Ring of Honor Focus: Will the ROH World Title Destroy the American Wolves?

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Ring of Honor Focus: Will the ROH World Title Destroy the American Wolves?
Eddie Edwards celebrates his title victory while Davey Richards stands in the background. (Photo courtesy of S. Finkelstein - getlostphotography.smugmug.com)

On March 19, Eddie Edwards shocked the wrestling world by defeating Roderick Strong for the Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Championship at Manhattan Mayhem IV.

For the past few years, Edwards has been a part of the American Wolves with his tag team partner Davey Richards. They ran roughshod over the tag division in ROH and became one of the most popular duos in the history of the promotion, but they also climbed up the ranks individually as singles wrestlers.

Richards spent much of 2010 chasing after the ROH World Heavyweight Championship. He seemed like the sure bet to become the first of the American Wolves to capture ROH’s top prize.

After falling short in classic championship battles against Tyler Black at Death Before Dishonor VIII and Roderick Strong at Final Battle 2010, Richards decided to take a step back from the title hunt and focus on perfecting his craft before taking his next shot at the belt.

He also promised that his next opportunity at the championship would be his last if he was not successful.

Little did Richards know that by the time he worked his way back into title contention, the man holding the championship would be the very same person that he calls his partner.

Many fans were stunned to learn that Edwards became the ROH World Heavyweight Champion before Richards. One look at the early comments left on this YouTube clip of the aftermath of Edwards’ huge victory shows that a lot of ROH fans believe that the belt is around the waist of the wrong wolf.

In 2009, the American Wolves held tag team gold in ROH. (Photo courtesy of S. Finkelstein - getlostphotography.smugmug.com)

As soon as Edwards became the champion, speculation of Richards’ jealousy began to surface. Was Richards jealous or angry that his partner, a man he calls his brother, did what he had been unable to do?

In the March 30th edition of the ROH video wire, Richards addressed the issue and denied any negative feelings about Edwards winning the title. He said that he was proud of Edwards for accomplishing his goals and becoming the World Champion.

Despite Richards’ statements, the seeds had already been planted for the impending showdown between the American Wolves. During the Honor Takes Center Stage weekend, those seeds continued to sprout ever so slightly.

At the Friday night iPPV, Richards defeated the former champion, Roderick Strong, in a show-stealing match. It was another exciting display of Richards’ trademark toughness and his unbelievable durability.

Meanwhile, Edwards successfully retained his championship in his first defense, finally picking up a victory over “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels. It was an excellent match that should go a long way towards quelling any doubts that fans may have had about Edwards’ ability to perform on the highest level in ROH.

Things got interesting during the Saturday afternoon iPPV, when ROH Executive Producer Jim Cornette called Richards out to the ring. He informed Richards that he was naming him as the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, based off of his undefeated record throughout 2011 and his impressive victory over the previous champ on Friday night.

There are few competing today that can match the intensity of Davey Richards. (Photo courtesy of S. Finkelstein - getlostphotography.smugmug.com)

Even though Cornette attempted to convince Richards to take the match by telling him how much of a draw the match would be for ROH, Davey turned down the shot, saying that he did not want to be the one to destroy his “brother’s dreams.”

This brought out Edwards, who was clearly upset that Richards seemingly implied that it was a “foregone conclusion” that he would defeat him if they fought for the title.

Edwards reminded Richards that he defeated him the only time that they did wrestle each other, which was in the finals of the ROH World Television Championship tournament last year.

The topic was then shifted towards the American Wolves main event match against the new ROH World Tag Team Champions, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas, later that night. The Wolves needed to make sure they were on the same page heading into a huge match against Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team.

The match was a phenomenal example of tag team wrestling at it’s finest. In the end, Richards and Edwards were defeated after they unintentionally bumped into each other after being pushed by Benjamin and Haas. The confusion sent Edwards out to the floor and Richards’ into Benjamin’s Paydirt finisher.

As the dust settled at Honor Takes Center Stage, it appeared as if the dissention between the American Wolves continued to grow. They bickered with each other after the match; Edwards exited the ring and headed backstage while fans chanted “next World Champ” at Richards as he stood in the ring.

Richards and Edwards squared off for the World TV Title. It did not damage their friendship. Can the same be said for the top prize? (Photo courtesy of S. Finkelstein - getlostphotography.smugmug.com)

Richards acknowledged their chants with a defiant smirk and a nod of agreement.

Based on how the situation is playing out, a clash between Richards and Edwards for the gold seems inevitable. Remember, Richards promised that his next title shot would be his last if he did not win.

The hunt is on, but at what cost to the relationship between the American Wolves? Will it remain a friendly feud rooted in the spirit of competition or will the ROH World Heavyweight Championship be the wedge that turns partners into enemies?

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