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The many highs and lows of Jim Ross's checkered WWE career

With Jim Ross recently being forced into retirement by WWE management, it's a fitting time to chronicle the many highs and lows of Good Ol JR's checkered WWE career. It's really a miracle that he'll be remembered as the greatest wrestling announcer in history with all the crap he's had to put up with from Vince McMahon over the years.

A picture we're unlikely to see on WWE TV ever again
A picture we're unlikely to see on WWE TV ever again
Photo by Mshake3 of Wikimedia Commons.

With Jim Ross recently being forced into retirement by WWE management, it's a fitting time to chronicle the many highs and lows of Good Ol JR's checkered WWE career. It's really a miracle that he'll be remembered as the greatest wrestling announcer in history with all the crap he's had to put up with from Vince McMahon over the years.

  • March 28th, 1993 - Jim Ross stuck the middle finger to his former employer WCW, just one month after having resigned from the company due to Eric Bischoff removing him as the lead TV announcer, by having Vince McMahon on his WCW sponsored radio show to announce his signing with the WWF, technically before he had even received his official WCW contract release. McMahon crowed about how Christmas had come early for the WWF and likened the signing to John Madden jumping ship from CBS to NBC, while Ross played up his excitement of getting to call his first ever WrestleMania at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
  • April 4th, 1993 - Ecstasy likely turned to embarrassment for Jim Ross, as he had to do play by play in a toga due to the Roman coliseum theme for WrestleMania IX, which was a terrible night for all involved as it was an absolutely hideous show with few redeeming features.
  • August 30th, 1993 - In the first sign Vince McMahon had begun to cool on Jim Ross, he made himself the lead announcer for SummerSlam, while consigning JR to doing play by play of the show for Radio WWF with Gorilla Monsoon.
  • October 16th, 1993 - In an effort to garner publicity for his Radio WWF show, Jim Ross staged a shocking interview with Randy Savage where the Macho Man ripped on Hulk Hogan for selfishly lying on Arsenio Hall about his anabolic steroid usage two years earlier and blamed The Hulkster for his divorce with Miss Elizabeth.
  • January 31st, 1994 - Jim Ross suffers Bell's Palsy for the first time and has to take time off from his announcing duties to recover.
  • February 11th, 1994 - Vince McMahon tells Jim Ross his services will no longer be required when his contract expires at the end of March. Apparently Ross had balked at Vince's brainchild to turn him from a serious announcer into a comedy heel colour commentator called J.R. that would wear a cowboy hat. With his tail tucked between his legs, Ross met with Eric Bischoff about returning to WCW, but he wasn't offered a job at the meeting and the negotiations ended up going nowhere.
  • Early June 1994 - Jim Ross does a shoot interview for Wade Keller's Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter where he discussed his refusal of being turned into a cartoon character by the WWF creative machine, how he drove in the snow whilst ill to essentially be told he was being fired by Vince McMahon, dished the dirt on how the WWF operated behind the scenes and gave his own personal feelings about management figures like Jerry Jarrett and Pat Patterson. He also ironically noted about sometimes feeling sorry for Howard Finkel, due to all the ribbing he had to endure at the hands of his boss. Little did he know that would eventually be his future.
  • July 4th to July 6th, 1994 - Jim Ross returned to the WWF at their Raw, Superstars and Challenge television tapings to be the lead announcer whilst Vince McMahon was being prepared to be tried for steroid distribution charges, after Gorilla Monsoon was found to be lacking in the position of being Vince's temporary replacement at the King Of The Ring pay-per-view a couple of weeks earlier.
  • Late August 1994 - Jim Ross leaves the WWF again after he couldn't agree to terms on a long term contract with the company over scheduling difficulties with his other weekend sports talk commitments in Atlanta, but the dirtsheet gossip was that he had been forced out of his job by certain people who were upset with what he had to say about them in his Torch Talk interview.
  • October 3rd, 1994 - Jim Ross replaced Bob Caudle as lead announcer for Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling promotion. Meanwhile, he was in negotiations with UFC to announce their fourth pay-per-view in December.
  • Early January, 1995 - Jim Ross was rehired by the WWF, but not to work as an announcer, instead being brought in to work on the booking team and help produce television as Vince McMahon's main assistant, since Pat Patterson wanted to reduce his workload. The belief was Ross was chosen for the role as Vince wanted to take his product into a more serious direction.
  • January 8th, 1995 - Jim Ross became Todd Pettingill's co-host for WWF Action Zone due to the firing of Charlie Minn. Initially they didn't gel as JR's serious style didn't mix well with Todd's buffoonery. He also started doing interview segments on Challenge. Talk about working your way up from the bottom!
