Reports this week of WWE’s interest in buying ROH being downplayed by sources (w/Radican’s Analysis)
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Earlier this week, Pro Wrestling Sheet reported that WWE and Sinclair Broadcast Group, the parent company of Ring of Honor, have been discussing a buyout in secret meetings. Dave Meltzer followed up with a report on the negotiations in The Wrestling Observer this week. According to multiple sources with connections to WWE and Ring of Honor, PWTorch can confirm that nothing materialized from these negotiations currently and no deal is on the table for WWE to purchase Ring of Honor.
This morning, a CBS Sports Local story by pro wrestling reporter Chuck Carroll sites an unnamed high ranking ROH source stating “there is no story here.” He had interviewed ROH COO Joe Kofi earlier this month about the possibility of ROH striking a deal to stream on WWE Network. “No, no, no, no,” Koff told me. “It’s very flattering and humbling to us,” he said. “It validates what we’ve done. A lot of their current performers and stars are ROH guys and we have their history. So maybe the content of the backstories of Kevin Steen before he became Kevin Owens or AJ Styles’ run in Ring of Honor, Tyler Black (aka Seth Rollins), Claudio (Castagnoli aka Cesaro) … all of the guys who have wrestled for us. We have their backstory and where it began… That’s our content.”
WWE and ROH have worked together in the past with WWE licencing ROH footage to use in documentaries and on the WWE Network. According to The Wrestling Observer, a big part of any potential deal would be WWE purchasing the ROH library to use for the WWE Network and other projects.
These reports have caused concern among the talent and management in Ring of Honor. If WWE were to purchase Ring of Honor at some point down the line and air ROH content on the network, the Wrestling Observer reported that it is unknown whether or WWE would honor the current talent contracts and keep the office in tact or shut it down should a sale occur.
Radican’s Analysis: I have personally heard rumors about WWE being interested in buying ROH and the ROH library three times in the past year and nothing has ever come to it. One well-connected source noted this week to me that this is just a cast of rumors getting out there once again and causing this story to pick up steam. The rumors picked up again earlier at the beginning of 2017, but nothing ever came of them.
WWE is constantly looking for ways to enhance their library of wrestling footage and it’s no secret the company has been moving towards airing indy footage on the WWE Network for a long time. WWE and ROH have worked together before, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if WWE is able to come to terms with ROH for the rights to their footage.
Although Sinclair has never fully gotten behind ROH, the company has been given a bigger budget in recent years which has given them the ability to sign free agents to bigger money deals and be competitive in the free agent market. The company has also improved their production for TV and PPV, but in other areas such as promotion, social media, and their website, they are lagging behind.
I would be surprised if a complete buyout happens. The people I’ve talked to with connections to both sides say it isn’t going to happen, which is the impression I’ve been given from the time this news came out in 2016.
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