Kevin Steen - the perfect example of an ROH wrestler that it is unlikely WWE or TNA will ever be interested in. Photo via upload.wikimedia.org.
As Sergio Hernandez mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Sinclair Broadcasting Group that runs Ring Of Honor has recently cancelled several house show dates due to poor advances in a bid to keep the promotion's losses to a minimum.
Upon purchasing the company in May of last year, the hope was that a new television show in specifically chosen key Sinclair markets would allow them to run more events and lead to further iPPV growth. Unfortunately, they've fallen far short of drawing the 700 or so fans needed to break even outside of their previously existing strongholds like New York and Toronto. Indeed, the show in Milwaukee last weekend only drew 400 fans, which is terrible in such a large market. Meanwhile, technical difficulties have put paid to expanding their iPPV audience too.
Things are so bad that from the start of this month to mid September ROH will only hold five shows (unless anymore gets cancelled), far from enough to keep their wrestlers happy, as many of their performers are on per appearance deals and won't get paid what they were expecting when shows get cancelled. In a bad sign, Dave Meltzer publicly confirmed this endemic dissatisfaction at ROH management in last week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
There is a lot of unhappiness among the wrestlers because of so few shows and what they expected to materialize with the Sinclair ownership hasn't and the realization is Sinclair is not interested in spending the kind of money necessary to upgrade the product and due to that, they really aren't on the ground floor of something about to take off. There's no longer the mindset about being there and helping build a company that maybe could challenge TNA for No. 2, and there is no real upside of signing a long-term exclusive contract that would kill any options they have of going to TNA or WWE.
Thus, with things being so uncertain in ROH, one can't really blame former ROH Tag Team champion Kenny King for taking advantage of an immediate opportunity with TNA, even though he had verbally agreed to not appear on a rival group's television program while in the process of negotiating a new contract with ROH.
However, despite ROH's future looking far from rosy, Meltzer in this week's Observer told us not to expect anyone else to leave the company; due to a lack of other options everyone apart from King whose contract was coming due or had expired, has re-signed with ROH:
Regarding contract situations, there were about a number of contracts that came due in June, and since. I believe all have signed new one-year deals with the same terms as the deals a year ago. I believe the biggest name that came due was Michael Elgin, although Kevin Steen's contract is either up soon or was just up. There have been no hints he wouldn't sign, if he hasn't already. But there are no other 60 day deals given like to Kenny King that are out there where the person involved would have the right to negotiate while staying under contract.
That must be quite the relief to ROH's management, as a drove of talent leaving would add to the impression that they are a sinking ship. They probably didn't have too much to worry about though, as their roster is full of talent that WWE and TNA have passed on signing on many occasions, due to a lack of size or having the wrong look, and a realisation from their workers that for that reason the grass is unlikely to be greener elsewhere.