2017 is a year full of changes in ROH. In addition to combatants, new critics have replaced the former couple, Kevin Kelly and Steve Collino. Every week at the Colt Cabana company, Ian Riccaboni (Allentown, 1987) conveys ROH’s fighting and events. He may have climbed as chief commentator in February this year, but since then Ian’s growth as “La Voz de ROH (The Voice of ROH)” is incredible.
Riccaboni has a bachelor’s degree in media and communications from New York University and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2014, Ian started training at a famous Morister Factory under the guidance of the famous Blue World Order Member, Blue Meety. So he learned work routines used in WWE and met Kevin Kelly. He soon noticed him and put him in touch with ROH.
Unlike many professional wrestlers, Ian Riccaboni never dreamed of a pro-wrestler, but since he was very young he was clear to comment himself.
“When I was growing up, when I was five or six years old, I enjoyed guys like Vince McMahon It was great to discover that someone was paid to see and talk about wrestling, and when I saw it, I thought that was the best job in the world, to be paid to watch wrestling, to be there and to travel all over the world. I thought about it very soon, but it has been something that I have always liked.”
“In high school I was always an athlete, I played baseball, balances and other sports, even in college.” As a young man I went to a Wild Samoan seminar with my friends, they always told me I had the size and shape to be a fighter, but as soon as I took a couple of bumps I discovered that I did not have enough tolerance for the pain, I knew it was not for me and that I should have followed my first instinct to be a commentator, I liked to try it, it’s something intense and entertaining It’s dangerous, every time you get on there, for me, comment was always the way, despite my athletic skills in college. ”
ROH is accustomed to hire wrestlers through their camps/seminars. Some fans think that the company should look beyond this, why do you think that ROH gives priority to wrestlers who go to their seminars on the rest? Is it a good system?
“There is a great response to this, it’s something that Kevin Kelly always said: In the environment of the camp we can see how people react to certain situations: if a combat does not go as planned, how does it react to a situation in which it must improvise? or if you say something halfway through the fight. we can see how they deal with adversity, how they respond to positive stimuli. we can see how they really are much better than in any Youtube video or DVD.
for us, the important thing is to know personbefore reaching any kind of agreement. ROH right now has a large number of first level athletes, always try to have the best fighters in the world. We need to know that the people who come are good people inside and outside the ring. We need to see how they work in all situations and if they can work with people who have more or less experience.
The tryouts are much more than fighting or making promos, everything is based on the environment, meet the 35-40 guys who come and, in that environment, see the best of each one. This does not mean that we do not look at talents outside of here. There are people that we have recommended to them to come to our camps, we were interested in them, but we need to see them in person and know how they worked, we are always transparent with this.
From the perspective of ROH there are only ways to access the companyHave a great international reputation, like Joe Ryan who returned last week, or access through the camps so we can meet you. ROH has become an alternative for independent fighters, they can live from this without going to WWE. As an alternative and with limited spaces, we need to know who we hire, not only from the strict point of wrestling, but from the personal point. I know that there are many fighters that fans want to see in ROH, some can not come for contractual reasons and others simply we could not see them in person. In short, the camps allow us to get to know people in depth beyond wrestling. “
During his apprenticeship, Ian Riccaboni established a great friendship withSteve Corino and Kevin Kelly . In the case of Corino, the current WWE coach advised him to be the first Ian Riccaboni, and not the next Jim Ross or Steve Corino. Kelly, for his part, was always a great follower of his work. “He decided to watch my complete matches, without anyone asking, just to give me feedback and explain what things I should improve,” Ricabonni said.
How did you react when they told you that you would be the main commentator of ROH?
“First I was surprised, Kevin had talked to me about it some time, but I thought it would be very long term, he gave me the discrusión of ‘ The Lion King’He told me that one day, everything we saw would be mine. I thought he was joking. I was surprised when they both left the company. I heard the news while preparing a flight to Chicago. I picked up the phone and it was Delirious. It was something I never would have imagined. I had long-term plans with ROH, for five or ten years, to work in small events and so on, but I did not expect this kind of news.”
