Good old J.R. can’t catch a break on WWE television these days. One week his business is trashed, a few weeks later he is drenched with barbecue sauce, and now he is portrayed as a sexist jerk thanks to a RAW promo by Kharma.
For a guy that wasn’t even on RAW last night, Jim Ross came out of the broadcast as one of the biggest heels in the WWE. A short anecdote told by Kharma as she gave her WWE exit speech prompted a backlash against J.R. the likes of which he probably hasn’t seen since his last WCW production meeting.
Kharma told a story on RAW about trying out for Tough Enough Season 2 in 2001. Kharma recalled Jim Ross turning her down for the opportunity to compete that season in Tough Enough. Kharma then said that Jim Ross told her she was “too fat.” The crowd booed and instantly the monster who had been stalking Kelly Kelly for a month was now cheered as Jim Ross’ Twitter account blew up with a barrage of nasty tweets from outraged WWE fans.
I went on to Twitter to check out the post-RAW tweets as I normally do and also saw a ton of anti-Ross tweets. J.R. himself started tweeting in response to the numerous angry tweets he had received about Kharma. I was just stunned that so many people would be so short sighted as to blame Jim Ross for oh I don’t know…doing his job!
Don’t blame Jim Ross for telling Kia Stevens she needed to lose weight to become a WWE wrestler, blame Kia Stevens for showing up out of shape to the Tough Enough tryouts with little to no training. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to watch WWE programming and see that you need to be in great physical shape to be a WWE superstar. Could you imagine the backlash in the office if the WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations put Stevens through? The guy was just doing his job!
It is also very important to take a look at the big picture here. This wasn’t Kia Stevens walking into the Tough Enough tryouts in 2011 with ten years of seasoned training as arguably the best female pro wrestler in America. This was a barely trained Kia Stevens walking into Tough Enough overweight and asking to be put ahead of men and women who showed countless hours a day of commitment to their physical conditioning as part of becoming an elite professional wrestler. If physical conditioning was a big part of the criteria and she didn’t meet it, why should she get passed through?
Now should Jim Ross have told her she was “too fat”? Who knows if this story was even true? If so, it is a really tough debate to make right now in this world of politically correct language. She wasn’t trying out for the ballet. She was trying out for pro wrestling. Jim Ross isn’t there to make friends and let’s face it, he is just pointing out the obvious. Could he have had used better language? Sure, but it wouldn’t have mattered regardless.
Maybe I am crazy, but it sounded to me like the language actually inspired Stevens to go out there and prove him wrong? What if he gave her the runaround? Maybe she would have never went to Japan and earned her way to the WWE the hard way? Nobody will ever know the answer to these questions, but I think if you are going to bash him for what he said, it is also fair to keep in mind what happened after he said it.
Take a look at Jim Ross’ track record of recruiting talent when he was running that department for the WWE. J.R. didn’t miss often and hit on a lot of talent that would turn into some of the biggest WWE superstars. I tend to think he knows what he is talking about and if Stevens wasn’t WWE material in 2001, I’ll lean towards his judgment.
So if you are going to call Jim Ross out for not putting Stevens through Tough Enough, praise him for recognizing her talents in 2010, and give the guy a break. He was just doing his job. He was casting for a part that she didn’t fit in 2001. She fit the part in 2010 and gave the woman an opportunity to fulfill her dream.
Quite frankly, he doesn’t sound like that bad of a guy after all.
Update: Jim Ross responded on his website and said he never used the word “fat.”
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