It wasn’t a shock to many but the wrestling world is all talking about Tony Khan buying ROH. The once trail-blazing indie, originally run by Cary Silkin and booked by Gabe Sapolsky changed the industry after the demise of WCW and ECW. Ring of Honor gave the world stars such as CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Seth Rollins (Tyler Black), Adam Cole, Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen), Samoa Joe, and countless more and carried on for almost 20 years before an out of left shut down, with a promise to reboot in the Spring of 2022. Now, that reboot is going to be under new ownership.
What Does It Mean?
Tony Khan buying ROH means a lot. For ROH fans, it means that the legacy lives on. Sinclair Broadcasting, the now previous owners, wasn’t interested in being in the wrestling business. They are in the TV business and ROH was cheap TV programming to them. Now under the ownership of Tony Khan, that vast tape library is going to be cherished and available, which is a big win for wrestling fans.
It also means that Tony Khan has taken a major step forward with a future streaming service. AEW content alone would’ve been thin for a service but adding in ROH’s incredible library makes a potential streaming service deal a lot more lucrative and enticing. It also opens the door for Khan to do what Vince has done over the years and start to collect tape libraries. CZW for example was rumored to be up for sale over the last year. Who’s to say Khan doesn’t make an offer for that library and include it with AEW and ROH content? That’s not the only example either.
Looking at that press release above, Tony Khan is buying ROH – its tape library, intellectual property, equipment, brand assets, and more. Let’s be real —- the tape library is what made this sale happen but the press release also notes the possibility of creating new content under the ROH banner. That is a lot to unpack.
So what does creating new content under the ROH banner mean? Well, there’s the ROH Hall of Fame for starters. This is something Khan could keep going and growing and use as his HOF, to compete with what Vince does. Or it could be a cool yearly ceremony to celebrate ROH and its past. There are options and all of them are exciting for wrestling fans.
ROH is running a show WrestleMania weekend and that begs the thought: Could there be more ROH shows in the future? It’s no secret that AEW has a talent roster that’s overly stacked. Could ROH become a separate promotion where a lot of this talent could shine? Send talents who aren’t getting a lot of TV time on AEW to work ROH for a while, along with upstart talent who have previously been booked on Dark. Let angles run their course and swap talents back and forth between AEW and ROH. Ring of Honor would be a distinctive brand with its emphasis on pure wrestling, providing an alternative and also, a place for talents to work.
AEW is filled with veterans backstage who could shift to ROH to be mentors and agents. Someone like Christian Cage could be working main events in ROH, all while working with younger talents and agenting matches. AEW could effectively pull off what fans wanted WWE to do with NXT —- a separate brand that provides an alternative content-wise and grooms the talent for the future at the same time.
Where Do We Go From Here?
It’s hard to say. Tony Khan buying ROH could turn out to solely be about the tape library and even if that’s the case, that’s still a win. Years of top-quality shows will become available for the masses to see and a legacy will be preserved. Or maybe it’s the library and the ROH Hall of Fame becomes something Khan wants to take over. That too would be a win for the business.
I can’t help but feel like there’s more though. Tony Khan is an ambitious man also, someone who loves this business. He has a locker room full of talents who came up through ROH and have a lot of love for that promotion. Gun to my head, I’m saying there will be shows under the ROH banner and the wrestling business will be better off as a result.