Sports fans know the names to the voices who helped provide narration to some of the biggest sports moments in history. Chicago Cubs fans know Harry Carey would yell “Holy Cow!” when the Cubs would get a big win. Vin Scully’s voice was the voice of Dodger baseball for nearly seven decades. But wrestling fans have their own voice who narrated their favorite moments.
When WWE fans think of the time Mick Foley was thrown off Hell in a Cell by The Undertaker in 1998, it’s the voice of Jim Ross who exclaimed, “As God as my witness he is broken in half!” He was the voice of the Attitude Era when he yelled “Stone Cold” after every Stone Cold Stunner issued to Steve Austin’s enemies. Ross had a lot of high points in his WWE career, as well as some low points.
Jim Ross had to go through a number of moments that sometimes blurred the lines between kayfabe and reality. It was beneficial for moments when he had genuine calls during matches like the infamous Undertaker vs Mankind bout in 1998. But there were real moments where Ross was not informed of what the WWE was planning for his segment. Ross was blindsided several times in his career – like the time he had to unfortunately wear a toga while calling WrestleMania IX.
But anyone who works any kind of job for more than four decades is bound to have some interesting stories behind the scenes. The following are 15 crazy real life stories and facts about the legendary voice of WWE.
15 Traumatizing Gerald Brisco
When you're traveling so many days in the year, you're bound to split some rides with colleagues. One day, Jim Ross was sharing a car with Gerald Brisco, and as you can imagine, things tend to percolate in your system on a long car ride. On this particular day, the weather was so bad that their car's windshield wipers were stuck. When Brisco got out of the car to fix them, JR says he "raised up on one butt cheek and hit a little flatulence in his direction'. Brisco was known backstage for having an extremely sensitive stomach and when JR let one rip, it was so bad that Brisco began hurling and lost his lunch.
What made it worse was that the weather was so cold, so it was a tough call for Brisco to either open the window and freeze or feel the wrath of JR.
14 Ross Was a Football Star in High School
WWE fans will always look at Jim Ross as the voice of the Attitude Era and most of the Ruthless Aggression Era. While his lifelong passion was professional wrestling, many may not be aware of his athletic background. Ross grew up in a small eastern Oklahoma town where sports were a big thing at the time. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Ross was played football all four years of his high school life.
In fact, Ross also received the honor of being named to the local All-Conference team twice while playing for Westville High School. Football was a big passion for Ross, as well as most people living in that state. That’s a big part of why Ross is a big supporter of the Oklahoma Sooners football team. As a child, he may have had dreams of being on the field at Sooners’ games. He is, but as a fan with tickets.
13 Wrestling Was a Summer Job During College
Jim Ross was finishing up his college education back in 1974 when he had a chance to work a summer job with a small wrestling promotion in Oklahoma run by Bill Watts. The two had met when Watts booked wrestling shows in conjunction with Ross’ college fraternity. They were offering Ross about $125 per week. Ross’ work included setting up the ring, writing press releases and also officiating a few matches.
Ross also gained his first chance to commentate matches for Watts’ territory. He was known for his college radio work. Ross may have planned it to be a summer job, but it sparked a career that spanned four decades. His father joked with friends that his son left the family farm to join the circus that is professional wrestling.
12 Early Career Included Interesting Driving Stories
Very early in Jim Ross’ professional wrestling career, he admitted that he was a very impressionable rookie in the industry. Wrestling had its share of hazing of the young guy that also led to some interesting stories outside of the wrestling arena. Ross was constantly driving wrestlers around from show to show in the 1970s. This led to picking up some interesting talents. In an interview with Tiki and Tierney on CBS Sports Radio, Ross explained he would often have to get the wrestlers beer.
He admits to having to hold open containers while driving; although he never drank while driving. The driving experience for what he claimed was “two cents a mile from your passengers” did teach him invaluable skills – like rolling a joint and steering the car with his knees simultaneously.
