Recently during a Q&A with Inside The Ropes, Jim Ross talked about coming back to WWE in 2001 to call the Wrestlemania 17 main event between the Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Ross admitted that he thought that the event would be his last show.
"I thought at the time that would probably be my last show," Ross said. "My facial paralysis was not improving and the world of WWE is a very looks type business and the fact that this paralysis made me not smile is disconcerting to some. So I thought 'This is probably my last Raw' but luckily it wasn't. That's because The Rock and [Steve] Austin went to Vince McMahon and said 'We want JR to call our match, he's our guy.' I still get emotional talking about that. They respected my work I guess after all those years, they knew that I respected them. I was a fan and always will be a fan."
WrestleMania 19 was a card stacked from top to bottom with great matches featuring Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon, Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar in the main event and The Rock vs. Steve Austin in Austin's final match.
When asked about why WrestleMania 19 didn't live up to the hype surrounding the star studded card, Ross noted that the card just lacked the magic that is need for a supercard.
"Pay-per-views are generally driven by attractions," Ross said. "For whatever reason, that card didn't have the magic that it should have had. It was hard to top Rock vs. Hogan the year before. That was a sleeper match and it became historic. It didn't even close the show, Austin and Rock normally would close the show but Austin spent the night in the hospital and we weren't really sure until Sunday morning if was going to go. Our thoughts were not to put him on last because if he does not have the gas in the tank, we don't have a great close. He knew Lesnar was beginning to percolate and become great and of course Kurt Angle is equal in a lot of ways, would do a great job closing the show and they did."
"It was probably the first time we ever talked to Steve about not closing WrestleMania and he didn't get pissed off. He likes to close the show, he's worked his whole life to be a main event guy to close the show but he had no problem acquiescing to the other two guys because of his hospital stay."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.