With the announcement of All Elite Wrestling, many are anxiously waiting for more information on the promotion. 2018’s biggest non-WWE success was All In, drawing the famed 11,263. Although the number was far and away the biggest stand-alone event, one event does not yet make a touring promotion.
Ring of Honor broke attendance records once again in 2018. In numbers based on those reported in The Wrestling Observer, the company nearly reached 50,000 total fans in attendance for the first time and averaged 1,106, a 10% increase over the previous year.
Some of Ring of Honor’s biggest numbers came with New Japan assistance. In addition to Supercard of Honor (with the New Japan logo inside the O of the ROH logo in promotional materials) drawing an ROH record of 5,879, the War of the Worlds and Global Wars inter-promotional tours, with 4 shows each drew an average of 1,307, 18% over the company’s overall average for the year.
New Japan ran six shows stateside. However, two or three of those shows would come with asterisks (2 shows ran back to back days at the CharaExpo with around 200 fans each day and one show promoted by CEO Gaming and Kenny Omega in Daytona Beach).
New Japan achieved the biggest non-WWE attendance outside of All In in 2018. The Cow Palace in July drew 6,333. This number was mostly seen as a disappointment in an industry of elevated expectations. Long Beach in March drew a sellout of 4,372 and 3,007 in September. The CEO show drew a reported 2,350. New Japan did utilize talents domestically exclusive to ROH, such as The Young Bucks and Cody, but shows were not promoted with the ROH brand as a key ticket driver for any of its shows.
Ring of Honor recently wrote that the company shares a symbiotic relationship with New Japan. Where one ends and the other begins in the U.S. can be confusing. The dual branded sellout of the forthcoming MSG show demonstrates this well.
Based on New Japan’s stand-alone gates and support of key ROH tours, New Japan is America’s current biggest North American touring brand in terms of average attendance, outside of the WWE. In terms of total attendance, that honor would go to ROH.
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