We must all know someone like Bob Ryder, someone who is more or less an upstanding citizen, obeys the law, loves children and animals, is kind and gentle and wouldn’t harm a fly; and yet we hate him anyway, because in person he’s an insufferable prick. Ashley knew a guy like that at her old job: Jason, her fellow technical writer, father of three (soon to be four), recently converted and thus absurdly devoted Catholic, buyer of all things gluten-free, human irritant. She’s worked at the library over six months and she still expresses her hatred for him in the present tense.
So it is with me and Bob Ryder. I had the good fortune never to meet him face to face, but his articles and internet audio appearances broadcast his epic dickhood so vividly that I feel as though I’ve known him personally. Bob seems like a nice guy, a good guy, a knowledgeable guy in his chosen field, yet I’m positive I’d want to smash him in the face with a brick after five minutes in the same room with him. He’s got a way about him.
Bob is/was a wrestling journalist, which is strike one. Wrestling journalism is not an elite field; the only real qualifications are internet access and enough free time to watch hours and hours of pro wrestling. Proficiency at writing and spelling are optional. Damn good thing for Bob, who is a fine speller, but is closer to Bob Parasiliti than Shirley Povich as far as the writing goes. But Bob is a cut above most of the contributors to the wrestling pages of Inside Pulse or 411 Mania – Bob’s been making a living writing about wrestling on the internet for almost ten years.
I first became aware of him around 1996 or so when I visited pro wrestling chat rooms on the old Prodigy service. Bob would host big chats on the nights of pay-per-views and type out play-by-play for those of us too cheap or broke to watch the show on TV. Back then he didn’t seem like such a bad guy. A little too over-the-moon for pro wrestling, but so was I.
He co-hosted a RealAudio show with Jeremy Borash, Wrestling Radio, in the late ‘90s. The most remembered segments of the show are those that featured Bob’s overwrought criticisms of an angle on Raw in 1999 that featured the Undertaker tying Steve Austin to a cross and hoisting him up to the rafters in a mock-crucifixion. Bob’s attack of the angle led to WWF third-string announcer Kevin Kelly appearing on Wrestling Radio to debate the matter. Bob clearly won the argument, due to Kelly being a rare breed of moron – Kelly’s argument that it was not a cross but the Undertaker’s symbol, and therefore the angle was not meant to evoke images of crucifixion at all, was asinine – but continued to beat the issue into the ground for weeks afterward. When WWF announcer Michael Cole referred to the Undertaker’s “cross” on an episode of Raw sometime later, Bob couldn’t resist posting a “Nyah Nyah!” article on his website: “See, I told you it was a cross! I was right and you were wrong, so nyeh!” A humble and gracious man is Bob Ryder.
Bob continued as co-host when the show was bought by Time Warner in 1999 and was relocated to World Championship Wrestling’s website and renamed WCW Live! It was during the WCW Live! years that Bob ascended to the zenith of his hateability. While still running his own purportedly independent website, 1Wrestling.com, Bob shamelessly shilled for WCW, bending over backwards to defend the company while it was putting out some of the most abysmal pro wrestling since the days of the AWA’s Team Challenge Series: booker Kevin Nash making himself World Champion was okay because Ric Flair used to do the same thing, shitty booker Vince Russo inexplicably repackaging “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan as a janitor was terrific because it made him “interesting,” the mediocre and over-hyped “new” WCW Monday Nitro that debuted in March 2000 was a night Bob would “never forget,” and Russo putting the World Title on actor David Arquette later that year was a stroke of genius for the (mostly derogatory) media attention it brought the company. After WCW was purchased by Vince McMahon and Bob was unceremoniously shitcanned along with nearly every other employee, Bob apologized for being a shill in a column for 1Wrestling, though he made sure to excuse himself by mentioning several times how very well he had been paid.
With the end of WCW in 2001, Bob more or less dropped off the radar. He still posts updates at 1Wrestling, still writes the very occasional column, but the bill money these days comes from TNA Wrestling, where Bob works in a blessedly behind the scenes capacity. After years as the internet wrestling community’s most visible asshole, he has faded into the background. But you can bet if anyone ever tries to book another high profile mock-crucifixion, a righteously indignant Bob Ryder will make his wimpy drawl heard! Unless TNA does it – then Bob’ll call it edgy and visionary. Like putting the World Title on fucking Jeff Jarrett.