  • Late August 1995 - In an announcing shake up, Jim Ross was booted out of the lineup again, leaving him to joke that he was deemed too regional to be on WWF television. When the Action Zone got revamped into a magazine style format in September, JR was given the bone of a Ross Report segment that purported to provide insider gossip, but obviously just pushed WWF storylines in a worked shoot manner.
  • September 24th, 1995 - With JR's ally Bill Watts briefly becoming WWF booker, he joined Vince McMahon and Jerry "The King" Lawler in a three man announce team for the In Your House 3 pay-per-view. Ross was left doing brief soundbites about the athletic background of the competitors involved and calling moves Vinnie Mac didn't know. Ross also became the third man in the booth for WWF Superstars broadcasts. That didn't last long either.
  • May 28th, 1996 - Jim Ross does play by play on pay-per-view for the first time in three years on the Beware Of Dog 2 pay-per-view, after a power outage on the original broadcast caused by a major electrical storm meant that three matches had to be re-taped two days later. With his performance JR proved he was still the best announcer in the business, despite being largely on the sidelines for so long. He was rewarded by being made the third man in the PPV booth again. After all, he wasn't going to replace his boss.
  • September 6th, 1996 - On the Raw Championship Friday special, Jim Ross announced that his most trusted sources had divulged to him that Razor Ramon and Big Daddy Cool Diesel were on the way back to the World Wrestling Federation.
  • September 23rd, 1996 - On Monday Night Raw, Jim Ross turned heel on the WWF, complaining about having to wear a toga on his debut and Vince McMahon firing his ass days after suffering Bell's Palsy. He then brought out Rick Bogner as the fake Razor Ramon. Glen Jacobs soon joined The New Bad Guy as his partner the fake Diesel. Of course, the angle bombed and the fans refused to boo Good Ol' JR, so he was quickly re-installed as a curmudgeonly babyface third man announcer who just took a few more jabs at his colleagues than he used to.
  • Early October 1996 - Jim Ross was promoted to being an executive Vice President of the WWF, after JJ Dillon, the company's Head of Talent Relations, jumped ship to WCW and JR took over some of his old duties.
  • January 19th, 1997 - Vince McMahon finally got a cowboy hat on Good Ol JR's head at the 1997 Royal Rumble due to the Texan theme of the show. It would become his trademark as McMahon forced him to keep it on for all future television appearances.
  • November 8th, 1997 - This date will be forever etched in wrestling history as the night of the infamous Montreal screwjob, but it also marked the day when Jim Ross finally took over Vince McMahon's duties as the WWF's lead announcer. Having done the dirty on Bret Hart, the WWF fanbase wouldn't have accepted Vince as a babyface broadcaster, so Good Ol' JR turned out to be another one of the many villains who benefitted from stabbing Bret Hart in the back, as due to being in McMahon's inner circle he surely knew what was about to go down.
  • June 28th, 1998 - Jim Ross gave the call of his lifetime as he summed up Mick Foley being thrown off the top of the Hell In A Cell by The Undertaker at King Of The Ring '98 with the memorable line "Good god almighty, good god almighty, that killed him! As god is my witness, he is broken in half!"
  • December 6th, 1998 - Jim Ross suffers a relapse of his Bell's Palsy during the broadcast of the UK only pay-per-view Capital Carnage caused from the stress of finding out the news that his mother had died on arrival into London. Once again, he would have to take several months to recover and was replaced in the meantime by the ultra inexperienced Michael Cole.
  • March 1st, 1999 - Jim Ross returned to WWF television, but not as their lead announcer, due to his enemies in the promotion like Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara wanting him ousted from the commentary booth and Michael Cole to permanently replace him. Instead, Ross turned heel on Bart Gunn for refusing to look him in the eye and bragging about how he had knocked out Good Ol' JR's boy Steve Williams in the Brawl For All to everybody in the back, leading to a sucker attack by Dr. Death. Of course, Ross wasn't booed in the role, as how can you boo someone who got facial paralysis when their mum died and wanted his old job back? Moreover, Cole was so bad in those days that Ross was voicing most fans opinion when he ripped on the relative youngster as part of the angle.
  • March 28th, 1999 - Thanks to Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock insisting that Good Ol' JR had to call their match, Jim Ross got to announce the main event of WrestleMania XV and delivered another classic performance. Very shortly thereafter, Vince McMahon came to his senses and gave Ross his lead announcer position back.
