While old school wrestling purists will peg Gordon Solie as the all-time greatest play-by-play commentator; wrestling fans from the past decade and a half will have no qualms agreeing that Jim Ross holds that honor.
Jim Ross, who made his WWF debut at WrestleMania IX, officially retired on September 11, 2013.
Now before you get into the crazy conspiracy theories and trail off into a tangent of Roswell and Area 51, this post is not about the 2K Sports symposium that took place during SummerSlam weekend. This is about a man who hung up his broadcasting headset, and quietly bowed out of the crazy world of professional wrestling.
As far as Monday Night RAW is concerned, the flagship show that Ross captained as its lead play-by-play commentator, there was no mention of his retirement. There were no snide remarks from J.R.’s former rival Michael Cole, who has since taken on the role as the “Voice of the WWE”.
WWE has both been a blessing and a curse for Jim Ross who, over the years, has been subjective to storylines he wasn’t comfortable with: He had been privy to two failed heel gimmicks; he kissed Mr. McMahon’s ass; he had been continually fired and rehired; and he was unceremoniously drafted to the SmackDown show without any prior notice–ending his 12 year run on RAW.
But since his departure from the broadcast booth in October 2009, J.R. has played a crucial role in the future of the WWE. He’s worked alongside WWE C.O.O. Triple H as an advisor and scout within Talent Relations, and has coached and trained new announcers in WWE’s Performance Center in Florida.
We can all list a plethora of great memories involving “Good Ole” J.R. without straining ourselves; because that’s how great Jim Ross was at his job. The man was a consummate professional and treated the product with credibility.
Not everyone can do that, just listen to Kevin Kelly’s dry commentary on Ring of Honor broadcasts. He sounds like he’s reading from a script. “Oh… BJ Whitmer got hit with a piledriver on the ring apron…” As if the piledriver was nothing to get excited about; not as if the piledriver hasn’t been proven to be professional wrestling’s most dangerous move.
Just to note, BJ Whitmer did suffer loss of feeling in his right leg and arm, with the entire right side of his body going numb as a result from that piledriver.
Broadcasters who have benefitted from working alongside J.R. include–long-time color analyst–Jerry Lawler; Michael Cole; Todd Grisham; Matt Striker; Joey Styles; Coach; and many others.
One of my favorite J.R. memories has to be when, at WrestleMania XXVIII, he returned to call the “End of and Era” match between Triple H and The Undertaker. It was per Taker’s request that J.R. called that match, which speaks volumes of how well-respected he is in the wrestling locker room.
We will always remember J.R. for his distinct voice, his professionalism, the credibility he brought to each match he called, his catchphrases, and his signature hat. (And Barbecue Sauce).
We will all miss “Good Ole” J.R. – “Good God Almighty!”
Answer the Question: Did Jim Ross retire or did WWE force Jim Ross to retire to save face after the 2K Sports symposium fiasco with Ric Flair during SummerSlam weekend?
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[Watch Jim Ross in the iconic “Stone Cold! Stone Cold!” segment]