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James William "Jim" Ross (born January 3, 1952, in Fort Bragg, Californiamarker) is a professional wrestling commentator, restaurateur, and former company executive currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) working on its SmackDown brand as the color commentator, but is currently inactive as he is recovering from his 3rd Bell's palsy attack. To many peers, Ross is considered to be one of the best wrestling announcers in history and has been called the voice of WWE. He is known affectionately as "good ol'" J.R. or simply J.R. to his fans.

In recent years he has developed his own brand of barbecue sauce, beef jerky and cookbooks, and has since opened a barbecue restaurant in Norman, Oklahomamarker, with plans to expand the business into a multi-location franchise centered in the Oklahoma Citymarker area.

Early career

While in high school (Westville High), Jim was the first baseman on the Westville baseball team coached by Joe Poindexter who was at that time the high school football coach. Ross was a two time all conference football player for the Westville Yellowjackets in 1968-69. His maternal grandparents owned a general store in Westville, Oklahoma and his paternal grandfather Dee Ross owned an off sale beer store and was a carpenter. Ross was also President of the Student Body, a 4 year letterman in basketball, and State Vice President of the Future Farmers of America where he was State Speech Champion in 1968. Ross was also named Honorable Mention on the 1969 High School All State Football team by the Tulsa World as a center.

During his time in college, Ross had spent some time commentating on college radio. With this experience, Ross was given a chance to be a sideline commentator when an announcer in one territory was unable to show up one night.

Shortly after Bill Watts bought out the Mid-South territory, Ross went to work there, becoming their lead play-by-play man in 1986. 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 eventually supplanted Gordon Solie and Tony Schiavone as lead play-by-play man for the National Wrestling Alliance. Ross continued to hone his skills and build his legacy as Jim Crockett Promotions became World Championship Wrestling (WCW). In 1992, he also spent one season as a commentator on Atlanta Falcons radio broadcasts.

Ross worked his way up the ladder, yet along the way had a contentious relationship with WCW's newest commentator (and future WCW executive) Eric Bischoff. According to Ross, Bischoff, who reported to him, did a really good job of "selling himself" to executives of WCW's owner Turner Broadcasting. According to Bischoff, Ross mistreated him and others (mostly in deference to Ross' then-supervisor Bill Watts), and when Eric was promoted to executive producer in 1993, Ross demanded, and received, his release.

Ross had a three year contract with Turner Broadcasting, but he took an immediate buy-out for fear that he would not get work elsewhere if he was taken off television for a long period of time. Mick Foley claims that Ross resigned from WCW's booking committee. Ross left WCW after being taken off the air by Eric Bischoff.

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment

1993-1996

Ross was hired by the World Wrestling Federation (later known as World Wrestling Entertainment), making his debut at WrestleMania IX and taking over for Gorilla Monsoon on WWF Wrestling Challenge the next weekend. Ross worked alongside Bobby Heenan on that 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 his position at pay-per-views starting with SummerSlam 1993.

Ross was then made host of Radio WWF, alongside Gorilla Monsoon (the man he replaced at WrestleMania), which lasted under a year. In this role, Ross was joined by co-hosts such as Johnny Polo, and talked to various WWF Superstars and fans. Ross and Monsoon called SummerSlam and the Survivor Series at the end of 1993 and the Royal Rumble for Radio WWF.

Ross was fired by WWF on February 11, 1994 two weeks after suffering his first attack of Bell's Palsy. He subsequently became an announcer for Smoky Mountain Wrestling and the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

When Vince McMahon was indicted by the United States federal government in 1994, he was unable to continue commentating on Monday Night Raw. After a few weeks of Gorilla Monsoon on play-by-play, the WWF rehired Ross to fill in for McMahon alongside Randy Savage throughout that summer. When McMahon was acquitted, Ross was let go by the WWF again, but the Federation rehired him in early 1995 in time for WrestleMania XI. Relocated to the syndicated WWF programming for the majority of the next two years, Ross would rejoin the primary announce team in the summer of 1996.

1996-1999

In September 1996, Ross turned heel in WWF storylines for the first time in his career. Following Diesel and Razor Ramon leaving the WWF for World Championship Wrestling and debuting there as The Outsiders, Ross began to proclaim on television that he was still in touch with "Diesel" and "Razor" and claimed that he would be bringing them back to the WWF soon. On the September 23, 1996 episode of Monday Night Raw, Ross delivered a worked-shoot promo during which he ran down WWF Chairman Vince McMahon (outing him as chairman and not just a commentator for the first time in WWF storylines) and debuted his "new" Diesel and Razor, claiming that while working in the WWF "front office" he'd been the man responsible for so many people leaving the company as part of his "revenge" against the WWF for how they treated him in the past. However, the "New Diesel-New Razor" storyline was poorly received by fans, and Ross' heel turn was quickly dropped.

