A week ago it was reported by the Inquisitr that the WWE was going up against ROH (Ring of Honor) using their own developmental group NXT. In the report, it explains how WWE is running a NXT show on January 14, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in a regular ROH venue called the Turner Hall Ballroom. On the surface, that may not seem like such a big deal; but, the report went on about how WWE likes to get exclusivity over venues. It is possible that WWE could push ROH out of performing future shows at the Turner Hall Ballroom. Many people may write-off this report as speculation, but it is important to recap and think about all the skirmishes between ROH and WWE that have happened in 2015. Once fans look at the background behind the assessment, it is pretty hard to deny that there is not at least some heat between the two companies.
Current Evolve wrestler Tommaso Ciampa wrestling former Olympic wrestler and current NXT star Chad Gable. [Image via WWE]Some of the heat can be traced back to Wrestlemania 31 last year in San Jose, California. WWE was able to convince venues to not run a lot of non-WWE wrestling events, which left ROH having to run their Supercard of Honor show outside the city in Redwood, California at the Sports House. Later in June, ROH announced that their Ring of Honor Wrestling TV show would be on TNA’s home station of Destination America, making them somewhat of a competitor on TV for WWE. This caught both TNA and WWE off guard, as ROH and Destination America kept the deal very quiet. It was reported later that WWE officials met with Destination America officials to work out some sort of deal through which they would kick both TNA and ROH off the air and replace them with WWE’s secondary shows, Main Event and Superstars, instead. Nothing came of the alleged meetings; although, both ROH and TNA have since been canceled by Destination America. However, it doesn’t look like WWE had any influence over that decision.
Kevin Owens facing off with John Cena in his WWE debut. [Image via WWE]Also in June, ROH released an action figure of WWE superstar and former ROH wrestler Kevin Owens under his former indie wrestling name Kevin Steen. It was reported that WWE officials were very upset by this considering Owens was being pushed as their new, hot star being put in a program with WWE franchise player John Cena. Even though Owens was under contract to WWE, it was reported that ROH was able to release the toy because he signed a contract with the Figure Toy Company first and that contract was still valid.
On August 22, during the Summerslam weekend events, WWE held an NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn show that Friday in direct competition to ROH’s Field of Honor show in the same city. If running on the same night wasn’t bad enough, WWE also booked New Japan Pro Wrestling talent Jushin Thunder Liger against NXT wrestler Tyler Breeze in the first match on the card. This is noteworthy due to the fact that ROH and New Japan have a working business relationship and also had New Japan wrestlers on the Field of Honor show that night.
It was reported by Wrestlezone via the Wrestling Observer that WWE management was upset by the ROH Kevin Steen action figure incident and was planning on possibly signing indie talent before they had signed deals with ROH or TNA. This could be where a wrestling company called Evolve came into play.
Former Evolve wrestler Apollo Crews wrestling current Evolve wrestler Johnny Gargano. [Image via WWE]Evolve is an independent wrestling company owned by former ROH co-founder and booker Gabe Sapolsky. It is a farily well-known and established wrestling company under the bigger WWNLive (World Wrestling Network) company banner that specializes in iPPVs. Back in 2008, Sapolsky, who was a protégé of Paul Heyman while working for ECW, was released by ROH and it was not under the best of terms. Since that time, Sapolsky has kept mostly quiet about his release; although, he and ROH did have a small legal spat. According to Cageside Seats in 2012 Sapolsky ran down ROH for being cheapskates after ROH’s Border Wars iPPV had really bad streaming problems.
These days, it seems as though Evolve has mostly been running shows in Florida, which is also the home state of NXT. In the past year, fans have seen somewhat of an unofficial business relationship form between WWE’s NXT and Evolve. NXT has used Evolve wrestlers such as Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa as enhancement talent and has also signed former Evolve wrestlers Apollo Crews, Rich Swann, and Biff Busick. There have also been public statements between the two companies both stating that Evolve may be acting as sort of a “feeder system” to NXT. It is also interesting to note that for Wrestlemania weekend in 2016, Evolve is running a show at the Eddie Deen Ranch at 4 p.m. on Friday. That location is only a two minute walk away from the NXT TakeOver: Dallas show that night at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. As of this writing, NXT TakeOver: Dallas is booked for a 9 p.m. start time. It is quite possible that both companies booked around their respective shows in a way to allow fans the option to attend both. Just up the street that same night, ROH is running their Supercard of Honor X show in direct competition at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
A lot of these incidents may be blown a bit out of proportion by the pro wrestling media. It is possible that there isn’t an industry war, but it’s fairly clear that WWE is not on the best of terms with ROH and have clearly chosen to work with Evolve instead of ROH. WWE’s NXT developmental brand is seemingly modeled after ROH in a lot of ways. NXT has seen a ton of success and has been able to attract die hard indie wrestling fans who have really been into promotions such as Ring of Honor, Chikara, Evolve, and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
ROH entered into a business agreement with PWG. [Image via ROH]Speaking of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, it is interesting to note that they recently entered into a business agreement with ROH, through which some ROH contracted wrestlers would be allowed to wrestle for PWG for a few select dates during the year. This is a major reversal in strategy by ROH, as earlier this year they had actually pulled contracted talents like Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole from PWG events. Recently, the extremely popular brother duo tag team The Young Bucks also re-signed with ROH and the contract allowed them to wrestle on PWG shows, which are based in their home state of California. PWG is a very popular wrestling group based in Los Angeles and has gained quite a bit of success in the L.A. area. Every show typically sells out quickly and they even have celebrities come out and watch the events. It is possible that ROH has loosened the strings a bit and formed a better relationship with PWG in a way to stave off the competitive onslaught from WWE’s NXT.
[Photo via WWE]