11 Ross Visited Muhammed Ali’s House
Jim Ross has met with a lot of interesting people during his long career in professional wrestling. One of the biggest names in sports he worked with was boxing legend Muhammed Ali back in 1985. While Ross was working for Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling, Ali was booked to make an appearance during an event planned for the Superdome in New Orleans. Ross was part of the group that helped filmed vignettes featuring Ali.
Ross and the others were invited to Ali’s house to see the collection that the fighter had. Ross commented on how his mom was an Elvis Presley fan and Ali wanted Ross to take Elvis’ gold jumpsuit to Ross’ mom. Ross would refuse the generosity. But he did use Ali’s home phone number to call his mom to get to speak with the boxer.
10 Ross Had to Put Up With a Lot of Crap, Literally
Jim Ross has had to put up with a lot of crap during his WWE career. The man was fired on multiple occasions – both kayfabe and in real life – and also had to deal with fallout with wrestlers as the head of talent relations in the WWE. But while he dealt with a lot of metaphorical excrement, he also had to put up with a lot of actual, well, excrement. One story he shared on an extra in WWE's DVD Brian Pillman: Loose Cannon involved finding a ‘deposit’ in his hotel bed at one time.
During a prep for a Clash of Champions event with WCW in the early 1990s, Ross recalled a young Brian Pillman telling him he had something to show him. Ross was taken to a bathroom stall where he saw a giant “masterpiece” from Pillman. Ross said that if it wasn’t 18 inches long, then his trademark hat wasn’t black.
9 How Ross Left WCW For WWE in 1993
Jim Ross might be remembered as the greatest voice of WWE, but he actually worked for WCW before joining Vince McMahon’s promotion. But in 1993, Ross was able to get some revenge on the Ted Turner’s promotion just before making the jump to WWE. While on a WCW-sponsored radio show in March 1993, Ross had McMahon as a guest. It was then it was revealed that Ross was going to be a lead announcer for WWE.
The reason Ross wanted to do this interview segment before his contract release was official, was because he was not happy with being removed from the lead announcer position on WCW television. It was also announced that Ross was going to call WrestleMania IX less than a week later. Unfortunately, Ross didn’t know at the time he was going to be on camera in a toga.
8 The Story Behind the Trademark Cowboy Hat
The Royal Rumble had a lot of highlights over the years that were narrated by Good Ol’ J.R. But it was actually the event where fans were introduced to Ross wearing a cowboy hat at the commentary table. During the 1997 Royal Rumble in San Antonio, Texas, Ross first donned the cowboy hat. He wasn’t alone since Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler also wore hats for the Texan theme of the pay-per-view. It was from that point on that McMahon wanted Ross to keep wearing a cowboy hat. Ross might not have thought about it working, but it fit his persona like it fit his head.
On an interesting side note, Ross said he had a black hat that was a gift from Steve Austin in 1999 that he wore until 2011. The only reason it was “retired” was because he accidentally left it in a cab in Boston on the way to the 2011 Royal Rumble match. The hat was never retrieved. But it does live on in WWE history.
7 Last-Minute Changes Leading to Montreal Screwjob
It’s safe to say that the Montreal Screwjob was the most controversial moment in professional wrestling history. Ross would explain that after leaving a production meeting the night before the 1997 Survivor Series, the plan was for there to be a disqualification that would allow Hart to hold onto the WWE Championship. Hart didn’t want to drop the belt to Shawn Michaels in Canada. But there were concerns that he was going to jump to WCW with the title in hand.
In an effort to make sure the WWE Championship wasn’t going to appear on WCW television, Ross believes there might have been changes that were made when Gerald Brisco was asked to have a one-on-one meeting with Vince McMahon. Ross has repeatedly stated that neither he nor color commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler knew that Michaels was going to get the “submission” over Hart until it happened in front of their eyes.
