Jim Ross is always good for a strong opinion or a discussion worthy quote, and his recent sit down interview with Ring Rust Radio provides some of both.
The veteran play-by-play man explained the background of some of the wrestlers he brought in when he was in charge of talent relations, noting that Vince McMahon was not aware of or initially in favor of bringing in guys like Steve Austin or Mick Foley. Asked by host Brandon Galvin about how hearing that, or seeing the treatment of current stars like Dolph Ziggler and Cesaro,is frustrating for fans, JR said:
You gotta believe that WWE listens. 'They don't do my ideas so they don't listen.' Well, we don't know what they are planning next month, week, Monday, Sunday...well I don't anyways.
At the end of the day, the cream will rise to the top. The fans will steer the course and support their favorites. The business in general, is in a near crisis situation when it comes to have an adequate amount of skilled main event talent depth. There is skilled main event talent no question, but the depth issue is startling. I think fans right now are ready for something new. Some of the guys you mentioned, I believe, have significant potential to be main event stars. They have to be given the ball and they gotta be built. There is a process you have to go through, commitments gotta be made by the company, long-term planning in effect and they have to have confidence in the talent. There are other issues you and I are not aware of. There could be issues internally that within the company that for whatever reason they don't have confidence in the talent. Maybe those reason are kept private for confidentiality reasons or legal reasons or whatever.
If the guy steers the course, and they prove themselves as good locker room leaders and good members of the team, improve their skill set, and add things to their game, then they have a chance to move up the ladder to the main event level and make more money. For some guys it comes late, some guys it comes easy, it will come if it's meant to be. There's no magic formula or secret clandestine meetings. For God's sake, the WWE is not so aloof that they are going to say, 'Well we're going to do this because we like it and we don't care what our customer's like'. That thought is just so immature and so stupid for anyone to think that. There are some fans that reach out to me on Twitter that do think that. They think that the WWE is so omnipotent that they can do whatever they want whether you like it or not. Where would be the advantage to doing that? There is none.
Later on, the Hall of Famer was pressed a little bit more about his relationship today with Vince. With so many questions surrounding his departure following the 2K14 panel with Ric Flair last year, some might expect Ross to have more animosity toward his former boss. While it doesn't sound like they're close, it does seem like any issues JR currently has with WWE are directed at McMahon's underlings more than the Chairman himself:
Vince and I got along and had a tremendous relationship. People have to understand where our relationship started. From day one, what we have built and what we survived at the time when the company was almost bankrupt. We were laying off people left and right, pay cuts, lot of people were bailing. Those of us that stayed loyal were rewarded financially.
I made more money with him than I did with anyone else combined. He told me if I stayed with him I would have nothing to worry about financially when I got older. Our issues were mainly philosophic. It was like two football coaches who wanted to run a 3-4 defense and the other wants to run a 4-3. I could plead my case why the 3-4 is better cause I got four great linebackers I can use and he could tell me why the 4-3 is better because he's got four defense lineman that are outstanding. Our stuff was more philosophical more than anything else. At the end of the day, he won the argument more often than not because he owned the company. My dad taught me a long time ago, if you're going to work for somebody and you're going to take their money, you need to do what they tell you to do. So the day when you can't look yourself in the mirror and do what they want you to do, you need to quit cashing their checks. I just cashed a WWE check the other day so I got no issues with them whatsoever. A lot of that stuff about McMahon and I has been blown out of proportion.
He knows I take myself too seriously. He knows I wear my feelings on my sleeve, and he likes to be able to get under my skin. He gets a kick out of it and I can understand that, I get it. No one should mistake what I am saying that we talk regularly because we do not. But we still communicate, like have a few laughs in a text message or special occasions come up. We accomplished a great deal together. That talent roster that he gave me the ability to hire, they are still using those guys. John Cena last time I looked, Randy Orton last time I looked, Batista and the Rock in and out. We did accomplish a lot of great things together and I never worked with anyone that worked harder. Now, I'm not kissing his ass or anything like I need a job, cause I don't need a job, I got plenty to do.
Yea we butted heads, had our pissing contest, but there is still a lot of respect there. He knows that if there is a jam, I am a phone call away and vice versa. Was it tumultuous? Sure. Did we hate each other? Absolutely not. I had the balls at the time to say when I thought he was wrong in a polite way. He had a lot of people that he paid a lot of money that took the path of least resistance. They would bitch about it afterwards when the decision had been made instead of being polite, diplomatic, and conversing when given the opportunity. Some of those guys are still there now which I would assume they are. Some though should be ashamed of themselves. Vince paid them damn good money to be honest. It's just the fact that some of them just don't have good presentation skills and don't know how to present themselves while making a point. That's just the art of communicating.
The whole hour-long interview is definitely worth a listen if you have time.
While you're doing that, let us know what you make of Ross' thoughts on how WWE handles talents and his history with Vince.