This Friday and Saturday night, Ring of Honor will be returning to Philadelphia for the first time in almost two years, running two consecutive nights of Glory By Honor live from the world famous 2300 Arena.
Streamed exclusively for HonorClub, the company’s streaming service, Glory By Honor Nights 1 and 2 will undoubtedly be two of the most anticipated professional wrestling events in Philadelphia in a long time. [To check out HonorClub, click here].
Night 1 will be headlined by a ROH World Championship match, with Flip Gordon challenging the current champion, Bandido; Night 2 will see the main event settled inside a steel cage, billed “The Last Stand,” as Matt Taven and Righteous leader Vincent look to end the rivalry once and for all.
The voice of Ring of Honor – and big Philly sports fan – Ian Riccaboni, joined myself and Vaughn Johnson on the Straight Shooters Podcast to discuss Glory By Honor and the anticipation leading up to this weekend’s two-night event.
“We’re on pace to break our previous pre-pandemic number in Philadelphia,” Riccaboni told the Straight Shooters podcast on the Blue Wire Podcast Network. “We really want to thank all the wrestling fans who have given us a shot. We know providing wrestling in an empty arena isn’t most fans’ cup of tea. It forced Caprice Coleman and I to become better broadcasters, to become more descriptive and tell better stories, to become more concise, but at the same time, there is nothing like the rush of the crowd.”
While being in a bubble during a pandemic, it could really change the way people deal with things. Ring of Honor was in a bubble for a while in the Baltimore suburbs, and with restrictions being lifted as more and more people became vaccinated, fans are back. Riccaboni had his PlayStation and tablet during his times in the bubble, and that basically helped him see it through. He thinks the protocols in place, coupled with the bubble, was worth it.
“It’s worth it for the wrestling,” Riccaboni explained. “It kept everyone safe. We were the only company I believe to have no outbreaks at a taping. We helped folks discover they were positive before they were coming to the tapings. We had a strict contact-tracing protocol. There was a few guys that were big-name guys that were held off events and held off eight weeks worth of TV because they were honest about their contact tracing and who they saw and if they were proximity to somebody with COVID and so on. It took everybody’s honesty and forthrightness to maintain safety and make sure everybody was safe.”
“The best part is when you get to see everybody. And I had the benefit of being an announcer – so the COVID protocol was super strict – but I could see everybody very, very briefly before the matches. Very, very briefly after the matches if Caprice and I could keep our distance from the announcing position. It was cool for us because we felt like the cool kids. We got to see everybody that we missed and everybody that we hadn’t seen in a couple of months. It was like a reunion.”
As for what sets a wrestling audience apart from a live sports audience, Riccaboni noted there’s just something different when it comes to professional wrestling vs. sports.
“There’s something kind of special and unique about wrestling as a sport and art. It provides instant feedback unlike many sports … with wrestling, there’s literally a million things that can happen.”
“That’s what’s really cool about wrestling. It’s that ability to express yourself in that type of art form, and really be innovative at the drop of a hat. And that’s what makes it so exciting as a live event. For the fans to be able to respond in real time, and to give the wrestlers that, I think we all took that for granted.”
Friday night at the 2300 Arena, that reaction to the reaction will be on full display for Ring of Honor. You can purchase tickets to Night 1 here, Night 2 here.
On the podcast, Riccaboni also talked about life through the COVID-19 pandemic, what wrestlers tried differently during that time, his career path, and much more.
You can listen to the entire podcast below:
You can follow Nick Piccone on Twitter (@piccone_) and e-mail him at [email protected]. You can read his pro wrestling articles on PhillyVoice here.
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