By Chuck Carroll
When a champion in a rival promotion hints at signing with WWE, people take notice. Such was the case when Ring of Honor World Television Champion Silas Young tweeted recently that his contract had expired and he was looking for “something to do in Orlando.” The host city of last year’s WrestleMania just so happens to be the home of the WWE Performance Center, the first stop for wrestlers on their journey to the bright lights of Monday Night RAW or SmackDown Live.
It wasn’t long after Young posted the message on his timeline that his friends began texting him with links to various articles proclaiming he was leaving ROH with gold still around his waist. For the Milwaukee-based wrestler with a blue-collar gimmick, every headline read like satire straight out of The Onion. The whole thing was a ruse to have a little fun at the expense of the online wrestling community.
Young tells me that he never had any intention of going to WWE and is instead expects to re-sign with ROH this weekend. The deal is expected to be for one year. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if he signs on the dotted line again a year from now.
He believes strongly in the direction the company is heading and feels the future is bright for ROH. The addition of Cody Rhodes to the roster and popularity of Bullet Club will help continue carrying to the torch. Then there is the forthcoming streaming service and expansion of the Women of Honor brand as evidence that the promotion’s sizable growth in 2017 was no fluke. Beyond that, he feels a great deal of pride in carrying the television title. After speaking with him you might get the impression that he’ll never leave the Baltimore-based wrestling group.
As for the next year, the veteran wrestler is putting the locker room on notice that he plans to prove he’s at the top of his game and the top talent on the roster. In his words, he says he’s going to show them what a real man is.
I had a chance to catch up with the “Last Real Man” before this Saturday’s television taping in Nashville dubbed “Music City Excellence.”
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Recently, you tweeted that your contract had expired with Ring of Honor. Where do things stand there? Are you interested in resigning, or are you testing the free agent waters?
Oh no, I’m gonna re-sign with Ring of Honor, I’m really happy. I just like to have fun on the Internet sometimes, that’s all.
Obviously then, you saw the stories about, “Is he going back to WWE? Is he unhappy at Ring of Honor?” That was just you having a little bit of fun, huh?
Yeah, it was just me and my family. We were down in Orlando and the weather was kinda cold and crappy. I was like, “Oh, I’m just gonna post this to amuse myself.”
How long was it before you saw the first article pop up?
One of my buddies had texted it to me, like maybe the next day or something like that, or a day or two later.
[For] how long are you looking to re-sign? A one-year deal, a two-year deal?
I think it’s gonna be for a one-year deal.
Where do things stand there? Are you finalizing the details or is that an already-done deal?
Yeah, I’m gonna sign probably this weekend at TV tapings.
Would you have any interest in trying to go back to WWE? Or are you happy taking the path that Cody [Rhodes] and the Bucks are on, and really carving your own way outside of the McMahon auspices?
You know, never say never in wrestling. Right now, I feel like I have really good momentum with Ring of Honor. I feel like there’s really good things happening there, I’m really starting to come into my own, so to speak. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. Right now, I don’t see it happening, but never say never in wrestling. I’m really happy. I really enjoy the work, the schedule, the creative freedom, everything that Ring of Honor allows us. For me, money’s nice, and I do make a good living with Ring of Honor, but just creative freedom and being home with family, and the travel schedule and all that stuff is very appealing.
You’re the Ring of Honor TV champion. What sense of pride and accomplishment comes with being told that you’re gonna win gold in the promotion? You must see that as a vote of confidence from the bookers.
Yeah, absolutely. In wrestling, a lot of guys, we’ve wrestled a lot of different places, and we’ve won championships before. To be honest with you, winning the Ring of Honor World Television Title, there was a huge sense of pride with that. It’s a world-renowned company, and it’s a belt that’s only been held by guys who are highly respected. I take a lot of pride in that, and like you said, it’s knowing that the company, the bookers, they have confidence in you, they think you can carry that. It’s awesome, I’m enjoying it.
You get the title after being in the business for well over a decade. How long had you been wrestling before you were able to make it a full-time career?
