Yesterday Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet broke the news that WWE has been talking to Sinclair Broadcasting Group about buying Ring of Honor. Dave Meltzer later confirmed the negotiations in this week’s issue of the Wrestling Observer, which was released online last night.
According to Meltzer, no deal is currently in place, and there’s no guarantee any sale will go through. He reports that if WWE does buy ROH, though, it would be primarily for the promotion’s tape library, which features years worth of footage of such current and former WWE stars as Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Austin Aries and many others, and also to eliminate a competitor. In that scenario, Ring of Honor would cease to exist. It’s unknown if WWE would also purchase ROH’s existing contracts, and if they do assume those, how the company would use those wrestlers.
Ring of Honor, which recently held its 15th anniversary pay-per-view in Los Angeles, was founded in 2002, and immediately helped fill the void left by the then-WWF’s purchase of WCW and, especially, ECW. It’s long been a place for rising talent to first gain national exposure and for top independent and international talent to work in America. In 2011 it was bought by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the second-largest TV station owner in America, which has used Ring of Honor as a relatively cheap source of original programming. Although change has always been a constant for any independent promotion, Ring of Honor has seemed exceptionally vulnerable to losing talent over the last two years, as WWE increasingly fills out its developmental system. ROH has lost a surprisingly long list of talent over the last two years, both top stars like Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin, to such promising newcomers as Keith Lee, ACH and Donovan Dijak.
The loss of Ring of Honor would have sizable ramifications throughout the wrestling industry, and not just in America: New Japan Pro Wrestling and Mexico’s CMLL would no longer have an American partner, as they both currently have a working arrangement with ROH. It’d also remove one more option for wrestlers themselves, potentially depressing how much money they could earn.
Paste will have more about this in the days and weeks to come.