  • October 17th, 1999 - This marked JR's darkest day as WWE's head of talent relations; having played hardball in last minute contract renegotiations with WWF Intercontinental champion Jeff Jarrett, in the meantime Double J had verbally agreed a lucrative deal with WCW. Moreover, Ross overlooked the fact that his contract expired the day before the No Mercy pay-per-view, allowing Jarrett to hold Vince McMahon up for a six figure payoff to drop the belt to Chyna. Thankfully, Vince ended up hating Jarrett more for this stunt than he did with Good Ol' JR, though probably only by a small margin.
  • November 15th, 1999 - The pettiness of backstage politics reared their ugly head on WCW Monday Nitro when Ed Ferrara made his debut as Dr. Death Steve Williams's manager Oklahoma, a crass Jim Ross parody where he mocked his facial paralysis. It was such a great idea to bully Good Ol' JR that Vince McMahon copied it years later!
  • February 3rd, 2001 - The already overworked Jim Ross made his debut as an XFL announcer. Despite having the experience of doing play-by-play for the Atlanta Falcons in the early 1990s, he got a ton of mainstream media criticism for his football calls.
  • April 3rd, 2001 - Just two days after Stone Cold Steve Austin made a deal with the devil himself in Mr. McMahon by using his help to defeat The Rock at WrestleMania X-7, the WWF was taping SmackDown in Jim Ross's hometown of Oklahoma City. What perfect timing! When Ross told Austin he felt like he had lost his best friend through his recent actions, Stone Cold turned on him and left him in a bloody heap.
  • November 26th, 2001 - In one of the most infamous hometown burials in wrestling history, Undertaker turned heel on the Monday Night Raw held in Oklahoma City by forcing Good Ol' JR to join Vince McMahon's Kiss My Ass club. Ross initially expressed his discomfort at kissing his boss's ass in front of his friends and family in the audience, but eventually agreed to do it as he saw how it would get the respected locker room leader over as a bad guy.
  • June 15th, 2002 - Playing the loyal company man, Jim Ross buried his best friend Stone Cold Steve Austin on WWE Confidential for walking out on the promotion days earlier over creative differences, likening the incident to John Wayne suddenly becoming a coward in a big fight.
  • July 14th, 2003 - WWE went to "the newly turned heel attacks Good Ol' JR for easy heat" well again when the recently unmasked Kane set fire to Jim Ross at the end of a backstage interview he was conducting with him on Monday Night Raw. This killed two birds with one stone as it gave them a storyline reason to remove JR from his play-by-play commentary position and replace him with Jonathan Coachman, the latest young sports journalist turned wrestling broadcaster they hoped would permanently knock him off his lead announcing perch. Of course, with Coachman being equally as clueless as Michael Cole was in 1999, they soon gave up on that idea when Vince McMahon got fed up of Coachman not showing enough passion in his commentating.
  • September 21st, 2003 - By virtue of losing a match to the recently turned Jonathan Coachman (when they gave up on their pipe dream of him becoming their lead babyface broadcaster) and Al Snow at the Unforgiven pay-per-view, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler lost their position as the Monday Night Raw announcing team to the victors.
  • September 29th, 2003 - Jim Ross beat Jonathan Coachman in a Country Whipping match on Monday Night Raw to earn his and Lawler's announcing spots back.
  • Mid April 2004 - Jim Ross was "promoted" to Executive Vice President of Business Strategies, with John Laurinaitis taking over most of JR's old duties of being the WWE's V.P. of Talent Relations, who had been working as his assistant for over a year. Though it was spun as a promotion for Good Ol' JR by WWE, he lost most of his power with the new role. To be fair, Ross did want to reduce his responsibilities eventually, but the timing of the switch was apparently sprung upon him.
  • April 18th, 2005 - Jim Ross pinned Triple H in a No DQ match on the main event of Monday Night Raw when Batista interfered and laid out Hunter with the Batista Bomb. The bout made for uncomfortable viewing as the usually safe Paul Levesque potato punched JR leaving him with a black eye and damaged vision. Rumor has it that this was intentional and a receipt for lowballing him on contract renegotiations and payoffs in the past.
  • October 10th, 2005 - To explain Jim Ross needing a leave of absence for colon surgery, Good Ol' JR was fired by Linda McMahon in an ill advised heel turn and to add insult to injury was kicked in the balls by her on the way out the door. She probably regrets this segment today given the numerous times it was used by her election opponents to portray her as a joke candidate. Of course, this gave WWE management their latest excuse to find a permanent replacement for JR, but UFC's Mike Goldberg turned down the spot, Jonathan Coachman quickly flamed out again and Joey Styles, though infinitely better than The Coach, quickly got on Vince McMahon's nerves too, having been taught to do things differently than the McMahon way in ECW.
