Jim Ross has revealed his emotional investment in a former World Champion made firing him while with WWE incredibly tough.
Jim Ross signed with WWE in 1993 where he initially worked as solely an announcer. Over the following years, Ross combined announcing with work backstage as Head of Talent Relations.
During this period, JR played a key role in bringing the likes of Mick Foley, The Rock, Brock Lesnar and John Cena into the company. However, on the other side of the coin, his position also meant that he was required to let talent go when instructed by Vince McMahon.
Speaking on a recent episode of his Grilling Jr podcast, the WWE Hall of Famer discussed his most difficult firing. Ross explained that firing Eddie Guerrero in late 2001 was incredibly difficult as he was emotionally invested in the star, and knew how great he could be.
“It probably was because I saw greatness,” Ross said. “I saw one of the greatest pro wrestlers in the world that we’re about to lose if we don’t get our arms around his problem. But in order for us to get our arms around his problem, he’s gotta cooperate with us. He’s gotta allow us to hug him. That’s what we kept waiting on. So, yeah, that was probably the toughest because I had such an emotional investment in him.”
During 2001 Eddie Guerrero developed an addiction to painkillers stemming from injuries he suffered in car accident two years previously. As a result, WWE sent Guerrero to rehab in May of that year. While out of action, Guerrero was arrested for drink-driving and released in November.
Ross added that he knew he needed to let Guerrero go and make changes to ultimately save his life.
“That’s it, it’s no simpler than that, Conrad [Grilling JR host Conrad Thompson],” Jim Ross continued. “That’s exactly what my goal was. I said it here several times: my goal was to save Eddie’s life and to get Eddie healthy. We knew what we had when he got healthy.”
After making a number of changes to his life and getting help, Guerrero returned to the ring in early 2002 where he appeared on the independent scene, while enjoy a brief spell with New Japan. These appearances let to the star being rehired by WWE in April.
H/t to Sportskeeda for the transcription.