The TNA/Impact Wrestling family is mourning today one of their trustiest and longest members, Bob Ryder. The internet wrestling pioneer and Impact Wrestling executive Bob Ryder passed away at his home in Nashville following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 64.
Ryder was one of the longest-running employees for the company, if not the longest. He was also a pioneer of the Internet Wrestling Community, hosting the first-ever online WWE chat at WrestleMania 11, running Prodigy Wrestling for the internet service provider, and later founding 1wrestling.com with ECW Original Joey Styles. He would go on to work for WCW, helping with their website and hosting WCW Live with Jeremy Borash. Ryder and Borash were actually the last voices heard on any WCW broadcast on the show they hosted following the final WCW Nitro episode in March 2001.
Ryder fought a long battle with cancer for a number of years, living well beyond the 3 to 6 months he was initially told he had left. Cancer went into remission at one point, but it came back and Ryder had been undergoing weekly chemotherapy. Ryder continued his work for Impact Wrestling from his home in Nashville, while doing chemotherapy. He worked as the Director of Travel Operations in recent years but held other roles with the company.
Every past and present TNA and Impact Wrestling producer, Creative, backstage technician, referee or wrestlers has been paying tribute to Ryder on social media. He helped them, supported them, took care of them, in and out of the ring. To quote Sami Callihan, “He Lived, Breathed, and Slept Impact Wrestling Since Day One.” In this business, the men and women behind the scenes are as important, if not more, than the wrestlers themselves. Ryder had proved it all his life.
Bob would answer his phone at 3am, just to make sure everything was always taken care of.
Absolute stand up human being, and would do anything for anyone.
He Lived, Breathed, and Slept @IMPACTWRESTLING since day 1.
— ₮ⱧɆ ĐⱤ₳₩ (@TheSamiCallihan) November 25, 2020
Impact Wrestling President Ed Nordholm and Executive Vice-President Scott D’Amore put online the following words.
Everyone at IMPACT Wrestling is heartbroken by the passing of Bob Ryder, one of its founders and in many ways the heart and soul of the promotion.
As many fans know, the very idea to create this company was born on Bob’s fishing boat, during a trip off the Gulf Coast in 2001. It is no exaggeration to state IMPACT Wrestling would never have existed without Bob’s inspiration and would not have gone on to entertain millions of fans over two decades without his passion and dedication behind the curtain.
Anyone who remembers Bob on the 1990s Prodigy chats or his role in launching 1wrestling.com or him co-hosting WCW Live! knows few people love pro-wrestling with the passion Bob did.
At IMPACT, we joked that the chair and desk at Bob’s house was IMPACT’s “mobile command center.” Every wrestler and staff member knew that if they didn’t have a place to stay, if they’d missed their flight, if their car had broken down, they could call the command center – Bob’s phone – and he would take care of it. Bob prided himself on that and being available 24/7. Even during his annual Christmas cruises, he’d carry his cell phone and laptop everywhere, so he was available to help even from the middle of the ocean.
Few people love professional wrestling with the passion that Bob did. Wrestling was his life. Since learning the news, we’ve spoken to dozens of his friends across the business and they all have said the same thing; that they’d spoken with Bob just a few days ago.
The last time we saw Bob face to face was a month ago, during BOUND FOR GLORY week in Nashville. Because of the pandemic, Bob was unable to attend the event, but the three of us were able to celebrate his 64th birthday together at a small dinner. Bob talked non-stop about the upcoming matches, how excited he was about the talent and the future of IMPACT.
He also spoke – because he seldom didn’t –about his beloved LSU athletics, particularly football and basketball.
To the end of his life, Bob was a loyal, trusted, hard-working and beloved member of the IMPACT Wrestling family. He was also infuriatingly – and endearingly – stubborn. That stubbornness steeled him in his battle against his illness. It surprised none of us who knew and loved Bob that he outlived his diagnosis by years.
During that entire time, Bob insisted on continuing to contribute to IMPACT. He refused every offer to take time off, or a sabbatical, even after chemotherapy sessions. He wanted, needed to be involved. There are a lot of people who live for pro-wrestling; with Bob it may have been literal.
IMPACT Wrestling will be celebrating Bob’s life in the days and weeks to come. We will think about the best way the honor him and the legacy he left us. For now, we will take a moment to say farewell to a member of our family.
We’ll never forget you, Bob.
There are people that can enter your life and completely change everything. Bob Ryder was that person for me. His courageous, long fight with cancer never kept his spirits down. He was the kind of best friend that comes along once in a lifetime. I will miss him terribly.
— Jeremy Borash (@JeremyBorash) November 25, 2020
Pic courtesy of Impact Wrestling