This Saturday night, Ring of Honor will return to the Manhattan Center in New York City. Acclaimed by both the company and fans as one of the best places to see ROH live, it is the perfect venue for Ring of Honor’s latest venture — the world of pay per view.
On May 4th ROH announced that they had reached a deal in association with G-Funk Sports & Entertainment, had reached programming and distribution deals for PPV and VOD wrestling cards with iN DEMAND Networks, TVN and EchoStar Communications Corporation’s DISH NetworkTM, making the ROH brand available for the first time ever to approximately 50 million American households. The agreement calls for a card every 60 days from shows both stateside and abroad, and will premiere July 1 with a total of six cards are planned throughout ‘07/’08.
“Fans around the world now know that our brand of action is, indeed, the highest-flying, hardest-hitting most daring and acrobatic action presented today,” said ROH owner Cary Silkin. “We are thrilled that we can finally show a televised audience what our crowds have known for the last six years … that ROH harkens back to an earlier era of wrestling where authenticity still counted for something. There’s a magic at our shows that I, as a wrestling fan, had all but given up on.”
“This is a fresh new entry, the real deal, not the bloated fantasy entertainment that real wrestling fans have come to loathe. I think we’re giving consumers the ability to experience something at a very low cost that’s a welcome departure from the high-priced pay-per-view and video-on-demand ticket,” added G-Funk’s Ken Gelman. “We’ve been very successful on television in Canada, England and Japan and now, with the advent of this triple deal, the stateside fan will come to know the kind of quality that we are, indeed, known for.”
The first show, Respect is Earned, will feature ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima and his fellow Pro Wrestling NOAH athletes KENTA and Naomichi Marufji as well as tag team champions The Briscoes, Canadians Kevin Steen and El Generico, Nigel McGuinness, the return for former ROH champion “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson and many other members of the roster. At this point the card is not being announced to allow for the best show possible. The break between the taping and the airing will allow the company to post-produce the show to the best two-hour product possible.
The jump to a pay-per-view market is not without its hurdles. After the announcement, Total Nonstop Action pulled its contracted talents Homicide and Austin Aries from the promotion. ROH has chosen not to comment on TNA or the talent that is leaving, instead focusing on the roster they do have. The roster is pumped, if the ROH stars that SLAM! Wrestling spoke to are any indication.
“I am very excited about the chance to be seen by so many people, the chance to show the wrestling world what we are all capable of, and what we have been working so hard to achieve — the best pro wrestling product in the world,” said Nigel McGuinness, while Davey Richards promised that he and stablemates Roderick Strong and Rocky Romero are going to bring a good dose of No Remorse to the pay per view. The enthusiasm of ROH tag champion Jay Briscoe was summed up when he stated simply: “I’m excited as shit.”
The fans are excited as well, as they get to see their home-grown promotion gain national exposure. ROH Booker Gabe Sapolsky promises that fans both at the live event and who order the pay per view will see something special and is hoping fans who have never seen a Ring of Honor event will give it a shot.
“This is a great opportunity for Ring Of Honor to gain exposure and reach new fans. We are very proud of our product and now we have a means to reach a whole new audience that might not want to buy a DVD,” Sapolsky said. “If you are a fan of pro wrestling we are just asking you for an opportunity to earn your respect.”