  • October 24th, 2005 - How do you show your appreciation for a vitally important, longstanding employee who is currently laid up in hospital? Usually you would send a get well soon card and a thoughful gift, but in Mr. McMahon's warped world you do a toilet humor skit on public television mocking your employee's colonoscopy by pretending to pull out various items out of his fat backside. Thankfully Ross was found to be cancer free or this angle could have really blown up in Vince's face.
  • March 18th, 2006 - Jim Ross returned to the airwaves as the main host of the first Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC in 15 years. Commenting on the decision to bring him back for the show to, Good Ol' JR wasn't getting his hopes up to be asked back as the lead announcer for Monday Night Raw.
  • April 2nd, 2006 - Demonstrating that Joey Styles was on thin ice, Jim Ross announced all but one of the Raw brand matches at WrestleMania 22 (JR stepped aside for Styles for the match between Edge and Mick Foley).
  • May 8th, 2006 - Jim Ross finally got his spot back as the lead announcer of Monday Night Raw when Joey Styles quit the position in the storylines due to his hatred for sports entertainment.
  • March 27th, 2007 - Jim Ross was the last person announced for the WWE Hall Of Fame class of 2007. Rather than being a genuine gesture of gratitude for his years of services, this was a move designed to put him out to pasture and allow them to replace him on Raw with their latest broadcasting Johnny-come-lately, Todd Grisham, who was as bad as Cole was in 1999 and Coachman was in 2003. Thankfully, Vince McMahon came to his senses when he saw the heartfelt applause and standing ovation Good Ol' JR received for his HOF induction announcement. Kicking him to the curb at that very moment would have been a transparently dickish move that the fans wouldn't have accepted.
  • March 31st, 2007 - Jim Ross was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame by his best friend Stone Cold Steve Austin and got to announce WrestleMania 23 the day after too.
  • January 4th, 2008 - Good Ol' JR has just turned 56 years old. Vince McMahon came up with quite the birthday surprise for him at the Monday Night Raw tapings. Big Dick Johnson (creative team member Christopher DeJosephs) came out, did his fat oily dance and poured champagne all over JR's suit, absolutely ruining it. Ross was not amused as he had brought no change of clothes with him and would have to fly back home in his soaked clothes. So much so, he lamped the Big Dick for real.
  • January 27th, 2008 - Mike Adamle was signed to a $300,000 per annum contract with the hope he would replace Jim Ross as WWE's lead announcer. The writing was on the wall that this would never come to fruition when in his debut at the Royal Rumble, Adamle showed his total ignorance of the WWE product by screwing up Jeff Hardy's surname.
  • June 23rd, 2008 - In a decision that was kept secret from the participants involved, Jim Ross was drafted to SmackDown and Michael Cole was traded to Raw in the 2008 WWE Draft. The secrecy was just so Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn could get their rocks off from seeing Good Ol' JR's reaction to his surprise public demotion, who had made it perfectly clear that he didn't want to switch brands. Ross almost quit over the humiliation, but like always came back for more cold hard cash and further punishment.
  • April 8th, 2009 - The descent down the announcing pecking order continued when Tazz left the company. In the shakeup that followed, Ross was given the lesser role of being SmackDown's colour analyst while Todd Grisham was promoted to Good Ol JR's old spot of being that brand's lead play-by-play announcer. Clearly Jim's days were numbered.
  • October 6th, 2009 - This turned out to be Ross's last day as a full time WWE announcer for over 21 months due to circumstances out of his control.
  • October 13th, 2009 - Jim Ross misses the SmackDown TV tapings in Lexington, KY after asking for the night off to celebrate his 16th wedding anniversary.
  • October 19th, 2009 - Jim Ross suffers his third attack of Bell's Palsy on a flight to Columbia, SC where he was scheduled to announce the taped SmackDown the next day. He flew home immediately for treatment and wasn't offered his SmackDown colour analyst spot back once he had fully recovered.
  • Late May 2010 - After dabbling with the idea of jumping ship to TNA (he even met the Carter family to discuss a role with the company, but obviously mustn't have been impressed), Jim Ross finally signed a long term contract with WWE. Even with all the abuse he suffered over the next three years, it's hard to second guess that decision due to all the turmoil TNA has gone through recently and there being many enemies of his employed in the organisation at the time like Eric Bischoff, Vince Russo and Jeff Jarrett.
  • July 3rd, 2010 - Jim Ross goes to watch Brock Lesnar fight at UFC 116 and gave a gushing interview to Ariel Helwani about The Beast's performance, which landed him in the WWE doghouse once again. Rather pettily, Vince McMahon removed him from WWE's opening montage video to get back at him.
