Fans had hope for ROH under Tony Khan’s leadership, but it has not flourished nearly as much as many desired.
Wrestling fans were excited when AEW President and CEO, Tony Khan announced the purchase of Ring of Honor. This promotion helped birth the careers of some of the most important names in the industry. Individuals like Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and plenty of others made their way through the organization before landing in bigger companies. Many expected Khan to be the perfect owner of the promotion, as he has the love of wrestling to build it back to prominence. Now, more than one year later, fans are concerned that the brand is nothing more than fodder for weekly television.
Ring of Honor is presented weekly, on Thursdays via the ROH Honor Club platform. For $9.99 fans get access to the weekly showcase but still must spend an extra amount for the periodic PPVs. There is a lot of wrestling on these Honor Club shows, as they frequently feature double-digit matches. This is a great way to give some of the lesser-used AEW roster reps in the ring, the same way the company used Dark and Dark Elevation. The last episode featured Katsuyori Shibata defending the ROH Pure Championship against Nick Wayne in what was a solid match. But at the same time, this isn’t delivering what fans want to see.
Eddie Kingston finally picked up a major victory during his time with AEW, defeating Claudio Castagnoli to become ROH World Champion at AEW Grand Slam. He’s yet to appear on a ROH show since. A similar complaint was made about Castagnoli’s run as champion as he was featured on AEW weekly shows much more than ROH. The Hung Bucks are ROH Six-Man Champions, and fans do not expect to see them nor Adam Cole and MJF who hold the ROH Tag Team Titles. As the champions appear less frequently on these shows, that gives each show less importance, which then trickles down to the performers featured on those shows as being less important.
On the other side of that coin is ATHENA. Athena has held the ROH Women’s World Championship for 302 days, yet she struggles to get any airtime on AEW television. If all the other champions are being propped up on those shows, why not Athena? Has she been on AEW PPVs? Well, she’s been thrown into multi-person matches on the Zero Hour for AEW WrestleDream and All Out, causing fans to roll their eyes at what little Khan is doing to feature her.
Concern about ROH’s place in the AEW portfolio continues to grow. Criticism initially started bubbling up in December 2022, but it has not stopped nearly a year later. Many believed the plan was to leverage ROH into additional television or streaming content, but that plan hasn’t come to completion. With more AEW main roster names picking up ROH titles, does that mean the brand is about to be fully absorbed? What happens with the individuals who are featured on the Thursday show and that slot alone? Will viewers have any reason to continue to pay $10 a month for the platform? Those are all questions that fans are demanding answers to and only time will tell.
Ring of Honor is a historic part of professional wrestling that more fans should know about. Unfortunately, it is not getting the attention that many hoped and something needs to change as it is held under the leadership of AEW and Tony Khan.