May 30, 2005
Ring of Honor coming to new network
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
Canadian fans of Ring of Honor Wrestling will soon be able to get a weekly fix of the popular independent league, as it has signed a broadcast agreement with The Fight Network.
The Fight Network (TFN), which is set to officially launch in September, will be broadcast a number of events in chronological order, including archived footage and new shows.
"It'll be older stuff, and as they produce new shows, they'll be giving those to us," said TFN Vice President of Programming and Production, Brian Sobie, in an exclusive interview with SLAM! Wrestling.
The broadcasts will have an approximate six-month delay from the live show performance. Sobie is quick to point out, however, that the importance of the broadcast is to have all of the feuds carried out on their shows.
"Ring of Honor isn't on TV, so what you can see up here will be just us," Sobie said. "If we're six months behind what they're doing in the States, it really doesn't matter; but the important thing for us is that the viewers can follow the Ring of Honor storylines, which is something they do as well as anyone in the world right now."
The deal with ROH came about as a result of an online survey through Live Audio Wrestling's website, which is also now a TFN property.
"We asked people what wrestling or MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) promotion would you most like to see, and of all them, Ring of Honor was right up there," Sobie said, "but we were well aware of it before that, of the cult following it has. It is considered the hottest independent wrestling promotion right now, probably in the world."
Gabe Sapolsky, booker for Ring of Honor, was excited when TFN approached the company about a broadcasting agreement. "We were immediately very interested since we saw how much the exposure on The Wrestling Channel in England helped us business wise. We saw this as an opportunity to get some great exposure in Canada and hopefully increase our business in the Canadian market," Sapolsky told SLAM! in an exclusive interview. "It is a win/win location for everyone.
The group of fans that voted for ROH on the LAW website will inevitably grow as a result of the increased coverage. As Sapolsky noted, the broadcasts will not only keep newer fans hooked in, but will also be an expansion tool for the indy league. "It should make it a lot easier for new fans to see our product," Sapolsy said. "We are very confident in the ROH product and feel if you see it you will be hooked."
Along with ROH, TFN has secured the rights to broadcasts the libraries of Wrestling at the Chase and Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW), and will be airing shows from Real Pro Wrestling, GAEA and IWA Puerto Rico. "They're going to be sending us 52 shows next year, so people will be able to follow their storylines week by week," Sobie said of the IWA agreement. "The production quality of their shows is excellent, and they're a very aggressive group. That's something that will be a treat for Canadian viewers."
Sobie also noted that TFN is in negotiations with TNA and is finalizing a packaged agreement with Lucha Libre promotions AAA and CMLL.
Jon Waldman has been with SLAM! since 2000. This article cannot be reproduced without the consent of Sun Media.