Wrestling fans were up in arms when rumors broke out earlier this week of WWE attempting to purchase ROH and run the promotion on their network. The news was originally broken by Pro Wrestling Sheet, and set off a firestorm of controversy and rampant speculation.
Fans were understandably upset, as they saw how poorly the relaunches of WCW and ECW went down under the guidance of Vince McMahon in the past. Both brands were watered down and made to look inferior to the WWE product and the experiments ended up as colossal flops.
Ring of Honor has been around since 2002 and has grown quite the respectable fanbase during that time. It’s arguable they are the No. 2 promotion in the United States, and their profile has been increasing over the past few months due to the additions of Matt and Jeff Hardy, Bully Ray, and the positive buzz surrounding their 15th anniversary pay-per-view. That means the promotion essentially going out of business couldn’t have come at a worse time.
However, according to Chuck Carroll with CBS Sports, there is no truth to the rumor. He revealed what he was told by a high-ranking ROH official.
“There is no story here.”
With that one line, you can almost hear the sighs of relief from the ROH faithful across the globe. However, it’s a bit strange that these rumors persist. There have been times in the past when the company nearly went out of business, but right now they’re owned by a big media company in Sinclair, and are continually expanding their syndicated show into new markets. However, COO Joe Koff keeps having to dispute reports of an impending ROH sale, as he also revealed to Carroll in early March about a deal with WWE.
“No. No, no, no. A lot of their current performers and stars are ROH guys and we have their history. So maybe the content of the backstories of Kevin Steen before he became Kevin Owens or AJ Styles’ run in Ring of Honor, Tyler Black (aka Seth Rollins), Claudio (Castagnoli aka Cesaro) … all of the guys who have wrestled for us. We have their backstory and where it began… That’s our content.”
To help further put out the fires of the rumors of an ROH sale, The Young Bucks chimed in on Twitter.
ROH isn't going anywhere. Besides, we'd buy it first anyway with all our merch money.
— The Young Bucks (@MattJackson13) March 23, 2017
You can understand why WWE would want to own ROH. There are quite a few advantages to the purchase. For starters, they can effectively shut down a competitor, take all of the talent they want from the promotion, and use footage from all their past stars whenever they want.
While the production values of ROH would likely have increased under WWE funding, the brand would have lost its identity in the process. Some fans may have subscribed to the WWE Network to continue watching their favorite stars, but it’s also likely many would have just abandoned ship and found a new promotion to follow.
It would be interesting to see how Vince McMahon would have let ROH be run on the WWE Network. He’s largely been hands off with the NXT brand, so he may have let Hunter Johnson (Delirious) continue to book the company. Or it’s possible he’d want one of his current employees to steer the ship and treat the promotion as a training ground of sorts for future writers and wrestlers.
For now, we don’t know what Vince had in mind for ROH, and for hundreds of thousands of wrestling fans out there, that’s a very good thing.
[Featured Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]