Do you expect to spend a lot of time in your current position and become “La Voz de ROH” like so many others did before you?
“That was one of the most serious things I thought, I said yes without thinking, but then I thought ‘What did I just do?’ (laughs) You only have to see the great guys who have done this, Kevin Kelly, and before that someone I admire a lot, Lenny Leonard, I realized that I would have to improve a lot in a very short time . My hope is that, when you put ROH, until Colt Cabana wants to do it, it’s Colt, Ian and the fans,
I like to compare it with music, Elvis Costello always managed to be stable and keep his essence making commercial music and music more. I would rather be an Elvis Costello with a brand that I truly believe in, like ROH, to be another person in a much bigger company. Being selfish, I would love for fans, in the long term, to remember that they had a special relationship with Colt and me.
I hope that my relationship with fans continues to grow no matter how big the company grows. I know that ROH will keep the spirit. The more you grow, the more difficult it becomes, but I trust it because we have people who are like that. Guys like the Young Bucks, The Kingdom, younger people, they all have that spirit. I’d love for Colt and I to end up becoming a beloved couple like Kevin and Steve or Leonard and Prazak.”
A sector of fans, the most classic, say that ROH has changed a lot since its inception. We can not deny that the product of ROH has evolved over time, do you think it was necessary or do you see it as something negative?
“I think it’s great. Just to see people like the young bucks and the rest of our staff who have family and children. With our current position we can offer them something they can not get work elsewhere. We offer comfortable calendars and We can pay them a competitive salary, in addition, the fighters feel that their deceitions and creative suggestions are transferred in their characters and the product in general.
I understand that the magic of the beginnings may have changed, but ROH has evolved into something that is sustainable, something accessible to more fans than ever and something that maintains part of that original essence. The fact that you have to work two weekends a month, or even one, is something very tempting for the workers, it allows them to spend the whole week with their families. They just have to fight, no need to have another full-time job part to make ends meet. ROH has become a destination where fighters can go, have freedom, receive a great salary and spend time with their families.
In addition, we have relationships with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), World Wrestling Council (CMLL) and Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW). Evolution was somethingnecessary to attract more people and fighters. We are now a pay-per-view (PPV) television product. For me, the change and evolution has been positive. In 2015 they said that we needed lights and in 2016 the production changed. In 2016 they asked for a decent stage , and now we have one that looks great on television. They asked for more televisions and now we broadcast in more channels than ever and in countries like France, Portugal or India.
For me, growing is improving production, offering better contracts and being a destination to work. I think it is a perfect place for people with families to earn a living and for young people to enjoy stability. All these changes have been very positive. Other companies grow too fast, we, thanks to Sinclair, are making it slow and with secure decisions. We have never made decisions that put the company at risk to the point of closing it. This is something that many companies have done over the years. I really appreciate the slow growth and head of our audience and our company. “
Part of this growth is due to the influence of Bullet Club. Mr. Ian says that ROH is a “place where ideas are welcome” and that it is great to cooperate with creative people like Young Bucks. He admitted that things like YouTube Being The Elite are too big to be useful for ignoring. Despite all, for the commentators, the determinants are Cody Rhodes:
“Cody is a wardrobe figure who takes everything he does seriously, be it audiences, PPV sales or assists. Be a champion, like to have everything under control, compare your use of social networks with that of any wrestler of WWE, ROH or NJPW, nobody promotes live events on social networks like him, he’s a guy who knows what’s worthand that he knows his level of influence. He is not afraid to promote events in which he is a part and in which he truly believes. With these guys, the Bullet Club, Young Bucks, Cody, I am very excited, especially now that they announced the event for 10,000 people. If anyone can do it they are. ”
What do you think about this great event You know if ROH is working to be part of it?
