Jim Ross and Paul Heyman have been up and down the road together, from World Championship Wrestling to the then World Wrestling Federation.
They have been enemies on different sides of WCW/ECW’s invasion of the WWF to partners at the commentary desk.
Of course, present day devotees will recall the pair’s alliance in 2001. After Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler departed the company following No Way Out, then ECW owner Paul Heyman shocked the world when he made the unannounced leap to Monday’s to sit beside ‘Good Ol’ JR’.
However, that wasn’t the first time both men had served by the other’s side. Jim Ross and Paul Heyman – then Paul E. Dangerously – forged a bond in October 1990 when Heyman made his commentary debut at WCW Halloween Havoc.
Now, Jim Ross has spoken out about the pair’s relationship, the advice he gave a young advocate before the infamous event went live and how Paul is received backstage on the most recent edition of the Grilling JR Podcast.
“He was my choice. I think Mr. Herd said, ‘who do you want to work with?’ And I said, ‘let’s try Heyman’. He and I sounded different; he was a caustic chorus at times, controversial. It was natural. He’s caustic going into a convenience store – that’s just Paul.”
Talking about the nerves Heyman felt before WCW Halloween Havoc 1990 went on air, Ross recalls the advice he imparted on his colleague and how it drove him to be the heel voice we know and love today:
“Just like I told him, ‘God damn, you’re easy to hate. He looked at me incredulously, like ‘God damn, that was a little stiff JR.’ ‘Paul, that’s a compliment, you’re a f***ing – you’re a villain. I’m not supposed to like you. You are very easy to hate.’ And that’s the best compliment I can give him.”
Has Jim Ross’ opinion of Paul Heyman altered since the pair parted ways on the headset in 2001? Considering the simmering rivalry between WWE and AEW fans and in some cases talent, it would have been easy for the Oklahoma native to bash his opposite number.
Thankfully, he didn’t and when asked about the work Paul is doing in WWE at the moment with Roman Reigns and previously Brock Lesnar, the greatest announcer in wrestling history had this to say:
“He’s probably the best promo guy in the business, if not top 4 or 5 without question. He’s effective, he’s been effective with every top talent. You think Heyman is ultra popular backstage right now in WWE? Unlikely, but so what? He’s trusted with Brock Lesnar, and now he’s being trusted with Roman Reigns. That says all I need to hear about how Heyman is perceived. He’s professionally perceived as the best in the game.”
Who’s going to argue with that? Without a doubt, Paul Heyman is the on-screen version of Jim Ross. Flawless at what he does and will be remembered as one of the greatest – if not the greatest – in the history of the industry.
If you would like to listen to the full interview with Jim Ross, including his thoughts on Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan as a commentator and manager and his take on the main event of WCW Halloween Havoc 1990, then you can subscribe to the Grilling JR Podcast now.
Credit for the interview: Grilling JR Podcast
h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.