WWE | Pro Wrestling

Jim Ross: Another WWE Great Calls it a Career

If you have read my posts on here, you know about my love for wrestling and my love for the purity of the business. I know it’s hard to say that when you are describing something that is scripted and the oddest form of reality television there is, but it’s true.

When I heard the news that Jim Ross was stepping away from the WWE and looking toward other endeavors, I can honestly say I was fighting back a tear. In my mind there are only two voices that are needed to describe wrestling – the late Gordon Solie, and the southern twang of Jim Ross. Anything else is uncivilized.

The words from the WWE were simple and direct…

WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross announced that he is retiring from WWE today, after 20 years of service, to focus on his personal business endeavors. Jim has had a long and storied career at WWE, both on the corporate staff as well as his television persona, calling some of the most memorable matches in WWE history as the voice of Monday Night Raw and SmackDown for more than two decades. He made his debut with WWE at WrestleMania IX in 1993 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 by his long-time friend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.Jim has made many contributions to WWE and the sports-entertainment industry, and we thank him for his many years of service and wish him well.

Jim Ross wasn’t just the announcer, he was part of the show. I’m not talking about story lines and acting (Kane, Mark Henry, Michael Cole), I’m talking about how he would set the table for you in a match, comment and make you feel like you were part of the action.

And while Solie was the standard by which all wrestling commentators were judged in the 1970s and 1980s, Ross surpassed him and was the standard bearer of the 1990s until now. While Michael Cole and JBL are a dynamic combination on the air now – neither could or will carry a torch to the Oklahoma native and his love for the business.

Ross was hired by the World Wrestling Federation and made his on-screen debut at WrestleMania IX. He took over for Gorilla Monsoon on WWF Wrestling Challenge the following weekend. Ross worked alongside Bobby Heenan on the show until Heenan left the WWF in December 1993. Ross was originally the main voice of the WWF’s pay-per-view events when he was first brought in, calling both WrestleMania IX and the King of the Ring with Heenan and Randy Savage in 1993. Vince McMahon took over his position at pay-per-views starting with SummerSlam 1993.

But before that, Ross plied his trade in the UWF under Bill Watts and later in WCW with Solid by his side. Jim first worked in the NWA Mid-South area as a referee in 1974. He stayed as a referee there until 1977.

Shortly after Bill Watts bought out the Mid-South territory in 1982, Ross returned to work there,becoming their lead play-by-play man and Vice President of Marketing.

The first World Title match he called was between Ric Flair and Ted DiBiase. When Jim Crockett, Jr. bought the Mid-South (since renamed the Universal Wrestling Federation) and merged it with his Jim Crockett Promotions group,

Ross joined the new company and teamed up doing color commentary with David Crockett and Tony Schiavone as lead play-by-play man for the National Wrestling Alliance.Ross continued to hone his skills as Jim Crockett Promotions became NWA World Championship Wrestling (WCW). In 1991 the promotion left the NWA and became WCW. Jim was teamed with long-time NWA/Crockett broadcaster Bob Caudle for a couple of years.

Ross was a Picasso with words, a true gentleman of the industry and in the words of one Triple H, “He did what was best for business.” And to think he suffered an attack of Bells Palsy at one point during a show where he continued on to complete the job.

There have been many an announcer who were thrown to the wolves to give it a go (Tony Schiavone, David Crockett, Johnny Weaver, etc.) and failed. Lance Russell was soothing from the Memphis area and there was a sublteness to Marc Lowrance that we remember from our times in Dallas with the Von Erich’s.

But nothing, nothing compares to Jim Ross. While the Dodgers have their Vin Scully, wrestling had Ross, the man who helped define the decades of wrestling excite we knew and still love today.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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