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Jim Ross

Real Name - James William Ross

Lifespan - 1/3/52

Norman, OK

Occupational Background - Radio Broadcasting, Sports Announcer, Entrepreneur, Podcaster

Promotional Background - Tri-State(`74-`77), Mid-South/UWF(`82-`87), NWA/JCP(`88-`89), WCW(`89-`93), WWF(`93-`94), SMW(`94),

`14), New Japan(`15,`16)

Peak Years - `89-`01

Place in History - Jim Ross is a force of nature within the pro-wrestling world that has been reduced by many as the voice of the Attitude Era, which is quite a distinction on its own.  A hardworking kid from Oklahoma, Ross always wanted to be involved in sports broadcasting.  His childhood love of pro-wrestling led him to working for Leroy McGuirk and working his way up the ladder.  When Bill Watts took over the territory, Ross was brought on board and became a key lieutenant throughout the promotion’s existence.  Growing the company from a second tier territory into one of the best in the country was a major accomplishment.  Ross not only helped anchor their broadcasts, but he helped syndicate the product into different markets.  When the UWF was nearing its end, Ross helped coordinate the company’s sale to Jim Crockett Promotions.  He came onboard with the deal and when WCW was formed, Ross quickly climbed the ladder.  He was at his best as a lead announcer, he was part of the infamous booking committee and was key to bringing Bill Watts in to head up WCW at one point.  When the Watts’ reign came to an end, Ross became collateral damage.  The WWF picked him up and he spent the next twenty years going through the ups and downs of the company.  Ross struggled to find his place, despite his strengths as both an announcer and producer of talent.  Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn seemed unable to accept him with his Southern accent, Bell’s palsy afflicted face and traditional pro-wrestling sensibilities.  He bounced between the WWF and Smoky Mountain until being brought back in 1996.  The company was struggling and Ross became perhaps the single most important person in helping the company recover in the next few years.  In 1997, Jim Ross succeeded JJ Dillion as the head of talent relations.  In this role, he oversaw the hiring, firing and paying of talent.  He was one of the most influential people within pro-wrestling even beyond Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman in many ways.  While on-screen, he became “Good Ol’ JR” in his black cowboy hat and making his memorable calls of big matches, Ross was accruing great power off-screen.  Ross was the man behind hiring people like Steve Austin, Mick Foley and Chris Jericho who were WCW castoffs.  He pushed to use Mexican, Japanese and Puerto Rican wrestlers and for a light heavyweight division.  He brought onboard young talent that blossomed into The Rock, John Cena and Randy Orton.  Ross also encouraged signing exceptional amateur wrestlers like Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar and others that diversified the roster.  Ross did an incredible job of finding and signing the stars that made the WWF the premier pro-wrestling brand again.  His most bold move was creating the developmental system that sustained the WWF in the wake of so many other companies collapsing.  Working with Jim Cornette, Danny Davis, Les Thatcher and others, the WWF cultivated talent in several different areas.  The developmental system was not perfect, but it helped much of their up-and-coming roster.  Although Jim Ross was transforming the company for the better, he was forever fighting to implement these changes.  In 2004, John Laurinaitis replaced Jim Ross as the Head of Talent Relations.  Laurinaitis’s tenure is not looked at reverently.  The company’s developmental system collapsed, the talent pool dwindled and the product suffered.  Ross continued as the lead announcer for several more years before Michael Cole essentially took over.  Ross, despite health problems, being victimized in angles and humiliated on commentary, always made tremendous showings when he was brought back.  Paul Levesque tried to find a place for him in the company’s developmental system, but the WWE always seemed hellbent on firing him (as they did numerous times over the years).  After leaving the WWE in 2014, Jim Ross, one of the most industrious people in pro-wrestling, has managed to stay relevant.  He took up podcasting, he did one-man shows, he called mixed martial arts, boxing and New Japan Pro-Wrestling and has continued to show why so many consider him the best ever.  One could easily make the case that no one, pro-wrestlers included, has had a more positive impact on the sport in the past twenty-five years than Jim Ross.  As an announcer he is revered as one of the best, but as the Head of Talent Relations, he was a transformative figure with a track record that no one else in that role will ever duplicate.