I’ll openly admit, I’m not the most hardcore ROH (Ring of Honor) fan, and I usually follow them casually. When I say casually I mean checking for updates, tuning in for PPVs, etc. Back in May I finally received a chance to catch a ROH event live in Toronto, and it was honestly my favorite live pro wrestling event. The atmosphere was just built for anyone that enjoys wrestling. What made it different from a WWE event was the intimacy of the venue and the smaller crowd. Since then, I’ve been following them much more closely. Of course I mainly cover WWE on this website, but at the same time I’m cheering for ROH in hopes they grow stronger and continue to deliver a strong product.
When NXT came along and truly became something more than a “farm system” for the WWE, I never thought it would go head-to-head with promotions such as ROH. For the past decade or so, the WWE has kept to themselves and haven’t attacked any other wrestling promotion. Even when the two companies ran similar venues and catered to a similar audience, I still didn’t think they would eventually lock horns .Well the first bomb was dropped in the official super indy war when NXT decided to bring in Jushin Thunder Liger for NXT Takeover in August. This may not necessarily be the decisive move in who wins, but it was a statement to ROH.
When comparing the two brands, it’s fair to say NXT has more of an advantage than ROH. Keep in mind NXT has a much higher budget, for just about everything. NXT has an advantage on production value, marketing, and accessibility. Production value is great when bringing in new fans, because they know they’ll receive WWE quality with a grass roots product. When it comes to marketing, they can do anything, such as promoting their superstars and specials on Raw. Let’s also keep in mind, NXT is much more accessible than ROH, simply because of the WWE Network. In this pro wrestling war ROH has a lot of work ahead of them, but they do have one thing that the WWE doesn’t, and that’s a working relationship with NJPW (New Japan Pro Wrestling). With the ability to share talent with the second largest organization in the business, ROH can provide North American fans with something that NXT can’t. This is why bringing in Jushin Thunder Liger is a big deal. While Liger works on a special contract allowing him to work anywhere, ROH must feel some type of discontent with their business partners. It’s not like booking Liger is the equivalent of getting AJ Styles or Kazuchika Okada, but it’s not a good sign.
Can ROH survive a potential WWE-NJPW alliance? Most likely, but they’ll take a massive hit. I’m sure ROH has its fair share of hardcore fans, and they’ll most likely stay loyal to this company. At the same time, they lose much of their allure of being able to showcase talents such as Styles, Okada, Tanahashi, Nakamura, etc. In fact, it was those particular New Japan names that pushed me into buying tickets for the set of ROH tapings in Toronto. If I bought the tickets for that reason, I’m sure many others did as well. Not only does it hurt their drawing power within North America, but it could damage their international presence as their performers would no longer be wrestling in New Japan events, because those spots can potentially be taken by NXT stars. After seeing the popularity of WWE in Japan, I’m sure NJPW would much rather work with them in place of ROH. Also, I’m sure the WWE had a chance to speak with their Japanese counterparts when they were in Tokyo for the Beast in the East special. Since they got Liger in the deal, I’m sure more was discussed in terms of collaboration.
There’s also nothing stopping these organizations from working a 3 way relationship. Although if that were to happen, I think ROH would benefit more than anybody else, because they’d have extra power to push their product on a WWE stage, while the WWE wouldn’t receive much in return. For most wrestling fans, this scenario would be a dream come true, but wouldn’t make business sense for the WWE.
Since I’m just a blogger and not a formal news reporter, this is just my take on the situation. As of now, the relationship the WWE has with NJPW is quite minimal, and ROH is still showcasing the talent from Japan. Although in the world of wrestling, things can change very quickly. I personally find this extremely interesting, and I’ll be following it very closely.
Feel free to leave a comment on what you think may happen with NXT, ROH, and NJPW.