Riccaboni shared the news during an interview with Lehigh Valley With Love. He noted that, to him, the show will be a tryout, but he’ll be calling the action for the main card and for the matches that will air on NJPW STRONG.
“I will be starting with New Japan Pro Wrestling on January the 15,” said Riccaboni. “I’ll be heading to Seattle, Washington and I’ve interpreted this as a tryout. I’m calling the main card, I’m calling what will air on New Japan STRONG. But to me, it’s kind of a unique experience. I’ve worked with New Japan, they’ve been Ring of Honor’s partners for years and years and years, the whole time I was there at Ring of Honor. But this isn’t ROH, this is the Lion Mark. This is, I’m going to somebody else’s house and I’m doing something new.”
“Even though I’ve been invited, even though I’ve been told that there may be more, I’m going to do my best, I’m taking this as a tryout. I watched 41 of the 69 currently existing New Japan STRONG episodes. I’ve rewatched them so far, once I found out. I intend to get to 69 for January 14 before I get on the plane to Seattle. By then, I think there will be 74 total so I intend to be through all 74, but I’m super excited.”
Riccaboni also noted that NJPW commentator Kevin Kelly told him that he intends to be in Japan, pandemic permitting, for the next several months so he can call the action for NJPW’s shows over there. As a result, he wouldn’t be available for the stateside NJPW STRONG shows, so Riccaboni can easily fill in for him.
ROH will be going on hiatus in the first quarter of 2022, and it reportedly won’t renew the contracts of its talent roster at the end of 2021. The promotion has announced that it will return with a “reimagined” vision and a new era in April 2022. Riccaboni noted the uncertain future surrounding ROH, and he stated that there’s a collective belief that the promotion will return. If/when it does, he expressed his belief that he’ll be able to fulfill his roles with both ROH and NJPW STRONG because the schedules line up.
“We think we’re coming back,” said Riccaboni. “That’s the nice thing about the New Japan thing is, I likely can fit both together. And you know, in the political waters, you know, Ring of Honor and New Japan have always been good, so if Ring of Honor does come back, the schedule should fit nicely with New Japan.”
Time will tell what ROH’s future holds, but Riccaboni made it clear that he’s excited about this new opportunity with NJPW.
Update: Riccaboni subsequently announced the news in a tweet and mentioned some of his other upcoming projects, inclluding a TV show about the history of professional wrestling in Lehigh Valley.
New Japan has always been a treasured partner of ROH and I am thrilled for this opportunity. https://t.co/1TZ0cZuiv5
— Ian Riccaboni (@IanRiccaboni) December 12, 2021
The full interview is available here: