Jim Ross has been referred to as the greatest play-by-play announcer in the history of North American professional wrestling. Those of you who are old enough were likely first introduced to Ross during his days as an announcer for either Mid-South Wrestling, Jim Crockett Promotions or World Championship Wrestling. Ross, as anybody who has followed mainstream wrestling over the past 20 years knows, eventually made his way to the WWE, and it would not be a stretch to suggest that Ross was one of the most important figures of The Attitude Era.
Think about all of the iconic moments that Ross was part of throughout his legendary career. The crowning of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as the WWE Champion. Undertaker and Mankind going at it in the classic Hell in a Cell match. The official end of WCW and the conclusion of the awful “Invasion” storyline. John Cena winning the WWE title for the first time. A plethora of WrestleMania contests that involved some of the greatest wrestlers who have ever lived. Ross has seen it all throughout his decades in the business and anybody even remotely interested in getting involved in pro wrestling would do well to listen to what Ross has said about his experiences.
It is truly a shame that Ross and the WWE do not have a working relationship as of the spring of 2016. No offense meant to anybody working for the company, but just think about what Ross could contribute to those going through the WWE developmental system and attempting to establish themselves in NXT. Ross and the WWE parted ways in 2013 for what was, as far as we know, a silly reason and it now appears that we will never again hear Ross call a live or new WWE show. Thankfully, we are able to go back and listen to Ross' best WCW and WWE calls via the WWE Network. Thanks for everything, good ol' J.R..
15 Ross the Californian?
One could not be blamed for automatically assuming that Jim Ross, the huge fan of Oklahoma football that he is, was born in the state Oklahoma. That, as Ross once explained via his personal Twitter account, is not the case. Ross was actually born in Ft. Bragg, California. Ross has stated in interviews that he was raised in a small town located in Eastern Oklahoma and that he was first introduced to Oklahoma football via radio broadcasts. It was as a youth when Ross first became enamoured with sports and that love of sports helped create the great pro wrestling announcer that Ross became as an adult.
14 Jim Ross the Athlete
Long before he could have imagined that he was going to be a beloved pro wrestling announcer, Jim Ross was an accomplished athlete in high school. Ross played football, and he was even a two-time all conference player for his high school. Ross has also, in the past, talked about how he played baseball and basketball during his younger days. A life in sports would eventually come calling for Ross, but not as an athlete. Ross became a commentator during his days in college, but that is not how he first became an announcer for a pro wrestling territory.
13 Jim Ross the Referee
Ross, per the Cubed Circle Wrestling website, received his break in the pro wrestling industry as a referee in the NWA Tri-State. He was still taking announcing gigs at the time, however, and Ross even spent one National Football League season working as a commentator for Atlanta Falcons games that aired on the radio. Ross' combined skills as a wrestling referee and as a legitimate sports announcer led to him receiving the play-by-play job for the Tri-State territory, a job that was given to him by Bill Watts. The rest, as the saying goes, is history, as Ross worked his way up the company ladder from there.
12 Why Jim Ross Left WCW
WCW went through a wide variety of changes in the early 1990s and one of them included Ross being taken off of company TV shows entirely in 1993. Ross was replaced by Tony Schiavone and the newly-named WCW executive producer Eric Bischoff. While Ross was also a member of the WCW booking committee at the time, he did not have much to do after his announcing duties and his power had been stripped. Ross, thus, looked for work elsewhere and he announced his intentions to leave WCW in an epic way that made sure to stick it to who became his former employers.
11 Jim Ross Gets Revenge
Jim Ross, per interviews that he has given on the subject, had the last laugh over WCW before leaving the company. He resigned in February 1993 and Ross then had none other than WWE Chairman Vince McMahon on a WCW-sponsored radio program to announce that J.R. was heading to the competition. McMahon bragged about being able to pull off such a signing even though Ross had not yet officially been given his release from WCW. It's funny, considering that people remember how Bischoff raided the WWF for wrestling talent, that it was McMahon who struck an early blow in the “Monday Night Wars.”
10 Rocky Relationship
As has been well documented during interviews and even on-air WWE segments, Jim Ross and Vince McMahon had a rocky relationship almost from the very beginning. McMahon chose to make himself and not Ross the lead announcer for the 1993 edition of SummerSlam, a clear sign that the boss was not keen on Ross serving as the one voice of the WWE. That relationship was changed in a different way, possibly forever, after Ross began suffering from a form of facial paralysis that nearly resulted in Ross forever parting ways with the WWE.
