Jim Ross took part in an extensive interview with The Masked Man of Grantland last week, and discussed his lengthy career, the infamous WWE 2K14 panel at SummerSlam last year, and his opinions on the current product. He also noted that he is under a Legends agreement with WWE, and named Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt as two Superstars that have “it.” Below are highlights:
On today’s announce team:
Occasionally, you wonder if the announce team remembers they’re watching a match.
Today’s trend in wrestling seems to be more narratives. A lot of the subtle, fine points of the art form, of applying holds and focusing on a body part and why are they doing something and what could this be leading to, are often ignored. But if you have movement on the screen and you’re talking about something else, there’s a disconnect. It’s like it’s third-and-12 and they’re throwing the ball and you’re talking about the second half of the doubleheader — it’s related to the game but it’s not related to the moment. I always wanted to create the ability to suspend the viewers’ disbelief and get lost in the process of what these great athletes are doing. And it’s certainly not a knock on any of the current broadcasters, because this is what they’re obligated to do. They have many more masters to serve than I did. There are so many things that they have to service, whether it be the app, or a movie, or in-show sponsorships, or whatever. The guys are just doing their jobs. But I’ll say this — back when we were getting the highest ratings, the sound of the show was different. And maybe egocentrically, I like that soundtrack better.
On the SummerSlam panel:
You were last seen as a WWE employee at SummerSlam, hosting a rather controversial panel discussion for WWE 2K14, where Ric Flair seemed to be, shall we say, overly animated. The rumors are that gig got you fired.
I don’t think you have to be a Mensa member to figure out that it had an influence on decisions that were made. I was working with the developmental kids [in NXT] and enjoying that, and got called in for that job.
It was a very unique night, to say the least. Ric was coming off maybe the most traumatic time of his life. [Flair's son had recently died of a drug overdose.] In hindsight, it might not have been the most timely booking, to get him in that environment. And then you can look at the other side and say maybe it’s a good thing to get him out around friends. As it worked out, you’d probably lean more to the former than the latter. But here’s the deal: I was conductor of a runaway train. I was supposed to keep it on the tracks and that didn’t happen. So I don’t have any issues taking responsibility. Did I envision that it would help facilitate my exit? No. But I could see the thinking behind it.
But honestly, people might not believe this, and I don’t want to give one of those eye-rollers, but it really came at a good time. My health is good, I just celebrated my 62nd birthday, I got a lot of projects going. I’m going to start a podcast soon with the same company that does Austin and Jericho. I’m excited about that. I got Live Nation working with me on one-man shows and, of course, we start out the way we want to start out, in New York City, Saturday, March 1, at the Gramercy Theater.
On developing new stars:
How do you think [WWE is] doing developing new stars?
It’s imperative to get new faces in that upper echelon. There’s no timeline for that. You can’t say, “Oh, we’ll get this done in six months or a year.” You have to constantly be finding out who has ring presence, who can produce bell to bell, who can deliver a believable promo, who stays out of trouble, who stays healthy, who isn’t a headcase away from the arena, those types of things. There’s so many unknown elements that you can’t control.
I see that the WWE is trying very diligently to get the Shield headed in the right direction. All three of those guys are probably going to be big stars. Reigns seems to be the guy that’s leading the charge there, but I think the mistake people would make is that he’s going to be the only star out of the Shield. I think Bray Wyatt has the it factor. He’s got that 300-pound body that’s got a second gear. He’s got that great, almost Jake the Snake–like delivery. I know that they have high hopes for him. There’s a lot of really good young prospects down in Orlando, and the future is bright.
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