liked or disliked. The fans stopped caring. Thankfully, Hero did turn it around with the creation of his "Young Knockout Kid" gimmick.
However, none of this ever resulted in a high profile feud in ROH. He never had his own "Joe vs. Punk", "Nigel vs. Danielson", or "Black vs. Nigel". Those were career-defining world championship feuds that lasted for months and sometimes years.
Hero even won the 2007 Survival of the Fittest in dominating fashion, eliminating every single opponent in the match. I mean come on, the writing was on the wall. Chris Hero equals future champ. Never happened.
Hero has always been a strong promo, and over the years he's lost weight and cultivated a great look. Even more so now with the adoption of the traditional wrestling trunks.
He's had successful runs in Japan with Pro Wrestling NOAH, showing that he can get over with fans around the world. A match earlier this year against Go Shiozaki in NOAH had a lot of people talking about Chris Hero in Japan.
Hero can without a doubt wrestle circles around most guys on the indy scene and sadly most guys in the big leagues. So why isn't he there? It's a question I wish I could answer.
He's a better promo than Bryan Danielson yet Danielson is in the very promo- and angle-driven WWE. Hero has a better look than Nigel McGuinness, yet Nigel is in a program with Kurt Angle right now.
2010 is the year when the 30-year-old Hero has to make a choice. Leave ROH for the potential of having a successful run in the spotlight, or stay there and just be another guy on the roster, maybe getting a title run at some point.
To me, he's destined for bigger and better things. Anyone who's seen him wrestling can say that they would love to see him lock up with some of the big names in TNA or the WWE.
To sum it all up, Hero has always been a favorite of mine. From his days in IWA:MS as the hot babyface to his run in CZW and ROH.
Personally, I'd love to see him go to TNA as he matches up better there with its roster, but I fear it will never happen. At least not at a time where the iron is hot and he should strike. Giving him the potential to do big things for the company.
TNA is at a crucial time right now, they're pushing some young talent and putting them at the forefront of their TV. Hero could come in and make the same kind of impact Desmond Wolfe (Nigel) did, inserting himself into a feud with any number of guys.
So again I ask, just why isn't Hero in the top two leagues? Leave a comment below with your answer.
As a bonus I'd like to add some of my favorite Hero matches if you're curious about the man and would like to know where to start:
Vs. CM Punk, IWA-MS February 9th 2002: This is the 55-minute TLC match that was much talked about on the independent circuit.
Vs. CM Punk, IWA-MS February 7th 2003: The infamous 93-minute match in front of basically no one.
ROH vs. CZW, ROH July 15th 2006: The end of the epic CZW invasion angle in ROH. It's a cage of death match that isn't so much Hero centered, but still a fun match to watch.
W/ Claudio Castagnoli vs. Austin Aries & Roderick Strong, ROH September 16th 2006: A title win for Hero and Castagnoli. Hot crowd adds to the match.
W/ Takeshi Morishima vs. Nigel McGuinness & Doug Williams, ROH April 13th 2007: A great main event tag team match that shows off each man's skill in the ring.
Vs. Roderick Strong, ROH June 27th 2008: A great hard hitting back and forth match that really shows Hero in his "Young Knockout Kid" routine.