After this angle, Ross went on to host various WWF programs such as Superstars, Action Zone, Raw Is War, and Shotgun Saturday Night. Ross again became the main voice of the WWF beginning at the 1997 Survivor Series.

At the end of 1998, Ross took a break from Raw Is War, due to another attack of Bell's palsy which came the day after the death of his mother. He eventually returned to Raw Is War as part of a storyline alleging that Vince fired him because of his condition, but that he would not go down quietly and enlisted the services of "Dr. Death" Steve Williams as his personal "enforcer." The storyline went as far as to have Jim Ross set up his own announce table in front of the official announce table labeled "JR Is War." Shortly after that, Jim Ross confronted his replacement, Michael Cole, in the ring. After minutes of Cole trying to convince that he was not trying to steal Ross' job, Ross kicked Cole in the crotch and left the ring. The storyline was soon dropped as the attempt to turn Ross heel failed (the fans ended up cheering Ross and booing Cole) and he took his seat back as "official" commentator of Raw Is War starting with the main event of WrestleMania XV.

Ross' Bell's palsy proved fodder for ridicule by WWF's competitor, World Championship Wrestling, in late 1999. Ed Ferrara parodied Ross, including doing a full impression including mockery of his modified voice due to his medical condition. This was received negatively by fans and wrestlers alike, with Jim Cornette threatening legitimate physical harm against Ferrara. Ferrara ceased mocking the medical condition after the first week. The angle was soon dropped by WCW.

1999-present

Ross was the "voice of Raw Is War" throughout the Monday Night Wars alongside Jerry Lawler and cemented his legacy as one of the great wrestling commentators as WWE became the sole major wrestling promotion in North America. After the WWE Brand Extension, Ross worked exclusively for the Raw brand, cutting down to doing play-by on Raw-only pay-per-views, while SmackDown!-only pay-per-views were announced by SmackDown!'s announce team.

For most of the next six years Ross was involved in very few storylines. Also during this time, Ross served as an Executive Vice President of Talent Relations for the WWF/WWE, a codified extension of his long-time role as a member of management backstage in charge of hiring new talent. By 2005, Ross had stepped down from his executive and management roles. According to repeated statements on his official blog, the move away from management proved beneficial in terms of decreased work-load, giving him more time to focus on his health, his family, and his entrepreneurial endeavors.

Still working as the voice of Raw, Ross was again "fired" (kayfabe) from his play-by-play job by Vince and Linda McMahon on October 10, 2005. Doctors had discovered a serious issue with Ross's colon, and his storyline termination provided an explanation for his absence. While recovering from his colon surgery, Joey Styles (best known for his commentary work for Extreme Championship Wrestling) called the weekly Raw. After recovering, Ross helped produce the Raw announcers from backstage, and was brought back for Saturday Night's Main Event in 2006, then the Raw-brand matches at WrestleMania 22 in Chicago, before taking back his play-by-play job on Raw on May 8, 2006, after Styles quit Raw in the storyline, declaring his hatred for "sports entertainment".

Ross' contract with WWE expired in October 2006. At that point, neither side had signed a new contract and instead worked week to week under the terms of the expired contract. In November 2006, Jim Ross stated on his official blog that he had signed a new one year contract with WWE and would continue to work year-to-year.

On March 31, 2007, Ross was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

On June 23, 2008 during the 2008 WWE Draft, Ross was drafted from Raw to the SmackDown brand while Michael Cole was drafted from SmackDown to Raw, trading positions as commentators on each brand. This ended Ross' position as Monday Night Raw's play-by-play commentator after a nearly 12 year run. The following day Ross posted a blog on his official website saying initially he was not happy with the move and considered quitting the company since he was not told beforehand about the move, but that he will work "to make Smackdown the best program the WWE produces".

On September 23, 2008 edition of ECW, Ross made an appearance on the ECW brand filling in for a sick Todd Grisham along side Matt Striker.

On April 5, 2009, WrestleMania XXV, Ross commented on Rey Mysterio's mask which had been made to represent Heath Ledger's role as The Joker. His comment was, 'I think Rey's career is alive and well King'. Jim Ross has apologized on his JR's BBQ website explaining that, 'it was the wrong choice of words to use and on live television mistakes can happen'.

On April 8, 2009, Ross announced on his WWE Universe blog that with the departure of Tazz from World Wrestling Entertainment, he would assume the role of SmackDown's color analyst, with ECW announcer Todd Grisham moving over to the brand as the play-by-play announcer. At Backlash, Santina Marella, Santino's "twin sister" revealed that she loves Ross rather than The Great Khali. Ross was not told about the joke but posted in his blog "Let bygones be bygones".

