Fixing Ring Of Honor: A Return To Glory

Could ROH ever recapture their former glory?

Source: ROH

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and the current picture of Ring of Honor is a bleak one. Recent photos captured by fans in attendance show the company barely drawing a gate of one thousand fans in venues with a capacity of ten thousand. This is a far cry from not just the heyday of Ring of Honor, but where the company was only a few years ago.

Starting with the loss of The Elite and the end of the promotion’s partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling, ROH has found itself in a position where they have a stagnant product and have lost a large portion of their hardcore fanbase.

In a time where professional wrestling is as exciting as it’s ever been with the growing ratings war between WWE, NXT and AEW, NJPW expanding into the USA and smaller companies like NWA and Impact putting out strong content, ROH has remained mostly absent from the conversation.

Some of the best wrestlers on the planet, those that have gone on to make up the fabric of WWE, have all come from one organization: Ring of Honor. Founded in 2002 by Gabe Sapolsky and Rob Feinstein, ROH began as a small, independent company with a single goal; to present the best wrestling on the planet.

Several classic matches happened under the Ring of Honor banner, including: Samoa Joe vs CM Punk, Kevin Owens vs Adam Cole, Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura vs Roddy Strong. CM Punk’s feud with Samoa Joe being the series of matches that reinvigorated this writer’s love of professional wrestling and put me back on my path to becoming a professional wrestler. At its peak, ROH was rightly beloved by the indie wrestling community, and heralded as one of the best promotions in the world.

Source: ROH

What started as something special and unique is what makes where the promotion is now all the more unfortunate. Where wrestlers would once be showered with chants of “please don’t go”, fearing WWE would misuse them, now fans look forward to the day their favourite stars move on to any other promotion. So what went wrong?

Many factors led ROH to the fall in status it is experiencing now: lousy booking, waiting too long to capitalize on the popularity of a star, especially in the case of Tyler Black and Dalton Castle. Passing over stars that would put more eyes on the product for another, in the case of Matt Taven over Marty Scurll, Jeff Cobb, or Bandido, as well as an over-reliance on NJPW stars to sell shows that has left them with very little draws of their own. The good news is that this isn’t the first time Ring of Honor has needed to revamp itself, and they have all the necessary ingredients to fix the situation.

ROH needs to re-brand itself as more than just a transitional step on the road to the major leagues, and present itself as a final destination for wrestlers to compete at the highest level and build a franchise. They should focus on establishing their unique and exciting roster already at their disposal. Current champion RUSH, Jeff Cobb, Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham and The Briscoes are the right mix of veterans and future stars to build an exciting brand around.

Next, a proper working relationship with IMPACT and AEW would help massively with their exposure. Take care to present their talent as equal to the imported stars and they will avoid the pitfalls of their NJPW partnership.

Lastly, they need to capitalize on the previous points by securing better television deals or utilizing Twitch, Mixer and YouTube to keep their television show current and not a month behind, effectively rendering the show useless. It will take time to find their footing in this ever-increasing competitive landscape, but ROH has a storied history and a proven record of building stars.

One thing that bodes well for Ring of Honor is that wrestling fans remember, and they love a good comeback. The disappointment with the current state of Ring of Honor is that we know they are capable of so much more. There is still plenty of time for Ring of Honor not only to regain their former glory, but to surpass it.

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