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This Day in Wrestling History (January 3)

Raw.03.01.2000 - Big Show Vs Triple H - WWF.Title by dido67

15 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Miami, Florida, Triple H defeated Big Show to win the WWF Championship. A side nugget: the show took place at the American Airlines Arena, and this was one of the first major events in the building. On the same show, Stephanie McMahon declared Chris Jericho and Chyna co-Intercontinental Champions. The show perhaps is most infamous for the D-Generation X spoof on Mankind "Have a Bad Day".

Scott Steiner & Kevin Nash vs. Crowbar & David... by wcwAttitude

15 years ago today on Nitro from Greenville, South Carolina, David Flair and Crowbar won a one-night Lethal Lottery tournament to win the vacated WCW World Tag Team Championship, defeating Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner in the final. Nash's regular partner Scott Hall was out with a knee injury and the Outsiders were stripped of the titles. RAW's program would nearly double Nitro's in the head-to-head rating, 6.4 to 3.3.

5 years ago today, both Jeff Hardy and Bubba the Love Sponge announced that they would be heading to TNA. They would be two of about a dozen debuts on the first Impact of the Hulk Hogan era.

4 years ago today, WWE announces plans to reboot Tough Enough on USA as part of a three-hour WWE block (four-hour if you count the post-show repeat).

Today's the 63rd birthday of longtime commentator James William Ross, but most fans know him as "Good Ol' J.R." Jim Ross.

Born in Fort Bragg, California, Ross was a three-sport athlete at Westville High School in Oklahoma, excelling in baseball, basketball (where he lettered all four years), and football. He was also State Vice President of the Future Farmers America and was a high school football All-State honorable mention in 1969 as a center.

In college, he spent some time doing commentary for a college radio station. It is this experience that brought him into the wrestling business, when he was a last-minute substitute. Jim worked for three years as a referee for the NWA Mid-South territory in the mid-1970s.

In 1982, Ross returned to the Mid-South territory as their lead play-by-play commentator and vice president of marketing. When Jim Crockett, Jr. bought the Mid-South (aka Universal Wrestling Federation) and merged it with his own promotion in 1989, Ross was brought along and teamed with David Crockett and Tony Schiavone on play-by-play. Ross would also team with Bob Caudle in the late 1980s. He also doubled as play-by-play man for the Atlanta Falcons radio broadcasts in 1992.

Eventually, Ross became the head of broadcasting for WCW, but had issues with Eric Bischoff. Bischoff would eventually ascend to executive producer in 1993, at which point Ross demanded and got his release after he was taken off the air. He took an immediate buyout out of fear of being unemployed for an extended period of time.

Ross was quickly snapped  up by the WWF and made his debut at Wrestlemania IX. He took over Gorilla Monsoon's spot on Wrestling Challenge soon after and worked alongside Bobby Heenan until Heenan left the company late in the year. Ross briefly led play-by-play for WWF pay-per-views until Vince McMahon took over the post at Summerslam 1993. Ross continued calling pay-per-views for Radio WWF (his brainchild) with Gorilla Monsoon and various guests until 1994. Ross suffered his first bout with Bell's palsy in February 1994 shortly after his contract expired and was not renewed by the WWF. He returned to announcing for the Atlanta Falcons and was reunited with Bob Caudle to call Smoky Mountain Wrestling events.

Ross was brought back later in the year when McMahon was dealing with federal drug charges. Once McMahon was acquitted, Ross was let go again, only to be brought back by the end of the year. Jim would be relegated to their syndicated shows for the next couple of years before rejoining the primary announce unit in the summer of 1996. In September, the WWF inexplicably turned Ross heel. In a worked-shoot promo, Ross outed McMahon as the WWF chairman and debuted the new Diesel and Razor Ramon. Fans hated it, and that's being generous. The angle was quickly dropped, and Ross would eventually become the primary announcer for WWF programming.

Jim had a second bout with Bell's palsy while broadcasting the UK event Capital Carnage in late 1998, just hours after being informed his mother had died. Ross again would have an extended absence from commentary, but returned with "Dr. Death" Steve Williams as his personal enforcer and provided his own commentary (as part of a storyline that he was "fired" by McMahon again due to his condition). The WWF again tried to turn Ross heel by having him kick his replacement Michael Cole in the groin, but fans cheered it, and the angle was quickly dropped. Ross was restored to his spot by Wrestlemania XV. Jim's Bell's palsy served as comedic fodder in WCW when Ed Ferrara portrayed "Oklahoma". Fans and critics, and wrestlers all hated it, and the angle would eventually be dropped, but not before Ferrara won the cruiserweight title.

Ross served as the voice of RAW during and well after the Monday Night Wars along with Jerry Lawler and became one of the most beloved commentary duos in professional wrestling history. Ross during the late 1990s and early 2000s also served as executive vice president of talent relations, a role he would step down from in 2005, citing his health and entrepreneurial efforts. Jim was kayfabe fired in late 2005 as a way to have him deal with his colon surgery. Joey Styles would briefly take his place, but Ross returned during the spring of 2006. Ross' contract expired that October, and briefly worked week-to-week for about a month before signing a new one-year deal about a month later. During Ross' one-year deal, he would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Ross would be moved to Smackdown in June 2008, a move Jim himself said was he was not aware of in advance. The move ended Ross' 11-plus year run as the play-by-play man for RAW.  Jim would commentate for Smackdown for a little over a year before suffering a third bout with Bell's palsy prior to a Smackdown taping in October 2009, ending his tenure as a full-time play-by-play announcer.

Ross would make occasional appearances over the next few years, calling featured bouts at Wrestlemania, had two brief runs on RAW as commentator again, and as NXT play-by-play announcer in 2012. When Paul Levesque (aka Triple H) took over talent relations duties in 2012, he hired Ross in an advisory role and as a coach at the WWE Performance Center.

Ross retired from WWE in September 2013, though many suspect he was fired due to his actions at the WWE 2K14 roster reveal event (allegedly, he and Ric Flair were intoxicated, though Ross claimed he was not drunk, merely fatigued). Vince McMahon said in a December 2014 interview that it was Ross' call to leave the company and there's no bad blood between the two.

In October 2014, Ross and Chael Sonnen commentated the Battlegrounds MMA PPV. In November 2014, it was announced that he would be one of the English language commentators for Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome presented by Global Force Wrestling on January 4.

Ross, an avid Oklahoma Sooners fan, is married with two daughters from a previous marriage and two granddaughters. Jim sells his own line of barbecue sauces and beef products and briefly had his own restaurant in Norman, Oklahoma. Today, Ross is also the host of his own podcast on PodcastOne, The Ross Report.

Jim is a Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame member (class of 1999), and won the publication's best television announcer award fourteen times from 1998 to 2012, including six years in a row from 1988 to 1993, and another four year run from 1998 to 2001. He's also a lifetime achievement award winner for Pro Wrestling Illustrated (2002) and the Cauliflower Alley Club (2010).

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