When Gabe Sapolsky was fired from his job as Ring of Honor booker in October 2008 he took it badly. That was understandable. He had been one of the driving forces behind the organisation since its first show and was just as responsible for the success it had attained as the wrestlers were. What was surprising was the vehemence with which he said he would never cross paths with the organisation again. It was out of character for a man usually noted for his mild manner.
Gabe has launched thinly veiled barbs at ROH several times since 2008. The latest came when the promotion suffered technical difficulties during its internet pay-per-views earlier in the year. While he was in the right (ROH does have a responsibility to ensure paying customers get to view the show they’ve paid for in its entirety and as they’re owned by a broadcaster there is no excuse for failure in this area) it seemed that Sapolsky still harboured ill feelings regarding his sacking.
As recently as a few months ago it seemed that any sort of working relationship between Sapolsky and Ring of Honor was highly unlikely. But as is always the case in the wrestling business: “never say never”. There are now rumours going around that there have been discussions between Sapolsky and his former employer.
Sapolsky owns EVOLVE and is the Vice President of Dragon Gate USA, and books both promotions. They are two companies which have access to a highly talented pool of wrestlers. Thanks to these wrestlers and Sapolsky’s tried and tested booking style both promotions have found a fair amount of success since being launched.
That said their ticket sales have allegedly been in something of a slump for a few months now. With ROH struggling in this department too there have been rumblings of ROH management and Sapolsky putting their differences aside and working some sort of inter-promotional feud to encourage better business for all involved.
In theory this is a great idea. Because of the personal issues between Sapolsky and ROH many wrestlers have been forced to choose between working for one outfit or the other. While this is not a good situation for the wrestlers (as it has limited the number of places they can work to get paid) it means there has not been as much crossover amongst the talent as there may have been otherwise. This has resulted in there being a number of big money matches that could theoretically be booked to attract a larger-than-usual attendance figure.
Scripting a feud between ROH and either or both of Sapolsky’s promotions would necessitate a booking committee. It’s understandable that neither company is going to concede booking power of their guys and a potentially lucrative angle to someone else. They will have to cooperate and make concessions.
Can Gabe put ego aside and work alongside the company that released him for the betterment of the business in general? That’s something only he himself knows, but his previous form indicates it may be a struggle for him. He may have worked successfully alongside CZW’s decision makers during that company’s feud with ROH but they hadn’t sacked him and so it was strictly a working relationship.
I’m not convinced that an inter-promotional feud is the best direction to take anyway. Over the years there have been many invasion storylines involving various wrestling companies that the concept seems worn out in 2012.
A fresh spin on the concept could work. Such programmes are usually booked as all-out wars that gradually escalate in their ferocity and blood-letting. Given that all companies involved are more about the sport of pro wrestling than wild, barbaric brawls a feud based around wins and losses, with bigger and bigger names gradually becoming involved, would seem a natural way to go. They could even have a civilised points system to help differentiate it from other two promotion angles and maintain the spirit of all companies.
There doesn’t need to be much of a formal story at all, especially not at first. Both companies could simply announce a talent exchange or a working agreement that sees their bigger names appearing for the competition. That provides fresh matches and encourages new fans. What ROH, Dragon Gate and EVOLVE all need is a reason for new fans to buy tickets. A talent swapping agreement would fit the bill nicely.