Cult of ROH: The Conspiracy Theory

First, our opening Raw Haiku, an artform I’ve creatively named “the Rawku.”

The Brian Kendrick
Orton’s entrance is longer
than all his matches

With that out of the way, ladies and gentlemen: there is no big ROH news this week. Yes, Ric Flair and Bret Hart are going to appear for the company, probably to talk on a microphone. Sonjay Dutt earned another doubleshot. That’s about it. And that’s why this week I’m going to break out the biggest story in ROH history, one I’ve been sitting on for months.

Ladies and gentlemen: WWE owns Ring of Honor.

The truth has been painfully obvious for months. WWE had always eyed ROH’s talent, giving Punk, Joe and Danielson copious tryouts. But little over a year ago they signed Matt Sydal and Colt Cabana, and giving tryouts to Bryan Danielson, Go Shiozaki and Takeshi Morishima. On his blog, Jim Ross claimed to tell everyone who would listen that they should pay ROH to keep it open so that they could continue to produce talented rookies worthy of notice.

That all led to October, when Gabe Sapolsky was informed during a live event that he was going to be released. He did no immediate interviews, even turning down money to do them. In 2009 he began to discuss matters but was curiously quiet whenever Silkin and Pearce came up, even in his special “shoot” video discussing his vision for the company. It was almost as though Sapolsky was given hush money. But ROH never had the pockets to do something like that.

ROH implemented a new style in the ring that was generally lower-impact with fewer big moves, emphasized shorter matches and more obvious characters. Heels were made more obvious and everyone was encouraged to cut more promos. Run-ins increased and count-outs were implemented to cries that ROH was becoming just like WWE.

The regular roster was slashed, the numbers on shows supplemented by regional talent who would get tryouts to make it into the company. The remaining stars were big guys, like McGuinness and Danielson, and people who showed promise to develop soon, like Davey Richards.

Amongst the people showing up more frequently were people from WWE’s past, like D-Lo Brown and Guido Maritato. Even Jerry Lynn seemed to do very little to help the company grow, which was supposedly the big vision. Brown was one of several people to fall out of WWE and into ROH, like Shawn “Gavin Spears” and Colt Cabana, who returned surprisingly shortly after his release from WWE. While not wrestling on TV or PPV, he is now promoted to have an interview segment that will air on television. There is no buzz that WWE will move to sue them for a potential breach of a no-compete clause.

The most interesting of the new visitors was Ric Flair. Rumors had it that WWE management was furious with him for going to another televised wrestling company, but despite their deep pockets, WWE was unable to pay him not to appear for ROH. Within weeks of appearing on ROH TV, he returned to angles on WWE television – not within weeks of the taping, which would signify last-moment desperate tactics, but around the airing, which only draw more attention to his name. Whatever deal he struck to return to Raw did not preclude him from continuing to appear for ROH at live shows, and he is still booked to appear for the company in Canada.

We’re told Ring of Honor is booked solely by Adam Pearce, but he’s reported to not have been backstage all shows, especially at the beginning of his reign. Now his presence is seldomly mentioned at all, and many take this to assume he’s either there or has given instructions and his will is being done. Nobody thinks to question it, even when one show is totally minimalist and goes barely two and a half hours, while the next is over three and has ridiculously dangerous spots. Some shows pull back, while others see men falling off cages and ladders, and these dangerous things aren’t just used on the supershows. It’s almost like multiple people are booking different events, or like a shadowy staff is asking the roster to work on certain things on certain nights.

It couldn’t be more obvious, but just like the moon landing, some people refuse to see the truth. For you people I ask: what about ECW? No one thought Vince McMahon bankrolled that company. Even the Dudleys questioned it well into their WWF tenure. It was done quietly and through intermediaries, largely through one guy – Paul Heyman. Everyone else was just happy they were getting paid for once. In the current indy landscape, would it be that hard for Cary Silkin and Adam Pearce to pull the same thing? It’d be a lot easier than aiming from a book depository.

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