As noted earlier this week, the planned ROH show at Madison Square Garden is off after WWE made a call to try and get the show pulled. The plan was for ROH to run on the night before WrestleMania. The call to MSG management was made by a high ranking official, but it was not Vince McMahon.
WWE immediately went to work last week to stop the show once they heard about ROH’s intentions to run in MSG. There was an agreement in place between ROH and MSG, but the story is that the contract had not been signed. By late last week, ROH had been contacting other arenas in the New York City area about running their show, but Sinclair was said to be furious, and they have explored legal options. MSG feels that they could legally pull the date since the contract was not signed yet but Sinclair believes otherwise.
Reportedly, sources close to the situation told Dave Meltzer that this could turn into an ugly legal fight. Keep in mind that Sinclair Broadcasting, ROH’s parent company, has more money than WWE, so they have the resources to fight WWE in court if they choose to.
WWE has had a lock on Madison Square Garden for decades. WCW tried to run in the 1990’s, but WWE was always able to shut them out, primarily because they would regularly run shows there. However, MSG has been more open to allowing other wrestling companies to run there because WWE only runs that venue a couple of times per year. WWE’s televised events in the New York City area take place at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center because it’s far more cost-effective.
What is interesting here is that Sinclair Broadcasting owns 43 FOX affiliates in the United States and Smackdown is rumoured to move to that network in October of 2019. Local affiliates do have the right to air their own programming and preempt FOX programming. For example, the local affiliate in Miami preempts the UFC on FOX two-hour pre-show.
Sir Mitch Says: Blocking ROH from running a show was an act of pure pettiness on Vince McMahon’s part and I don’t blame ROH or Sinclair for being upset enough to explore their legal options! However, I doubt any sort of long-term legal battle will break out between the parties involved nor do I believe all this will affect any potential TV deals for WWE.