Jim Ross had a big hand in reshuffling WWE’s roster in the Attitude Era.
He spoke to Justin LaBar on his show Wrestling Reality, promoting his new book Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling. He talked about taking pride in managing a talent roster in a promotion that was close to bankruptcy by the time he took over in the late nineties:
The run should be measured by the success earned. We took a roster and retooled a roster that had the company in position to contemplate bankruptcy. We were lucky on some of our hires because they connected; the roles started and then the company goes public. So, you go from a private company that’s having some troubling financial times, and a lot of us took financial cuts, but we endured, which I believe we endured because we had a strong talent roster, not just in the ring, but in the locker room and in the public with appearances and going above and beyond so I take a lot of pride in that. I approached that as a General Manager of a sports team, or a Recruiting Coordinator of a big Division 1 College where we started doing things that hadn’t been done before where we would organize scouting of amateur wrestling and football.
When bringing up recruiting Brock Lesnar to the WWE. Ross talked about how Lesnar was never a fan of the business growing up, mostly motivated by the dollar amount WWE was willing to give him. Ross knew waiting and signing him at the right time was key in bringing him in:
Gerald Brisco had scouted Brock Lesnar for two years and recruited him so that Brock Lesnar would know that we were waiting for him, and we could have signed him a year earlier, but we made an agreement with his Head Coach in Minnesota that we would leave him alone because he wanted to come back to win a National Championship, which I thought was great so we saved our money for that year but we ponied it up because we knew we were going to get him the following year. He was motivated by the dollar, he wasn’t a wrestling fan but he kind of thought that the lifestyle – guys like me and you may not have the benefits that Brock Lesnar gets, but if I could be Brock Lesnar, I’m in. I’ll take that deal, but the roster was big and we looked at it, and I always said that the key element, or trait for any talent that I ever signed was reliability.
Lesnar went on to be a big star within the WWE, winning the WWE title in short fashion upon being called up in 2002. Today, he’s one of the WWE’s top draws and is currently the Universal champion, having won it back at WrestleMania, defeating Goldberg.