Ian Riccaboni  Mark Briscoe
Ring of Honor announcer Ian Riccaboni with wrestler Mark Briscoe. RING OF HONOR/Howard Kernats

It was only five months ago that Ring of Honor named Ian Riccaboni as their lead announcer. At just 30 years old, he took over the duties from Kevin Kelly, who spent seven years with the company and is now working for New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

Now the voice of one of the most popular wrestling promotions in the world, Riccaboni wasn’t expecting to be in this position this soon.

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“At first I thought it was almost a joke,” Riccaboni told International Business Times, regarding the moment he found out he’d become ROH’s No.1 broadcaster.

“I thought in maybe five years, 10 years, whenever. It’s on Kevin’s time. So when I got that call, I almost didn’t believe it was real. It took me by surprise because in my head I always try and formulate some kind of plan or some kind of goal, and I eventually saw myself as the lead Ring of Honor announcer. But at the time I got the call I just turned 30, and in my head maybe I didn't expect it this quick.”

Riccaboni, of course, said yes immediately, realizing his childhood dream. Growing up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which he describes as a “hotbed for wrestling,” Riccaboni wanted to be the guy that called the action from outside of the ring instead of the one performing inside of it.

His journey to become the voice of ROH began four years ago at the Monster Factory in Paulsboro, New Jersey. Working for Phillies Nation TV, Riccaboni was there to interview the Blue Meanie, a fan of the team. His love of pro wrestling forced him to inquire about how to get into the business.

After about a year of doing interviews for the Monster Factory, Riccaboni met Kevin Kelly, who came by to scout some of the wrestlers. He went on to join Ring of Honor with the chance to call some non-televised matches and learn from Kelly.

Less than three years later, Riccaboni was given the No.1 spot.

“I’m really gonna have to bring my A-game because there’s only maybe a dozen or so in the world that lead televised wrestling broadcasts,” Riccaboni told IBT. “So it’s one of those things where it was so easy to agree to it because it has always been my dream to be a professional wrestling broadcaster. To be offered it after two and a half years of doing dark matches and Women of Honor matches and Future of Honor matches and DVD events, it was really something else.”

As the voice of ROH, Riccaboni has to be familiar with wrestlers from all over the world. Wrestlers from New Japan Pro-Wrestling and CMLL in Mexico often appear on ROH TV. All three promotions and Revolution Pro Wrestling will come together for the War of the Worlds UK Tour from Aug. 18-20.

“I think the easiest thing is to have a good relationship with the promoters and the producer to see who’s coming in so I can start watching their matches ahead of time. I’ll try to watch five to 10 matches to see what folks do, maybe hear the back stories told by somebody else and really try and absorb that,” Riccaboni said.

“I look online, I try and pick out names of finishing moves and things. I think the important part is to go up to the guys and introduce yourself and ask what they’re looking to do in the match. Everybody’s usually in the building a few hours before the event starts, so I make sure to go around and check in with folks, especially those that I haven’t met, to ask if there’s anything they might do that I haven’t seen before or that I might just not know that name of.”

It isn’t much of a leap to say that Riccaboni is calling the matches of wrestlers that will eventually become superstars. Some might even go on to become household names, considering the success that so many ROH performers have gone on to have.

Wrestlers like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk first gained recognition in ROH before moving on to worldwide recognition in WWE. Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe are some of the top names in WWE today, but they got their start in ROH.

Having gotten to know the members of the Ring of Honor roster, Riccaboni isn’t surprised that the promotion has produced so many stars.

“(It's) the ability to be creative, to come into your own, wrestle your style of match and to really have a somewhat unrivaled and unbridled opportunity to just go out and have a great wrestling match and to do the things that go along with it,” said Riccaboni. “You can look up and down the list of WWE Champions that have been Ring of Honor Champions, and I think it says a lot about what we’re doing. I think it says a lot about our system. We recruit good wrestlers, but we also recruit good people.”

There’s no shortage of ROH wrestlers that are almost certain to go on to do even bigger things in the world of professional wrestling. Marty Scurll has yet to win the Ring of Honor World Championship, but the newest member of Bullet Club might be the most entertaining performer in the promotion. He arguably gets the loudest crowd reaction when his music hits, and at 29 years old, “The Villain” is only getting started.

Current ROH World Champion “The American Nightmare” Cody, formerly Cody Rhodes, has taken the wrestling world by storm since leaving WWE. The Young Bucks only had a cup of coffee with WWE years ago, but they’ve become the world’s best tag team by wrestling in ROH, among other promotions.

For Riccaboni, another ROH wrestler that has never been the company’s world champion stands out as someone that could go on to become a major star.

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“My list starts with Dalton Castle. He’s a guy that on any given night that can become the world champion, and I think he’d be a great world champion.

“There’s something magnetic and something electric about Dalton Castle that’s very hard to duplicate and very hard to be matched. I think really only The Young Bucks, Marty Scurll and Cody right now have that. So I think that says a lot about Dalton Castle.”

Riccaboni will be throwing out the first pitch at the Charlotte Knights’ minor-league baseball game Friday with Caprice Coleman before Saturday’s international TV taping in Concord, North Carolina.