Today was really supposed to be a slow day. It’s Wednesday. Early in the day, the biggest pro wrestling story going around was news of an injury that Rusev had suffered at the previous night’s Smackdown tapings. What a simple world. Then, Destination America, the station at the heart of last week’s biggest pro wrestling story, changed the game again…
This was a surprise. The entire pro wrestling world on Twitter, doing a collective double take, reacted with shock, awe, and most of all, questions.
so, umm, why did TNA not get exclusivity? that agent they hired sounds like he did a heck of a job.
— David Bixenspan (@davidbix) May 27, 2015
— Mr. DRG (@MrDRG_WIR) May 27, 2015
Many on Twitter thought the @DestAmerica tweet could have been the product of a hack. It wouldn’t have been out of the realm of possibility. After all, TNA and Destination America had been the talk of the fringe for a week, and there could have been some one out there who wanted to have a little fun. Shortly, however, it became clear. This was no hack. With ROH having cleared national outlet NESN not too long ago, ROH was adding another to the list. With ROH wrestler after wrestler retweeting the original announcement, an official statement was released to the press by Destination America.
DESTINATION AMERICA BRINGS MORE ACTION TO THE RING ACQUIRING THE RIGHTS TO RING OF HONOR’S WEEKLY TELEVISION PROGRAMMING
(Silver Spring, Md.) –Destination America announced today that it has signed a national broadcast deal with professional wrestling league RING OF HONOR, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., bringing one of the most respected wrestling organizations to the only network dedicated to all-American entertainment. Destination America is now the one-two-punch to professional wrestling, adding RING OF HONOR (ROH) to its line-up after launching IMPACT WRESTLING in early 2015. RING OF HONOR has been delivering top wrestling matches for ten years with captivating hard-hitting stars such as Jay & Mark Briscoe, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, The Young Bucks, Maria Kanellis, Adam Cole and Jay Lethal. Destination America will pack on the action beginning Wednesday June 3 with the series premiere of RING OF HONOR at 8/7c leading into brand new premieres of IMPACT WRESTLING at 9/8c.
“With the electric and intense matches that RING OF HONOR provides, Destination America is the network for fans to get an entire evening of jaw-dropping entertainment on Wednesday nights,” said Marc Etkind, general manager of Destination America. “RING OF HONOR showcases tenacity, athleticism and passion and it serves as the place where America’s favorite wrestling stars are born.
“We are very excited to be partnering with Destination America for the broader distribution of the ROH programming,” commented Joe Koff, Chief Operating Officer – Ring of Honor Wrestling. “ROH will now reach an additional 57 million households including those in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and other large cities where Ring of Honor is not currently airing. ROH has a loyal fan base and is one of the fastest growing major wrestling franchises in the country. With this great partnership with Destination America, we can continue to expand our footprint and reach while producing entertaining, original content and continuing to provide wrestling fans some of the best wrestling content available.”
RING OF HONOR will premiere on Wednesday, June 3 leading into IMPACT WRESTLING, making Destination America the home for wrestling every Wednesday evening. The first match will feature the Briscoe Brothers, Mark and Jay, as they face off with the House of Truth in the main event. Also catch athletes of New Japan Pro Wrestling battle it out with the RING OF HONOR stars and follow former NFL lineman Moose compete against BJ Whitmer.
Some TNA talents, who have been largely kept in the dark regarding the last week of speculation, weren’t sure what to make of the news.
— MVP (@The305MVP) May 27, 2015
@ringofhonor extremely happy for y'all. Well deserved and good for the entire wrestling business. See ya on Wednesdays!
— Davey Richards (@RichardsWesley) May 27, 2015
Others, like myself, tried to find other angles on the news. There are a ton to choose from, honestly.
If Samoa Joe is on Destination America to end this year, and TNA isn't, that is actually the ultimate table turn.
— Roberto El Patron (@ShakeThemRopes) May 27, 2015
Coming soon to @DestAmerica
ALL the crazy: pic.twitter.com/p5kLTwKbrA
— jude kilgour (@judekilgour) May 27, 2015
The timing regarding this announcement in relation to all of TNA’s public news lately is purely a coincidence. ROH has been working on this deal for months, all the way back to when rumors were swirling of a possible special event deal with Spike TV. The question still remains what Destination America might want with ROH, short of making a pro wrestling block that it is hopeful will generate some buzz. If this first day is any example, it certainly might do just that.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, though, we must realize some truths. ROH will begin on Destination America at 8p EDT next Wednesday, June 3, for what is currently planned as a 6-month run. After six months, both groups can evaluate where they are and plan for the future together or separately. Following ROH will be Impact Wrestling, airing at 9p that same night. ROH will air opposite Lucha Underground and NXT, so it is quite the night for pro wrestling fans, indeed. Many out there are excited for this news from the ROH side, but don’t be too quick to mock or belittle TNA fans. TNA is still likely to draw more viewers on Wednesday than ROH, and absolutely more than Lucha Underground. The difference being, ROH uses Destination America has one of many outlets. Destination America, though, is TNA’s lone outlet in the States. ROH is basically working this like Samoa Joe is working his wrestling deals, seemingly. Amazing.
At the same time, however, ROH is clearly now the #2 pro wrestling group in the United States. ROH is adding onto their existing syndication clearances with the Destination America deal, meaning they now have a larger TV footprint than TNA Wrestling. Of course, ROH is also a touring brand, something TNA hasn’t been since January of this year. This news adds to a big week for Ring of Honor, as they debuted their previously announced action figure line involving current and past ROH stars earlier in the week. So pile it all up: Action figures, national and syndicated TV, home video, merchandise, touring dates, and international deals. Even those standing on the extreme end of the fringe cannot reasonably deny that TNA, if they hadn’t been already, has been supplanted as the second most important pro wrestling group in the United States.
Another question coming from this news relates to another buzzworthy topic over the last week: Samoa Joe. Earlier this week, Samoa Joe was announced as participating in ROH’s June 20 TV Taping. Many speculated that the match announced for the show, Samoa Joe & AJ Styles vs Addiction, might be airing on ROH TV. That isn’t quite clear, especially now. The match could easily be a ticket seller match to get people in the door, and keep them until the end of the taping. It’s likely that is all it is. Now, with ROH on national TV, would WWE, even with Joe on a limited NXT deal, allow Samoa Joe to wrestle on TV for another group? That is unlikely, regardless of how open HHH has seemed to be lately with NXT. Rhyno, while working NXT, was allowed to wrestle on a House of Hardcore internet Pay Per View event, but that event wasn’t going up against a WWE show. ROH TV now is, even if NXT is on demand on the Network and lightly viewed in real time at 8p EDT.
This has been an amazing time for pro wrestling fans, a busy time for pro wrestling and industry observers, and even busier for some of the talent involved. Now, we wait to see if Lucha Underground continues on, how ROH adapts to Destination America, where Jeff Jarrett’s group lands, and what NXT has in its future. Amazing times, indeed.
Rob & Jeff discuss this announcement on STR Breaking News TV
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