As noted before, WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins appeared at the Fandemic convention in Houston this past weekend with RAW Women's Champion Becky Lynch and during a panel appearance, Rollins said AEW is the minor leagues of pro wrestling. Rollins made the comments when asked about a possible match against Kenny Omega to prove who is the best.
"When Kenny's done playing in the minor leagues over there [AEW]," Rollins said. "Then he can come and work at the absolute top professional wrestling company in the world, in front of the most people, and make the most money, and have the biggest matches, which is with me at WrestleMania."
One person who did not appreciate those comments by Rollins was AEW announcer Jim Ross. Ross addressed Rollins' comments on the latest episode of his "Grilling JR" podcast when asked by co-host Conrad Thompson. JR admitted he's pissed off over the comments.
"You're right, I'm pissed off about it. Here's why I'm pissed off about it," Ross said (H/T to Wrestlingnews.co for the transcription). "Number one, it doesn't do any favors for our business. Our business in general, any promotion in the total of all the pro wrestling business it's bigger than any individual. Now I'm not inferring that Seth thinks he's bigger than the business but by what he says sometimes, you can make that assessment, rightly or wrongly, but it's just not a classy thing to say, for an athlete of his designation.
"Since this came out, I talked to two Hall of Fame guys off the record that were embarrassed about those remarks as well. It doesn't do the business any good and one of these cats even said to me that maybe Rollins is breaking under the pressure because he's getting a lot of criticism."
Ross continued and talked about how WWE is now a whole different world than it was back when wrestlers were making money that was well above their downside guarantees based pay-per-view buys and live event attendance. Ross recalled something another WWE Hall of Famer mentioned to him - it's not about the individual Superstars being over or drawing these days, it's about the WWE brand itself. Regarding the "minor league" comments, Ross pointed to how AEW Lead Investor Shad Khan, father to AEW President & CEO Tony Khan, actually has more money than the WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon.
"Now guys in WWE, like Rollins, [are] on a salary in broad terms. I don't know how many houses Seth has drawn that sold out," Ross said. "As another Hall of Famer mentioned to me, it's not about the individuals being over or drawing the house or selling out, it's about the WWE brand selling out. Hence, the best illustration is WrestleMania. The brand name WrestleMania and the parent company, the big dog in the yard, WWE is what sells tickets at WrestleMania under the auspices that they're going to deliver a special show, opponents and participants to be named. But Rollins he's in a great spot, he's blessed, maybe someday he'll be as over as his girlfriend, I don't know. Nonetheless, I've always liked his work. He's a solid guy, he's a solid guy, but saying things like that make him look bad and for that, I feel badly [for Rollins]. I just do.
"Here's the thing I find incredulous about this deal, one of the things. He says, 'Well, when you're through playing in the minor leagues…' Ironically, Mr. Khan's got more money than Vince, but nonetheless, that's another story for another day. We believe that we're on a great network in TNT. We think we have a chance to build a nice brand. You never heard from me ever, Conrad, even when we're drinking, say 'we're gonna kick WWE's ass.' It's stupid!"
Conrad tried to move the podcast on but Ross wasn't finished with Rollins' comments on AEW. Conrad plugged the new WWE 2K20 video game and Ross said maybe fans can create an Omega vs. Rollins fantasy match-up on it. He said, "It would be a great match, seriously."
Ross continued, "If Omega and Rollins did have a match it would be a great match because both of them are great workers. I was upset at Seth because I thought his comments made him sound bad, made him sound bush league. Made him sound like he was one of those guys that was born on third base, woke up and thought he hit a triple because it's just, for the guy that worked his way through the indies and Tyler Black and Ring Of Honor, great hand, I don't know what's happened to some of these guys. I just believe sometimes it's internal, sometimes what they're driven to say, what they feel obligated to say, they say things that they think will gain the favor of their bosses, I don't know. I don't know what the answer is, but for a top talent that's being blessed with great health right now, thank God, and making a ton of money and dating the hottest woman in the business, arguably by many, man what do you got to b---h about? Are you kidding me? We're over there working our ass off and a lot of us have dedicated our lives longer than you've been alive to this business, and we're busting our balls without knocking…I'm not knocking WWE. I think it's a bad thing when you're knocking a company that's working our ass off to be good. We're proving that we're gonna be good, we're gonna be different and we're gonna grow and evolve every Wednesday night on TNT at 8 o'clock, 7 central."
Ross went on and said AEW will make mistakes as they grow, but that is what growth & evolution is all about. Ross also talked about how WWE is significantly different today, and how it's a "damn shame" that some of the charm of the old school wrestlers is slowly slipping away.
"My deal with Seth was not his work. All of those guys are playing under different rules than the guys on the Attitude roster that we put together. Guys that I talked to today [on different things, including this matter] said it's just a whole different locker room, a different world, different mindset. Some of that charm of the old school wrestler is slowly slipping away and for that, I say that's a damn shame," JR said.
Below is the full "Grilling JR" podcast for this week, which focuses on WWE Buried Alive 1996: