Joe Koff’s first interview since the breaking news about Ring of Honor.
On 10/27, Ring of Honor pushed out an announcement which read that following the 2021 Final Battle pay-per-view on 12/11, the company’s product will be going on hiatus until April 2022. A handful of Ring of Honor talent have shared that they’re now accepting bookings and the current ROH World Champion Bandido was announced for several GCW events after the ROH announcement.
The company’s COO Joe Koff spoke to PWInsider shortly after breaking the news to talent and staff. Koff doesn’t feel there should be blame passed around but if there is, he said he’ll take the blame because he may have operated too cautiously with ROH which he feels led to them missing a big opportunity in 2018 that led to the formation of All Elite Wrestling.
If there’s going to be a laying blame, which there shouldn’t be, because we’re really celebrating what we achieved, it was probably to me because I’ve always operated on a cautious basis and perhaps I was a little too cautious in this, but we took the measures beginning to sign those exclusive agreements, making production improvements and we were bolstering our internal staff and processes. It’s really incredible to see what we’ve done since then. If we had 20/20 hindsight, which isn’t that fantastic, we all love that, we probably missed a huge opportunity in 2018, and I give all credit to Tony [Khan] and AEW, they captured it and they did it. We all know who they started with and I’m proud of those guys. I mean, obviously, I’m proud of all my guys, we’ve had so much talent that has gone to other organizations that have really been so critical to their successes. I take a small part of that success and I share in that, but it didn’t happen for us, happened for them.
In essence, I think we would all agree, they’ve done an amazing job and really deserve all the credit in the world. Again, we had a pivot with a different creative line, with missing some of our big stars that chose to go over to AEW and we had lost stars in the past. The business, Mike, is strewn with stars from Ring of Honor. We can go through the list and we’ve done it before, really proud of that legacy that Ring of Honor has, that this is where wrestling really is born. This is where wrestling really happens. This is like a desert that people are tested against, this is where they grow and they’re fortitude and all. I love that about our company, but that’s what we had to do. We’ve done it before and we will do it again.
We had to move forward, with a great roster and a strategy, and our strategy was to go weekly and everybody knew that. It was going to be part of that July, I think we’re in 2020 now.
When Ring of Honor brings their product back, he said it won’t be like a WWE or AEW but he wants to the audience to be more engaged. Koff described it as “Ring of Honor 2.0”.
Well, that’s, yes, that’s unfair. Look, if you’re hearing a downtrodden voice it’s because I just had a meeting with the staff and had to relay the same kind of information. It wasn’t jumping for joy, but Ring of Honor has been down many, many times, even in the times I’ve been here and we’re just at a place where we have to pivot again. We have to get back to our well oiled machine and find a way to make Ring of Honor something special for all wrestling fans. That’s one of the reasons why we’re taking this first quarter off, to rebuild and figure out what it is, but I can tell you, we have great people and a lot of great ideas putting this together. It’s not going to feel like AEW or WWE, or maybe even ROH as we know it today, Mike, but our goal is to provide a unique and engaging experience for all wrestling fans.
I’m not going to share a lot of detail that’s coming, and I know that sounds like a hedge, but people are going to believe what they want to believe. I can’t stop that, but I am usually the cheerleader and I am usually that person and I feel that way about Ring of Honor 2.0 and what our capabilities are and what we’re always able to do, but if you’re hearing in my voice is because as you said at the opening, this was less than an hour ago. I had to have this conversation with the greatest assemblage of talent and people to share this news with them.
Koff shared that Ring of Honor will hold television tapings next week that will take them to the Final Battle event. They are working on what’s to come after that but during the gap period between Final Battle and April 2022, original programming from the ROH archives will be utilized and Koff teased that some surprises will be included in that.