9 Jim Ross and Bell's Palsy
Ross has never been shy about discussing his battles with Bell's Palsy, in part because there was no real way to hide how it had affected his face and his speech. The first attack that Ross suffered was in late January 1994 and it was, per Ross, only a couple of weeks after that when McMahon told Ross that he would no longer be needed after his contract ran out the following month. Ross, not sure what to do, approached Bischoff and WCW about making a return to that company. Bischoff made no offer to Ross, however, and that proved to be a blessing in disguise for Ross and for WWE fans everywhere.
8 Jim Ross and UFC
It is no secret that Ross has been a fan of mixed martial arts for many years. Ross could have been more than just a fan had certain events occurred in the fall of 1994. After he and the WWE had parted ways for a brief period of time (again), Ross began negotiations to call a UFC pay-per-view that was scheduled to take place near the end of the year. Had Ross and the UFC began a long-lasting relationship, it is possible that he never would have had any role with the WWE from 1995 up through the present day. How different the UFC and WWE would be in that alternate universe.
7 Jim Ross' Cowboy Hat
Part of Ross' trademark look during his WWE career was the cowboy hats that he would wear during editions of Raw and during pay-per-view events. It turns out that Ross was encouraged to wear that hat by somebody else. Vince McMahon first had the idea for Ross to wear the cowboy hat all the way back in 1994 and McMahon finally got his wish at the 1997 Royal Rumble. While it was McMahon who had Ross keep the cowboy hat as part of Ross' attire, WWE fans became used to Ross wearing it to the point that it was weird whenever we saw J.R. without his hat.
6 Jim Ross' Heartbreak
What had to be one of the worst days of Ross' life occurred in December 1998. While working the UK pay-per-view Capital Carnage, Ross suffered another attack of his Bell's Palsy. Fans learned, after the fact, that the attack was caused by Ross being under so much stress because he learned of his mother's passing after he had arrived in London. Ross was out of action for roughly three months because of the attack and the events that followed resulted in WCW featuring one of the most tasteless and disgusting “characters” that was in the company during the dying days of that promotion.
5 Jim Ross' Enemies
Ross would return to the WWE in the spring of 1999, but he was not immediately made the company's lead announcer. It has since been reported that individuals within the WWE such as Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara did not want Ross to be part of the commentary booth. Russo and Ferrara eventually left the WWE to work for WCW and Ferrara went on to play the role of the “Oklahoma” character that made fun of Ross' accent and also the announcer's Bell's Palsy. Those of you who weren't a fan of the product at the time should not bother going out of the way to see this character. It is appalling in many ways.
4 Jim Ross and Jeff Jarrett
It is well known among wrestling fans that Jeff Jarrett basically held the WWE up for ransom and hundreds of thousands of dollars in October 1999. Jarrett's contract had expired and he was heading to WCW. The problem for the WWE was that Jarrett was the Intercontinental Champion and he demanded money before he willingly dropped the belt to Chyna on his last night in the WWE. What you may not know, however, is that it was Ross who was supposed to know ahead of time that Jarrett's contract was expiring. Ross' miscue cost the WWE, but it was Jarrett and not Ross who was seen as the bad guy in the eyes of Vince McMahon.
3 Jim Ross and TNA
Jim Ross had been humiliated time and time again by the WWE from 1994 up through April 2010. It is no wonder, thus, that Ross considered making the move from the WWE to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in the spring of 2010. This was apparently not just a negotiation ploy from Ross, as TNA met with Ross with the hopes that they could sign the voice of the WWE. It was believed, at the time, that Ross would be given announcing duties and also a position in management. Nothing came of these talks, as Ross re-signed with the WWE. Odds are that Ross probably dodged a bullet not going to TNA.
2 Jim Ross is Fired
It was announced in the fall of 2013 that Ross was “retiring” from the WWE. The reality of the situation, as was reported by multiple outlets at the time, was that Ross was fired by the WWE because of an incident that involved “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Ross and Flair were hosting a WWE 2K14 event when Flair went off-script a bit and Ross has since explained that some unflattering things were said about a sponsor during that event. Whether or not the WWE was looking for a reason to fire Ross beforehand may never be known, but it is a fact that Ross has not since worked for the WWE.
1 Jim Ross' Autobiography
If you are anything like us, you may have missed this announcement. Ross announced in November 2015 that he had been working on an autobiography and that the release date for his autobiography was set for “late 2016.” As of March 2016, there was no official release date for his autobiography. One can be sure, however, that Ross will likely have some interesting stories to tell. The hope is that Ross will not have to worry about burning any bridges and will be able to be completely honest about whatever it is he wants to put in his autobiography. The book could make for a great Christmas gift for the wrestling fan in your life.