RIP RPG Vice: Where Does Rocky Romero Go From Here?

By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor


Several interesting stories emerged from the New Japan GI in USA specials on July 1 and 2 heading into the G1 Climax tournament which begins next week. Kenny Omega was crowned the first ever International Wrestling Grand Prix United States Champion. Aforementioned RoH World Champion Cody failed in his bid to become IWGP Heavyweight Champion, contributing to the continuing power struggle between he and Omega for control of the Bullet Club. The Bullet Club also lost the IWGP Tag Team Championships as the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa) fell to the team of War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe) in a frantic no disqualification fray.

But that weekend wasn’t all about the Bullet Club. Amid talk of the infighting, history making and the possibilities of the block A and B brackets for the tournament coming out of the shows, another big story may have been lost in the shuffle.

After the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match on July 2, Ricochet challenged the Young Bucks for the titles on behalf of himself and Ryusuke Taguchi, now to be collectively known as “Funky Future.” Along the way, he also took a swipe at the company that houses his alter ego, Prince Puma. The bigger story in question happened immediately afterward.

After failing to capture the IWGP Jr Tag titles, Romero told the Long Beach, CA crowd about a five-year plan. The speech transitioned to how Romero said that if RPG Vice didn’t win the titles that night (spoiler alert: they didn’t), then it was time for Beretta to try his hand in the heavyweight division. The team of Roppongi Vice, Romero informed the audience, had wrestled its last match. And it’s possible that Romero may have wrestled his as well.

 

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The future is wide open for “Azucar” Rocky Romero.
Author: ゾーヒョー, WikiMedia Commons

A quick history lesson may be in order for those that may not know. Romero is now in his 20th year and has wrestled just about everywhere but WWE and -TNA- GFW. CMLL, New Japan, AAA, Chikara, PWG, Ring of Honor, IWC, UPW, Toryumon – Romero’s been all over the world and held a championship in nearly all of those promotions and more, including a reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and holding the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship a record 8 times.

After a globetrotting career and a list of championships and accomplishments that most performers would envy, a question yet to be answered coming out of the G1 in USA Specials is, where does Romero go from here? During a recent Reddit AMA, Romero was asked that question point-blank:

What are your plans now that you have split up from Trent? And how far do you think Trent can go in the heavyweight division?

Rocky here: No current plans at the moment. Taking a break. Gotta finish up our independent bookings and I think that Trent will be a singles champion in the next year! He’s going to kill it!

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The Forever Hooligans – Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero – making their ring entrance at Ring of Honor’s All Star Extravaganza in Toronto, ON on Aug 3, 2013.
Author: Tabercil, WikiMedia Commons

A break seems to be in order, as Romero has gone full steam ahead for several years as a tag team specialist with Alex Koslov as the Forever Hooligans, then with Beretta as part of RPG Vice. Some rest may serve Romero well, but what happens after that?

Romero is still under a 2-year contract with New Japan that was signed in January of 2016. The impetus behind New Japan securing Romero’s services was a strong rumor that WWE was eyeing Romero for a trainer’s role here in the States. According to Pro Wrestling Sheet, sources said that, “Romero was seriously considering a move to WWE, but in the end decided he’s got more to do in wrestling before becoming a full-time trainer.”

The question has to be asked, what is left for Romero to do now? After so many years as a tag wrestler, he could certainly strike out on his own again. Romero would be a boost to the Jr Heavyweight division and it wouldn’t even necessitate the signing of any new talent.

Joining some of his contemporaries here in the States and chasing the Ring of Honor Television or World titles could also bring some star power to either of those divisions. There’s also more to do in the States than Ring of Honor; Romero turning on his friend Chuck Taylor and going after the PWG Heavyweight Championship – with Beretta caught in the middle – would make a hell of a story. Romero already holds a singles title in the US, as he is the current United Wrestling Network Television Champion. Aside from PWG, Romero could also spend some time near home defending that title for Championship Wrestling from Hollywood.

However, what if Romero has changed his mind in the last 18 months? Several others have retired from in-ring competition – Edge, AJ Lee Brooks – and were released from said contracts as a result. What’s to stop Romero from doing the same in Japan to come to WWE and fulfill that trainer’s role? The legalities of his NJPW contract would have to be looked at to even determine if that would be a possibility.

He could also easily take the same route for New Japan. Before making his debut in 1997, Romero trained under no less than Antonio Inoki at the NJPW Dojo in Los Angeles. No matter where Romero’s travels have taken him, he has always managed to come back to New Japan. This time, he could remain there behind the scenes, either training in the dojo where he first learned the craft himself or as part of the office working to help establish New Japan in the United States.

Round and round the wrestling world goes. Where Romero ends up, no one knows. Whatever the future may hold, one of wrestling’s most prolific international stars has his whole future ahead of him. The wrestling world may do well to pay attention to where he lands next.

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