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BOB RYDER PASSES AWAY

By Mike Johnson on 2020-11-25 12:29:00

PWInsider.com is extremely saddened to report that Impact Wrestling executive Bob Ryder passed away today following a long battle with cancer.  Ryder had been battling cancer for a number of years, living well beyond the 3-6 months he was initially told he had left.  At one point, Ryder had beaten the cancer into remission, but it returned and he had been undergoing chemotherapy weekly while still maintaining his Impact duties from his home in Nashville, TN.  Ryder was found this morning.  He had last been in contact with Impact last night we are told.

Ryder was only 64 years old.

There will be a statement forthcoming from Impact Wrestling.

Ryder was a true pioneer in the emerging Internet era of wrestling in the late 1990s.  A lifelong fan who owned a travel agency in Baton Rouge, LA, Ryder found himself volunteering to head up the professional wrestling area of one of the two dominant online service providers of the era, Prodigy.  Ryder began reaching out to personalities in the business for interviews and hosted the first-ever online WWF chat at Wrestlemania 11 in Hartford, CT with Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash.  He would also regularly travel to live events for WCW and ECW, providing live coverage for Prodigy chat rooms, even paying to have a specific phone line installed in the ECW Arena for those events to insure he would be able to get online in the jurassic days before Wifi.

In his role as the head of Prodigy Wrestling and later as the founder of 1Wrestling.com, Ryder would break a number of major stories at the time, including Bret Hart's decision to leave the WWF for WCW.  As the owner of 1Wrestling, Ryder would often write editorials that would rankle those in positions of management in professional wrestling.  His infamous RAW IS PORN column following an angle where Mark Henry would have a run-in with a transvestite friend of Chyna, drove certain people in Titan Tower at the time absolutely crazy.

Ryder parlayed his Internet reporting into a position for World Championship Wrestling, working on their website and hosting WCW Live with Jeremy Borash nearly nightly with broadcasts online before and after Nitro and Thunder.  Borash and Ryder were actually the final voices heard on any WCW broadcast as they closed out after the final Nitro in March 2001. 

Ryder also purchased the original domain for the ECWWrestling.com website when Paul Heyman didn't have the time or ability to put a website together, with our own Dave Scherer overseeing the day to day of the site.

Ryder was extremely vocal privately about his concern that the deaths of WCW and ECW would lead to a monopoly on pro wrestling, leading to his suggestion during a fishing trip with Jeff and Jerry Jarrett that the timing was right for another company, leading to the June 2002 launch of TNA Wrestling, now known as Impact Wrestling.  Ryder was the first and probably the longest-running employee for the company, handling contractual negotiations with talents, timing out shows, handling travel and a 1,001 other hats that were required of him.  Even after he became ill, Ryder still worked on the road until his health didn't allow that and worked all the way to his passing from home.

Bob truly loved Impact Wrestling and knew where all the bodies were "buried" so to speak.  He did everything he could to help keep that company running, including once getting the entire talent roster to convert their contracts, personally doing it over the course of one afternoon at a TV taping in 2015, in order to keep the company financially viable.  Over that afternoon, only one talent refused, and that talent remained to finish out their storylines before departing. 

The entire trajectory of professional wrestling on the Internet would have been completely different without Bob Ryder.  He once planned to write a book about his time in the business titled "How I Killed KayFabe" but later pulled back on the idea and stopped writing, privately noting that he didn't want to anger and upset those he had worked with around wrestling by telling stories as he remembered them, stories that likely will never be revealed.

Outside of pro wrestling, Ryder was a fanatic for LSU football, loved Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica and Broadway musicals.

PWInsider.com would like to express our deepest condolences to Bob Ryder's brother, his friends and everyone who read his work. 

Without Bob, there certainly would not be a PWInsider.com right now and we will mourn his passing.

If you enjoy PWInsider.com you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more by clicking here!

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