When Tony Khan announced his purchase of Ring of Honor early in 2022, it left wrestling fans wondering, what comes next?
Tony Khan seemed to be a breath of fresh air when it was announced that he was joining the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and Cody Rhodes as the primary financial stakeholder and defacto head of All Elite Wrestling when the promotion was announced on New Years’ Eve 2019.
A lifelong wrestling fan and active member of the IWC, he seemed like the perfect proxy for the modern fan. He knew what we liked about the current products and what we couldn’t stand. He understood us. He was, and is, one of us.
For the most part, he has delivered, giving us a truly competitive alternative that, with the notable exception of a few less than “spectacular” moments has delivered on his promises. He has brought a metric ton of new faces to international television multiple times a week while also operating as a landing pad for the disenfranchised favorites of the ’90s, ’00s, and ‘10s.
So when he announced his purchase of the fan-beloved and long-struggling promotion Ring of Honor in March of this year fans were cautiously optimistic. Any wrestling fan in their 30s to early 40s who paid attention to independent wrestling is a fan of Ring of Honor after all. At least the early years if not the later iterations. Not to mention that the active roster of All Elite Wrestling is littered with former ROH stars like Colt Cabana, Adam Cole, Claudio Castagnoli, Bryan Danielson, of course, the Young Bucks, Adam Paige, and for a time names like CM Punk and Cody Rhodes.
And through the first eight months of the merger (that’s right, 2022 has felt like a lifetime.) Khan’s stance and hopes for the promotion have remained resolute. But holding out for a good fit for a legacy promotion that is deserving of a broadcasting home that doesn’t exclusively advertise testosterone supplements and life insurance. He wants to return the brand to international relevancy.
Luckily for him, he has three hours of weekly television to help him achieve his goals.
Out with the old, In with the new
Khan’s first order of business when bringing the Ring of Honor brand back from the dead was to crown a new champion. A fresh face to steer the ship so to speak and keep the brand in the minds of fans until an acceptable broadcasting deal could be brokered. He found that champion in Chris Jericho.
Jericho was the perfect option for this new era of Ring of Honor, a good hand and a face that has been on weekly wrestling television since the late ‘80s. He has also never held the title before. So is a fresh look for even the most devout ROH loyalist.
Jericho for his part has played the role of old hand protecting the legacy of the promotion while simultaneously scoffing at the pomp and air of superiority that plagued both the promotion and fan base in the last days of the promotion.
By showing up week after week on AEW television carrying the Ring Of Honor belt and defending it exclusively against former Ring of Honor champions, he is keeping the promotion alive and at the forefront of wrestling fans’ minds. No small task in the age of social media when thousands of top-tier promotions across the country are available to watch on demand.
The Tag Team Titles, World Trios Titles, and ROH Television Titles have also seen promotions on the weekly helpings of Dynamite and Rampage. The only title not to have been spotlighted as often as of yet is the Ring of Honor women’s championship.
Some fans have begun to feel fatigued over the number of championships being defended on AEW programming and the number of those titles that are not even AEW titles. Which is a fair criticism. To his credit, Khan has heard that criticism and seems to be considering it. On his media call ahead of Full Gear, he took a moment to address the fatigue that some people are starting to feel with the dual promotions saying,
“I do think next year I would potentially re-evaluate that because, yeah I do want to keep the focus on the AEW championships,” Khan continued. “That’s what the idea is.” h/t WrestlingINC.
Does this mean that a programming deal is on the horizon for Ring of Honor? Or will the long-rumored WWE/Peacock partnership get a competitor with AEW/HBO joining forces? Only time will tell. But one thing is sure.
Ring of Honor is here to stay if Tony Khan has anything to say about it.