Wrestling news: AEW boss Tony Khan’s plans for Ring of Honor

Wrestling news: AEW boss Tony Khan’s plans for Ring of Honor

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Friday’s Supercard of Honor show begins a new era for Ring of Honor

Tony Khan now has the chance to rewrite wrestling history.

That history dates back to when World Championship Wrestling was purchased by WWE in March 2001. In a pre-recorded Vince McMahon segment, the sale was announced on Nitro in Panama City Beach. Nitro was followed by a simulcast with WWE Raw , where McMahon claimed he had purchased WCW. However, the story line was twisted and Shane McMahon took over and claimed ownership. That ended the dynamic Nitro period, closing the doors to WCW. It was also the go-home Raw before WrestleMania 17, adding even more intrigue to the show. WWE had many options to keep WCW afloat and ran its invasion angles before moving on as the victor. Occasionally, WCW-branded pay-per-view names were championed, but it was never as though Raw would ever go on a two-week hiatus and be replaced by Nitro. This was not going to happen in WWE.

Ring of Honor was formed in the vacuum created by WWE’s acquisitions of WCW and ECW. Although it was not as successful as WCW, it did have a loyal audience and helped to create the next generation. And when the company, which was then owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, announced its intention Oct. 27 to release all performers from existing contracts and “reimagine” its future, a sale was inevitable. That night, while overseeing Dynamite at Boston University’s Agganis Arena, Khan watched a litany of former ROH stars wrestle on his show. Khan then promised he would acquire ROH , which happened earlier in the month .. A mixture of guile and craft while negotiating allowed the deal to be finalized shortly before the March 2 edition of Dynamite, and Khan announced the deal live in the ring on the go-home Dynamite before AEW’s Revolution pay-per-view, also adding more intrigue to the show.

Unlike WWE’s purchase of WCW, Khan intends to keep the ROH brand alive as its own entity. In addition to learning from WWE’s missteps with their lack of creativity 20 years ago with WCW content, this was also a clinic in negotiating against the wire.

Speaking with sources close to the sale, there was legitimate concern that ROH would not sell to Khan in time for him to make his announcement on the March 2 Dynamite. ROH founder and former owner Cary Silkin confirmed as much during his appearance on Busted Open Radio. Multiple sources confirmed to that Khan had a backup plan for the ROH’s March 2 show. One that he still plans to share with viewers. Khan also had a different format ready, since it wouldn’t have made sense to open Dynamite with the ROH-centric bout pitting Bryan Danielson against Christopher Daniels. Khan will have fascinating stories to tell at some point.

A story is incomplete without a heel, especially in pro-wrestling. AEW’s villain was Nick Khan, chief revenue officer and president of WWE (despite having the same last name, there are no resemblances). He represented WWE in its pursuit to purchase ROH. If WWE had purchased ROH, the tape library would have been used as additional content for WWE’s streaming service on Peacock. Impact Wrestling was also interested in ROH. However, Khan from AEW and Khan of WWE were the main players.

An interesting development occurred at ROH’s Final Battle pay-per-view in December, when Tony Khan sent reinforcements from AEW, including Jay Lethal, who wrestled in the main event after Bandido tested positive for COVID-19. Khan also sent a few videos from top AEW wrestlers, while WWE did no contribution to the show. Although the asking price was the biggest obstacle throughout the negotiation, this gesture of goodwill was certainly appreciated, especially since it appeared that WWE was the favourite to buy ROH in December.

Ultimately, Tony Khan was the higher bidder, buying ROH for a price that multiple people have confirmed he thought was fair. This is a good news for ROH fans. It is unlikely that WWE would have held a Final Battle or a Death Before Honor special. Tony Khan will keep the brand alive.

Friday’s Supercard of Honor will mark the beginning of a new era for ROH. This will be a transitional show as many ROH talent will be booked, but they are not guaranteed to stay with the brand. SI has learned that Khan plans to air ROH as its own brand. However, details about how and when it will air are still being worked out.

ROH’s Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman and the Supercard of Honor , will broadcast the show on Friday. Many familiar faces will be present throughout the night. Delirious, a long-standing ROH booker, will be there, along with dual reigning champions Jonathan Gresham, Bandido, tag champs The Briscoe Brothers and Pure champ Josh Woods. Jay Lethal will be back in ROH to wrestle Lee Moriarty. This match seemed to be destined last year in ROH. FTR has more tag titles that can be collected, which instantly adds value to any belt if they beat the Briscoes. In true ROH fashion, the show presents a great opportunity for Willow Nightingale. She is a highly skilled wrestler and has delivered some memorable moments to the indies. Now, she can do the same on a bigger platform when she takes on Mercedes Martinez in the interim ROH women’s title match.

