The joint Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling show at Madison Square Garden on April 6, 2019, is selling tickets at a shocking pace. Before they were even made available to the general public, reports indicate 12,000 tickets were sold. This is likely on the strength of the fact that it’s during WrestleMania weekend next year and shows like this always deliver the goods. With acts like Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks, all hugely popular among the many hardcore fans who make the trip no matter where WrestleMania is held, how could they go wrong?
Then again, as of now, their current deals are all reportedly up before that show will take place. Couple that with talk of WWE getting really aggressive trying to sign all the top talent on the independent scene, and there’s got to be legitimate concern within ROH about this, right?
Chuck Carroll asked ROH General Manager Greg Gilleland about it and he had this to say:
They’re our top guys, right? Of course, we’re going to do everything that we can to keep them. And we have fair offers and fair plans to retain them. With that said, I don’t think we ever operate in fear. We always operate with solid backup plans. And we have to always think about what if this, and what if that. If they go to the WWE, and they very much deserve that opportunity, we’ll continue to offer the best wrestling that we can. There’s other talent out there. And we will continue as our brand has for the past however many years. We’ve lost top guys before.
Think about Kevin Owens and even going back to Bryan Danielson and CM Punk and all of them. They all went to the WWE, and the brand has continued to grow and prosper.
Everything we do is geared toward the fans and toward, even these arena decisions, that experience. We pride ourselves on the ROH experience, and it goes back to the question of losing a top guys. Do I wanna lose the Young Bucks, and Cody? No. Of course not. Why would I wanna lose them?
Am I gonna make an aggressive attempt to retain them and sign longer-term agreements? Of course we are. But, at the end of the day, the ROH brand is about the ROH experience, and that’s how we continue to grow.
Considering Cody, the Bucks, and Omega have all proven to be legitimately strong draws outside of WWE, and with ROH now penetrating MSG, where WWE had a stranglehold for decades, and where ROH is likely going to sell out when WWE hasn’t done so in years, it’s not hard to imagine Vince McMahon going all out to bring them in before this show ever takes place. The company just signed hugely lucrative television deals that make clear they can afford to throw whatever money they need to at this problem.
The question is whether or not that group of talent is willing to sacrifice its creative freedom for the kind of money WWE will offer.
We’ll just have to stay tuned, as this story will surely take many twists and turns as we get closer and closer to 2019, and next year’s WrestleMania weekend.