Five Questions with Ken Gelman: the Man who Brought ROH to PPV

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Ken Gelman is a successful marketer who was integral in helping Ring of Honor get to Pay Per View. He has spent 15 years in this field, working most recently with WWE in helping the company maximize its revenues and winning multiple awards in the process. From there he turned his golden touch to ROH and helped them reach the new heights of a Pay Per View and On Demand deal. With ROH’s second Pay Per View, Driven, debuting tomorrow on DISH Network and TVN and next week for InDemand customers, Pulse Wrestling had a chance to sit down with Mr. Gelman.

Pulse Wrestling: As (a) a businessman and (b) a fan, what about Ring of Honor first caught your attention that distinguishes itself from the competition?

Ken Gelman: As a businessman, the equation was simple for me. Do they have a quality product that is viable beyond their current scope and do they have people running the organization that are passionate and honorable? The answers were and are an emphatic “yes” to both questions. Never in my career have I worked with better human beings. From top to bottom, it’s a first class organization all the way. It especially starts at the top with Cary Silkin and Sydney Eick. Beyond Cary and Syd, from Gabe, Ross and the rest of the team, right on through to the guys and gals in the locker room, working with ROH has represented a dream come true for me. And as a fan, seeing an ROH live event for the first time some months ago, it took me about 30-seconds to see that this product is the best thing going in the ring sports genre today—bar none.

PW: That’s high praise considered the company you were last associated with. How do you feel about the recent negative attention pro wrestling has been getting in the mainstream media?

KG: Mostly sad. I know what a great business this is but unfortunately, there are negative aspects. The shame of it is that 9 times out of 10, the mainstream media have little to no idea what they are talking about when it comes to professional wrestling and the issues, so they inevitably turn to the lowest common denominator and go with sensationalism over substance.

PW: How will you measure “success” of Ring of Honor on PPV?

KG: For ROH as an organization, this platform is about exposing this high quality product to the masses. We view the success of this venture based on how we are able grow the audience and ultimately how we are able to move the brand forward. The numbers and buy-rates by themselves will not be the singular barometer. How this company and brand move forward will determine if we will become ultimately successful with this venture.

PW: In order to grow the brand, more outlets would doubtlessly be beneficial. Where do things stand with getting Ring of Honor on DIRECTV?

KG: We are currently engaged in negotiations with DIRECTV. Our discussions have been ongoing for some time. We are optimistic we will be able to provide DIRECTV subscribers with the same high-quality programming we are offering through our current PPV and VOD partners now, in the near future. With that said, as of today a deal is not imminent.

PW: Since you’re a long time fan, who was your favorite wrestler growing up?

KG: I started watching WWF as a kid in the late 70’s and remember Bob Backlund as my first favorite. He was quickly replaced by Sgt. Slaughter, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Roddy Piper and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Dragon’s match at WrestleMania III remains my favorite all-time match to this day.

Thanks to Ken Gelman for his time and remember, stay tuned to Pulse Wrestling for the best Ring of Honor Coverage on the Internet. Be sure to check out Ring of Honor’s second Pay Per View, Driven. For information on that, click here and stay tuned tomorrow for a full preview of the event and more in A Modest Response.

Glazer is a former senior editor at Pulse Wrestling and editor and reviewer at The Comics Nexus.