Photo Credit – Ring of Honor
As announced this week, ROH had released all of their current talent as the company would be going under a re-construction and it was believed that their tape library was open to the highest bidder, but that does not seem to be the case.
The sad news of ROH seemly shutting down shocked the wrestling world, now more information has shined through an interview with Mike Johnson (MJ) of PWInsider and ROH COO Joe Koff (JK) were many topics of ROH and their future was discussed. First, Johnson asked about the status of ROH staff and the difficultly of having to inform the staff of the future of the company.
MJ: All right. Let’s talk about the people. What does this mean for the Ring of Honor staff? And what does this mean for the contracted talents who are currently under deals? I know there are some whose deals expire towards the end of the year, because that’s how Ring of Honor does business. There’s some who obviously go on through 2022 and beyond. What does all of this mean for the people who have worked into side the ring and behind the scenes for Ring of Honor?
JK: Well, one thing, you know and you know this for a fact, we care very deeply about our people and our talent, but this is contractual and this is an individual conversation, and I’m not going to comment on it at this point.
[Note: While Koff declined to comment, numerous ROH talents have confirmed that if their deals with the promotion expired at the end of the year, they were informed they would not be renewed. Deals running into 2022 will either now expire in March/April 2022.]
MJ: Okay. Talent who are under contract during this time period where Ring of Honor is not going to be running events, will they be working on TV tapings that are in enclosed environments, I know you had mentioned archival footage, or will the programming going forward simply be similar to what we saw during the pandemic?
JK: Well, it could be similar to that, could have a different creative slant. I would tell you that we are taping next week for the rest of the year for our TV leading up to Final Battle. After that we have some creative ideas. Again, they’re being fleshed out. We’re talking about them now to continue to create and produce and distribute original content.
MJ: Okay. Will the talents who are under contract be allowed to work elsewhere during this time off?
JK: We had a conversation with them and we certainly are going to work with every talent for whatever needs they need to fulfil whatever they’re looking for. Yes.
(H/T – PWInsider)
Next, the discussion of the right to own ROH extensive library of matches came up, with multiple previous reports stating the library of matches were open to the highest bidder.
MJ: Someone’s going to hear all this and assume this is the beginning of Sinclair looking to sell the Ring of Honor tape library and the rights to the company, can you discuss whether there’s any current conversations in regard to that?
JK: No, I wouldn’t discuss it. So, the answer would be no.
(H/T – PWInsider)
Then, Johnson would continue asking about the discussed the possible return of the company in April 2022 as well as ROH being able to protect their talent during the pandemic last year.
MJ: Why April 2022 as a planned return for Ring of Honor? Why did you guys circle that date as that’s the time period where you’re looking to relaunch?
JK: That’s a very good question. We always had that date in mind. Mike, just to be fair, to kind of clarify this for those listening, there are lots of possibilities as we were going through next year’s business modelling. We always felt that Ring of Honor would be a product, and we’ve always been at Supercard and that’s not going to change. Now what that card looks like, what the creative is, could change, but Supercard was always something we were going to do and it’s always something we would want to do. So, it wasn’t just added for this moment. It was always there. The question would be, what would it be? That remains to be seen.
MJ: If you look at the last year, if there’s one company that did everything right in terms of protecting the talents, putting them in bubbles, making sure they, and even independent contractors who worked for the company were paid as if they were regularly working for the company and so forth, Ring of Honor would be the shining example of a company that did everything right. Having said all that, what went wrong here in your mind that Ring of Honor is at this state?
JK: I think it’s the business. The business changed and we saw another big company come in that really is doing what I think we had hoped that we could do. I think from a competitive standpoint, the cost of talent, which is the largest cost without a distribution point of rights fees makes it just very, very difficult to think of in a business model. We work every day to try to remedy that, but we ran out of time. So that’s really what it was, but I don’t want to minimize the last two years because Mike let’s think about this, you write wrestling and I read your column all the time. This is a vibrant period for wrestling. There so much opportunity. There was no opportunity in March of 2020, there is a ton of opportunity right now and you know that our talent and our guys are the best talent wrestling. I am proud of what we were able to do when it was the darkest and bleakest, but it’s not like that right now. There’s so much opportunity out there that it gives me a better feeling that our guys will thrive in this new wrestling world.
MJ: Someone’s going to hear that and take that to mean that you’ve let talents go to see where they could fly off elsewhere, should they take it that way?
JK: They could take it any way they want. I mean, our talent has heard our conversation. They know exactly where we stand. They know exactly where they stand. Anybody can make whatever kind of inferences or judgements that they want to. I feel good about the conversation that took place. I feel good about the interaction that took place. I felt good about the comments that were made at that place. I think again, if you think about how we cared for our talent during the dark days, we didn’t stop caring today.
(H/T – PWInsider)
Hopefully, next year we can see a bright future for ROH in whatever form it returns in next year.