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By Gawd, almost everyone in the business wants Good Ol’ J.R.!

This master political gamesman has so far expertly played his cards.  No matter where he ends up, he seems to be onto a winner, even if he can't possibly land his dream job of commentating for UFC.  (Wikimedia Commons)
This master political gamesman has so far expertly played his cards. No matter where he ends up, he seems to be onto a winner, even if he can't possibly land his dream job of commentating for UFC. (Wikimedia Commons)

As Dave Meltzer reported in the April 26th 2010 Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Jim Ross has a big decision to make.  His short term WWE contract extension is set to expire at the end of the month and almost everyone in the business wants his services.  So will he stay in the WWE fold or opt for pastures new?

Clearly WWE wants to keep him, despite the fact they no longer want to use him as an on screen announcer, partly due to their “it’s full time or no time” mentality.  Ross still handles the company’s wrestling talent payroll and is always used as a talking head on their documentary style DVD features.  With WWE moving full steam ahead with their plans to start their own television station by 2011, there should be plenty of presenting work for Ross to do in the not too distant future, if he is willing to be patient.  In the meantime, he could be put to good use by scouting legitimate athletes in order to find new talent outside of the independent wrestling circuit for WWE’s developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling.  However, the main value of keeping Ross in the WWE fold might be to ensure that he doesn’t share all his trade secrets and promotional expertise with one of their rivals.  Sticking with WWE, from a financial perspective, is clearly the safest long term bet for Ross to make, but just as clearly Ross doesn’t want his announcing career to be over and at this point in his career cash may not be the motivating factor in his decision making that it once was.

 

Obviously TNA would also really love to have him.  As Jason Powell reported earlier this week, the Carters have already met with Ross and I’m sure they rolled out the red carpet for him.  Unlike WWE, they would want Ross to announce for the company and would give him a more prominent management position too.  For all the talk about Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo being his enemies, Bischoff is one of the people pushing for him to be brought into the company and if Russo can work with Bischoff and Hogan, then I’m sure he could work alongside Ross too.  Don’t forget that Vince McMahon and his inner circle has also often treated Ross just as badly, if not worse, than his alleged enemies within TNA ever did.  That said, I wouldn’t read too much into Ross’ meeting with the Carters, as it could just have been a canny ploy from a master political gamesman to ensure he gets the best possible deal from WWE.

ROH would also be over the moon to have him too.  As Dave Meltzer reported in the aforementioned Observer Newsletter, Ross’ good friend Jim Cornette is pushing hard for HDNet to do whatever it takes to get Ross to commentate on their TV shows.  Sure, it’s a long shot, but unlike WWE or TNA, HDNet could offer him the opportunity to commentate on real sports like MMA, which is a fresh challenge that Ross would surely savour.

The sad ironic fact is that the job Ross really craves is commentating for the company that has shown the least interest in his services, UFC.  His interview with MMA site www.heavy.com/mma and his constant critiques of UFC events on his blog were designed to pique UFC’s interest, but they haven’t bitten yet and are highly unlikely to.  Ross, who originally hated the Good Ol’ J.R. gimmick Vince McMahon gave him, is certainly more than willing to give up his pro wrestling shtick for his dream job, as he readily admitted in that interview with Jerry Botter:

And if the opportunity came up to broadcast MMA, I don’t think I’d have any issues doing it. I wouldn’t be wearing the black hat. I wouldn’t be doing all my pro wrestling cliches. You wouldn’t hear any slobberknockers or any of the phrases I’ve coined over the years, like “business is about to pick up” or “he’s beating him like a government mule.” You wouldn’t hear that. But I think people would be very surprised at what they would hear, simply because I’m passionate about their game. Once you’re a broadcaster and you’re a storyteller, and you understand competition and the rules of engagement, it all falls together.

But despite this, the pro wrestling stain would maintain.  Most hardcore MMA fans loathe professional wrestling with a passion, so it would be hard for Ross to gain a rapport with those fans.  Unfortunately for J.R. once you’ve been a national figure in professional wrestling for 25 years, everyone knows you’re a carny schyster, which is a big problem when he would be called upon to put over the legitimacy of the sport and communicating the promotion’s hype for their events.  Which is something I’m sure Dana White wisely realises.

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