When Dalton Castle first signed with Ring of Honor back in 2013, the Baltimore-based promotion was about to embark on an era of growth and change.
Over the next five years the company would partner up with New Japan, begin broadcasting live pay-per-view events, launch its own over-the-top streaming service (Honor Club), debut a women's division, sign multiple television deals and see the popularity of its top stars skyrocket. With Final Battle on the horizon this Friday at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Castle recently told Comicbook.com he hopes the company's growth keeps on rolling.
"When I first got here the audience size started to get bigger," Castle said. "Then we signed a short deal with Destination America and then I saw the production value start increasing. The lighting that was coming in, our stage grew and just attitudes in the back started to get better. Not that it was bad before I was there, but because I was so lucky to enter Ring of Honor at a time where the growth was happening so rapidly, I don't want that to slow down at all. I like to see the new height that it's growing, the idea of Ring of Honor and New Japan running Madison Square Garden (the G1 Supercard on April 6) next year in a sold out crowd definitely set the bar very high for the growth of 2019. We'll see once they get past that where we go."
Friday's event will mark the one-year anniversary of Castle winning the Ring of Honor World Championship in a main event match against Cody Rhodes. While his victory was a celebration for Ring of Honor fans, his six-month reign was hampered by a back injury (a pair of bone fractures he'd been dealing with for several years) that forced him to step away from the ring for a few months after dropping the title in June.
Castle said his main goal for 2019 was to regain that title.
"I was very proud to call myself Ring of Honor World Champion," Castle said when reflecting on his first world title reign. "Not a lot of people in this industry get to hold that title or get to say that about themselves. It didn't go as long as I had liked, but that being said my career is not over and that doesn't mean I don't still have goals. That was just one title reign checked off the list, and now here we are back at the drawing board, starting over to get another one."
As for the much-hyped G1 Supercard event at Madison Square Garden in April, Castle said he didn't have any particular opponents in mind — but he does intend to arrive at the arena in style.
"I just know when I walk out and my music plays, I need that entrance to be as grand as possible," Castle said. "It is a legendary arena, it is a milestone for a lot of people in this industry and it's a place to get a lot of eyes on me. If I'm not looking as fantastic as humanly possible, then I feel like an opportunity is missed."
Castle is booked to take on Matt Taven in a one-on-one match at Final Battle on Friday.
ROH Final Battle airs LIVE from New York City on Friday, December 14 at a new start time of 8pm Eastern on traditional pay-per-view providers, free for HonorClub VIP, at a 50% discount for HonorClub Standard, and on FITE TV. Please visit ROHWrestling.com or the ROH App for more information.
Photo: RING OF HONOR