WCW wasn’t a large acquisition when WWE bought it. However, the synergy between AEW & ROH is a partnership where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Khan was able to acquire longevity in a single move. Khan now owns a brand that spans two decades and features footage featuring some of AEW’s most prominent stars as well as some of WWE’s biggest stars.

Taking ownership of ROH is Khan’s chance to rewrite history, a journey that begins Friday at Supercard of Honor.

Psycho Clown ready to shine at tomorrow’s AAA show in Texas

Psycho Clown will headline Thursday’s AAA Invades WrestleCon show against Black Taurus in a match that will highlight two of the world’s most compelling luchadores.

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The show will take place in Dallas at the Fairmont Hotel, only 20 miles away from the site of this year’s WrestleMania at AT&T Stadium.

” I have been working hard to prepare for this match,” Psycho Clown said to SI through a translator. “I’m facing one of today’s strongest wrestlers. Taurus can do what no one else can. I am also returning with Lucha Libre AAA for an event in the United States on the most important weeks for wrestling in the USA in WrestleMania weekend, so this match is very important.”

The mask is not nearly as prevalent in the U.S. as it is in Mexico. Psycho Clown, one of the most well-known talents in AAA, believes the mask represents a part of his soul.

” The mask is a Mexican symbol that represents our culture and the love for having a hidden identity,” says Psycho Clown. He never divulges his real name to anyone in interviews. It connects with the mysticism associated with a sport blessed to God, such as blessed wrestling. Psycho Clown was my name. I wanted to tell my own story and show a different side to wrestling [in].

” I feel that responsibility when I don my mask and enter the ring. You will see that this weekend. You will see that this weekend.”

In addition to Thursday’s match, Psycho Clown also has dates Friday with GCW and then Saturday with WrestleCon. And considering he is surrounded by the pageantry of WrestleMania, he also revealed which WWE stars he would like to wrestle.

” From the past era it was Shawn Michaels,” Psycho Clown said. “Now, if I could wrestle anyone from WWE, I would like to face Roman Reigns.”

The mask reigns supreme in AAA. Psycho Clown is still the top promotion star, even without AAA’s mega championship. He is still interested in gold, however. He believes that we will finally see a Vikingo-style showdown for the belt later in the year.

“I would love to face Vikingo in the mega championship,” Psycho Clown said. “I have been searching for this title for a while. I have not been able to get it, but I know that very soon it will be on my waist.”

The (online) week in wrestling

  • MJF is a master of generating interest and excitement.
  • Jimmy Traina’s interviews are always entertaining, and he had a really insightful session with Seth Rollins.
  • I like the goofy, pro-wrestling-esque videos, so I enjoyed Rollins meeting with Vince McMahon to get approval for his match at this year’s WrestleMania. And it certainly feels like Cody Rhodes would make the perfect opponent …
  • The feature about Sasha Banks in The Athletic is worth reading. It’s still a mystery to me why Banks, who is a true star and performs at the top in the industry, is only part of a four way tag match, rather than a marquee, must see title match. She would have added an entirely new dimension to the Charlotte Flair-Ronda Rowey feud.
  • Rousey is giving WWE the publicity it desires, which was evident by her appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The crowd has spoken and Rousey should be playing a heel. It’s worth wondering what WWE will do if the crowd cheers on Flair in their match Saturday. The Bianca Belair-Becky Lynch feud has had a much better build heading into ‘Mania.
  • He makes a valid point.
  • Zack Sabre Jr. just won his second New Japan Cup, and he now has a title shot against IWGP world heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada at Hyper Battle in Ryogoku on April 9.
  • Pro Wrestling NOAH has a major main event coming in April, as Go Shiozaki has to go through Kazuyuki Fujita to reclaim the GHC heavyweight title.
  • There are certain threads that are so much fun to read. This thread was one of them.
  • Though Peacock is nowhere nearly as user-friendly as the standalone WWE Network was, the Steiner Brothers getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame is as great an excuse as any to watch some old-school WCW.

Big Time Wrestling teaming with The Hardy Boyz on upcoming tour

Big Time Wrestling has resumed touring on the independent wrestling circuit.

Steve Perkins is one of Big Time Wrestling’s owners and shared that The Hardy Boyz will be the main attraction at three of their four shows.

“The Hardys were reunited at a Big Time event in Webster, Massachusetts a few weeks back. They bring an incredible amount excitement to the indies. Matt and Jeff closed our shows at the main event. They also opened them with a meet-and greet. I have a hard time thinking of other stars who create the same type of excitement that they do.”

The next Big Time date for the Hardys is April 9 at the Waukesha County Expo Center in Waukesha, Wis., where they will wrestle The Ascension, followed by a date two weeks later at Bolingbrook High School in Bolingbrook, Ill., against Carlito and Chris Masters. The Hardys will also be part of the card May 14 in Prince George, Va., against Joey Janela and Gangrel.

