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EXCLUSIVE: RING OF HONOR LOSES MADISON SQUARE GARDEN DEBUT DATE (UPDATED)

By Mike Johnson on 2018-06-19 11:39:00

Ring of Honor has lost its debut event at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

During an interview with ROH Chief Operating Officer Joe Koff this morning to promote the 6/29 Best in the World PPV, I asked Koff about the pending debut for ROH in MSG.  Koff responded:

"You know, I’m going to tell you Mike because you are asking.  I’m not going to discuss beyond this statement because I am not going to litigate this in the press.  We had a deal with [Madison Square] Garden and they then told us they were backing out after communications from the WWE.  We are not able to get any other dates in any kind of discussion.  I’m expecting that our lawyers will be contacting all the parties involved and the best we can hope is that we can find a resolution, so we can bring the kind of energy and excitement that ROH and our partner New Japan to a bigger audience and to bigger arenas and to the fans of New York City."

Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Chris Ripley revealed in an interview with The Baltimore Business Journal on 6/12 that ROH had secured a date with Madison Square Garden and will debut in the legendary arena in 2019.    Ripley did not reveal the exact date and referred to the move as part of a strategy to move ROH, which Sinclair has owned since May 2011, to bigger venues.  The belief among many is that the date would have fallen on Wrestlemania 35 week in April 2019, something ROH never confirmed officially.

Today, when asked if there was even a possibility of a date still on the books with MSG, Koff responded, “There is no date and the discussion is going to end here on that.”

As previously noted on PWInsider.com, the Garden has been reaching out to other wrestling companies as WWE has not been running at the venue consistently, choosing instead to run the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  WWE is running all of their Wrestlemania 35 week events at Barclays, which has been in a promotional war with MSG over touring acts since the Brooklyn venue opened in 2012.

Lucha libre promotion AAA out of Mexico had also secured several dates for The Garden for the fall of 2018.   There is no word yet whether AAA's potential dates have been canceled by the Garden as well.

If any promotion does end up running Madison Square Garden, they will become the first pro wrestling company to run the legendary "Mecca of sports-entertainment" outside of the McMahon Family dating back to 1961, when Vince McMahon’s father, Vincent J. McMahon took over running pro wrestling in the Garden.  The McMahon-MSG relationship dates back, however to 1925 when Vince McMahon's grandfather Roderick “Jess” McMahon became the matchmaker for both professional wrestling and boxing in the venue.   Both Vince McMahon and his father Vincent J. have been inducted into the Garden's "Walk of Fame."

While WCW, AAA and even the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling ran the adjacent Theater in the MSG complex, no promotion outside of WWE has been able to book a date in the 20,789-seat Garden.

WWE returns to Madison Square Garden, which used to be their home base arena, on 7/7 featuring first appearance of The Undertaker in MSG since September 2010 and the WWE MSG debut of former UFC Bantamweight Champ Ronda Rousey.

When contacted by PWInsider.com, WWE declined to comment.

The entire Joe Koff interview will be available for PWInsider.com Elite subscribers.  You can subscribe by clicking here.

Updated 1:54 PM EST to note WWE has declined to comment.

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