The Ross Report - Austin, Rock, ECW Return; & More


Greetings once again and thanks for checking out the Ross Report. Let s get this show on the road&

Firstly, my thoughts and prayers are with the families down in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and surrounding areas that was decimated by Hurricane Katrina earlier this week. Living near Oklahoma City, we certainly know about catastrophic tragedies. It is hard to fathom in this country that has so many resources that so many folks, especially in the New Orleans area, were physically unable to escape the wrath of this monster storm. So many families lost everything they owned in this disaster that really looked like a scene out of a war movie. I even heard a newscaster refer to the scene in the Big Easy as Hiroshima-like which is obviously and sadly a very disturbing analogy. If there is anything you can personally do to help these great Americans to get back on their feet, I strongly encourage you to do what you can. I sure am. Anything and everything will be most appreciated. I was looking forward to WWE doing Monday Night RAW in Biloxi on September 26, which will obviously not happen now.

I read some of what I perceive to be unfair Internet criticism regarding the fact that when Rosey was introduced Monday night on RAW that he came out, as usual, to his tag team partner the Hurricane s music which includes the words, Look out there s a Hurricane coming through. In no way were we attempting to make light of the tragedy of hurricane Katrina by this entrance music or in commentary. That was unfair criticism (nitpicking) in my opinion.

How great is the Little League World Series? My congratulations to the team from Hawaii for winning it all. I love the purity of the Series and the passion displayed by these kids. I also admire the umpires, being one myself for many years, as they work for free and pay their own travel expenses to Williamsport (that unfortunately sounds like some independent wrestlers out there). I swear if I live long enough, I want to attend one Little League World Series in my lifetime.

Some pundits on the Internet have over analyzed the Matt Hardy-Edge rivalry which featured a super Street Fight Monday on RAW. I hope these two are physically able to tangle in Oklahoma City at Unforgiven and bring their wild west to a part of the original Wild West, Oklahoma, on September 18. Some Internet pundits have even evaluated Lita s innermost thoughts by the expressions on her face and by backstage hearsay. That s Dr. Phil stuff.

Keep an eye on Mr. Kennedy, SmackDown! s newest addition. This athlete has a significant amount of potential. I honestly don t remember a better time for talented, albeit unknown wrestlers to make an impact in the business. The best advice I have for these younger talents is to ask questions of the veteran wrestlers and watch every match on the card plus as much tape as possible of some of the legends of the past.

Speaking of SmackDown!, I already want to slap network executive Palmer Canon. He s the kind of obnoxious pretty boy we all knew in high school who drove the nicest car, wore the most expensive clothes and got analgesic balm put in their jockey straps in gym class. These guys, as best I can remember, got nose bleeds easily and had their older sisters wax their eyebrows.

Where have all the great tag teams gone?

What a contrast in styles and presentation between HBK/Flair and Carlito/Masters on RAW Monday night. The two veterans are right at the top of my personal list of all time great in ring performers that I have had the privilege of seeing in person. Carlito is a second-generation star who has a truck load of charisma and ability and certainly Masters has the look and is a powerhouse. It is time for Carlito and Masters to hunt with the big dogs or be relegated to the porch. I think they both end up hunting quite well.

I expect to see Shelton Benjamin back on RAW this week after missing last week due to oral surgery.

Kurt Angle has never been better and if he doesn t win the WWE Championship from John Cena at some point, I will be shocked. Who in this business can out wrestle the Olympic Gold Medalist? I am liking this budding rivalry, but Cena may be in trouble.

I had a nice telephone visit with the Texas Rattlesnake Stone Cold Steve Austin this week. He was in Vegas doing a personal appearance. Austin is on a structured workout regime and strict diet and seems to be ready to step back in the ring in some form on RAW just about any time. Steve hasn t sounded as happy and positive as he did this week in a long time and it seems like Hollywood and his journey to get into film suits the Texan well. Plus, not being driven nuts by a significant other always helps one s sanity and attitude. Trust me, of this I know what I speak.