” Of course. I hope it is something in conjunction with ROH. It would be a great opportunity and a great achievement. ROH can help them to use NJPW or CMLL talent, if they are interested in it. These are hypotheses, because I do not know the details. I know that ROH wants to be part of this , that there is interest in the company and that there have been conversations between them.
There is very little risk to ROH if the Bullet Club is the one that finances it in full. This has the potential to be something very special that we have never seen. I think ROH recognizes the value of this. I hope to be part of it and that ROH will join. It has all the pieces to end up being something incredible.”
ROH will be the most profitable of its history closed in 2017. In 2018, the event has already been announced in a large pavilion. We launched a content platform based on our own demand, and collaboration with Chris Jericho Riccaboni is very excited. I am convinced that fans will play a very important role in this growth in this project.
“As ROH continues to grow, the experience with the fans and our way of interacting with them will continue to grow, ROH knows that it has an incredible opportunity to bring the stars closer to the fans, I know we have the opportunity to make the event with the greatest Attendance of our history with the next Supercard of Honor, I’m sure we will beat the record and I like to think that all the tickets will be sold,
Cody also mentioned that ROH will reach new markets, I can not say anything, but it is a reality and fans will be able to enjoy ROH in new cities, I think 2018 will be the year for new guys to gain prominence, you are starting to see it now at the end of 2017 and it will continue like this in 2018.
And most importantly, International relations will continue to be as strong as they have been. The ROH Championship will be defended in RevPro before Final Battle this week. These types of relationships help us to make incredible tours, like War of the Worlds UK. Those of CMLL and NJPW allow our fighters to be great in other countries. These relationships allow ROH to be a global product and for the four parties to benefit. “
Next week is celebrated Final Battle, the most important event of the year. This will be your first opportunity to narrate it live. The Hammerstein Ballroom sold all its tickets weeks ago, how do you feel for such a special date?
“Oh my god, this is something I always dreamed of doing, even though it sounds crazy, I always had a mental list of things I wanted to get as a commentator, one of which was to travel to the UK and I was able to do it and I am grateful. The main commentator of ROH and I have also achieved it Final Battle is up there as one of my biggest goals commenting.
I have always lived in the New York area. I have heard many years as ROH came to the city, but as a young man, I did not have enough money to see it live. The emtradas were cheap, but my economy was not very good. At that time, I was passing near Hammerstein and I thought it would be great to see wrestling in there. As a person who has always lived in New York, having this opportunity is something indescribable. I’ve been preparing for this all my life and I hope to do the best job of my career that night with Colt Cabana.
Final Battle is, every year, our biggest event. This occasion will not be different. Cody vs. Dalton Castle, Lethal vs. Scurll, Best Friends vs. Machine Guns, Taven vs. Ospreay, someone who is having a great year. Titan will team up with Dragon Lee and Flip Gordon to face the Hung Bucks … Ugh, I’m just excited to mention it (laughs).
I’m sure what a magical night will be . It’s something I’ve been waiting for since February. One of my goals was to do my job well in a PPV. The opportunity came on the 15th Anniversary. From there, my goal has been to improve more and more to keep my contract. And now I have a contract and the opportunity to narrate Final Battle. You have to go from day to day, week to week and month to month, but this date takes months marked on my calendar. I am very grateful and convinced that it will be one of the biggest nights in the history of ROH “
In order to finish the interview, Ian Riccaboni took time to thank the fans for all their support on his dreams and fighting, more important to Ian is that the connection between the people and ROH is eternal That is:
“I am very grateful for all the messages I have received from fans, good and bad. I love that people have the confidence to express their thoughts on this transition in the comments table. You like what we do or prefer what you did before, I appreciate that you gave us an opportunity and that you give usfeedback .
Know that we listen to you, really. Colt and I hope to use our talent in the best way to offer you the best product. With all those messages we know that you are excited about the project. We had to replace a very charismatic couple like Kevin and Steve. In my case, Colt is something like my older brother. We will offer different things, but some aspects will remain the same. Now we have become travel companions and friends. It’s great to have such a talented person by my side to learn from day to day. “