I moved to Milwaukee about 15 years ago. When I first moved down here, I started out delivering a little bit of Chinese food for a couple of years, and then I started doing some personal training, which I’ve been doing for about the last 11 or 12 years. Of that, along with wrestling, I managed to support myself pretty well. I’d say it’s probably about the last two or three years that I’ve really been just able to make a living off of wrestling.
So no more personal training?
You know what? I have a lot of time at home, so I have a few clients that I still work with. I figure there’s no reason to get rid of a good thing, just because you got something else going on. Keep yourself busy, and it’s always good to have multiple pots getting stirred, you know?
Do they know about your other world as the wrestler?
You entered Ring of Honor in 2007, and that company has undergone a massive overhaul since then. Describe being there firsthand and how you view that evolution. What’s that been like for you?
In 2007, I went there when there was a guy there by the name Gabe Sapolsky, who was doing the booking or, kind of, slash running things, and he knows more of a smaller scale of things. Definitely had the best wrestlers that were out there, the best unknown talent basically at that time. A lot of guys who went on to work, everywhere, all around the world, WWE, New Japan Pro Wrestling, so on. It was cool being there, I got some good opportunities right away.
Unfortunately for myself, Gabe soon after that, lost his position there, and I was a new guy who’d just started working there. I got kinda lost in the shuffle, and didn’t do much there for quite a few years, I just worked there off and on until 2013.
A lot of people ask when I really started with Ring of Honor, and I like to think that I really got it started with them in 2013. That’s when I started working for them regularly, working basically every show they had.
I would imagine in those six years, from that first match, when you initially came in, to when you officially started in 2013, it became a completely different company.
Oh, absolutely. Like I said, it was a smaller-scale thing. The only thing that really was the same was just still a lot of these really, really talented… best wrestlers in the world, basically. It’s like a cliché thing that’s thrown out in wrestling nowadays, but it’s been proven. History’s proven to us in the last 10 years that Ring of Honor is where the best wrestlers are, it’s where the best wrestlers get a start. Every great wrestler that’s known today has basically set foot in a Ring of Honor ring. It’s not as cliché of a thing when you really think about it.
The big difference now is that it’s just a bigger deal. We’re doing national TV tapings, we’re doing live pay-per-views, we’re doing more international stuff. We went to Japan last year, they’re going again in February. We’ve been to England, Scotland, Canada. Things are just getting bigger and bigger for us. It’s really cool to be a part of it, watch it grow.
ROH had what could be considered its biggest year ever in 2017. Attendance records were set, and the fanbase swelled substantially. A lot of people will say the growth is directly tied to the partnership with New Japan. How much would you attribute that partnership to the surge in popularity?
That definitely was a huge part of it. Another big thing [that has] to do with it is Bullet Club, and the Young Bucks, and Cody Rhodes. Those guys are a huge part of why the company was drawing so well. They’re the hottest thing in wrestling right now, selling more t-shirts than any guys from WWE are. We have a really good thing at Ring of Honor, and New Japan, and things with Young Bucks and Cody. All those things combined are what’s helping make business so awesome in the last year.
You talk about guys like Cody, but then you also have the Bully Rays of the world, the Tommy Dreamers coming in and working. You’ve been in the business now 15-plus years, and you’re getting the opportunity to work with these guys who’ve been at the absolute top of the game. Even though you’ve been in the business for so long, do you still view them as mentors, and pick their brain, and try to get a little bit of advice here and there?
Absolutely. Like you said, those guys, they’ve been all over, they’ve been everywhere. Wrestling’s one of those businesses where you never stop learning. If you’re not taking the opportunity to listen to guys like that, you’re kinda being a fool.
Now we’re also seeing a huge vote of confidence in the women, with the women’s tournament, and crowning the first ever women’s champion. What have you seen out of that division?
Women’s wrestling, in general, has been a huge thing, and a huge thing to pop up in the last, I don’t know, few years or so. It’s good that Ring of Honor’s recognizing that there’s a lot of really good, talented female wrestlers out there. It’s good that they’re getting another place and opportunity to showcase that.
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.