Jim Ross has discussed Ron Simmons’ run in WCW and how he became the first African-American World Champion in that company.
Speaking on his Grilling JR podcast, AEW announcer Ross discussed Ron Simmons winning his first world title.During that discussion, Ross talked about the issue of race in professional wrestling and how he felt that race played a part in Simmons’ run not being booked well.
Drawing parallels between Simmons and another African-American wrestling star, Ross gives his thoughts on the use of using race in wrestling:
“Ron was not going to be the Junkyard Dog.And Cowboy [Bill Watts, WCW’s booker at the time] had this great success, had a long track record, made a lot of money promoting Dog who was a very average, at best, wrestler.But he had overwhelming charisma and could identify with the audience.Especially the African-American audience.I think sometimes we make such a big issue of that type of thing.It’s a negative quite honestly.Take the race out of it.I’m not for promoting anything in wrestling that has to do with politics, religion, or race.It’s bad.”
“I think a lot of Ron’s issues were based on race and I think that was wrong.”
Asked by co-host Conrad Thompson how important the fact that Simmons was African-American was in the decision made by Cowboy Bill Watts to make him WCW World Champion.
“Significant.No doubt. Bill had that precedent with Junkyard Dog and the success he had.Cowboy fully believed in the African-American babyface.”
Jim Ross would then discuss Simmons’ booking as champion, Thompson noted that he didn’t face the same caliber of opponents as previous champions Ric Flair or Sting and Ross replied:
“His booking was half-assed.It wasn’t fully committed.There’s things you can’t eliminate…In reality, Ron was not booked well and I think race had something to do with that.So, it just didn’t seem fair.What is there not to like about this guy? Look, I can agree at that time Ron was not a polished, seasoned worker…Ron needed more polish but you could work around that, that’s why you have great heels…I don’t think he had a fair shake and I don’t know that anybody in upper management fought for his cause.
In an episode focussed on Ron Simmons’ WWE Hall of Fame career, Jim Ross discussed the Nation of Domination and why it was formed in the mid-nineties.
Credit: Grilling JR