Speaking of Hollywood, I received a great phone message this week from the Great One, better known to his fans worldwide as The Rock who is one of the busiest men in Tinsletown. I always catch Rock s movies when they come out and his next two are especially exciting, including Gridiron Gang, which is based on a true story. My favorite sports movie ever is Remember the Titans and if Gridiron Gang can get in that league, it will be a huge success. Rock sounded great and misses performing in front of the thousand and thousands of WWE fans. I expect to see The Rock back in a WWE ring someday. I am really proud of The Rock for all his accomplishments and for the type of man he remains to be, but I will admit I miss seeing him in the ring.

It is hard to believe that we are just about a month away from Monday Night RAW leaving Spike TV and returning to the USA Network. This is a real positive move for WWE and I have a feeling business will pick up on Monday night October 3 when RAW emanates from Dallas, which ironically is the Monday prior to the OU-Texas Red River Shootout that Saturday, October 8. Expect a star-studded lineup for RAW on the first Monday of October in Big D.

Thank God that college football season is finally upon us. My Sooners kick off at 11 a.m. locally here in Norman this Saturday against the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University. That seriously cuts into my tailgating time but I will do my best to represent and make up for lost time after the game. None of my season tickets will go to waste this or any other Saturday the Sooners are in action in Norman. If you happen to catch the game on TV, I ll be the only guy in the stadium wearing a black, Resistol hat smack dab in the middle of a 95 degree day and sweating Crisco.

Now let s get to some of your emails&

From: Roland
Hi, Jim Ross
I was just wondering who the next WWE Diva to be in Playboy we be.

Roland, I have been sworn to secrecy regarding the next Diva to appear in Playboy, but I can assure you she will be naked. I can only assume that this project will be in connection with WrestleMania, which has become somewhat customary with the positive, working relationship between Playboy and WWE.

From: Niall Manley
Hey JR,
I've read that Mick Foley has signed a contract with WWE. When do you think he will return? And will he be on SmackDown! or RAW?

I don t think the ink has dried on the new contract yet, but having Mick back on WWE TV is always a good thing. I don t know for sure what show Mick will be featured on but, selfishly, I hope it is Monday Night RAW. I think the Hardcore Legend belongs on cable which means he would be back on RAW.

By the way, several months ago I read the manuscript of Mick s latest novel entitled, Scooter and I could not put it down. It is one of the most compelling reads I have experienced in a long time and I highly recommend you check this one out. I don t throw out book recommendations on a whim, but this one is a keeper. And for the record, it is not about wrestling. It reads like a Quinton Tarantino screenplay and might make one helluva movie&an R rated movie nonetheless.

From: Jeff
Hello Jim,
Will we ever see Shane and Stephanie back on RAW or SmackDown!? What are they up to these days?

Jeff, never say never in this business. It would not surprise me either way. However, both are staying extremely busy in their perspective and important roles behind the scenes. Each has the overwhelming McMahon work ethic which proves the old adage that the acorn doesn t fall far from the tree.

From: Kenny O
With College football starting this week, I can t wait to hear you pulling for the Oklahoma Sooners once again. I have already circled October 8 on my calendar because that is the day Oklahoma will face Texas. How much crying are you going to do that following Monday on RAW after quarterback Vince Young and the rest of the Longhorns run wild on you? Go Horns!

And to think, Kenny, your email started so nicely and then you subtly stuck your sharpened Longhorn knife right into my Boomer Sooner heart. I will admit that Vince Young is a great athlete, even though he has never beaten OU, and his performance in the Rose Bowl was awesome. With the Sooners beating the shorthorns FIVE YEARS IN A ROW, I would suggest that Texas is due. The 100th meeting between OU and Texas will still be played in the Cotton Bowl on October 8. For my money, this is the greatest and most intense rivalry in all of college football. Out of respect for you, Kenny, I will not discuss in detail with our readers who may not know that the Longhorn is a steer and, from my experience as a former Future Farmer of America, steers have no testicles (not that there is anything wrong with that).

From: Barry
Dear Mr. Ross,
I haven't seen or heard Triple H being mentioned on Monday night in the recent weeks. I was wondering what he has been up to lately and when you expect him to make another appearance on Raw. Thanks.

I saw Triple H recently and he looks and feels better than ever and seems to be recuperating well after his Hell in a Cell Match with Batista. My take on The Game s return is that he will be back on RAW soon. He physically needed a break in the action. Love him or hate him, the Cerebral Assassin is on top of his game and will make RAW better upon his return. Triple H is a throw back to another era which we are desperately short on in today s marketplace. Any guy who grew up a wrestling fan, idolizing Ric Flair and Harley Race, even though he beat the living hell out of me in Madison Square Garden, can t be all bad.

