WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross has claimed that Vince McMahon wanted him permanently replaced as the voice of Monday Night Raw as early as 1999.
Jim Ross joined WWE in 1993, but it wasn’t until 1996 that he got a consistent run in his most famous role as the lead announcer on Monday Night Raw. This period involved Ross being fired by the company in early 1994, before eventually being brought back.
JR went on to provide the soundtrack to many of the Attitude’s Era most famous moments. Namely expressing his incredulity that Mick Foley wasn’t broken in two and child-like excitement when Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mike Tyson stood nose-to-rose in a WWF ring.
However, at the tail end of 1998 Ross took another enforced break from the announce booth after a 2nd bout of Bell’s Palsy. When he returned in March 1999, he arrived with his “enforcer” Dr Death Steve Williams, alleging that Vince McMahon had fired him due to his poor health. While Ross had been absent, his role was filled by a young Michael Cole, until the main event of WrestleMania 15.
Cole had joined WWE in 1997 as a backstage interviewer before appearing as a commentator alongside Ross on Raw by the end of the year. Despite being replaced in the role only a matter of months later, he returned to the commentary desk with JR taking time off.
“I think it was Vince. He wanted younger. He didn’t want Southern. He didn’t want chubby cheeks. He wanted a change. He also underestimated my popularity. With that said, it sounds very egocentric to say something like that, but I think that was all proven over time. In any event, I don’t think Cole had anything to do with it or any conspiracy theories or any underhanded bullsh*t,”
Ross went on to praise Michael Cole, commenting that he’s “proud as hell” of him.
“He survived it and now he’s tenured and he’s been there for years and years. He’s got a title and he’s making good money. I’m proud as hell of him,”
Jim Ross recently confirmed that he will be taking time off from the AEW announce desk as he undergoes treatment for skin cancer. Taz filled in for the Hall of Famer on the most recent episode of Dynamite.
Meanwhile, posting on social media Ross said that he was “healing well” although challenging days lie ahead.
H/t to Wrestling News for the transcription.