“Right now, we’re expanding in new markets around the country and we’ll even travel to California,” says Perkins. “We will also handle all bookings for Bret Hart. Bret Hart will be available on at least five to six dates before the end of the summer. This is a truly special opportunity.

“There is nothing like a Bret signing. He is a great fan. He is one of the most genuine performers and has amazing connections with his fans. He has so much time for everyone, and really appreciates every single fan.”

Big Time is also expanding its online streaming, and Perkins noted that big plans are in store for a proper finale to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express in 2023. Perkins says, “Look for something big this fall in the South.” “And we’ll be booking the final Rock ‘n’ Rock Express match ever in January. I can’t say the opponent yet, but people are really going to like this match.”

Al Snow’s take on the Will Smith-Chris Rock Oscars incident

Al Snow on the microphone during an OVW event

If it seems as though the whole world is talking about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars, you likely aren’t wrong. The moment went viral immediately on social media. There has been endless discussion about Smith’s physicality and harsh expletives after Rock’s G.I. Jane jokes, and much more discussion about Rock’s ability to keep the show on track and host despite being whipped in the face live on television.

Some have suggested that they planned it.

Perhaps that’s exactly what they did.

“If this is a work, then we should give credit where credit is due,” states Al Snow, a fixture in the wrestling industry for over three decades and one of its most creative minds. “If that is a work, Will Smith and Chris Rock are doing what we do in wrestling, except they’re doing it even better than us.”

So, was it a work or a shoot? Although it seems unlikely that such a risk would be taken on the Oscars’ grand stage, people were still asking the question after the incident.

“It is not the act that makes it question it,” Snow said. “I don’t doubt that. It is strange that Will Smith has been a public figure for many years and that he never loses his composure no matter what the circumstances. But, I don’t doubt the action. The part that makes me think it’s a work is the reaction.”

The best way to discover the truth, Snow explained, is to seek out the reaction.

” To make someone believe lies is a work. Snow says that telling just enough truth is the best way to convince someone to believe a lie. “Will Smith and his spouse have spoken about their relationship, so his reaction is believable. But there was no real reaction from the Academy for what had occurred, which is incredibly odd.”

Snow also found it peculiar that Smith–who later that evening won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role–walked up onstage, without interruption, and basically assaulted another person.

“I do not work for the Academy but I am familiar with TV,” Snow states. “When someone, regardless of who it is, or a huge celebrity like Will Smith, walks onstage and slaps the host across their faces, don’t think someone would have come onto the stage? Or they’d cut to commercial immediately. Or cut off Chris Rock’s microphone? How would you know that he wouldn’t react with expletives?

“We’re all cynical, and if you have been involved in wrestling for a long time, you are more cynical. Although I don’t think I know it to work, even though Chris Rock did step in for the shot, live television follows very strict rules. It reminded me of the infamous ‘Pipe Bomb’ on Raw a decade ago.”

Organic or manufactured (and by all accounts Smith’s actions were unplanned and genuine), the moment caused a genuine stir. Snow is curious to see what happens next.

” I’d be surprised if they didn’t book Chris Rock to host next year,” Snow said. “The Oscars are live television. And what the gimmick was of live television used be that anything could happen. Clearly, this shows that people desperately want to believe, and we should be doing more to harness that in pro wrestling.”

Snow runs the day-to-day operations of the well-respected Ohio Valley Wrestling promotion, which he shared is the world’s only state-accredited pro wrestling trade school. Once affiliated with WWE from 1998 to 2008, OVW is the site where the likes of John Cena, Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton all cut their teeth in the industry. It now houses a group of talented, hungry wrestlers who are eager to make a mark. Snow says that he is proud of the hard work of everyone and how they are developing. “Their willingness to listen and break from the norm is a testament to their commitment to create something different.”

OVW has a major card running this Thursday for free on FITE TV. The Fight Night will feature the OVW national heavyweight champion match between Mahabali Shera and Jessie Godderz. Omar Amir and Ryan How will be fighting for the Kentucky heavyweight title. Omar Amir will also be competing for the OVW heavyweight title. There will also be a winner-takes-all OVW heavyweight title. Omar Amir will face Ryan How. Omar Amir will face Ryan How. Omar Amir will face Omar Amir. Omar Amir will fight Ryan How. Street Fight features Tony Bizo against Luscious. Omar Amir will be taking on Luscious Lawrence.

“These are going to be great matches,” Snow says. “And we’re telling stories we want the audience emotionally to understand why it’s happening. I really hope people check it out.”

And as for the Smith-Rock incident at the Oscars, Snow applauded the manner in which they created a viral moment, regardless of whether it was real or planned.

“There is just enough truth in there to make you think it could be a work,” Snow says. “And that’s the beauty of it.”

Tweet of the Week

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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