So What Does Ring of Honor Need To Do?

Nick Paglino

Ring of HonorI really respect Mark Madden’s opinions and especially those about Ring of Honor. He wrote two columns this week on ROH. Here are the links… http://www.wrestlezone.com/editorials/257187-roh-the-decline-and-fall and http://www.wrestlezone.com/editorials/257281-memo-to-roh-fix-your-problems.

It seems like many of my ROH brethren took his opinions as shots at them personally. (Some of his comments on Twitter were out-of-line and personal but he didn’t fire first.)

Is Ring of Honor near the end, as he said? From his perspective, the viewpoint of the casual fan, it might be perceived as such. I don’t know how over a million fans a week who watch the weekly television show can be called “the end” but what was he really saying?

Those of us in the company need to step up…

That means wrestlers, fans and front office. He called us out. How do we respond?

Are any of us satisfied with what we’ve accomplished? Yes! Are we satisfied with where things are? I know I’m not.

When Mark Madden writes about the Pens, Steelers or Pirates for 105.7 the X in Pittsburgh, he tells it like it is. http://www.1059thex.com/pages/markmadden.html is where you can read his opinions. Whether you value Madden’s contribution to the wrestling industry or not, he’s a smart guy who knows wrestling and it’s obvious HE WANTS ROH TO SUCCEED!!!

Mark’s written column after column on Wrestlezone.com knocking WWE and TNA as well as praising when they do well in his opinion. Why should ROH be immune? If anything, we in ROH should be thankful that someone is writing about us, if you follow Madden’s opinion that ROH is close to death.

So enough about that… Mark Madden got some great conversation going about Ring of Honor but based upon his opinions, what do we need to do to improve the situation?

1. Sell tickets – Sounds easy enough, right? ROH needs boots on the ground in each city we run to sell tickets to charitable organizations, fundraising groups, etc. Some markets like NYC, Toronto and Chicago are legacy markets and are loyal to ROH. Each of the new markets we run in has television but have fans been to a Ring of Honor event? How do we get them to come out?

a. Be a part of the community – By selling tickets at the local level at a bulk discounted rate and allow those groups to resell those tickets at face value, we are helping local groups raise funds in a tough economy. If we help them, they will help us. They are tickets we’re not selling now on their own and this will foster goodwill in the community.

b. Partner with the local stations – We’ve already started this in Charleston, West Virginia but each Sinclair Broadcast Group station can be a valuable asset in helping us spread the word about Ring of Honor.

c. Realize Rome was not built in a day – This takes time. This is the long-term approach that will pay dividends for generations but fits the model of Ring of Honor.

2. Be patient – Also sounds easy enough but if a promotion goes about hotshotting to try and draw more fans, it leads to a lower and longer downturn in business after the period of hotshotting is over. Plus, it wouldn’t work anyway. So, stay the course.

3. To paraphrase Coach Dennis Green, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals, “We are who we think we are!” Not like we are facing a furious 4th quarter comeback by the Chicago Bears in 2006 but who is ROH in the landscape of the industry right now? Ring of Honor is a relatively small promotion when compared to the WWE and doesn’t have the international presence of TNA.

But I think there are some who wish it would stay this niche promotion that Cary Silkin kept afloat for a long time, largely on the belief that one day it would turn around. But, what ROH is now is a wrestling promotion, seen in about 40% of the country, with a small but passionate fanbase. The DVD sales model and bringing in available indy and international stars isn’t feasible or sustainable.

How long does it take to build a new audience on TV? I think it’s longer than it used to be because the audience is more fragmented.

How you view ROH depends a lot on your perspective. If you are comparing ROH and the national promotions, then sure… it’s easy to see the difference and get pessimistic.

That said, ROH is seen in about 40% of the country now on broadcast TV. No other wrestling promotion can claim that. We are coming up on one year on the Sinclair Broadcast Group of stations and we added quite a few markets during the first year. The local markets are what sets us apart and goes back to my point earlier about “going local” with our promotional efforts.

4. Continue to build with youth. – The foundation of any sports dynasty is a strong, long-term approach to developing talent with a consistent message throughout all levels of the organization. ROH has discovered a number of successful wrestlers over the past three years through its program of Tryout Camps.

The opinion columns of Mark Madden regarding ROH didn’t offend me at all. They motivated me. If you get offended by Madden, get a thicker skin. If you disagree with him, prove him wrong. If you put your head in the sand and say “his opinion doesn’t matter” then you are wrong. His is the voice of the casual fan. He’s the guy who used to watch wrestling as a kid, marveled in the Monday Night Wars and then went to UFC because it’s cooler than wrestling.

Let’s get to work…

Thoughts? Twitter @RealKevinKelly

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