Cody, Kennedy, Bubba: Best for ROH’s Business?

With rumors that Cody Runnels is expected to sign with Ring of Honor as his “home promotion”, many of the ROH regulars and diehards may be getting nervous.

The thinking may be along these lines:

“What is going on here?”

“Is this really ROH?”

“ROH doesn’t bring in names, they make names!”

“We don’t want ‘em and we don’t need ‘em.”

I will give a piece of advice that never seems to work for wrestling fans: Don’t panic (yet). When we find a wrestling style or company that we like, we want things to stay as they are. This goes back many, many years. You may have loved WWWF in the early 80’s, the Crockett Expansion of the mid 80’s, Mid-South, ECW and certainly ROH during the Punk, Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson years.

In those days of ROH (and even until very recently), all talent was developed internally. If the talent wasn’t exactly homegrown, he was a diamond in the rough that was given a (slightly) larger platform to shine.

If an established “star” like Konnan, Shane Douglas or Jeff Hardy (the 1st time), tried to make any inroads, they were quickly told not to come back. And they didn’t.

Given current market conditions, ROH has begun to explore other avenues. Today, indy stars have many options (Europe, NXT, EVOLVE), and ROH isn’t the only super fed of independent stars. It has grown harder to fill up a roster with nearly all homegrown talent.

In order to grow, ROH could bring in a limited number of “names” but not lose sense of its core. ROH is about stars rising through the ranks and making names and becoming champions. But how to serve the casuals?

As I wear my ROH baseball cap often, I am asked by casual (or as WWE would say, “lapsed” fans), what is ROH? When I explain the athleticism and serious nature of the brand and even who has come out of the company to be a superstar, they want to know who is on the current roster that they may have heard about? And in the recent past, I really couldn’t name anyone that they’d have heard of and they’d have no interest in joining me in buying a ticket or watching a pay-per-view.

Recently, there have been several “stars” that the casual fan would have at least remember: Hardy’s, Cody Runnels, Bubba Ray Dudley, Mr. Kennedy, etc. This could help business. No  company thrives for long as a nostalgia act but known names can help to sell tickets to casual fans, lead to people giving it a try when flipping around the channels and perhaps, even appeal to overseas television executives.

The names work in small doses and doses have to be administered very carefully if ROH is to remain healthy.



Lavie Margolin is a Career Coach and author of Mastering the Job Interview. He has been a professional wrestling fan since 1988 and has attended ROH shows regularly since 2004. Tweet me @Laviemarg 

All comments here are speculative and for entertainment purposes only and no misrepresentation of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Ring of Honor or related brands is intended. Full disclosure: I am a Sinclair Broadcasting Group (SBG) shareholder.