From: David H.
Over the last couple of years, WWE seems to be pulling away from tag team wrestling, which I am a big fan of. I miss the teams of the late 1990s when New Age Outlaws, the APA, Edge and Christian, The Dudleys and the Hardy Boyz had some of the most memorable matches. And who will ever forget the great teams of the Hart Foundation, Demolition, and the Bushwackers? Even with Animal and Heidenreich, the tag team division has been weak for the past year or so. What is the future of tag team wrestling in WWE?

I too am a fan of tag team wrestling, but an old wrestling adage says that single stars sell more tickets in main event slots than do tag teams. The lack of top-line tag teams in WWE is a reflection of the overall lack of quality depth in the business in general. I would not be surprised if we see a few new teams arrive on the scene much sooner than later on both RAW and SmackDown! and be put in a position to make an impact. Whether these teams can carry the ball to the Promised Land remains to be seen. I sure hope so as opportunity waits. There is no tag team bias in WWE, just a lack of enough good teams to make this division as interesting as it could be.

From: Marshall Pesta
JR, I would just like to comment on what you said to the Navy service members in your last report. You say what you do isn't as important as what we do as service members, and I want you to take some proper credit. I am an Army broadcaster at Fort Bragg, NC, and I have done a few media events with WWE Superstars in the past year. The service members truly appreciate the support we get from you and the rest of the superstars. From free tickets to events and gift merchandise to free access to PPV events, the time you make to take care of service members is second to none. As you are a big part of that, we want to return our respect and appreciation back to you.

Your kind words are much appreciated. Our service men and women are the best in the world at what they do and every American should count their blessings daily for the job you folks do in protecting us and our families. God bless you all.

On a side note, I think I set the record for perspiring the most of any portly Okie in history one night in Ft. Bragg during a TBS Clash of the Champions which occurred right in the middle of the summer in the non air conditioned gym there.

Bob Caudle, a wonderful man, and I handled the broadcast that night and both of us sweat through our suits before the night was over. I remember being criticized by the wrestling media for saying I could sure use a Coors Light that night even though they were one of our sponsors. My how times have changed or has it?

Take care, Marshall. And my best to all your comrades in Ft. Bragg!

From: Jonathan
Hello JR,
I live in Philadelphia and I am a huge ECW fan. First, what were your thoughts on the ECW pay-per-view? And do you think we will see another one soon? EC F N W RULES!

I really enjoyed the ECW pay-per-view! I watched it at home just like any other fan. The passion the ECW alums have for this brand is inspiring. I also enjoyed Joey Styles commentary during the show. I would have to assume that WWE will present another ECW pay-per-view at some point in the future, but I am not aware of a firm date. If I had to guess, I would say it will be in 2006. Terrell Owens vs. Donovan McNabb might not be a bad booking for this show if it were in Philly. Think of me the next time you order one of those delicious Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches!

From Jess C.
Hi Jim,
Do you think the move to Fridays will benefit WWE? With ratings usually low for Friday nights, do you think WWE will be happy with the results?

I sure hope so, but time will tell. I will say this, the line up for the first Friday Night SmackDown! is huge. In our personal household, catching SmackDown! on Fridays will be easier than watching it every Thursday. I never miss SmackDown! on TV and I get the feeling that Fridays will become destination viewing.

From: Jake Rozen
Hello JR,
I used to following wrestling back in the early 90s and now my son makes me watch RAW with him. Since you have been around wrestling for a long time, what are your thoughts on the business today compared with business in the early 90s?

I see nothing wrong with a dad and his son watching RAW together. I wish my Dad was still alive to watch us on Monday nights. In my opinion, the biggest change in the business today as compared to the early 90s is the shallow talent pool available today as compared to 15 years ago. There is also more wrestler talk incorporated into the TV shows, which is a significant change from the previous era. Wrestlers who can express themselves verbally can become a hot commodity in today s TV marketplace. Wrestlers who attempt to be something they are not on our TV shows can be embarrassing. But the bottom line is and always will be, who can get it done bell to bell? That s what every wrestling company I know of is constantly searching for. I am glad you are still entertained after all these years. I know that feeling.