WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross recently spoke to Ryan Glasspiegel of TheBigLead.com. Here are some highlights:
In addition to boxing, let’s say, hypothetically, it were an option for you and the financial terms were acceptable for you: Do you think you’d want to announce UFC PPVs?
Well, I’m a huge UFC fan, but I’m going to give you a little bit of an evasive answer. I don’t think that’s in the cards, so I don’t really get too emotionally invested in that idea. I think the UFC has a great team in Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. I don’t see me affecting that. I think it’s a little bit similar to if you asked me if I’d like to be the number 1 NFL announcer at Fox — then I’d be taking Joe Buck’s place.
If the door was open, and situations changed: Would I jump at the opportunity to give it a shot? Of course, but I don’t look at it as a viable option. I could see several other types of options that might become available in UFC, potentially.
In Part 1 of your podcast with Shawn Michaels you addressed the criticism that you receive from your Twitter followers about today’s WWE announcers, and you said that it’s unfair to take it out on them as individuals because they’re adhering to strict guidelines you specifically talked about ‘yelling’ and said that they’re told not to yell ‘at’ their audience. Is that something Vince McMahon ever said to you, and do you think the stylistic differences in how you and he prefer the broadcast should be done is the biggest reason why you’re not currently a WWE announcer?
He’s told me many times not to yell at the audience. My interpretation of yelling: I got excited, I was emotionally invested in the fans, and my style was that of an old school sportscaster. If the moment merited raising one’s voice or tone or inflection, I did that organically and naturally. It just happened. Sometimes, Vince didn’t share my timing, obviously, so he would tell me not to yell at the audience.
He may have been right on some of those occasions, and I think that sometimes I was right. That was my style. That was how I worked. I presented the product with a little bit of gusto, and a little bit more fuel in my tank.
I don’t know how to answer your question. I don’t think that my yelling was the reason, per se – I was there 20 years. I had done everything from broadcasting to administration to becoming an executive vice president. I had a lot of health issues that had to be addressed, or I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now. It was time that I needed to get away from the weekly grind of travel, and the pressure with my job description, and I was not the type of guy who was going to take myself out of the game.
That wasn’t me, and the longer I kept trying to maintain that schedule, the tougher it was gonna be. Gosh, I had a perforated intestine, and I was 30 days away from passing, and I had perpetual stomach aches 24/7. I didn’t realize that my intestines were perforated and I was poisoning myself. I didn’t take time to go to the doctor to get it checked out — I just knew something was wrong — and we just agreed for me to go back to Oklahoma and get it checked out. I was still traveling, doing SmackDown at the time, I believe, and I had acute sleep apnea that had, as of then, gone undiagnosed.
If I had kept going, there was going to be one of those headlines that said ‘Good Ol’ JR Died in His Sleep’.
There were health issues, and a lot of other things that were going on in that deal — it’s not as glamorous as saying there was a huge split. Vince and I had never agreed 100% on philosophy, but I’d bet you money that there are a lot of assistant coaches in various sports that don’t 100% agree with the philosophy of the head guy. It’s just being human.
I don’t want to say that my yelling was the reason — there were a lot of factors at play. Coming back to Oklahoma, focusing and learning about my health, and recovering was a lot more important than being on Monday Night Raw.
Now that I’ve had my intestines removed and re-attached, am getting treated for sleep apnea, quit smoking, and am going to the gym 4-5 times per week, I’m going to live longer. That’s a helluva lot more important than some juicy story about Vince and me not getting along. I still communicate with Vince, he still communicates with me. We have great respect for each other. We share a lot of the same values regarding the product, and we disagree on some.
I think it’s pretty damn cool that at 62, I’m healthy enough and motivated enough to reinvent myself and try new things. It’d be easy to retire and play golf and go fishing, but I can’t turn that motor off. I like staying busy, and I really like being involved in new entities. I don’t need the money. I really have fun doing everything that I’m doing right now.
Switching gears, let’s say you had to design an ideal wrestler from scratch. For both a face and a heel, he would have the mic skills of ________, the physique of ________, and the ring skills of _________.
For the face, I’d do Austin on the mic, body of Ricky Steamboat — you want someone that’s big enough to be believable, but small enough to be vulnerable — and the ring skills of Shawn Michaels.
For the heel, I’d do the Rock on the mic, body of Triple H, and the ring talent of Ric Flair.
How do you feel about Stephanie and Triple H as prospective leaders when the baton eventually — and who knows when that will be — gets passed?
I think they’re going to be great leaders because they have an inherent love and understanding of the genre. I don’t think anyone can lead WWE without understanding the two key components of talent and television. This is a different field than being the president of the New England Patriots, for example. Bob Kraft is smart enough to leave the football operations to Bill Belichick and company, and he’s also smart enough as a businessman to hire really good people to manage the other aspects of the business.
I think that Triple H and Stephanie will have good instincts on which people to surround themselves with. More importantly, I think they’ll have thorough understanding of the core business as far as to assemble a team of wrestlers, prepare them, manage them, and produce compelling television.
This is not like a job for them — it’s not like going to a headhunter and hiring an executive. This is their life, and I’ll take my chances any day with somebody who has that kind of passion in managing a company.