Second best promotion…ever?

Going through these Observer Flashbacks I
think one thing that has stuck out is A. how hard it is to have a long lasting
successful promotion and B. how many promotions didn’t learn from the failure
of their peers to not make the same mistakes. 

 

 

Just think about the failed promotions over the last 30
years or so. Most of them followed the same pattern of getting really hot
quickly, then fading. Or thinking they were bigger than they really were and
failing once they tried to expand. Jim Crockett Promotions was probably the
number 2 for a while but if you think about it they were really just a regional
promotion and attempts at expansion usually failed. WCW took over the failings
of Jim Crockett to only fail even harder and lose even more money. Aside, from
the NWO period, which lasted, what? Two years? The rest of their history was a
disaster. 

 

 I remember when it was first announced in 2001 or 2002 that
Rob Feinstein was going to start his own promotion to replace the
money RF Video was losing with the death of ECW. And I thought, yeah we’ll see
how long that lasts. But it did last. And it flourished. By the mid 2000s it was THE place to for great in ring wrestling. Pretty much every big name star of the last 10 years spent time in ROH. 

 

Now, their biggest stars have merch sold in Hot Topic , for crying out loud. They now have a jumbotran, and music, and fancy lighting at their shows. Most importantly they are owned by a TV company and therefore are on TV in most if not all of the US, (not sure what Sinclair’s footprint for ROH is in Canada). Where I live Sinclair runs two stations, one is the CBS affiliate and one is a local station. So we actually get ROH twice a week. TNA, which still claims to be the number 2 promotion in North America; people either don’t know what channel it comes on, don’t have the channel, or don’t care to find it. 

 

Sure, it still doesn’t have the grand look of a WWE show. But I think that’s beside the point. I’m not talking about them competing with WWE. I’m just saying they are the closest to a number 2 promotion that there is. They may not sell out 20,000 plus seat arenas but they sell out the venues they go to. 

 

The whole point is to be profitable. Now, I don’t know the actual numbers but I think ROH has done that for the last 15 plus years. And when you see a company add more to their program, expand their travel, pay more for talent, that has to mean they are bringing in some money. WCW and TNA may have been around and been noticed for a number of years. But for both of those companies they were in the red almost the whole time. 

 

ROH has done what most companies have failed to do. Find good talent, emphasize good in ring wrestling, and book so you don’t piss your fans off. It seems pretty simple and yet they seem to be the only company that’s done it  properly for an extended peirod of time. Which at this point is almost 20 years . And they might not have quite the indy cred they had a few years ago but they are now bigger than they’ve ever been. And it’s not like they are dying; they are still going strong. 

 

So, what do you think? Has ROH quietly been one the most successful wrestling promotions ever? 

 

 

​It’s a nice thought, but ROH is nowhere near profitable according to all reports I’ve heard.  In fact, they were on the verge of shutting it down before Sinclair bought them out and put them on their stations as cheap programming.  ​They basically existed as a way to prop up the RFVideo business as a long time, and now they’re a loss leader for Sinclair.  Not what I’d call a successful model overall, but they certainly do fine for what they are.