ROH COO Joe Koff spoke with Sporting News on their current partnership with NJPW and relationship with Impact Wrestling after Impact World Champion Austin Aries appeared at an ROH show. Here are some of the highlights:
Working with NJPW and if ROH would be where they are without NJPW:
"That's a fair question. I get asked that a lot: where do you think New Japan would be without Ring of Honor right now? I think there's not one up on either of them. It happened because both promotions have a similar philosophy of wrestling. There's a history, obviously, with New Japan and Ring of Honor but it's really been developed over the last five years under our guidance and under our aegis. I think that together we are stronger as an international organization and also as a place for talent because if they can offer dates and we can offer dates and we can put together a good year at good pay, then we've done a good service for the wrestlers who are wrestling for both of us.
I think it's a really good relationship. I would only want it to sustain but they're a business and we're a business and they have to do their business the way they need to do their business. I fully understand that, but we're working with them. They offer real wrestling. I was in Tokyo at the end of February to watch Honor Rising and there's a real respect there for our wrestlers and, obviously, a real respect for the New Japan wrestlers. I'm glad that they're given that opportunity to be seen on both sides of the world. It's important. I hope it continues."
With NJPW entering the US market as a potential competitor, what if their partnership ended:
"As a businessperson, I'm concerned about all of those things. Some of it's in my control; some of it's out of my control. Ring of Honor has been a resilient organization. We've had amazing people in Ring of Honor and have left Ring of Honor. There's been lots of obits written when those people have left. The organization has never been stronger. I think one of the reasons that the organization has a lot of strength is we have distribution, we have television, we have a strong company that backs us, and we have a strong belief system in what we do. While name talent has always been part of Ring of Honor's lore, Ring of Honor is a brand and a style of wrestling.
When certain people have left, and I can name them all through history going back to CM Punk who is now in UFC, and then Bryan Danielson, Kevin Owens now and Sami Zayn who are big stars on SmackDown. You could see it then that's what they wanted and they were really good then but the organization didn't stop when they left. The organization kept going because it's organically strong. I like that part. So, if New Japan goes their separate ways and wants to become a competitor in the United States for professional wrestling, then we'll deal with that when we have to deal with that."
ROH's relationship with Impact Wrestling:
"I've always had a very good relationship with Impact Wrestling. I try to have a good relationship with all of the promotions because why wouldn't I? We're all in the same space. We're all doing the same thing. It's good for the business. That was a creative angle that came out. Austin Aries, who's a former Ring of Honor wrestler, has never held the ROH Television Championship, and I think he's on a quest to hold every belt he can. It seemed like a natural opportunity. There was no agenda involved. It was a good spot. It surprised the fans. That show had a lot of surprises. When the bear took off his head and it was Kenny Omega. That was unbelievably exciting. But our relationship with Impact, we're happy. They had to agree to it. They did. It certainly doesn't hurt their brand. It was a win-win for all."