Naturally fans are wondering whether the departure of Jim Ross from WWE could result in him jumping to distant rival TNA.
Perhaps a more reasonable question would be: what would it take for JR to go to TNA? The legendary announcer has shown interest in making the move before, but not without considerable demands.
There are a number of assumptions we must make before even considering JR in TNA as a possibility, the main one being that he hasn’t really retired and was forced out of WWE for undisclosed reasons. Despite a lot of speculation, Ross himself has made no mention of the WWE 2K14 panel being a reason for his departure, and told the MMA Hour directly that this wasn’t the case.
“It was something that we had talked about kinda casually and it just seemed like – with the lay of the land – it was just good timing.”
At face value it would seem like an absolutely ridiculous notion that the company would let go a legend like JR because of an overblown incident at an obscure video game symposium, that recieved no bad press, which nobody publicly seemed bothered about, and fans universally enjoyed. However in the corporate bubble of WWE, and with Vince McMahon’s history of using JR out of necessity rather than personal choice – being taken in to account, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.
The most likely scenario is that since Ross really wasn’t doing much anymore, and is at a point in his life where it’s now or never if he wants to try new things, a passing comment about the incident could have just been the excuse both parties needed to amicably walk away.
But for the sake of argument if we assume JR was forced out and still has the itch to be involved in wrestling, as opposed to trying his hand at MMA announcing, or going further with football, what would it take to get him through the door?
What are JR’s TNA demands?
It’s a little known fact that back in April 2010, when JR’s WWE deal was expiring, he had a closed door meeting with Panda Energy honcho Bob Carter (Dixie’s father and financier of TNA) and other company officials about joining the promotion. The meeting reportedly took place at the Carter ranch in Texas and Ross had considerable demands.
Much like Paul Heyman, he wanted to be in a position where he could actually change the landscape of the company.
This wouldn’t be the aging legend phoning it in alongside Tenay. Ross actually wanted to be a company executive with oversight over talent relations (what wrestlers to hire and fire) and even who would be working in the office, according to the Wrestling Observer at the time.
Other than perhaps Paul Heyman, if anyone could take TNA to the next level it’s JR. He is one of the few men with decades of hands on experience working for the wrestling monopoly up North. Not only did he sell some of the most successful events in history as an announcer, but he also helped shape the roster that performed in them.
Unfortunately the Carters were not prepared to hand over that much control and the Oklahoma native re-signed with WWE. However one of JR’s key demands has been met in his absence, and that was the firing of Vince Russo.
If TNA was ever in a position to take on somebody like JR it’s right now. They’re undergoing a substantial talent overall, perfect for Ross to assess which young talent should be brought in to replace those going out. Russo is gone, which means creatively he wouldn’t be butting heads. One wrestler who wants to see it happen is World Champion Bully Ray – he told the UK Daily Star newspaper …
“I would love to see Jim Ross in TNA. I think TNA could benefit hugely from Jim. He is a straight shooter, a man’s man.”
However there is one road block that will 100% stop this from ever happening unless it’s overcome.
Bischoff is currently the Executive Producer of TNA, with a direct line to Spike TV. He’s the suit with the required lingo that bridges the gap between the promotion and TV land. For JR to come in, Bischoff would have to go. Not just because the two positions wouldn’t be able to coexist on a practical level, but also because the pair have a long history of tension, dating back to when Bischoff became a WCW executive in 1993.
Ross himself had hoped to take the position and has always believed that Bischoff misrepresented his experience in order to blag his way in to the position, over much more qualified hopefuls. If it wasn’t for this JR would have never jumped to the WWF.
Therefore it’s extremely unlikely that either man would want to work with each other. If the Carters brought in Ross, Bischoff would walk. However Spike TV may not want to lose Bischoff, which would prevent JR from even being under consideration to begin with.
The saving grace of the hypothetical deal would be if Bischoff’s contract expires along with Hulk Hogan’s in October and he fails to re-sign. Nobody has been able to confirm whether Bischoff signed on for longer than Hogan back when they both renewed in October 2011, so this scenario is nothing more than that, a scenario.
Nothing to lose
At this stage TNA has nothing to lose. While we obviously don’t have access to their accounts and figures, we do know that Bischoff has done nothing for TV ratings, nothing for PPV buys and there’s no sign that he’s made any significant impact on their overall progress. He seemed all for the recent move to take the show on the road, which nobody seemed to even consider would cost more money.
Bischoff also can’t take credit for Spike TV because they were already on Spike when Bischoff came in. He can’t take credit for their overseas success in markets like England, because they were already drawing record numbers there before he came in as well.
As the head of the company Dixie needs to honestly ask herself, what has Eric done for us? If the answer is nothing, then replacing him with somebody as experienced as JR is what any other good businesswoman would do.
Whether JR wants any of this hassle is a whole other matter, but it would certainly be a good feeling to finally get one over on Vince McMahon after all those years of humiliation, by giving him a run for his money. Like Ted Turner of old, a sweet Southern phone call saying “Hey Vince I’m getting in to the wrasslin business”, would be a moment nobody would ever forget!