With stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders across the country, ROH made the decision to go dark during the coronavirus pandemic. ROH commentator Ian Riccaboni discussed the promotion's decision when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast,
"Ring of Honor is taking care of us. They made an immediate decision – a lot of us flew in on March 12 which was the day after [NBA player] Rudy Gobert announced he had coronavirus. Tom Hanks announced he had it. So, the NBA made the decision to postpone and the NHL hadn't gotten there yet. I remember landing and watching Spring Training and within a couple of hours landing, we received official word that the event was off. Saturday was off as well," recalled Riccaboni.
"It didn't matter what it cost – if you needed to get home then you could get home on ROH's dime. They were strongly advising to get home because of the travel uncertainty and because it lowers the risk of spreading…
"Very fortunate that ROH is taking care of us. They made the decision right there to cancel through May and they told us we wouldn't have to worry. From what I understand, they even paid the wrestlers that were scheduled to compete in one and two-off occurrences in April and May. So, my hat's off to them with that decision."
The way that ROH is treating their talent is something that others around the wrestling industry should notice. Riccaboni was asked if ROH's reputation could be affected positively in the eyes of other wrestling talent.
"It is pretty amazing. I never want to cast shadows on anyone else's experiences, so I'll share my own. I've told the story of how my daughter was due the weekend we were supposed to go to Florida in February 2019. ROH let me have off as we were doing 4-5 TV tapings at a time. My daughter did not come that weekend and despite that, I got paid," revealed Riccaboni. "They flew Colt Cabana and my executive producer to my house to Allentown. We cut commentary there. They paid me again. I was supposed to go to Japan and my daughter came the day after or before and they ate the plane ticket. They still paid me."
He noted that the company has always done right by him as they've allowed him to get home early or be home late. Riccaboni said ROH doesn't want to brag about that stuff but they know it's just the right thing to do.
"I think maybe publicly knowing that, there might be greater interest to come and play on our team. I say that cautiously because if you watched ROH in January and February, we were building quite a team," stated Riccaboni. "I'm not saying there's not room for new talent, but I love the team we've got right now. You can't deny the talent out there that just became free agents. But I'm ready to go into battle with the team we've got."
Speaking of those free agents, Riccaboni was asked which of them he'd like to see in ROH.
"I've never called a Mike Bennett match. Some of my first events were when he and Matt [Taven] won the IWP tag titles, and then subsequently, the ROH tag titles. My first live event that I got to call without training wheels was the first one after Mike Bennett [laughs]. It would be really cool to call a Mike Bennett match especially with Maria," said Riccaboni.
He then noted the history Bennet has with ROH and said he would be great in the singles division. Riccaboni also pointed out that there are only a handful of guys that Bennett has wrestled in ROH at the moment as he's never wrestled Dalton Castle and lots of other talent.
"I think [Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins] are two awesome personalities. I think they're equally awesome in wrestling as well. Those would be, hypothetically, interesting folks to see in a ROH ring. I don't want to make any inferences or anything like that and I'm not, but I've never called matches from [Ryder and Hawkins] either," stated Riccaboni.
"I think when things open up it's gonna be an interesting landscape. I think guys like Colt Cabana showed there's no right way to be an independent wrestler. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the folks took the Cody path. Maybe they aren't committed to someone right away and they go six months until they commit somewhere. I've thought about a lot of the wrestlers out there and I hope everyone lands on their feet.
"But I'll just say it was always really fun calling Lio Rush matches. It was always a hope that I would get to call a Kingdom match involving Mike Bennett and Maria. But it would be pretty cool to call something with [Ryder and Hawkins]."
Riccaboni and former ROH owner Cary Silkin have teamed up for a podcast called Last Stop Penn Station. Riccaboni discussed how the two of them ended up being paired up.
"Cary and I got paired up when we realized we had a love for rock 'n' roll," said Riccaboni. "He's a huge Jethro Tull fan and he's seen more Jethro Tull concerts than probably almost anybody."
Riccaboni then revealed that he was named after the three "Ians" in rock including Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. They've had a kinship since and have attended various rock concerts together.
"It's just this friendship where I'm an old soul and love 70s glam metal and Cary is into all of that too. Cary and I have a lot in common despite the age gap. I've always been thankful to Cary for when times get tough in ROH, for making sure that it got into safe hands," stated Riccaboni.
Ian Riccaboni can be heard every week as part of ROH TV. For more information please visit www.ROHWrestling.com. Ian's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.