Jim Ross recently described how having Vince McMahon producing him through his headset on live television affected his work.
In the latest episode of ‘Grillin JR’, Jim Ross answered questions sent in fans in a conversation that spanned the long and illustrious career of ‘Good Ol’ JR’. When asked what it was like to have WWE Chairman delivering instructions via his headset during a show, and if it affected his legendary style of commentary, Ross admitted that having the Chairman in his ear could throw him off his game:
“Vince would tell you what to say, and sometimes it would be ill timed. Sometimes it would be right on the money, but just general stuff, you know. Normally, it was critiquing on the air, live. ‘You cant say that JR, Godammit.’ So it was very disconcerting. Producing announce talent is an art form, unless you’re the owner of the company. Then you can do whatever you want, say whatever you want, don’t worry about the morale of your talent. It was rough, it was very challenging, very daunting.”
Jim Ross made his commentary debut with WWE at WrestleMania IX in 1993. IN his early days with the company, Ross shared the commentary desk with the likes of Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage. Jim Ross would eventually team with Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler and the duo would go to become the voices of ‘The Attitude Era’ and one of the most iconic announce teams of all time.
Describing the dynamic between Lawler, Ross and McMahon in his 2020 autography ‘Under The Black Hat’, Ross described how he would often become the messenger in terms of relaying messages from backstage to Lawler:
“Jerry didn’t like the drama, and Vince knew that The King didn’t have the mindset to deal with long-term tension. If Vince wanted the best performance from Jerry, he knew not to confront him. So I got it instead.”
When discussing the issue with Conrad Thompson during the ‘Ask JR Anything’ episode of ‘Grilling JR’, Jim described how McMahon would coach Lawler through Ross, knowing JR would handle his style of production more calmly than his comrades:
“Sometimes Vince would say, you know ‘Hey Lawler’s having a bad night JR. Goddammit, you’ve got to get him out of it.’ So it came to be my fault that Lawler’s having a bad night in Vince’s prospective. To be honest with you I don’t remember Lawler having too many bad nights…
I was the guy he vented to. And, you know, a lot of my peers, Mick Foley, Taz, Todd Grisham, it didn’t work for them. And I can understand why, it shouldn’t work for them.”
Jim Ross’ last call for WWE came at WrestleMania 34, joining Bryon Saxton and Jerry Lawler for the Andre The Giant Battle Royal. Ross is currently a part of the AEW commentary team, a role he has said will be his ‘last gig’ in Professional Wrestling.
Despite the supposed tension felt between Ross and McMahon at times, Ross would become the voice of countless classic WWE moments and is regarded as one of the all-time greats. Through his vivid storytelling and passionate delivery, ‘Good Ol’ JR’ has become one of the most recognisable voices in professional wrestling.