Ian Riccaboni recently spoke with WrestleZone’s Bill Pritchard and Colin Tessier about his ongoing fundraiser to benefit the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in his hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania. ROH’s lead announcer is donating all profits from his Cameo account between January 13 and April 1 (Riccaboni’s and his wife’s birthday) to Bradbury-Sullivan and he took some time to explain what the cause meant to him. Now in his third year of raising money for the community center (he also sold Pride-themed shirts and a Micro Brawler in the first and second year) Riccaboni explained how a review of his Cameo account from none other than Jim Cornette gave him the idea to use his voice to raise money for LGBTQ advocacy and awareness.
“Jim Cornette gave me a ton of free publicity. I’ve known Jim for years and I’ve never asked him for anything, other than some advice here or there or when we called the [NWA] Crockett Cup together, just [feedback on his commentary]. Jim and I have been friendly for a minute and I know he’s controversial and he’s said some things that I wouldn’t have personally said. But he is somebody that also, despite some of his words, has said very positive things about inclusion and equality and things like that over the years, whether it be racial equality or sexual orientation equality. And for him to say that and for him to review my Cameo on one of their podcasts and say that ‘at $10 it was a bargain, it’s the most genuine Cameo you’re gonna get, he puts his heart and his soul into it,’ it was really nice. And after that, I got maybe six Cameos and previous to that,” Riccaboni explained. “I’d probably done about 30 total over the year or so I had been on Cameo. So when you get 20% of your previous lifetime high before that, something must be going right.”
Riccaboni explained that he and his wife have been extremely fortunate through the pandemic in the fact that they’ve maintained employment and hadn’t had to worry about anything during the pandemic, so he saw this as a way to pay it forward. Riccaboni wanted to extend his efforts locally, and when Cornette’s “review” gave him more publicity, he decided that someone else could really benefit from the money it generated.
“There’s just been a lot of fun ones, and we’re almost halfway to the goal. The goal is 67, and 67 puts us a little over $500, $500 is the monetary goal to reach and I’m hoping that we’ll get there. We’ve had a lot of very positive early turnout in the first month, and I think we’ve got a good shot to get to 67.”
He's raising money for a good cause if you want to chip in. All money made on Cameo until April 1 will go to Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA.https://t.co/kcZAoCqybN pic.twitter.com/78RyCLeNrz
— WrestleZone (@WRESTLEZONEcom) January 14, 2021
Riccaboni is also back in the booth for Ring Of Honor, calling a show that looks much different than it did a year ago. ROH has set up shop at the UMBC Event Center in Baltimore for their closed-set television tapings. While the show might look different without fans, the format and presentation has also changed a bit. Riccaboni talked about some of the changes involved with the relaunch, addressing some past criticisms of the roster transitions, but said one thing that has improved is that fans are really getting the chance to learn about talent on a new level.
Riccaboni also said it’s easy to spot fans that don’t actively watch ROH, and highlighted two “tells” that usually come up—if they claim the company doesn’t have characters right now, and they ask why Shane Taylor is main eventing. He praised Taylor as one of the most underrated wrestlers today and said the current format has been a benefit to Taylor and many other names that might not have been highlighted as well before the pandemic. Noting that they have a crew that’s pushing 100 people in total, Riccaboni gave credit to Delirious and director Mark Brown as just two of the several names that have been the catalyst for ROH’s approach to the relaunch.
“Our executive producer, I don’t think it’s any secret, is Delirious. And he was somebody that had always liked UFC, and had always really enjoyed everything UFC 1 to present day. And I think you see a lot of that influence in our product right now. If you watch the NFL in particular, if you watch just an hour of pre-game, where they go through and they interview the quarterback, they’ll interview the head coach, they’ll interview maybe a rookie who’s playing in his hometown for the first time, there’s these very distinct elements that help enhance and get you connected to what you’re watching. So for me right now,” Riccaboni said, “taking those elements and getting to know the wrestlers that are wrestling, not just from a quick dump from Caprice and I, ‘Well this guy’s in his seventh match and oh my god, first time they’re fighting,’ and that’s all you hear about him, for me, it’s more powerful to hear them in their own words to describe what this match means to them and what their opponent means to them. And it’s really helped establish wrestlers in Ring of Honor.”
“And some of the criticism over the years was, you know, Ring of Honor may have had difficulty creating or establishing new wrestlers or new stars, and when they hit a certain point, they’d go to WWE or they’d go off to a different direction. But this kind of reset and relaunch has really been able for fans to get to know Tracy Williams, who was an MVP in 2019, but honestly, he really only had one feud, one concrete feud. Now, in 2020 and 2021, he’s got his hands in everything, and you know who Tracy Williams is, and you know his moves and you know what he’s going to try and beat you with. Same thing with Jonathan Gresham. Jonathan Gresham made his Ring of Honor debut in 2011, and he wrestled Kyle O’Reilly, it was a great match. But [it] really wasn’t until ‘16-‘17 when you really got to know him a little bit, and Gresham never really had a feud, other than maybe with Jay Lethal. And then from here, we get to know what Jonathan Gresham’s wanted to do this whole time. He’s wanted to come and wrestle,” Riccaboni explained, “he wants to wrestle the best wrestlers, but wrestle them under his own rules and bring back the Pure Championship. And the list just goes on and on of these great wrestlers that we’re getting to know, in large part, due to the format that we have now with television.”
Check out the full interview at the top of the post where Riccaboni also talks about his favorite ROH matches to call (and some that he wished he was involved in), the 19th anniversary show coming after the year that has been, his Micro Brawlers obsession and much more. You can also check out Ian’s Cameo account at this link and catch him weekly on ROH TV on FITE and in syndication.