Ring of Honor makes its debut tonight on HDNet starting at 8:00 p.m. ET (7:00 p.m. CT). Here is the scheduled card for the episode tonight:
– Jimmy Jacobs vs. Tyler Black.
– Jerry Lynn vs. Delirious.
– Brent Albright vs. Rhett Titus.
– Kenny King vs. Sami Callahan.
According to reports, all wrestlers will have short promos edited into their entrances (like Saturday Night’s Main Event) and there will be no backstage skits like you would see in WWE or TNA. Many of the wrestlers spent time in the production truck between matches watching how things were done and learning where to be in the ring so it looked good for the cameras. The lead announcer for the show will Mike Hogewood, who has no background in pro wrestling and was described as quite the challenge as host.
The production for the show has been described as top notch for ROH standards with HDNet handling everything. One source commented about the TV tapings for HDNet: “The HDNet people were top shelf in their production. They made the old ECW arena look as good as it can. The crew has done their MMA shows. In fact, the way the show is shot (the matches) is closer to MMA and it’ll be interesting to see how people react to it being shot different than TNA and WWE. For wrestlers, 95 percent of them never worked TV matches before, they all hit their time cues (+/- thirty seconds) and all improved their presentation from match to match. This will be a work in progress from all sides, but it was a very positive first step. The locker room seemed very happy, HDNet was very happy and I believe those who watch it will be very happy.”
It should be noted that while everyone is said to be very enthusiastic about the TV product and how it looks, there is still questions regarding the future of the company and the overall bottom line. ROH’s business model was built heavily on doing live shows and generating income from DVD sales. With DVD sales for ROH down in the last year, having a revenue source like international TV sales, while only a small percentage with ROH having a pretty low budget, could make a huge difference for the company. The strong production values of the TV product will also more than likely help with overseas distributions, although some have said the timing is bad right now to get overseas sports stations to pay for a new pro wrestling product.