What does it mean for Ring of Honor to sign a TV deal with Destination America?
Andrew Berg- For all the rumor and speculation floating around the internet, we know one thing for sure- Ring of Honor will start to air on Destination America on Wednesday nights in June. ROH has long had a strange TV distribution deal. As a subsidiary of Sinclair broadcasting, it had a huge network presence in some markets and zero presence in others.
Although going up against the first run of NXT and Lucha Underground on Wednesday nights seems like a curious challenge to undertake off the bat, I think that the benefit of a standard timeslot on a (mostly) national cable network outweighs the drawbacks. Anyone who follows wrestling closely knows that social media has become a vital part of watching and reacting to a wrestling show. Even with some amount of time-shifted viewing, having a standard time when most wrestling fans watch ROH will help stir up more conversation about the company.
Perhaps most importantly, a steady presence on a national stage might help alleviate the feeling that ROH is a minor league or a feeder system to bigger promotions. The company has already signed more long-term deals with the likes of the Briscoes, Adam Cole, and Kyle O’Reilly. There is a market for more hard-nosed, competitive wrestling on a national level, and ROH has positioned itself to fill that niche.
Scott Strandberg- Having a consistent weekly timeslot is huge. Sure, the slot is far from ideal, but at least now I know when it’s going to be on. Even within my own market, the local affiliate that shows Ring of Honor airs it at 1pm, 5pm and 3am on Saturdays. I could not possibly count how many times those afternoon airings were pre-empted for sporting events over the last year. It got to the point where the 3am slot was the only reliably consistent option
Now, ROH is in a position where it’ll be on the same time, every week, for everyone. That is a huge upgrade from me struggling to find the product some weeks in my own market, even though I knew its timeslots and channel. Furthermore, ROH was still simply unavailable in many markets, and with Destination America’s growth, I would imagine this gets ROH into more total households. I don’t think there’s really any question left as to who is the No. 2 wrestling promotion in America.
Fewer than six months after moving to Destination America, TNA already appears to be in hot water. What is going on with that company?
AB- While we know the next steps for ROH, the rumor and speculation comes into play for TNA. Like ROH, TNA will begin to air on Destination American on Wednesday nights, bumped up from Fridays. What we don’t know is what the future holds for the company. The internet has run rampant with rumors that Destination America intends to opt out of its deal with TNA in September. Although Destination America has not confirmed those rumors, its silence on the matter has been deafening.
The ratings for Impact predictably took a hit (from over a million viewers a week to about 400,000) when the show moved from Spike to Destination America, but they have remained relatively consistent since the move. For all of my complaints about the scattershot booking, the element certainly can’t come as a surprise to the network. Without an obvious public problem, it leads me to believe that TNA as a company (or someone in an executive role) is simply a difficult corporate partner. Two networks have seemingly reached that conclusion in the last year and TNA is the common element.
The company still has hope and potential for a better future. Other than a rebrand of the shamefully tawdry name, a simple refocus on the wrestling would go a long way. TNA talks a good game about “standing up for wrestling,” but can’t seem to get out of its own way with regard to inconsistent booking in individual matches and whole rivalries. With more stability, a coherent long-term plan could go a long way to allowing the talented wrestlers under contract fulfill their potential.
SS- Change has to come from the top. If TNA is to survive, someone needs to step in who has both the power and the creative vision to stop TNA from doing “typical TNA stuff.” I mean this both on-screen — like booking Eric Young to win the Knockouts Tag Title — and off-screen — such as Vince Russo accidentally sending his booking plans to PWInsider’s Mike Johnson, instead of TNA’s Mike Tenay.
Especially regarding the cost, can you imagine how cheap TNA is to produce these days? They film all of their TV (and apparently now also their two annual PPVs) from the same sound stage at Universal Studios and they don’t tour except for the once a year they go to the UK. Aside from paying the actual wrestlers, I can’t imagine it costs any more than your typical talk show or sitcom to produce. Which is yet another indicator that they must just be impossible to work with, because that’s some cheap TV with decent ratings and a dedicated fan-base. Shows like that don’t exactly grow on trees.
With as much competition as there is in the marketplace these days from ROH, Lucha Underground, NXT, Global Force Wrestling, etc., it would not surprise me one bit if TNA finally fades away into the night entirely.
If TNA goes under, what will happen to its major stars?
Kurt Angle- It seems inevitable that he will have a Sting-like WWE farewell at some point, but until he’s ready to wind down his career, I see him working part-time in Japan.
Bobby Lashley- He probably also belongs on a part-time schedule with a Japanese company, but due to his secondary MMA career rather than his age.
Bobby Roode- After the departure of AJ Styles, Roode has become the quintessential TNA standard-bearer. He could succeed in any wrestling promotion, but it will be hard to imagine him in any specific one until he actually leaves TNA.
MVP- One of TNA’s more vocal members likely has a bit more wrestling to do and a history in Japan, though I imagine his long-term future is in booking.
Austin Aries, The Wolves- Three ROH mainstays could see their old stomping grounds as more attractive with the national TV deal and ROH has not shied away from bringing back its old stars (Styles, Samoa Joe, Chris Sabin) lately.
EC3- WWE swung and missed with the Derek Bateman character. I would not be shocked to see them take another chance on a ready-made, charismatic star.
Eric Young- Young and Lucha Underground seem like a match made in heaven. Strip away the revolving door character nonsense and there’s a very talented worker underneath.
Hardys- Although the Hardys could probably still draw money for WWE, there is too much bad history between them. Plus, the Hardys seem to value independence over cash. I foresee them working a national indy schedule including some ROH dates.
Taryn Terell, Awesome Kong, Gail Kim- The Knockouts division has more depth than any other women’s division in the country. ROH and Lucha Underground have women on the payroll, but no active women’s division. Either one could poach these three and some combination of Angelina Love, Madison Rayne, Jade, and Brooke, and there’s a fully-formed women’s division from day one.