We noted before how WWE Hall of Famer and AEW Senior Advisor Jim Ross recently revealed during a Q&A event that he had turned down an invite from Vince McMahon for the WWE RAW Reunion special held this past Monday night in Tampa. Ross said AEW President Tony Khan was all for him making the appearance, but JR still turned it down.
Ross talked more about turning down the invite during his latest "Grilling JR" podcast with Conrad Thompson. Ross said his main reason for turning down the invite was the optics and how it would look for his relationship with AEW.
"Well, it wasn't in anger that I refused or turned it down," Ross said. "I appreciated the opportunity to come back to Tampa to see all my buddies and so forth. There's a couple of things that led to this decision, and the main thing for me was if I had gone there, there would be a certain segment of the social media society that would've said, 'Uh oh, there's trouble in paradise, JR's looking to bail already, he's already back with WWE, something's wrong with AEW.'"
Ross made it clear that nothing is wrong with his relationship with AEW. He also commented on how strong his relationship is with Khan, and Khan's reaction to the offer. Ross was also really worried about the message that the RAW appearance would send to the young AEW roster as he works with them and mentors them while they prepare for the big TNT TV debut on Wednesday, October 2. JR added that he was afraid his RAW Reunion appearance would cause confusion when it comes to his messages to the AEW roster about teamwork and having a team mentality.
He continued, "Well, first of all there's nothing wrong with my relationship with AEW. I have a great relationship with Tony Khan, who owns the damn thing. Tony said if you want to go to the RAW Reunion, I think you should go to the RAW Reunion, if you want to. But I got to thinking about it and I didn't want to approach the issue of 'Well, there's trouble in paradise, JR's looking to bail.' I've taken on this role with these kids in AEW, that I really embrace and I love it. I'm an old coach at heart. There's a lot of kids there who are trying to learn how do we get from being somewhat of a hidden or not mass-appeal indie star to going to the next level and becoming a star on a live weekly international TV show in October on TNT. I'm wondering what message I would've sent to these younger guys. 'JR's our guy, he's been preaching unity, he's been preaching teamwork, and he goes back to the big evil empire and for a one night stand, for a payday.'"
JR said it would've been fun to call a few matches with WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler, but that wasn't a given and he never got to discuss creative plans with WWE. He said the creative was a reason he didn't go back, but not the reason, going back to the optics. While AEW boss Khan had given JR his approval to make the WWE appearance, JR also said he didn't want to take advantage of Khan's generosity.
"The reason was, I didn't want to send a mixed message to the young kids I'm trying to mentor and get them in a locker room mentality, and even though Tony was trying to accommodate me, Tony Khan, I didn't want to take advantage of his generosity. It just didn't seem to be the right fit. I wasn't angry about it, I really, really appreciated Vince taking the time out of his schedule to contact me because he didn't have to, could've had a million minions that could've done it, and a lot of them would've liked to because if I had said no, then they could run back to Vince and say, 'He's not coming, JR turned us down, let's pile on the son of a b---h, let's get the dirt going.' So that's the reason. I thought it was sending a mixed message to the locker room that I am currently in, and I didn't want that to happen."
Ross added that no one attends these special shows "just to see the boys" as most go just to have their own egos stroked, he believes. He added that seeing old friends is a perk, but the main reason others go.
JR continued, "I'm glad they did it, it was cool. I appreciate Vince thinking of me but it just didn't seem like the right thing to do in my current role, even though my current boss said go. I just didn't think that it was the right thing to do for that locker room and those young kids that are looking up to me to give them advice and guidance."
"I want to be loyal to my brand and my team, and these kids that are looking up to me for guidance and advice, and support and positive motivation. I didn't think going to RAW was a positive motivator for the 20-somethings in our locker room, who re still wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, trying to figure out what the hell I'm getting myself into," he added.