WWE Star “Good Ol’ J.R.” Speaks at WCU

Jim Ross, WWE's former VP of Talent Relations, spoke at WCU in the UC Grand Room Friday night.

Jim Ross, former play-by-play announcer and VP of Talent Relations for World Wrestling Entertainment, spoke at WCU in the UC Grand Room last night at 9 p.m. Ross shared stories of his childhood and upbringing and also shared insight to the unique world of professional wrestling. The presentation lasted 90 minutes and was followed by a Q and A session and ended with a special meet and greet with the contest winners from earlier in the day.

The organizers of Last Minute Productions began the presentation by introducing Ross to an audience that only filled half the room. In attendance were students, faculty, and locals that hoped to catch a glimpse of one of the most prominent figures of the pro wrestling world. Keith Love, owner of Fandemonium Comics and More, was there with a hand drawn portrait of Ross in tow (something Love has done for many popular celebrities.) “I just heard it was happening today,” Love said, “I rushed right over and I hope I get to meet him so he can sign my art piece.”

Keith Love with custom drawing.

Ross began his presentation by polling the audience by asking who had cell phones. Many hands went up to his reply of, “Please turn off your ringers. Take pictures, take video, but if it rings I’ll just have you put them through to me.”

Ross told funny stories of his childhood and his father. He mentioned a story of how he forgot to lock his hunting dog in while it was in heat only to find her impregnated with a litter of ten inbred pubs. Ross mentioned that he had to euthanize them personally and that was the first occasion of him being ‘taken to the woodshed’ by his father. “Taken to the woodshed” is a phrase he used often in his commentary for WWE Monday Night RAW.

Ross uses a chair as a prop for a road story.

Ross shared with listeners his love and passion for broadcast. As a child he idolized radio greats like Harry Caray. Ross explained his appreciation for someone who can paint a picture of something using their voice. His history of broadcasting in college landed him an interview after his graduation with wrestling promoter Bill Watts and Ross was brought in to drive around the wrestlers for a pay of two cents a mile.

Ross briefly touched on his employment with Ted Turner and World Championship Wrestling before he forwarded his story to his debut in World Wrestling Entertainment in 1993 at Wrestlemania 9 where his first appearance on their program saw him dressed in theme for the event at Caesar’s Palace in a full toga costume. Ross then shared a funny story of how Bobby “The Brain” Heenan mentioned that Vince McMahon, the owner of the company, really liked ‘bold moves’ and that if Ross really wanted to impress him that under his toga for the entire show he should “go commando.” Ross almost did it until Gorilla Monsoon, then President of WWE, explained he should NEVER do anything that Bobby Heenan suggested. Ross told the audience that despite his antics, Bobby Heenan was the smartest wrestling personality/businessman he ever worked with in wrestling.

Host of "Lunch Hour with B-Man"Bradley Lucore and friend listening to JR.

Ross inspired the crowd by explaining to them that they should never let someone define who they are for them. “I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities in my profession because people just wanted to label me ‘the wrestling guy’,” Ross shared, “They didn’t pay attention to the smaller details that I have done such as my history with radio, blogs, and football games, or other things, or the fact that my programs were double the ratings of theirs. They wanted to limit me by telling me who I was and that just wasn’t true. So if you take anything away from this presentation today, take this: Don’t EVER let ANYONE define who you are but you. You can make it to the top. If a farm boy like me from a graduating class of 50 students can get out of Oklahoma and go out there and find his passion and chase his dream and make it a reality, so can you.”

Ross spent another 35 minutes answering questions from the audience. Some of the questions had very elaborate answers and some were just silly. Of the questions asked, some were:

Thoughts on the new coming WWE Network:  “Ten bucks a month for all they are offering? Now that’s a good deal. My driver went to Starbucks for two coffees for us today. It cost us more for coffee.”

JR clarified the CM Punk situation. Photo courtesy of WWE.

Thoughts on the CM Punk walkout on WWE: “I think he’s tired. I think he’s burned out. And he has been for much longer than just this week. He’s beat up. He’s sore. He’s wrestled since he was 18. He’s 35-36 now and he’s wrestled a tough, rough, and hard style for 15+ years. The reason it was so easy for him to walk away was because he’s saved his money. He’s young. He’s not married. He doesn’t have any kids, wives, alimony, baby momma’s, momma babies or anything like that so he’s in a good place. I think he needs a little R&R and rethink some things and I’m sure he’ll be back.

Daniel Bryan is the biggest star WWE has had in years. The audience loves him whether the powers that be agrees with them or not. Photo courtesy of WWE.

Thoughts on Daniel Bryan and WWE’s next future star: “I don’t think we’ve even seen the beginning of this Daniel Bryan story. Obviously he’s a big star, even if he doesn’t look like one. As far as NXT and the next big WWE developmental talent, it’s Roman Reigns. He’s got the look, the athleticism, the talent, and the DNA. Keep your eye on him.”

Thoughts on Bill Goldberg and Sting’s WWE contract: “If I were Sting, I wouldn’t walk to WWE, I would RUN. Sting’s 52 years old. That window of opportunity is closing fast. In the case of Bill Goldberg, I knew Bill when he was a high school senior long before he ever got into wrestling. When it comes to what we did with him in WWE, we dropped the ball. I don’t say ‘I tried to tell them’ or ‘I told you so’ because that’s not how you do a team. I was on that team so I say ‘we’ and we dropped the ball.

Why did Kurt Angle leave WWE and what will have to happen for him to return: “Drugs and alcohol. Kurt was in a place we couldn’t have him and we couldn’t bring him back until the reason we let him go is eradicated. Kurt’s a gift to the wrestling business. I can see him getting better, coming back for those two or three more big send-off matches, and then taking his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.”

Thoughts on movie star wrestlers coming in part time to take airtime over yearlong wrestlers: “I don’t think they need to overdo it. It’s ok to bring one in especially if they are there to help get the younger guys where they need to be. The Rock is a huge star and he brings millions of dollars of free publicity everywhere he goes. That’s why they do that.”

John Cena and girlfriend Nikki Bella, photo courtesy of E! Online.

One of the sorority sisters in attendance caught J.R.’s eye and he could tell she wanted to ask a question, so he talked her into approaching the microphone only to have her ask, “Do you think John Cena will marry Nikki Bella?” Ross replied with “No.” When asked why he said, “He’s probably waiting to marry one of your sisters,” to which the girls erupted.

Jim Ross reminisces about his career for the students of WCU.

Ross gave a very inspirational presentation that all in attendance appreciated and enjoyed. This was Ross’s first trip to Western Carolina University. Ross signed with Fox Sports two weeks ago and is excited to be back in broadcasting.