What’s going on everyone? The move is over and I am back and better than ever and here to give everyone there weekly dose of wrestling commentary. With the Glory by Honor IX IPPV coming up in just 5 short weeks it has dawned on me that I really haven’t touched upon ROH in quite a while. Glory by Honor IX will be the 4th ROH show to be streamed live on the internet and while the buy rates that have been reported by others have not been spectacular they have been solid and due to the cost effectiveness of IPPV they have been profitable. Say what you want about the company but it has taken strides over the past 3 or 4 years from getting on actual PPV to actually being able to prove all the naysayers (including myself) wrong by actually stepping back from PPV and still managing to stay in business, to getting the HD Net TV show and now doing IPPV’s and really opening up a lot of eyes to what could be another big revenue stream for many other companies. Fans may not be able to see it, experts may want to ignore it but while it is happening slowly ROH is a company that is on the rise. Can ROH supplant TNA as the number 2 company in the United States? You’re reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
I’ve said it before and it bears repeating I am not a ROHbot. It is true I have friendly relationships with many inside of ROH but at the same time I have friendly relationships with some in WWE and TNA as well. It just so happens that due to the smaller stature of Ring of Honor and well for that matter myself we have been put in positions at times to be of more help to each other. I have said it time and time again though I am a wrestling fan first and foremost, and a wrestling columnist/reporter second, not a cheerleader for any company as it is not to my advantage to have any company fail. Still while this is an editorial style column it is still my responsibility to give the truth and when a company is on the decline I am going to say it, the same thing when a company is doing well and again ROH is slowly on the rise. There have been a lot of rumors that I feel have been exaggerated of the Cary Silken looking to sell the company; none of those rumors have been confirmed to me. What I have been able to confirm from my sources is that ROH like other companies is on the lookout for investors. That’s not a bad thing as even WWE looks for investors and if you think they don’t then what do you call going public? More investors mean more capital; more capital means more avenues are now open to explore growth to the company.
It is true that DVD sales have taken a bit of a hit, hence all the deals on ROHwrestling.com for ROH DVD’s, as well as the new VOD service that is available there. I don’t think this is due to a lack of interest in the product as much as the fact that ROH DVD’s are not commercially released like WWE and TNA DVD’s and as such all of ROH’s consumers are people who troll the internet and well people who troll the internet and not necessarily the most honest of people and tend to torrent events. I’m sure if there was a way to account for a number of ROH events that are torrented on the internet the numbers of fans out there would probably be on the rise from what it was a few years ago. Of course many fans point to the attendance at live events and while it is true that most events in the northeast tend to do better than elsewhere let’s not take away the fact that while ROH is the 3rd biggest company in the U.S it is still an independent wrestling company and all independent companies have taken a hit attendance wise in this economic recession that the country has experienced over the past few years. When compared to other independent wrestling companies ROH attendance on most days is strong. Do they experience a few clunkers every now and then? Sure but they have also opened up many more new markets who have experienced ROH live for the first time and the consensus is usually that those markets can’t wait for ROH to come back again.
Now let’s compare all of this to a company like TNA who has taken a bath in PPV ever since…well the beginning of the company. When you look at the TNA payroll and the reported figure of 8,000 PPV buys of its last few PPV’s and you have to wonder how they can be in anything but the red. Think about it, you do the math at 8,000 buys at $35 a show that’s 280,000 generated. Half of that goes to the cable services so that’s $140,000 left. Now out of that you are supposed to be able to pay the production people, cost of production itself, and your talent. Now I know many of you will tell me how TNA may recoup their losses on DVD’s but those DVD’s aren’t released for months and how many DVD’s do you really think TNA is selling? Maybe 10,000 so let’s say they got another $75,000 of off DVD sales that’s still only $215,000 an event. So anyone who thinks that TNA is breaking even on PPV or not losing that much money needs to get their heads checked out because when a company of several men who are making at least $500,000 annually can only make slightly over 3 million a year in PPV and DVD revenue there is something wrong.
