The #1 Contender for Matt Taven's ROH World Heavyweight Champion, Jeff Cobb, was a guest on our own WINCLY Podcast this week. During the conversation with Wrestling Inc.'s own Nick Hausman, Cobb delved in to the ever-changing landscape of professional wrestling's independent scene.
Cobb recognizes that there has been a shift in the perception of blossoming performers, as they realize that they don't necessarily have to make it in WWE to earn a decent living. Even Cobb had his sights narrowed on becoming a WWE performer, but his expectations started to grow in conjunction with the growth of the industry.
"I want to say, maybe as little as 5 - 10 years ago, WWE was the end-all, be-all. I know personally for me, when I moved to the Mainland from Hawaii, WWE was definitely the end-all, be-all goal for myself," Cobb admitted. "And then flash forward a few years, just the boom in the independent scene, and the boom overseas, and the boom in Japan, and all these other big companies popping up: Ring of Honor is doing great work, Impact is doing great work, MLW is doing great work, and now All Elite Wrestling pops up and they're doing great work as well, so, you have options now, and it's definitely a great time to be a professional wrestler. Especially if you're putting in the work and you're grinding it out there. The cream rises to the top, so, eventually, I feel like there are going to be places for everyone to work and make a good living."
Cobb is proud to be a part of ROH and he applauded them for the way they handle talent creatively. He revealed that the promos management assigns are essentially unscripted bullet points that guide you along.
"[ROH management] is very receptive on feedback from what the talent's perspective is," Cobb said. "Usually, if we have a promo, they're not going over verbatim word-for-word what I need to say. Because that's definitely not the way I would say something or serve a promo. So, I'll get a text message the day before or something that says, 'Hey, this is the gist of the promos. Hit these bullet points.' And then they trust the talent in where we can get the point across in the way we would deliver a certain promo."
Cobb explained that there is also an open door policy that makes anyone on staff easily accessible when you need to discuss something important.
"There's always an open door policy there," Cobb explained. "If you have questions, concern or whatnot, they're more than helpful and listen to you, which I think is wonderful. Like, there's not 45 people or 45 steps that I have to get through to get my question answered. It's pretty much, like, 'Where's so-and-so?' 'Over there.' 'Well, can I talk to him?' And then we're good to go."
"I don't think [ROH's relationship with NJPW has been] affected at all, really. I don't necessarily think a lot of crossover is good because then you kinda lose who you are as a company. Like, when every so-often someone will come here [to perform]; that, I can deal with. In small amounts, I think that's a good thing. We haven't really crossed over with anybody. The only companies we cross over with are CMLL and New Japan. For us, we're connected to those two companies, so, I think we have a good identity in that."
Cobb took the time to elaborate on the enhancements that NWA has brought to ROH during their partnership together. He has the utmost respect for the history of the NWA, and thinks that any die-hard fan should educate themselves on the timeline.
"It's also great to have [the NWA] around, especially when Nick Aldis comes around with that giant 10 pounds of gold; you definitely know something's gonna happen and business is about to pick up," Cobb said. "Over the years, I feel like there was a bad stigma with NWA a few years ago and they tried so hard - NWA has a rich history, and every wrestling person should know this history of the NWA because it's lineage. So, to have that company come around and do a little cross-promoting with us. It's not overdone. It's just the right amount, so, this stew that we're cooking? I think it tastes pretty good."
Jeff Cobb will face Matt Taven for the ROH World Heavyweight Championship this Friday at ROH's Best In The World. It can watched via HonorClub or PPV. Cobb's full interview with Wrestling Inc was included as part of Wednesday's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In Cobb's full interview he discusses his ROH World Championship match against Matt Taven at ROH Best In the World, fans who are critical of Matt Taven as ROH champ, his relationship with the fan that Bully Ray confronted, wrestlers being less interested in WWE, feeling listened to by ROH and more.