Jim Ross missed SmackDown! tapings on October 13, 2009, as he asked for a day off due to anniversary. This was the first time he ever asked for a day off. Seven days later, on October 20, Ross suffered his third Bell's palsy attack en route to Columbia, South Carolinamarker for a SmackDown! taping. After initially planning on working the tapings and reuniting with Lawler, Ross instead flew back to Oklahoma, missing the show and leaving his plans for WWE Bragging Rights in the air. On October 21, 2009, Jim Ross announced that he would not be commentating the WWE Bragging Rights pay-per-view.

Wrestling Career

Although Ross' career has predominantly been as a commentator Ross has participated in matches, with some notable success, including a victory over Triple H in a no-holds-barred match (albeit with help from Batista). Ross' most notable wrestling appearance was in a tag team match with broadcast partner Jerry 'The King' Lawler against Al Snow and Jonathan Coachman at 2003's Unforgiven PPV, with their Raw broadcast jobs on the line. They lost the contest to Snow and Coachman due to interference by Chris Jericho, however two weeks later Ross and Lawler regained their jobs when Ross defeated Coachman in a Country Whippin' match, using a stunner finishing maneuver. Ross has participated in more contests alongside Lawler and has appeared in a few extreme stipulation matches. Jim Ross has been involved in multiple conflicts as well with superstars such as Triple H, The Undertaker, Mankind, Stone Cold Steve Austin and was even set on fire by Kane. Ross even main-evented the WWF's first-ever show from the Georgia Domemarker in Atlanta, GA, an edition of RAW is WAR that took place on October 11, 1999. Ross teamed with Stone Cold Steve Austin to take on WWF Champion Triple H & Chyna.

Catchphrases

Some of his most famous catch-phrases include:

He's stomping a mudhole and walking it dry... Most often used when Stone Cold Steve Austin would mudstomp an opponent but used for other competitors as well.

Business is about to pick up! Used when something unexpected happens during either a wrestler's entrance or during a match that gets a significant reaction from the fans.

He also sometimes borrows phrases from famous play-by-play announcer Gordon Solie whom he states as a significant influence most notably referring to a wrestler's face bleeding as a 'crimson mask'.

He also very frequently refers to good back-and-forth matches as 'slobber-knockers'. This phrase was also imitated by several other WWE superstars in the video package for his WWE Hall of Fame induction.

Jim Ross would often use the term "right hands! right hands! right hands!" when a wrestler would constantly punch his opponent numerous times in the face, often when one wrestler is in the corner with his opponent on the second turnbuckle above him punching down.

Personal life

Jim is married to his wife Jan and has two daughters (from a previous marriage) and two granddaughters. He suffers from Bell's palsy, which sometimes results in temporary paralysis of Ross' facial muscles. In late 1998, following the death of his mother, Ross took a break from Raw as the effects of his grief reportedly worsened his Bell's palsy, and Michael Cole filled in for Ross. Despite his condition, Ross has established himself as one of the all-time greatest wrestling commentators, often compared to Gordon Solie.

In 2007, spurred on by sales of his line of barbecue sauces and beef products, Ross opened up J.R.'s Family Bar-B-Q, a barbecue restaurant in Norman, Oklahomamarker. The restaurant has proven very successful, and, via his blog, Ross has announced plans to expand further into the Oklahoma City area. As of 2008, another restaurant opened in Moore, Oklahomamarker, and there are plans to franchise the restaurants nationwide. He is an avid Oklahoma Sooners football fan and is a regular season-ticket holder. This is reflected in his entrance music which is the Boomer Sooner fight song.

Job titles

  • WWE Friday Night SmackDown color commentator
  • WWE Friday Night SmackDown play-by-play announcer
  • WWE Raw play-by-play announcer
  • WCW Executive Vice President of Broadcasting
  • WWE Executive Vice President of Business Strategies
  • WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations
  • UWF/Mid-South play-by-play announcer
  • SMW play-by-play announcer
  • WCW play-by-play announcer
  • XFL play-by-play announcer
  • Atlanta Falcons play-by-play announcer


Championships and accomplishments







Notes

  1. For testimonials on Ross's career as well as Ross's speech detailing his early career, see the induction video from his WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2007 induction as part of the WrestleMania 23 DVD set.
  2. J.R.’s Blog » J.R.’s Has Biggest Week to Date…Contract Rumors Addressed…Stone Cold at Oklahoma State Fair…Michigan Football Woes…Dream Matches…J.R.’s Family Bar-B-Q Skittles…Raw vs. Smackdown 08 is Amazing…Sooners On a Roll…
  3. Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.145)
  4. Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.238)
  5. http://fans.wwe.com/jimross/blog/2009/04/08/jrs_home_from_wrestlemania_with_random_thoughts
  6. WWE Corporate
  7. J.R.’s Blog » Life In The Bar-B-Q Fast Lane.. Sooner Football.. Steve Austin.. Legends Roundtable.. Autographed Cookbooks Selling Like “Q”.. J.R. to OU-Colorado Game.. Your Fe...


References



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