ROH President Cary Silkin kept teasing a big announcement and after today’s meeting including the whole ROH roster, news finally broke, and it was huge. ROH has been sold to Sinclair Broadcasting Group and will return to National TV in September. International fans will also be able to see the show through the new ROH website coming soon and this is the biggest news in ROH history. This has the potential to push ROH to the next level and become a worldwide name in Professional Wrestling. You can see the historic press release below, taken from www.ROHWrestling.com:
“BRISTOL, PA. (MAY 21, 2011)–Ring of Honor Wrestling owner, Cary Silkin, announced today the sale of the promotion to Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., one of the largest television broadcasters in the country and which owns and operates, programs, or provides sales services to 58 television stations in 35 markets across the United States.
ROH, currently the third largest wrestling promotion in the country, just celebrated its ninth anniversary, and Mr. Silkin is excited about taking the next step towards increasing the company’s visibility and expanding its operations.
“We have been waiting for and working for this opportunity for quite some time”, he said, “and of our 9 years in business, there has been no better roster of wrestlers than this one to expose the ROH product to the masses. With Sinclair’s resources and many avenues of distribution, we believe many new fans around the world will be as captivated as those who have followed Ring of Honor over the years.”
The month of September will see the debut of the new Ring of Honor television program which will be syndicated across the Sinclair network of stations, and with it, ROH will become the only wrestling promotion in the United States with a major, multi-market presence on broadcast TV. But if you don’t live in a market with a Sinclair station, fear not, says Mr. Silkin. “Through our revamped website we will be able to make the TV show available to anyone in the world with internet access.”
Sinclair officials are enthused about the project as well.
“We are very excited about this acquisition,” commented Steve Marks, COO of Sinclair’s Television Group. “Television and professional wrestling have a long history of successful partnerships and driving viewership. Unfortunately, the broadcast networks have not protected that relationship, allowing professional wrestling to migrate to cable network distribution. We believe that the powerful promotional platform that our TV stations provide, coupled with our 22% share of the U.S. TV households, will allow ROH to achieve name brand recognition and grow its share of the wrestling market. When you consider the makeup of our station mix and the number of CW, MYTV and FOX affiliates we operate, this is a perfect fit for our viewer demographics.” Mr. Marks also noted, “Longer-term, we can envision syndicating ROH wrestling to broadcasters in markets where Sinclair does not have a presence, and even internationally.”
Mr. Silkin assures the ROH fans worldwide that they will be seeing the same exciting, hard-hitting style of pro wrestling that they have become accustomed to. “We have established the name Ring of Honor as synonymous with the best in-ring action in the sport. The only thing that will change is that it will now be easier for fans around the world to follow. Our visibility will increase greatly–our production will be upgraded–but the work ethic of our incredible talent roster and our athletic style of wrestling will remain the same. This is what our fans have told us they want, and we will continue to give it to them.”
The current front office staff, including Cary Silkin, Syd Eick, and Ross Abrams, will remain with ROH going forward. Hunter Johnston, a favorite of ROH fans for years as the masked grappler Delirious, will still handle matchmaking, Jim Cornette will remain as executive producer, and other familiar faces like ring announcer Bobby Cruise and senior referee Todd Sinclair will be in place.”
Additionally, longtime wrestling broadcaster Kevin Kelly, already the voice of ROH internet pay-per-views, will assume the TV play-by-play chair this fall. Veteran NWA and WCW promoter Gary Juster will come aboard to be in charge of live event operations, which are planned to continue in current ROH markets as well as expanding into new locations concurrent with the increased TV exposure.
Mr. Cornette, who along with Mr. Johnston, will be in charge of talent and matchmaking, sees this as a new beginning for pro wrestling. “This is not old-school wrestling, and it’s not sports entertainment,” said Mr. Cornette. “This is wrestling for the 21st century, a new style developed by fresh, young stars that incorporates wrestling, mixed martial arts and high-flying, high-risk action with unique personalities, and it’s showcased by a sports-based presentation completely different from any other product out there. In my 30 years in the sport, it’s the most exciting live-event wrestling experience I’ve seen, and I’m thrilled to help bring it to broadcast TV.”
A major press conference, open to wrestling press and mainstream media alike, is being planned for Baltimore on Friday, June 24th. This event will feature a number of the ROH staff and wrestlers both announcing news about ROH’s future and answering questions. The media event will be presided over by new ROH COO, Joe Koff. Mr. Koff, a longtime Sinclair executive with an extensive background in TV sales and management, also has experience in pro wrestling television production and syndication. Most visible of his projects may have been the first-ever live, prime time syndicated pro wrestling events, the Battle of the Belts, which aired from 1985 to 1987. These Championship Wrestling from Florida-based cards were broadcast live to a syndicated network of stations and may be best-remembered for the classic Ric Flair vs. Barry Windham NWA World Title contest from St. Petersburg.”