  • November 15th, 2010 - Jim Ross was brought back for one night only to announce a match between Daniel Bryan and Jack Swagger on the three hour Old School Raw special. The segment was a total trainwreck, as Michael Cole was instructed by Vince McMahon to undercut Good Ol' JR's commentary at every turn and deliver a series of snide remarks designed to get under his skin. This backfired spectacularly as Ross no sold every insult and delivered a strong call of the bout, leading fans to clamour for his full time return and the wrestlers wishing he could announce their matches once again.
  • March 14th, 2011 - By this point Michael Cole had turned full fledged heel and was feuding with his announce partner Jerry "The King" Lawler leading Jim Ross to return to Monday Night Raw to unsuccessfully attempt to talk some sense into the increasingly egomaniacal Cole. In the end, Cole's friend Jack Swagger ambushed Good Ol' JR and clamped him in the ankle lock. Eyebrows were raised when Ross was legitimately injured from such a safe move due to Swagger's "overexcitement". However, it wasn't all bad, as over the next few months Ross made a series of appearance to support Lawler in his feud with Cole, which allowed him some rare opportunities to get back into the commentary booth including announcing the final four matches at WrestleMania XXVII.
  • July 25th, 2011 - To get over the storyline that Triple H was the new man in charge of WWE after the board of directors had relieved Vince McMahon of his duties, Hunter rehired Jim Ross as the lead announcer of Raw to establish his babyface credibility in the role. Although he was announced as being back permanently, it was clear that his return was only a stopgap measure to fulfill a creative need. With Michael Cole still playing heel, it also allowed Vince plenty of opportunity to bully Good Ol' JR on the air by providing nasty lines for Cole to use against Ross.
  • August 14th, 2011 - Vince McMahon decided to mess with JR's head by telling him all day he would be on the SummerSlam announce team and then pulling the rug out from underneath him.
  • August 15th, 2011 - More ritual humiliation, this time provided by Vickie Guerrero stealing his trademark cowboy hat and Dolph Ziggler destroying it in front of JR's eyes, in another angle he was likely not in on.
  • October 10th, 2011 - Monday Night Raw was taped in Oklahoma City, so we all know what that means, right, Cagesiders? Another burial kept secret from Good Ol' JR. This time heel executive John Laurinaitis shit-canned Ross from his announcing position in front of his unsuspecting wife. Classy!
  • April 1st, 2012 - Triple H and The Undertaker use their considerable backstage clout to get Jim Ross to call their "End of an Era" Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania XXVIII. As always, he rose to the occasion with a classic call. It's likely the last ever WrestleMania match he'll get to announce.
  • May 16th, 2012 - Jim Ross was brought in by Triple H to be the announcer for the first set of NXT TV tapings. He was soon phased out of this position, but he continued to be used in developmental as a talent relations advisor, scout and coach/producer of the trainee broadcasters in their system. JR seemed to be happy with this arrangement realizing his days as a full time WWE play-by-play man were long gone.
  • June 11th, 2012 - For no good reason, Mr. McMahon mocked Good Ol' JR's commentary style and mimicked his facial paralysis on Monday Night Raw in a manner that would make even Ed Ferrara blush. Keep being a star, Vince!
  • July 23rd, 2012 - Jim Ross was brought back without any hazing games to announce a match on the 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw. Maybe Vince has finally got his obvious hatred for JR out of his system?
  • September 17th, 2012 - Jim Ross returns as a colour commentator on Raw to temporarily fill in for his good friend Jerry "The King" Lawler while he recovers from his heart attack.
  • October 1st, 2012 - Finally the company did something nice for Good Ol' JR in his hometown of Oklahoma City. WWE held a Jim Ross appreciation ceremony after the live Monday Night Raw tapings that included heartfelt tributes from Danny Hodge, Bill Watts, Sheamus and yes, Vince McMahon himself!
  • August 18th, 2013 - Jim Ross lands himself in hot water with WWE management for his inability to stop Ric Flair from hijacking the WWE 2K14 symposium and allowing him to takeover so much that JR's script was thrown out the window. Ironically, Ross joked about never being asked back and what career he has left being destroyed whilst this train wreck was going on.
  • September 11th, 2013 - Jim Ross retires from WWE to focus on his personal endeavours. Well that's how WWE spun the news. In reality Vince McMahon fired him for the third and probably not final time. It's inevitable that he'll be begrudgingly brought back again and have to pay for it by taking more crap from the head of the McMahon dynasty. Sooner rather than later if the WWE Network finally gets launched or he pens that autobiography he has teased. Ross knows too many of the skeletons in Vince's closet for that book to ever see the light of day without WWE ensuring that he only reveals what they are willing to be made public.

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