During the coronavirus pandemic, AEW is still holding no-audience shows but Jim Ross has not been in attendance for those. He explained why when he joined The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast earlier today.
"Tony Khan and I had a very long and thoughtful talk that he initiated. I'm an asset for that company in his view, and mine too, and he said I've got to protect you because he knows I won't protect myself. So, the decision was to stay home for a couple of days and I'm not gonna be on Dynamite this week or next until we see where this thing is headed," revealed Ross.
"If it gets worse, I'm 68 and in a high-risk group. I don't wanna die. I don't wanna get the flu because my ego says I've gotta be on TV. 'Oh I can't lose my spot, because then I won't get my push!' Stop. Please."
Many have questioned why pro wrestling has continued to press on during these extraordinary times seeing as nearly every other sport has suspended operations. Ross was asked if he thinks it's the right call for wrestling to continue.
"You're comparing apples to oranges as we're not the NFL, NBA or MLB. We're a theatrical presentation and a TV show," said Ross. "All of those empty arenas are empty studios. It's not about selling tickets at this point in time as it's about giving the audience a little break from this insanity that we're all dealing with. It's an entertainment show and I applaud all of those guys that are braving the elements and challenges of the coronavirus to put on an entertaining show on Wednesday nights."
JR said that AEW's plan is to continue to do empty arena TV shows until this straightens out. He added that they are committed to TNT and to delivering the content that they expect.
"It's important for us to maintain some continuity. I don't have the format and I can't tell you what they're gonna do on Wednesday, but I know that the effort will be there. I'm gonna be watching the show on Wednesday just like a fan, which I love," stated Ross. "That's the thing about not knowing the finishes – I don't need to know your finish. I don't need to know your spots. If I'm not good enough to recognize what you're doing or you're not good enough to tell me a story, then we have issues…
"It's an interesting time in our lives and I don't think pro wrestling is in danger, but we've gotta maintain our growth as best we can under the circumstances. We've got to be smart and take into consideration what this virus is. We can never lose sight of what we're facing right now."
"They have bigger fish to fry right now as far as WrestleMania and that whole fiasco, unfortunately. I'm still a big fan of WrestleMania and I'm proud of my opportunities to work many WrestleManias over the years. But I don't know – you can only do so much," said Ross.
"Obviously, they went head-to-head with us on Wednesdays to hopefully slow down any growth that we might have. They thought we were such on feeble ground that they thought, 'This won't last long. The money will run out.'"
JR then pointed out that the Khans have an $8 billion net worth compared to Vince McMahon's $2 billion. He also noted that Tony Khan has the most awareness and recall for pro wrestling and that's what sold Ross on AEW.
"That's what impressed me about him and when my contract ended – I didn't get fired from WWE as I just didn't want to negotiate anymore. I'm done. I wasn't being used and my clock is ticking. I didn't wanna sit at home and I think I can still contribute," said Ross. "No matter our age, our gender, whatever, if we think we can contribute to life then we should do that. I didn't wanna be the backup quarterback or an advisor as I wanted to play. Tony Khan wanted me on his team and he told me that I was the voice of his childhood. That was great to hear but he's one of my biggest fans. I wanted to do all I can to continue to build our brand of AEW.
"It's been a blessing to me as when you lose your best friend in your significant other and you're not using your best judgment in taking care of yourself like I was in battling depression, I had to fix this. I had to get my ass up and that's what I did. I'm very grateful that Tony and his family have given me that opportunity and I won't ever forget that. This will be last job I ever have and I say that in a positive way. I really do."
Jim Ross' new book "Under The Black Hat" is available now and can be purchased HERE. Jim's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of today's episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon: by clicking here.