6 Ross Had to Stay Locked in Office After Montreal Screwjob
Jim Ross was not only the voice of the WWE during the 1997 Survivor Series pay-per-view, he was also working as the head of talent relations for the promotion. That made him a point of focus backstage when something like the WWE Championship changed hands with a controversial Sharpshooter from Shawn Michaels to Bret Hart. In the moments after the show ended, Ross was told to go to Vince McMahon’s office and lock the door.
There was a concern that Hart, or the members of his family who attended the show, were going to look for Ross. McMahon didn’t want Ross to get knocked out by anyone in the WWE. Ross also added during an interview on the Sam Roberts Show that he was constantly on the phone at the hotel all night with talents who were wondering what actually happened.
5 Ross Didn’t Know About Being Drafted to SmackDown
During the 2008 WWE Draft, there was quite a shakeup in the commentary booths for both RAW and SmackDown. Jim Ross was announced live on television that he was being moved to the blue brand, while Michael Cole jumped to RAW. Everyone seemed to be shocked on the live microphones as Ross looked extremely unhappy with the news that he got with the rest of the WWE Universe. Ross said he still didn’t see why the WWE would break up him and Lawler on the RAW commentary team.
Ross also said publicly that he was informed the night before the draft that the WWE officials weren’t going to split up the WWE’s version of John Madden and Pat Summerall. Ross also said this was a turning point in his WWE career where his job felt more like work than the fun he had for so many years.
4 Three Episodes of Bell’s Palsy
Fans know that Jim Ross has dealt with Bell’s Palsy attacks during his wrestling announcing career. It is a noticeable condition that leads to paralysis or a weakness of one side of the face. Ross has had three separate attacks that have affected his overall health. The first happened back in January 1994 and then another attack happened four years later; just after his mother had passed away.
The third attack happened while he was flying from Oklahoma City to Atlanta, as part of his trip to Jacksonville for a December 2010 episode of RAW. He was able to get in touch with members of the WWE medical staff, who were able to get medicine for him to slow down the effects of the attack. Ross did take some time off of WWE television before eventually returning later in 2011.
3 Wasn’t Aware of 2011 ‘Firing’
There seems to be a pattern about storyline plots being planned for Jim Ross without any prior warning. Ross was part of the commentary team with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler when John Laurinaitis came out to the ring. The interim general manager spoke about how people didn’t like him and said he would do something ethical; inviting Ross to the ring as his wife was watching from ringside.
It was during this segment that Ross was “fired” from RAW by Laurinaitis. It wasn’t in the script backstage and no one knew it was happening. Ross said it blindsided both he and his wife, who was embarrassed at the time. While it provided Laurinaitis with some heel heat in front of an Oklahoma crowd, it apparently didn’t work out as planned.
2 Ric Flair Incident Led to Ross’ 2013 Termination
Jim Ross was moved out of the commentary table around 2013. With the emergence of Michael Cole on RAW, Ross was mostly used for appearances for the WWE. One of these appearances was the WWE 2K14 video game symposium in August 2013. Ross was scheduled to lead a panel discussion surrounding the new video game. Ric Flair was one of them, but he appeared intoxicated.
The WWE put the blame on Ross for not being able to control The Nature Boy, who would speak about dicey subjects like putting his WWE Hall of Fame ring on his dead son’s hand. Ross even commented during the symposium that he knew he lost control and wasn’t sure he would be able to come back. The WWE would claim on their website that Ross was retiring from the company.
1 Ross Was Let Go From WWE Three Other Times
The interesting thing is that Jim Ross was actually fired from the WWE multiple times during his overall career with the WWE. In 1994, Ross was told by Vince McMahon that the company didn't need his services at the expiration of his contract. A few months later, Ross would return to the WWE to be the lead announcer while McMahon dealt with the steroid distribution scandal at the time. But he would leave two months later when unable to reach a long-term contract.
Ross would actually be brought back to the WWE in January 1995. However, he was not brought in to be an announcer. Instead, the WWE wanted him to join the creative booking team. Ross would slowly get time on the camera, starting with a co-host spot on WWE Action Zone. There were a lot of highs and lows until he eventually returned to the play-by-play duties in 1996.
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