By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
CBS Sports Local interview with Greg Gilleland
Host: Chuck Carroll
Full interview available at Sports.cbslocal.com
When did the idea to run The Garden first come about? Is this something that you guys had been kicking around for a while? It’s not like it was something that we had in mind for years, but it’s definitely something that we’ve always kind of joked about. The general notion was just that we couldn’t even get in there. You know what I mean? Gary Juster, who used to promote for WCW, and I would always have these conversations. It’s funny because he would say, ‘I guess I’ll never run The Garden in my lifetime.’ It became one of those never say never things. In February, when we were looking for venues in New York, obviously we saw the Hammerstein, with pretty much any show that we bring there. So it almost doesn’t make sense to go there for SuperCard weekend. We began looking at bigger venues and one of them was the theater at Madison Square Garden. And, even that, seems … was smaller than UNO [Lakefront Arena], which we ran last year in New Orleans, and we drew 6,200. So we could run the theater and draw a slightly smaller crowd, and be okay with that. Or we can try to go bigger.”
Did you guys see more of an opportunity then because [WWE] was running more over at the Barclays and other arenas in New York?: “I knew they did everything at Barclays, and they have the outdoor show for WrestleMania. So… there’s Prudential Center [in New Jersey], there’s The Garden, and we had a couple other back-pocket ideas. So, obviously, The Garden’s the best. The location is prime. Now, the Garden comes with a cost, since it’s probably the most expensive venue to run in the country. With that, we knew that, when you go into that, it has to be big. So that was the only factor. We felt pretty confident that presenting this show, and the ability to make history and the ability for the fans to be a part of history would overcome that factor.
Is there any concern that your top guys, Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, won’t be available for that show, given the fact that their deals reportedly expire at the end of the year or shortly thereafter: “Of course, we’re going to do everything that we can to keep them. And we have fair offers and fair plans to retain them. With that said, I don’t think we ever operate in fear. We always operate with solid backup plans. And we have to always think about what if this, and what if that. If they go to the WWE, and they very much deserve that opportunity, we’ll continue to offer the best wrestling that we can. There’s other talent out there. And we will continue as our brand has for the past however many years. We’ve lost top guys before… Am I gonna make an aggressive attempt to retain them and sign longer-term agreements? Of course we are. But, at the end of the day, the ROH brand is about the ROH experience, and that’s how we continue to grow.”
Powell’s POV: There’s no telling when ROH COO Joe Koff will opt to retire, but Gilleland is considered the top candidate to be his successor whenever the day comes. It’s refreshing to read Gilleland address the obvious possibility that the company may not be able to re-sign Cody and the Bucks or continue to have access to Omega. Gilleland approached this perfectly by making it clear that the company will do their best to re-sign the Cody and the Bucks without raising fan expectations. He did not put any public pressure on the trio, and he even acknowledged the possibility that they could sign with WWE once their deals expire at the end of the year. Meanwhile, the MSG event is off to a huge start with just the pre-sale and there’s a strong chance the WrestleMania weekend event will sell out when tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday.
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