Jim Ross was recently interviewed by Sports Illustrated to promote his new book Slobberknocker, and he answered some questions about his past, present, and future with the WWE.
Vince McMahon wrote the forward for JR's book, and Ross was asked if, even after being friends with him for decades, it is difficult to ask the Chairman of the Board for a favor.
"Vince was very accommodating, and I appreciated it. I never looked at that as an issue. I wanted him to write the foreword, and I never had any trepidation that he wouldn’t.
There is a letter in the book from Vince that he wrote to me when I was sick with Bell’s Palsy for a second time. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was battling depression. I didn’t want to come out of the house. Vince told me how badly he wanted me to come back to work, and he wrote, “Get the f--- back up!” That might seem abrasive to some, but I knew he was being real and coming straight from the heart. Vince’s letter was a handwritten one that he had somebody from the office deliver to my door, and he let me know exactly how much I meant to him.
Vince was so great at the “Mr. McMahon” character that some people think he wouldn’t want to help people in real life, and that’s just not true."
Ross compared calling Ric Flair vs Ricky The Dragon Steamboat in 89 and calling The Rock vs Steve Austin.
"There were certainly similarities because you had excellence in the ring in both those illustrations. I called the Flair/Steamboat matches in ‘89 with three different partners. I worked with Bob Caudle, Terry Funk, and Magnum T.A.
You’ve got to start with Ric. Being in the ring, bell-to-bell and cutting a promo to get you there, Flair is the number one guy. He’s the best ever. Flair really established himself as the best that ever was when he was wrestling in the latter days as the traveling NWA champion throughout the 80’s. In the era he was traveling, across the board, wasn’t the strongest in the history of the NWA. That’s not because of Ric, it was the territories. Some of the talents he worked with may not have been main eventers in any other territories, and I saw firsthand, Ric was able to turn it into something special. Then you have another era with Austin and Rock. Both those eras had different styles, but that was an announcer’s dream. Calling those matches? It was unreal.
That holds true to this day. This year, I’ve called Undertaker-Roman Reigns and three Okada-Omega matches, as well as the Mae Young Classic final. Watching these newer talents evolve is one of the most exciting things about still being in the business. It keeps me fresh."
Good ol' JR spoke about his relationship with Paul Heyman.
"We had more in common than it looks on the surface. Paul is a Jewish kid from Scarsdale and I’m a redneck Okie from Oklahoma. Paul brought out the best in me, even though we could seemingly be very confrontational, so I trusted my instincts. I got to know Paul, especially when he was driving me, as a person and a professional.
Paul had all these guys on the booking committee who were not “Paul Heyman Guys”. They would not have bought that t-shirt. I just thought he should be booked as a villain. The booking committee had already proven that theory, so it seemed so simple enough to me. All I knew was Paul would know how to get talent over, and though we might take different roads to get there, our destination would always be the same."
Ross said he'd help out the WWE if they asked him to do anything, but he draws the line at a 52-weeks-a-year job, which is what would have been the case if, for example, he had been drafted to replace the recently departed JBL.
"I really do appreciate when people think of me for an opening. If WWE ever needed me to fill in, I would certainly do it with no reservation. Now, is it something I want to do full-time? Absolutely not. It’s a young man’s game, so let’s continue to develop these new guys.
I’m thrilled to have my WWE jersey back. I’m going to do between 30 and 40 dates a year. I am happy to fulfill my obligations. If I’m needed for more, I’m ready, but I do not want to do 52 weeks a year. WWE is going to use me if the weekly U.K. show comes to fruition, and my hope is that I’m involved in that show with Nigel McGuinness."
To read the full interview, which includes Ross talking about his wife Jan, who was killed in a recent tragic auto accident, just click this link.