Jim Ross returned to WWE television at WrestleMania 33 this past Sunday. It was a surprise to a lot of people, but also something that made fans happy because JR is one of the most beloved figures in WWE history. He is the most popular announcer in wrestling history and in my opinion, the best to ever do it.
Over the past week, Ross has commented on his WWE return on a recent edition of his podcast with Dave Meltzer and he also went in-depth in an interview with AVClub.com recently. Here are some excerpts.
JR on his return to WWE:
“Talks with WWE began around six months ago. I never had any reservations about going back to WWE, it just wasn’t the right time based on other things I had committed to do in my career at that time. Talks escalated a couple months ago, and my wife was very excited about the opportunity for us to go home, as she termed it. She was excited about going to WrestleMania and seeing all her old friends, and I shared her optimism. I didn’t get a chance to get her to the red carpet, but I do believe she was present when I called the Undertaker match.
Anyhow, my contract was signed Friday night of WrestleMania weekend. I did most of my negotiations with [executive vice president] Kevin Dunn. But [chairman and CEO] Vince McMahon was also very involved, and I did speak with him. I spoke to [executive vice president] Paul Levesque. It was a team effort.
I think I’m going to do 30-40 dates in my first 12 months of my deal. Those dates are to be determined. There’s nothing they can assign me that I haven’t done before. How many wrestling matches you think I’ve called in my lifetime—100,000? If they want me to do U.K. or NXT or Main Event, I don’t care. It’s all good to me. My days of being the lead guy, the No. 1 voice—all that is way yesterday. Guys who’ve had those issues like I have had in my career, they have self-esteem and confidence issues. I have both those. Totally happy to admit it, but I ain’t got them no more. I’m 65 years old. I feel great, I just lost my wife, I’m trying to get back on my feet here, and I’ve said this and I truly mean it: I’m happy to get my jersey back. I’m happy to re-sign with my old team. Whatever role I need to play, I’m fine with.”
JR on if he had interactions with The Undertaker before and after WrestleMania:
“Yes, I did. And I had interactions with him before. He used an RV as his dressing area. I went in his RV when I arrived hours before we were going on. So we had a very good personal conversation. We’ve been joined at the hip for a long, long time, even back to the WCW days. I helped get him into WCW from World Class Championship Wrestling. I thought at the time, you don’t see too many 6-foot-9, 300-pound guys who were athletic. Young Mark Calaway was an athletic beast. So we had a nice conversation. [And after the match], a big hug afterward. I cried, he didn’t want to cry, though he might have had a tear. It was very emotional for him afterward, and I didn’t want to monopolize his time. It sure as hell wasn’t about me, it was about him. What he helped facilitate for me was the greatest honor I have received in wrestling. I’ve been in three Halls Of Fame, and they pale in comparison to having a legendary guy wanting to bring me back—whether I was under contract or not—to be part of the broadcast team, so I can add to his soundtrack of that match. It was a really emotional day.”
JR on whether he was asked to do the main event by The Undertaker:
“I was told by others that Mark and Vince collaborated, and they talked about it. Mark had a suggestion, Vince thought it was a great idea. Look, there’s one captain of the ship, and I give Vince a hell of a lot of credit, because if it wasn’t for him facilitating it, it wouldn’t have happened. I’m very grateful for both guys. It was quite the honor.”
JR on keeping his Orlando bookings after his wife Jan passed away recently in a car accident:
“It was the perfect medicine. It’s what the doctor ordered. Some people, I understand, had a problem of my grieving technique. Apparently my grieving was not approved by everybody. I don’t know the formula or have the manual on grieving. All I know is that I was shaken to my core, my life changed forever, in a way that did not have to happen to a beautiful, healthy woman who was the love of my life. I only had the option of moving forward, and trying to fulfill her wishes as best I could. It was timely and heartwarming.
The love that I received in Orlando was overwhelming, and sometimes I got to my room and I was spent. There’s only so much emotion you can dip into. I did my show on Sunday, kept it to myself without confirming where I was going to go after the show was over. I went back to my hotel, took a shower, ironed my shirt, pressed my suit, got another car from the WWE and they took me to the Citrus Bowl. It was a whirlwind of a day. Monday I did my podcast production. I was really busy, really tired, had three hours of sleep. Then Tuesday was when it hit me. There’s no more noise, no more neon, no more adulation, no more hugs. It was just me and an empty house. That was a challenging day. That’s the first time I come from a booking in WCW or WWE that my wife wasn’t there.”
If you want to read more from JR with info on his one man show in Chicago on May 21, check out his interview with AVClub here.