Has Tony Khan Tainted Ring Of Honor Since Purchasing It?

In March of 2022, Tony Khan, the Owner of AEW, agreed to purchase Ring Of Honor Wrestling. One of the most beloved independent brands of the last 30 years, this news was met with both excitement and intrigue. People were glad that ROH would still exist and be in the hands of a self-reported fan. However, how it would survive remained a big question for the loyal fans.

Since then ROH has had a few shows over the last couple of years but has failed to make a home for itself on television or streaming. While some PPVs have still taken place, for the most part, Ring of Honor has effectively disappeared without a dedicated, regular show.

AEW has allowed the championships to be on their programming with regular defenses. However, ROH hasn’t climbed back into the consciousness of wrestling fans the same way it was in the early 2000s. In this article, we’re going to look at where ROH was, where it ended up, where it’s heading, and how we feel Tony Khan has done with the brand since purchasing it.



Ring of Honor (ROH) Logo
[Image via Ring of Honor Wrestling]

The upstart indie promotion started in February of 2002. Founded by Rob Feinstein, it became an indie darling to most wrestling fans by being known for featuring some of the best talent in the wrestling world. In particular, the idea was to bring in the best independent workers on the planet. For the most part, they succeeded in this mission.

Ring of Honor was a who’s who of indie talent. The roster has included everyone from Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Seth Rollins, and Sami Zayn, all the way to Kevin Owens, Adam Cole, The Young Bucks, Austin Aries, Homicide, and more. If you were a top Indie worker, you were likely going to come through ROH at some point in your career.

It was a badge of honor for many wrestlers, often on the same scale as working for WWE.

Ring of Honor would get a slight boost in 2011 when the Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased the company. Not only did it give them networks to have their show on regularly (such as The CW & MyNetworkTV depending on where you lived), but the assumption was that it would make ROH more mainstream.

The deal led to brand deals, action figures, and opportunities to work with other great brands such as PWG & NJPW. All of this made ROH, at one point, the third most notable brand in pro wrestling.

With a roster of exceptional talent throughout the 2000s and 2010s, ROH was a consistently good promotion. Sadly, they could never penetrate the mainstream on the level of WWE. Honestly, they could never come close, likely due to Sinclair refusing to pay up to make the shows better. It took forever for Sinclair to buy HD Cameras for the shows….during the mid-2010s!



MJF - AEW World Title & ROH Tag Title
[Image via AEW]

If we’re being honest, the death of ROH wasn’t the COVID pandemic, it was the birth of AEW. Tony Khan’s upstart promotion came to the table with an influx of a billionaire cash flow. With it, talent like Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks would leave Sinclair’s promotion for the Jacksonville company. They were given Executive roles and an opportunity to start something new with a ton of cash to do so. It was hard for anyone to turn down.

Without their biggest names to anchor their television, they began to see lower show attendance and pay-per-view buys. They managed to struggle along and tried to keep the brand alive. Although, they oddly started this by signing Marty Scurll to the biggest contract in ROH history.

That”s roughly the time when COVID hit too.

The pandemic paused all live events for most wrestling companies. While AEW and WWE continued to produce live shows in front of empty or near-empty arenas, ROH would resume taping shows in August 2020. However, they didn’t have the financial war chest to absorb the tens of millions of debt. Plus, without live crowds, they were not making money and merchandise even took a hit.

This effectively forced them to shut down in 2021.



Tony Khan - ROH
[Image via Josh Nasa/Wrestling Observer]

As we mentioned at the top, in March of 2022, Tony Khan would purchase ROH. In doing this, Khan pledged to relaunch the brand. He put forth the April 1 Supercard of Honor XV just to show he was serious about doing this.

ROH matches began appearing on AEW television. While the idea has been to keep the spirit and the promotion alive, the reality of the situation is that ROH has felt, at times, like a division of AEW. It”s certainly not a standalone company within the umbrella of All Elite Wrestling.

This sort of reminds us of the time Vince McMahon “relaunched” ECW as basically a third WWE brand. He first did it as the old ECW we all knew and loved, then it slowly morphed into a WWE product. It basically became what WWE NXT would go on to become.

Khan has done the same thing with Ring of Honor, yet he has not given them an actual show. One would conclude that they could simply change the name of their Friday show to “Ring of Honor: Presented by AEW” or something…but we have not even seen that.

While Khan did bring back weekly streaming shows on Honor Club that can be watched on OTT platforms, the truth is that it’s been largely an afterthought. Most people do not even know that exists anyway.

The reality is that, from how we”re seeing it, Tony Khan has no interest in relaunching Ring of Honor as he claimed.



Tony Khan & Shibata
[Image via The Capital Sports Report – YouTube]

Yes, it would be easy just to trash Khan for ROH, but we want to be fair. Maybe he is playing a long game here.

On one hand, it’s Khan’s AEW that tore away its biggest and most buzzworthy stars. Khan”s promotion essentially killed the attendance and PPV buys as fans were marching over to AEW rather than ROH.

It’s also fair to say that ROH is not a featured brand on AEW TV. While they do have matches, and you get to see stars like Athena from time to time, it’s not as if they have situated themselves as a top-flight brand within the company.

Also, Honor Club does still air…but blink and you’d miss it. They could do a lot more promotion on AEW TV for Honor Club and get people invested. NXT is a great example of how AEW could really use its big platform to sell the smaller one.

In saying all of this, we think that two years after purchasing ROH is too soon to judge Khan. First, had he not bought it, it might not exist at all. Had WWE gotten their hands on it, they would have likely only wanted tape library and very little else.

Of course, one could argue Khan’s biggest motivation for purchasing Ring of Honor was also its tape library. However, the brand has still lived to see the light of day.



Samoa Joe - Ring of Honor World Champion
[Image via TPWW]

We believe (as of this writing) that Tony Khan is using ROH as a bargaining chip as he negotiates the next TV deal for AEW. By having Honor Club”s weekly shows, he’ll still get the opportunity to build the tape library. Plus, there”s a weekly TV show that he can sell to his next partner.

The fact that ROH is putting on live shows is a good thing. The fact that ROH could find a home on a platform at some point like MAX, Amazon Prime, or Apple TV would be a huge boost for one of the most beloved brands in wrestling history.

Tony Khan could have gone the WWE/WCW route of simply buying the tape library and then casting it off into history after some horrible storyline of sorts. Instead, he’s attempting to keep the titles and the brand alive, even to the detriment of his own product.

There are so many titles on AEW with the ROH Titles mixed in that it is borderline laughable because everyone has a championship it seems. Still, he’s trying to bring exposure.


Of course, Khan might find that, at some point, getting rid of ROH is a good cost-cutting strategy. Unloading some of the wrestlers from the brand, reducing some additional production costs, and diverting that money into your existing AEW brand. It makes sense.

However, taking more production necessities away as well as stars would effectively make anything for Ring of Honor useless. It was sort of the same concept that Sinclair Broadcasting used. Yet they did at least try to make something work, they just did not want to spend much money to do it most of the time. This is a similar issue that TNA Wrestling is currently experiencing with their owners, Anthem Sports & Entertainment.

Of course, there’s also a path where Tony ends up making ROH the “other show.” You can have Dynamite & Ring of Honor. This would, in its own way, be similar to the way that WWE has RAW and Smackdown, even though they’ve never been considered separate promotions at any point.

We sat all of this, as it’s too early to judge Tony for what he”d done to the legacy of ROH. It exists because he bought them and continues to give them life. That’s more than most would do.

Let’s just hope the plans for ROH go beyond the Honor Club. One of the greatest tape libraries and brands in professional wrestling deserves to exist.