Warning: This article contains spoilers from the recent Baltimore TV tapings.
Change is something that is, just as much as heels and babyfaces, ingrained in the fabric of the industry. The thing that makes it odd, however, is that sometimes change will skyrocket wrestling to the top; while other times it will simply bring wrestling to new lows.
Eric Bischoff made WCW completely different from anything it had ever been before, and that in turn made Vince McMahon change his family friendly product into the infamous Attitude Era. All of these changes brought pro wrestling to, arguably, heights it had never seen before.
On the other hand, when Jim Crockett Promotions decided that they wanted to be more like WWE in the 1980s, it killed their company. JCP decided to start doing pay-per-views. Those failed. They decided to start touring the nation, instead of staying in their territory. That failed. Change did, in every way imaginable, kill Jim Crockett Promotions.
So now a current pro wrestling promotion is once again undergoing evolution. As I said earlier, change is everywhere when it comes to the business of wrestling; but few organizations go through so much as quick as Ring of Honor has in the last few days.
The company’s current iPPV model is the first major modification that came to light earlier this week. After their most recent iPPV, Best in the World, failed miserably with constant streaming issues, ROH decided it was time to fix their very broken iPPV system.
Really though, ROH didn’t fix their iPPV structure. They simply scrapped the system entirely. ROH decided that it would be better to show their “main event” shows on VOD the day after they happened instead of showing them live through iPPV.
Now the question remains, was that the right move to make? Lets look at the facts. Very rarely, if ever nowadays, do we see taped pay-per-views. Whether that be pro wrestling or MMA; neither of them ever tape the shows that they put on PPV.
The sole reason WWE doesn’t have pay-per-views in the UK is because it would be on tape delay when it aired on PPV. TNA has the same idea, with them only airing taped PPVs when they have their “One Night Only” shows. And those have no correlation with storylines, and they aren’t even expected to do very well.
Now lets look at ROH. An obviously much smaller company than WWE and TNA, but one that arguably has an equally or even more loyal fanbase than either of them. Will the ROH faithful buy iPPVs even after they have already been taped? The most loyal of fans would, but it might take some amazing word of mouth for “casual” ROH fans to buy the show.
In the end, this move has to be considered risky by ROH. Their iPPVs don’t do very well in the first place, usually only doing between 1500 and 2000 buys, and they will most certainly take a hit without being live. Maybe Sinclair investing some money in just fixing the live stream would have actually paid off in the long run.
The other huge news to come out of ROH recently is the departure of the Briscoe brothers. This tag team is by far the most iconic in ROH history, and are certainly one of their most consistent draws. Jay Briscoe is even the current ROH World Champion.
It’s unnecessary to get into why they left, as it’s doubtful that anyone knows the actual truth at this point. But one thing that is known is that they are on a hiatus, and will probably not be coming back anytime within the next few months, if ever.
Now, while the iPPV change is something that could either backfire or be successful, the departure of the Briscoes is something that can almost certainly be a good thing. Sure, it is a loss of the most successful tag team in company history, but it shouldn’t affect business very much, if at all.
The very bright spot of them leaving, however, is the fact that ROH will be absolutely forced to put new stars in the limelight. The Briscoes are entertaining to watch, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be equally as enjoying to watch some new stars rise to the top.
An ROH with the Briscoes is great. An ROH without the Briscoes can mold into something equally as great.
The one controversial part of them leaving is the state of the ROH World Title. Since Jay is the champion, it would be awesome if he could come back for one night to drop the title. Either that or a tournament. Regardless, the state of the championship isn’t as big a deal as people think it is. ROH should be given some confidence from its fans that they will do the right thing.
This may be just two changes, but they are two massive changes. Ring of Honor is a company that has been in rebuilding stages for quite a while now. Rebuilding the organization after the widely criticized Cornette Era has been easier said than done for ROH. And even now in the Delirious era there have been some things that have needed fixing. That is more apparent now than ever with all the recent changes.
And don’t get it wrong, there are more changes to come. Davey Richards might be leaving in August, and the recent set of ROH TV tapings show that the product is also undergoing a major shift. We will have to see these things happen first before being able to comment on them.
Ring of Honor is going through what every major pro wrestling promotion has gone through at some point in time. They are changing. They are evolving. And some of these changes may benefit them in the end, some probably won’t. As fans, we will have just have to watch everything unfold as it does.
In just a few months time we may be looking at a completely different Ring of Honor.