WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross recently appeared on The Straight Shooters Podcast. JR discussed Kurt Angle, The Royal Rumble (including the finish of the 2005 Rumble match), some of his NJPW work, Michael Cole, the United Kingdom tournament, UK wrestling on the WWE Network and more. You can listen to the full interview by clicking here, they sent us these highlights:
"Kurt and I communicate like everybody else in this world we live in, by text, or direct message or something. So I know he's been working very diligently to get clean and sober for quite some time. It's not been easy but he seems to be well on the right road to that sobriety. I think that, I don't know this, but I would assume WWE made a thorough evaluation of where he was health-wise before they pursued this matter. And some people say, 'Well, it's a long time coming.' Damn right, it's a long time coming. But it was a long time for him to get his priorities back together and for him to stop making bad decisions. So thank God he's doing really well.
"I saw him in England in October. He had a match and looked great. I can see him having a match here and there. Nobody can debate the fact if Kurt Angle can have a match. Of course he can have a match. The issue is how often do you want to saddle him up and run him back out the track and take him back to the barn and bring him back out. I just don't see the money in that. I see a one-off deal at best. And call it a day. He doesn't owe anybody four more matches or six more matches or anything. I think that he could have a big match if it was made that way, a significant match for WWE. A one-off deal. But if that doesn't happen, I wrote about this on my blog on my website, I think that it's important that we honor his career and not the fact about making this whole thing about one more match."
Courting Kurt Angle back in the late 90s for WWE:
"Kurt was reluctant after the Olympics. He wanted to do other things. He never was a big pro wrestling fan. He didn't really have an affinity for the business. He tried sportscasting and was looking at some other opportunities, so we were kind of backburnered. But he knew the door was open and he knew that we were interested, so I think once his other options didn't materialize to his standards, he got back in touch with us. At that point, it was pretty simple to get everything done and get him in training.
"He was probably the best, fastest, highest-level transition from amateur to pro in learning everything about false finishes, some ring psychology, and also he had great verbal timing. Real good verbal skills, as we all remember. A very entertaining guy. That was not his natural personality when he first came to us. He acquired that. He let his guard down and started having fun. I saw a lot of great amateur guys in the business, including Lesnar recently, but Kurt Angle had the show-vious side of it down faster and better than anybody I've ever seen."
The Royal Rumble:
"Broadcasting the Royal Rumble match is as challenging a task as you'd have throughout the year. It's going to be over an hour and your stories change at the same intervals that the talents are entered. Then the stories change again when talents are eliminated. So every entry and every exit creates a new story. It's very challenging thing to mentally put the narrative to the picture you're seeing.
"Tazz and I did that event, and he's never done one. I think if you'd ask him he'd probably tell you we had a lot of fun, it was comfortable, but boy, it's hard work. It's really, truly hard work.
"The thing about making predictions for the Royal Rumble, it's fun to talk about and shoot the breeze with your buddies or whatever. If you're serious about creative, it's hard to do a good job of intelligently predicting Royal Rumble finishes unless you know the card for WrestleMania. If I was in the booking world, by the time I got to San Antonio on Sunday, January 29th, I would make sure I had my WrestleMania card, at least the top half of it, booked."