Monday 17 September 2012

Good Friends, Better Enemies

After an enforced summer break from ROH the amazingly over TJ Perkins returned to the company at the August 3rd TV taping. His more than welcome return has proven short lived though: he worked a dark match try out before last Thursday's live IMPACT (which is said to have gone very well). ROH have responded by announcing the release of TJP from his contract. Ring of Honor's loss is definitely TNA's gain.
The question, of course, is how did this come to pass. Perkins had gotten over in ROH despite being used sparingly and losing most of his matches. He is the sort of talent that Ring of Honor desperately needs: popular, talented, and capable of getting over based on their ring work. He would have been a good choice to build the company around.
It's not the first time this year that ROH has lost a talented member of its roster to TNA. Kenny King controversially jumped ship over the summer while recognised as one half of the ROH tag champs (along with Rhett Titus). ‘The Pretty Boy Pitbull’ has enjoyed matches on pay-per-view and a TV show seen by a wider audience than ROH’s SBG show, and has been featured as part of the (short-lived) revamped X Division.
Going a little further back Austin Aries opted to leave ROH in August 2010 as a protest against the then-new creative direction. After making some appearances for various indies, including old boss Gabe Sapolsky’s Dragon Gate, and trying out for WWE's Tough Enough revival 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived' agreed to a deal with TNA.

Since last June ‘A Double’ has shared the ring with some of the company's top talent, become the longest reigning X Division champion in history, and won the world championship. His success has to serve as hope for anyone else considering joining the league. It proves that if you work hard in TNA you can rise to the top.

You won't be seeing this guy in ROH anytime soon... not that that makes a change
TNA has become a more appealing prospect to wrestlers for various reasons. The success of Aries is one. Its international television deals, larger and younger roster, and better pay are others. Ring of Honor's stodgy booking, increasing reliance on veterans and former WWE stars, and low pay can't be filling talent (on the roster or off) with confidence.
More bad news for Ring of Honor management is that one of their biggest stars, Davey Richards, has indicated that he can't see himself staying with the group after August 2013 (when his current contract expires). 'The American Wolf' is training for a career as a medical worker and has stated that next year he will either seek full-time employment utilising his new qualification and perhaps appear on occasional tours for New Japan Pro Wrestling or gauge interest from WWE and TNA.

While I think WWE would only be interested in Richards if they had a cruiserweight show up and running on the WWE Network (which is looking increasingly unlikely) TNA would almost certainly be interested in him for a spot in the X Division. That Richards, once a staunch advocate of Ring of Honor, is openly discussing moving to TNA or WWE with a year left on his current deal should tell his employer that they’re getting something wrong somewhere.
With its roster currently depleted and there being no sign of fresh talent on the horizon one option open to ROH is to start a women's division. The recent TNA departures of Angelina Love, Velvet Sky, and Winter (plus the fact that Sarita hasn't appeared for the company in around five months) has seen the Knockouts division, once something the group prioritised, crumble.

ROH could sign these women plus two or three others and get a division running. It would be something to help to set them apart from WWE and TNA. They already have Maria Kanelis and Mia Yim under contract. That's a good start.
Despite gaining access to the likes of King and Perkins (who still hasn't officially signed with TNA at time of writing) TNA's X Division still leaves something to be desired. While bringing in someone like Davey Richards would improve matters it's not an option available to them until this time next year. Something that would benefit both promotions would be a talent sharing agreement of some sort. ROH tried setting something up with the EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA groups a few months ago but nothing could be finalised. Perhaps they should talk with TNA instead.
It's a deal that would benefit both groups if handled correctly. The majority of the Ring of Honor roster would slot nicely into the X Division and would help to restore it to its former glory. The likes of Eddie Edwards, Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and Mike Bennett would inject some much needed freshness. Meanwhile having AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Chris Daniels, and perhaps even Kurt Angle appearing at ROH's untelevised events would help attract more fans, who could then be won over and turned into regulars by the performances of the rest of the roster (at least in theory).
Perhaps that's wishful thinking. It's what both parties should aim for if talks started though. It would be a lot easier to agree to terms similar to these if on-screen acknowledgement occurred on both sides. An invasion angle would seem old hat (especially because of the current Aces and Eights angle in TNA and Ring of Honor’s recent crossover with CHIKARA) but an announced talent sharing programme that grows into something bigger could be fresh and exciting, not to mention reinvigorate the rosters of both organisations.

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