What about TNA live attendance while it is true that TNA did do their biggest gate in the US right here in my own backyard of NYC last month that number was a big rarity and is like Haley’s comet never to be seen again in your lifetime. TNA actually does smaller attendance than ROH in most markets and tends to hold shows in bigger more costly venues and unlike ROH can’t even charge admission to most of their TV and PPV tapings because of the contractual obligations to Universal Studios and well what about the times that they have been able to take those events outside of the Impact Zone? Well other than the Las Vegas live edition of Impact I haven’t seen Impact travel outside of the Impact Zone and that was a full show but I have seen TNA travel for PPV on more than one occasion and have seen a lot of papering being done and still witnessed a ton of empty seats. Being fair I have heard from more than one person how ROH does not sell out the ECW arena for shows and has papered that building on many occasions. Still we are talking about an independent company with a TV show on a channel no one has to a big national company with a network behind it like Spike TV. Furthermore I have never witnessed a PPV or IPPV held by ROH (This upcoming one will be my fourth) that was not full.
So what am I saying? It is not that farfetched that TNA could conceivably go under in the next 2 to 3 years. After all, no one wants to consistently lose money as that would be stupid and while ROH is not a financial juggernaut they are still on better ground than TNA. Someone has to pick up the pieces and I am convinced that at this point Spike TV does want wrestling on their network which is why it has thrown so much money into TNA but at the end of the day even those at Spike have to realize they are giving hours upon hours of valuable real estate to a company like TNA who has really shown no signs of growth. All it takes is one powerful person in that company and poof just like that TNA is done for. Would it be that inconceivable for a network like Spike or even MTV who has shown interest in wrestling on more than one occasion in the past to look at a company like ROH and realize it wouldn’t cost them much to have it on their networks and give it a shot? The ROH on HD Net show is not a spectacular show by any means but it is a solid show and unlike many other wrestling shows it makes sense. Can you imagine how that show might do if it had the reach of a Spike TV and not an HD Net? Do I think it’ll do 1 million viewers right off the bat? Absolutely not but I do believe it can do 600,000 starting and build from there.
With a shorter budget, younger, hungrier stars and something different why can’t ROH be the number 2 company in the country? WWF back in the day became the number one company by giving wrestling fans something different than what they were accustomed to seeing with the NWA and AWA and the NWA stuck around by trying to remain as much an alternative to WWE as anything else. ROH is a throwback to the days of the NWA in terms of its presentation; much more a throwback than TNA ever was which is ironic considering that TNA was an NWA member upon its initial inception. It is extremely obvious that wrestling fans want something different from what is already being presented to them from WWE. After all if fans wanted WWE than maybe WCW would still be around since WCW really started to go downhill once they tried to duplicate the WWE formula instead of trying to find one of its own. Sure most wrestling fans don’t know Chris Hero, Tyler Black or Davey Richards but there is no reason why those same fans with the right amount of luck can’t be educated to them and even fans of those individuals in the next 5 years.
WWE cannot be a monopoly forever, after all you can’t be number one without a number two and the wrestling world has not and cannot accept one promoter controlling everything. So if TNA does indeed fail to remain in business there will always be a number two promotion. I’m saying ROH might surpass TNA as the number two before TNA can ever go out of business and maybe if it does that would be what is best for the wrestling business…maybe.
So with that being said I am going to wrap up this week’s column by doing what I always do and that’s giving you something to do for the weekend. Of course TNA is having its Hardcore Justice PPV this Sunday which while I am against the idea of yet another ECW reunion show should be a decent show and has the potential to be one of the better shows from any company all year. Of course for all you hardcore MMA fans UFC 117 is this Saturday which is being headline by a match that was at first thought to be a yawner but thanks to some interesting hype is turning out to be a serious candidate for most anticipated fight of the year in Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva so you might want to give that a look as well. As for me, I’ll be back next week with another column and I’ll try to do better than, until then I am out.