On Wednesday, news broke of WWE’s rumored interest in purchasing Ring of Honor wrestling from Sinclair Broadcasting. According to Pro Wrestling Sheet, the two parties have discussed a potential buyout since January.
During an episode of Wrestling Observer Radio on Thursday, WON‘s Dave Meltzer confirmed that WWE’s interest in the buyout is, unsurprisingly, to eliminate competition and add ROH’s library to its network, much like its rumored plans to purchase TNA Wrestling last year.
“The plan right now from a WWE standpoint would be similar to their plans for TNA, which was to own the tape library and own the competition,” Meltzer said. “There would be no Ring of Honor at that point. They would own the intellectual property, they might be able to something but it’s not like they would keep the TV on Sinclair or anything like that.”
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Over the years, WWE has pillaged talent from Ring of Honor, beginning with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan (formerly Bryan Danielson).
As of late, the company has put even greater emphasis on hiring proven talent from the independent ranks with the launch of NXT as a weekly televised developmental brand. Many current superstars, including AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins (formerly Tyler Black), Sami Zayn (El Generico) Austin Aries, Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli) and Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero) had notable runs with ROH before signing with WWE.
With the emergence of Styles and Joe as champions last year, WWE’s rumored interest in buying TNA’s library seemed like a logical acquisition for the sake of compilation videos and films. The same goes for ROH alums, especially after WWE’s recent announcement of Fight Owens Fight: The Kevin Owens Story DVD, which will be released in July.
— WWE (@WWE) March 1, 2017
With several former ROH competitors on the roster, it would be beneficial to have the library for future projects.
WWE is also reportedly interested in several current ROH stars, including former three-time ROH World Champion Adam Cole, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
“Adam Cole dropped his ROH title to Christopher Daniels in the main event of the 3/10 PPV show in Las Vegas. The next day, he was kicked out of the Bullet Club. His contract expires on 5/1. It’s well known WWE has been after him for some time to be a star on the NXT brand. It’s possible he could do a New Japan/ROH deal or go to WWE. Certainly the ROH booking feels like they are not planning on him to be a key player much longer.”
The company has also been rumored to have an interest in Matt and Nick Jackson, also known as “The Young Bucks,” who are currently under contract with ROH. In this case, the company wouldn’t have to wait for their respective deals to expire, as was the case with Cole or other recent signers. The WWE could claim them with a buyout.
Acquiring ROH would allow WWE to have its choice of current talent, adding to NXT’s roster, which already has several of the company’s former stars, including Roderick Strong, WWE is also rumored to sign former ROH World Champion Kyle O’Reilly and ROH TV Champion Bobby Fish, who held the ROH Tag Team titles together as ReDragon.
It’s very similar to Chairman Vince McMahon’s purchase of WCW in 2001. McMahon bought out his biggest rival, which included the rights to characters and trademarks, as well as the promotion’s video library. That’s why episodes of WCW Nitro are available on the WWE Network.
However, the lack of competition could make WWE even more complacent. Without Nitro to compete with Raw, WWE changed its format and has failed to gain the same ratings share it had during the Attitude Era.
Still, WWE’s interest in requiring ROH’s library is an interesting story to follow, especially considering the potential talent surge and network content that would follow.
[Featured Image by WWE]