(pictures are coming)
I’ve had the opportunity the last couple of weeks to check add two new buildings to my list of venues. On the 7th it was down to Kingston, RI for All Elite Wrestling at the Ryan Center on the campus of URI. AEW is the wrestling show owned by Tony Khan (son of the dude that owns the London Jacksonville Jaguars). They’ve made their bones hiring WWE cast offs & retires including Sting, CM Punk (who some might know as a Chicago Cubs fan), Bryan Danielson and famously/infamously the American Nightmare Cody Rhodes – son of 70’s/80’s wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes. They also stock their roster with “indie darlings” like Freshly Squeezed Orange Cassidy, Darby Allin, and some of my favorite workers like Eddie Kingston and Mark Briscoe (RIP Jay) as well as the hardest tag team in the game today the Lucha Brothers.
It’s my first wrestling show since seeing some of my favorite ECW originals a couple years ago when The Sandman and Sabu came up and played a little spot in the center of Fall River. It’s also the first indoor arena the wife and I have been in since the pandemic. It was probably the perfect show to get our feet wet again. It was also great to be able to share my love of pro wrestling with her. Even if she didn’t fall in love with the business like I did (she did become an Orange Cassidy & The Best Friends mark, though), she gets what I like about it.
The show was really entertaining, and it was packed. The night started with a Ring of Honor dark show. Ring of Honor was established back home in Philly, and it was awesome to see the black & red flag and a bunch of workers I saw ten or fifteen years ago still out there making towns. I will say, that when Mark Briscoe hit the ring, I got pretty emotional. I’ve been a fan of him & his brother, well shit, pretty much since they came out of the CZW training school. Jay recently passed, suddenly, in a car accident. I don’t know why, but I was full of all the feels when their entrance music hit, and only Mark came out.
Anyway, the ROH show was followed by an episode of AEW Rampage, AEW’s show on TNT, which was broadcast live. For a TV show (versus a PPV), it was remarkably fine. Nothing unexpected happened, but there were some really talented workers plying their trade. After Rampage wrapped, we were treated to a 60 minute PPV for Fite TV called Battle of the Belts. Overall, it was like 3 and a half hours of wrestling. Which is awesome.
The Ryan Center, which is probably what is most interesting to anyone reading this, is the basketball arena on the campus of the University of Rhode Island. For hoops, Ryan holds just shy of 8,000. The hockey team plays out of a different building, which is the standard in New England collegiate hockey. I guess I’m too accustomed to pro sports where basketball and hockey more often than not share a shed.
Walking in, the Ryan is a really nicely built brick and concrete arena with a first floor concourse. Nothing overly distinctive, and I imagine the hallway is wider than it felt, because AEW had a handful of gimmick tables laid out. We sat in the upper seating bowl, but only a couple of rows back. Because the building is basketball-first (and probably volleyball), the upper bowl is insanely close to the ring. It lends to great sight lines. Unfortunately, there is no center-hung video/scoreboard.
For it’s size, and uses, it’s a really nice building. I would, if time ever permits, like to get back down for a URI Rams basketball game, it would be nice to see the building in it’s full, home team glory.