WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross has effectively retired from WWE after handing in his notice earlier today, reports the WWE website. He plans to spend time focusing on his own business interests, which currently include the JR’s BBQ range of jerky and sauces found at his JRSBARBQ.com store.
Ross also revealed in a blog that a biography may be in the planning stages … “Hmmmm….perhaps a book is in order some day. Time will tell. Now I actually have the time to write the autobiography many have asked about over the years.”
“I’m being engaged by a variety of ‘suitors’ who are all presenting some interesting, potential projects to me,” he would later announce.
WWE chairman Vince McMahon gave JR a “thank you” on Twitter, for “20 years of service”, that saw him define an era in the announce booth, and sign an era of superstars as head of talent relations.
The WWE.com statement reads … “Jim has made many contributions to WWE and the sports-entertainment industry, and we thank him for his many years of service and wish him well.”
Was he forced out after WWE 2K14 Symposium incident?
Speculation is rife about why the departure took place, with some websites suggesting he was forced out due to his actions at the WWE 2K14 symposium. While both he and fellow Hall of Famer Ric Flair did appear to drunkenly “hijack” the panel discussion with jokes and road stories, unless he confirms this himself take the reports with a grain of salt. Older fans loved the laid back and candid banter between the various legends, and the video game company had no problem with what happened – it was great viral marketing.
There was also no mainstream media coverage or sponsorship backlash against WWE – it’s not like it aired on the USA Network. If they were so angry about it, why did they take the video off the obscure Twitch.tv site and upload it to their thousands and thousands of users on Youtube? And why did they take so long to “fire” JR if it was such a problem?
In an interview with the MMA Hour JR disputed claims that he was “forced out the door or treated poorly”. He said that “really 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. I’m not really a negative guy, I kinda look at the glass half full as opposed to half empty. I had some health issues, thank God I’m over those. I’m feeling really, really good, I’m taking good care of myself. So, I just think it was the right time, with everything presented as it was, it was just the very best decision to make and now we’re gonna move on to the next thing.”
Jim Ross the voice of WWE
JR wrote on his blog … “Time flies when one is enjoying one ‘s dream job. Heck, it only took me 19 years to make it to the NFL of sports entertainment. Overnight sensation, right? So, at the age if 61 it’s time to close this chapter of my life and begin exploring new, adventures while my health is great.
Having never seen eye to eye with his fellow WCW announcer Eric Bischoff, Ross saw the writing on the wall when Bischoff managed to sell himself to Turner executives and got the head producer role in the promotion. He jumped ship to the then WWF in 1993 and made his debut wearing a Toga for the Olympia themed WrestleMania IX. He quickly became an integral part of the announce team, sitting alongside the likes of Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, and Randy Savage, and pioneered the company’s first Radio show – Radio WWF.
Unfortunately despite starting off strong, his first bout of Bell’s Palsy in 1994 sparked the beginning of an undercurrent of ill-treatment from owner Vince McMahon, when he was promptly fired because he was unable to perform his duties. Though he was rehired by the end of the year as McMahon spent time away to face his infamous steroid trial, Ross would be mocked on camera many times in his long career that followed, even in reference to his physical condition.
Not that this put a damper on his success. “That was the hand that I was dealt and I simply refused to fold it,” Ross continued.
When Monday Night Raw took off in the late 90s, JR became the voice of a pop-culture juggernaut, calling the rise to stardom of the Rock, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Triple H, and everyone in-between.
His passionate play-by-play helped create some of the most entertaining and most watched moments in wrestling history, from “as god as my witness, he’s broken in half” when Mankind flew off the top of the Cell, to “stone cold, stone cold, stone cold.”
Classic Jim Ross: Interviewing Mankind.
Although McMahon tried to fire him several times, allegedly down to a hatred of his southern cowboy look, his talent would always bring him back to ringside. It would only be another bout of Bell’s Palsy in 2009 that prompted the end of his weekly announcing duties.
Ross was inducted in to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 by close friend Steve Austin.
Over the years JR has also worked as Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, and more recently as a consultant and scout under Triple H. He’s also spent time in WWE developmental coaching up and coming announcers, and took on a laid back role as host for WWE 24/7 panel discussions, and live events. Hunter wrote on Twitter …
“Can’t thank you enough @JRsBBQ for all you’ve done for me personally and for @WWE … Enjoy your time, you’ve earned it!!! #thankyouJR”
JR concluded his blog by saying that he’s not going to fade away …
“Other that health issues my ‘run’ in WWE has exceeded my wildest dreams. I was fortunate enough to have a key role in arguably one of the most interesting and compelling eras in our business’s history … For the record, I’m not purchasing a rocking chair so I’m not ‘going away.’ I have many interests & I plan on exploring them all.”
Stars thank JR
Several current and former wrestling personalities took to Twitter and other outlets to thank Jim Ross for his contribution to the industry. TNA President Dixie Carter even made a Tweet, sparking rumors that if JR was forced out he could jump ship to TNA, like he did with Smokey Mountain Wrestling in the 90s … “What a class act! @JRsBBQ. Wrestling will miss you!” wrote Carter.
Stephanie McMahon: “Thank you for everything @JRsBBQ I’ve learned so much from you. You will always be the voice of the WWE. #halloffamer”
Taz on the TNA Podcast: “JR’s a legend, he’s a personal friend, I love him. I think that no matter if he’s working there or not, he’ll always be a legend. I’m a huge JR fan, I’ve learned a lot from JR, he’s a great man… I talk to Jim a lot and hope to see him again soon, and I think the man’s a Hall of Famer for a reason and the best of all time.”
Howard Finkel: “I wish nothing but the very best to @JRsBBQ. I’ve truly enjoyed my professional and personal association with him through the years!”
Beth Phoenix: “Thank u @JRsBBQ for doing me the honor of calling my matches & sharing ur wisdom. I was truly one of the lucky ones to b able to work w/ u!!”
Brooklyn Brawler: “I have nothing but kind words for @JRsBBQ , he’s a great person.”
Scott Stanford: “I got to work with @JRsBBQ once! Wrestlemania 29 pre and post…now a collector’s item as it would be his last Wrestlemania! Good luck JR!”
Lance Storm: “@JRsBBQ is the greatest announcer to ever call a match IMO. He’s made more matches better than any wrestler ever has.”
Joey Styles: “Thank you @JRsBBQ for being the measuring stick for Pro Wrestling announcers & teaching me how to be a @WWE sports entertainment storyteller”
Frankie Kazarian: “A very happy retirement to @JRsBBQ much deserved to a great gentleman and the voice of a generation.”
Jonathan Coachman: “I will worked with @JRsBBQ for 10 years. Most people don’t believe we are good friends but we are. The biz will miss him.#best”
Sean Waltman: “@JRsBBQ You are & always will be the best. That’s coming from a boy who grew up on Gordon Solie. Thank You Jim.”
Funaki: “@JRsBBQ _ I appreciate it JR. #ThankYouJR”
The Stro: “Sorry to hear about Jim Ross retiring. Commentating legend. Tips the Hat.”
The Iron Sheik: “Jim Ross @JRsBBQ great announcer in the history. nobody better than him. i love him forever” Justin Roberts: “The passion, knowledge & untouchable experience. Thank you @JRsBBQ for adding so much to SO many matches and stories. #LEGEND”