At the start of this year, WWE shocked the wrestling world by aggressively going after New Japan Pro Wrestling’s top stars. The then-leader of the Bullet Club AJ Styles, IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, and former IWGP Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows. Yeah, Gallows and Anderson used to be booked strong.
Gallows, Anderson and Styles unusually all went straight to the main roster, whereas Nakamura went to NXT. It left New Japan with a huge void in their main event picture, a process which took almost half a year of rebuilding to replace the top of the card.
The warning signs were there. But Ring of Honor failed to take heed.
WrestlingNewsWorld have been reporting for the last week that WWE is preparing a mass talent raid on ROH’s roster, just like the New Japan situation earlier this year, and now DailyWrestlingNews are backing them up.
Many Ring of Honor contracts are due on the 31st December. That means ROH are going to find themselves in a position where, hypothetically, a lot of their top stars could just walk into WWE on January 1st.
Before you start work on that invasion angle fantasy booking scenario, it’s being said that Triple H is the driving force behind these talent acquisitions, and he want to use them to replenish NXT. Ironically, WWE’s developmental promotion found itself in the same position as New Japan did earlier this year when the Brand Split gutted the top of their card – with Finn Balor and American Alpha following Sami Zayn, Enzo & Cass and Baron Corbin up to the main roster. Bayley was then called up in late August.
ROH colour commentator Steve Corino is reportedly on his way to NXT as a coach on January 1st, which people were openly talking about backstage at last weekend’s WrestleCade show, and next on WWE’s wishlist are Jim Cornette’s favourite tag team, The Young Bucks.
And it just so happens, at the same time as these reports of a WWE talent raid on Ring of Honor coming out, with The Young Bucks being their number one target, Pro Wrestling Sheet are reporting ROH have offered the tag team an “awesome” multi-year deal. Like so many others, their contracts expire on December 31st, but the ROH deal does allow them a certain degree of freedom that WWE wouldn’t probably allow. While they’re “exclusive” to Ring of Honor, their contract allows them to work for New Japan, PWG and overseas companies that don’t interfere with ROH. The Young Bucks are expected to make a formal announcement soon.
ROH apparently realise that this comes down to money, and they don’t have the financial resources to keep everyone they would like. That’s why they’re picking their battles, reportedly giving up people like Corino to save money for other acts like The Young Bucks.
The most recent Wrestling Observer Newsletter has also weighed in on the situation, reporting that ROH will be “aggressively trying to keep key talent” by “trying to make ROH a destination for talent as opposed to a stepping stone to go to WWE.”
WWE have wanted current ROH Champion Adam Cole for years, but his deal isn’t due until April.
Which Ring of Honor stars would you like to see in WWE? Tell me if Colt Cabana gets resigned there, he might stop going on about when they released him on his podcast all the time in the comments below.