Sunday, July 13, 2014

ROH Facing More Challenges Is Nothing New For Them.


About a month ago, Ring of Honor was the hot topic of the wrestling world, about to head to live pay-per-view for the first time. A month later there doesn’t seem to be the buzz or follow-up you would have hoped for.

Kevin Steen has just 6 days left in effect as a member of ROH which is significant. He is for lack of a better comparison the John Cena of this promotion. He is nothing like Cena in many ways, but he is in the sense he is the companies biggest star. He sells the most merchandise for the promotion and has been a huge part of storylines since his return to the company in 2012. He became the champion of the promotion and even after losing it like John Cena would basically be the semi-main event even without the belt. This alone is a huge blow for ROH to recover from. They have done this so many times before though, so it is something they have a great deal of experience with. The best handling of the situation was perhaps when C.M Punk left the promotion which is referenced as “The Summer of Punk” and a watershed moment for the promotion. Other big names have left too like Samoa Joe, A.J Styles, Daniel Bryan and a list that could go on for a long time.

Steen is now off to get his chance to try and make it in the WWE like so many ROH performers have, with a decent success rate. Based on his body type, some likely saw Steen as an independent scene “lifer” and not someone the WWE would consider. Steen getting himself into better shape by his standards, along with the success of Bray Wyatt and a tryout down in Florida that impressed have all led to this opportunity. He, like his friend El Generico (better known as Sami Zayn to WWE audience) should have a good chance at making it.

Ring of Honor was hoping to figure out a way to have Steen appear at their Field of Honor show in New York City.  The event at MCU Park in Brooklyn on August 15th is a huge deal for Ring of Honor as they have basically replaced TNA who use to run this event annually. Unfortunately nothing could be worked out with Steen it would appear as rumours have had him reporting to WWE developmental as early as August 1st.

What might be as significant a blow for Ring of Honor is the news that U-Stream is phasing out live pay-per-view as part of their company. ROH made a successful return to I-Pay-Per-View back in May leading up to their debut on conventional Pay-Per-View in June with co-promoted shows with New Japan Pro Wrestling which also uses the service and it would appear is no longer going to be moving forward.

Before this news came out the plan for ROH was to run several I-PPV offerings before returning to conventional pay-per-view in December with Final Battle. That now appears not to be possible with U-Stream out of the picture. Well at least not with them, which is a big deal given ROH’s issues in the past with I-PPV with another provider that was a complete disaster from the company. It forced them out of PPV business for awhile in any form.

There has been no official word on how the conventional PPV did in terms of numbers other than it was on pace to meet or even exceed the modest goals that ROH had set of somewhere around 9000 buys. Dave Meltzer reported that ROH did out draw the Glory Kickboxing event on the same weekend on the Saturday. This is all pretty impressive when you consider the lack of mainstream advertising for the event in June.

So where exactly ROH heads from here remains a question mark to a large degree. Added into that concern would be where the now former ROH Champion Adam Cole is heading after 2014. His contract is set to expire at the end of the year and many feel it would almost be criminal at this point for the WWE to not give him a look. Cole is just killing it both in the ring and out of it with promos as you can see for yourself below.



Cole is heading to Japan along with Michael Bennett and ReDragon in early August. This is part of the on going relationship with the two promotions. Speaking of Bennett he too will have his contract come due around the same time with ROH in December. He is set to be married in the fall to his manger and fiancĂ©e former WWE Diva Maria Kanellis. Bennett has always been pegged as a guy with the look for WWE and a return with Maria could be possible depending on how the wind blows with WWE at the time. Maria had talked about a return to the WWE being thwarted by the Bella Twins some time ago. If the pair found their way to WWE it wouldn’t be a huge surprise. Add in the fact that C.M Punk may not be with company might play a role in this positively or negatively based on Maria’s past relationship with Punk. WWE had a lot of success with a real life love triangle with Edge, Lita and Matt Hardy back in 2006. It is something in theory you could do with this situation. This of course would be under the large assumption that Punk would be involved in company by the time Bennett debuts on the main roster if given a developmental deal. 

Speaking of Matt Hardy, as Michael Bennett speculated on our podcast with him Matt Hardy is in fact still working with Ring of Honor and in fact worked a match with the New ROH World Champion Michael Elgin for the title in Hopkins, Minnesota.  So it would appear Hardy’s appearance on TNA was just at least for the moment just being part of the tapings in New York City the week after the ROH Best In the World Pay-Per-View.

Kevin Steen one the first of his three final matches against Tommaso Ciampa and Silas Young set to face Steen next won a four corners match to earn a shot at the ROH title in the future. For a complete rundown of the results you can check it out at Wrestling Oseverer.com with this link.

The event was dubbed “Aftershock” and ROH has had some of those since their debut on PPV. Unfortunately they have not all been positives for the company and to some extent the follow up to the event has been weak. TNA is always labelled as the company that keeps on surviving, but in reality that promotion has been Ring of Honor they always have found a way to keep things alive no matter what obstacles have been thrown in its path.

It would be really out of the box idea but what if Ring of Honor used the WWE Network for instead of I-PPV. Before you cast of the idea as crazy maybe it makes sense. The UFC with fight pass has taken on Invicta FC a female MMA promotion to air it’s events on Fight Pass. If ROH was able to cut some sort of a deal with WWE it might make some sense.

Why would the WWE do such a deal? They might be inclined if it allowed them access to the ROH archives to have on the WWE Network as well. It is no secret that the WWE is considering anything and everything for the WWE Network. If the right deal could be reached it would give ROH some extra cash to keep moving forward. WWE has declared that pay-per-view is a dying industry, so if they are serious, than ROH to remain on it might not be the stumbling block one would think at first. The chance to see guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro Seth Rollins and others via the WWE Network would have some appeal you have to figure for the WWE.

This is all mere speculation on my part, but could a deal of this sort happen you can at least see the foundation for the two companies to have a discussion. Maybe even going as far as having a yearly event with NXT vs. ROH could be a huge draw for both companies if they were willing to work together. It is likely just a wrestling fan’s" pipedream," but it does make a lot of sense if you look at where the UFC is going with their online platform with Fight Pass.

In any case, it will be a very interesting 6 months or so for Ring of Honor as they head towards 2015. They could even be classed as the number two promotion legitimately if TNA is unable to come to terms with Spike-TV on a new T.V deal.

I have more faith in ROH’s survival than I do in TNA. I also have more love for ROH as they unlike TNA offer a true alternative product to the WWE.

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Added Note July 14th: After Publication of this article Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer reported that U-Stream has told all their clients that September 30th will be the end to their usage as an I-PPV provider. Based on this info in theory ROH still could have a show on I-PPV between now and that time.