July 23, 2012
This week, we’ve got a special treat as legendary WWE wrestling announcer Jim Ross participated in a Q&A session with me. Ross is, quite simply, the best in the business. Below are his thoughts on plenty of topics including the grind of professional wrestling, the downfall of the WCW, and Oklahoma football. Be sure to also head over to his website at www.jrsbarbq.com where you can buy JR’s excellent BBQ sauce.
Okay, maybe most importantly – how do you see Oklahoma football faring this year?
JR: A healthy Landry Jones at QB could result in OU winning 10+ games and deep in the post season. 10-3 here last season is considered unsuccessful so I look for the Sooners to ‘bounce back.’
You’ve been recognized by many as perhaps the greatest wrestling announcer of all time. What’s your secret to staying relevant for so long?
JR: Being a life long fan and having natural passion for what I do. I feel I’m a student of the game and have never played a role but just do what comes naturally.
I believe you actually did some refereeing a bit early in your career. Has that aspect of wrestling changed much since the time you were doing it?
JR: Today’s talents don’t utilize the referee as well as other generations did. The referee can/should be a significant facet of any match. Not the star but a facilitator/asset.
Younger fans that know you from WWE’s Monday Night Raw might not know you first worked at NWA and WCW. In the 1990s, WCW went on a pretty good run before they were eclipsed by the WWE. Were you at all surprised that they were able to draw the ratings they did, even while focusing around older talent?
JR: I had 19 years of experience before I finally ‘made it’ to WWE. WCW was able to use WWE established stars with several other talents including Goldberg to assemble a viable roster. They simply allowed too many cooks in the kitchen regarding the creative direction which helped cause them to unravel.
How do most wrestlers accept working in a lesser role after achieving great success? For example, Jack Swagger won a world championship and had a good run, but recently, has been moved to the back of the line a bit. In general, how do wrestlers handle that?
JR: I look at it like being cast in a weekly soap opera. Roles vary and timing is everything. Through differing creative and Swagger’s own performances and execution of his role, he could be right back in a higher profile position sooner than later. I tell the young guys to “keep chopping the wood” and to maximize the minutes that they receive.
Fathead: Many fans only know about the few hours a week when the cameras are on, but working house shows night after night that aren’t on TV, taking bumps repeatedly … it’s a pretty demanding job, right?
JR: Absolutely and the travel is challenging as anyone who flies these days knows. A full time, WWE superstar works an average of 4 days per week. No one ever said it was easy but it’s SO much better than it used to be.
In all your years of watching wrestling, if you could start a promotion with one guy at the beginning of his career, who’s your pick?
JR: Firstly, that would not be a goal of mine but for the sake of the question it might be Andre the Giant because then I would have an ‘attraction’ that could be used sparingly but would always sell tickets. For an everyday, main event star it would likely be Steve Austin.
We can’t go without mentioning your line of outstanding barbecue sauce (available at www.jrsbarbq.com). How involved are you with the entire process and the business?
JR: My wife and I are 100% hands on in the development of every product that we produce. They aren’t gimmicks but excellent products made with premium ingredients and are made in Oklahoma by a family owned company, Clements Foods, that has been making BBQ Sauces, Ketchup and Mustard for over 50 years. It’s a labor of love and a homage to my late Mom whose homemade BBQ sauce taste profile inspired the JR’s Original BBQ Sauce that we sell today. It’s our #1 seller.
When did you decide you wanted to try your hand at it and can you give us an idea of how successful it’s been?
JR: I’ve always been a foodie…love that world and am developing an idea to pitch for a Food Network type project. My Mom was a great cook as is my Italian wife. I’m not so bad myself but not in their league. The business is growing amazingly well especially with it being primarily an online product except for the Norman, Oklahoma Homeland stores. If we can earn our way into grocery stores someday then we have a chance to make JR’s Family brand of products special. I think my years of traveling in the wrestling business provided me an opportunity to enjoy some great meals, products, sauces, etc. and that has been another catalyst for writing our two cookbooks and developing our condiment/sauce line.