During the latest episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross commented on contract issues he had with WWE in the mid 2000s. In October of 2006, Ross started signing very short-term deals with WWE, some week to week, after he was constantly let go and brought back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Ross said it was completely ridiculous to have to constantly worry about losing his job, and the hot and cold of the relationship between him and the company was exhausting.
“My contract expired and we didn’t come to terms,” Ross said. “What we were doing was doing these little extensions until we got a deal done. I was hoping for a longer term deal in 2006, and I got a one year deal.
“The writing was on the wall for me. Vince wanted me out, he wanted to go with young, pretty guys – SportsCenter guys. Todd Grisham type guys. That’s what he wanted, the look Vince was enamored with. Not me and [Jerry] Lawler. If they could have found someone to replace me that Vince was pleased with, then I wouldn’t have got those little extensions, ’cause he did want me out.”
Ross also said that WWE had plans to position another announcer into his role in 2007. He mentioned how crazy it was that after all of this happened, he stayed with the company for 12 years, being treated like somebody they would replace at any minute.
“The irony of that is not even a year later, Lawler and I both went into the Hall of Fame,” Ross said. “The plan was, we’ll do something nice for JR, we’ll put him in the Hall of Fame – whether he deserves it or not doesn’t matter – and that will be his going away present, because in the fall of 2007, Todd Grisham had already been informed that he was going to be the new voice of RAW.”
“After all that turmoil and chaos, I stayed till 2018. 12 more years of that sh**, knowing you’re not really wanted, you’re not the first choice. I didn’t have the T.V. look that McMahon joneses for. I got to a certain point where I just had to stop worrying about it. I couldn’t control it. In 2006, I learned a great lesson – don’t go crazy and worry about things you can’t control.”
Ross continued on to mention how every week he was waiting to see if he would be let go. He said he was never sure what the future would hold for him in the WWE, and he just stayed positive knowing he was doing what he loved and got paid to do.
“Lawler would sit there and tell me every week: ‘Did you hear anything?’ ” Ross said. “Nope. I’m going to work till I’m told not to work. What options do I have? I wasn’t happy, but at least I was getting paid and doing what I loved to do. I took those as wins, wins that superseded the movement or lack of movement of my contract. It was not a happy time in the fall of 2006.”
The podcast focused on Cyber Sunday 2006, which was a pay-per-view that uniquely involved fan voting to decide match types, stipulations, opponents, etc. During 2006, Antonio Cesaro was hired by WWE to a developmental deal that was slated to start in 2007. Ross said Cesaro was a no-brainer hire and he would have hired him even earlier.
“He did great work in the indies and had a nice run in ROH,” Ross said. “He was the kind of guy you wanted in your locker room. He was a true pro and always in great shape. He could work with anybody. The only thing he didn’t have was a lot of charisma, and he since has worked on that and has a nice T.V. persona.
“He’s the kind of guy that I would think Vince would want around for a long time after he stops wrestling. The son of b**** is in great shape, so that’s going to be a well. He was a great get for us.”
Also during that year, former WWE Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle left the WWE and was rumored to be diving into the world of Mixed Martial Arts. Ross says he didn’t believe Angle would do MMA, and wasn’t surprised at all by Angle leaving because he was dealing with so many issues regarding pain killers. He said Kurt’s neck was such an issue, and the only way to prevent him from hurting himself more was to let him go.
“He was having a hard time managing the pain,” Ross said. “All that MMA – 30 million dollars – was a ploy to get more money. When you’re Dixie Carter signing these top guys like Sting and Hogan, they don’t have any other options as far as MMA is concerned. Angle did have the ability to be an MMA fighter, the whole striking game would’ve been brand new to him.”
“The patience was running short in the front office. It was just decided: We may have a real mess here. We might want to make a move and get him off the roster because we’re afraid that he’s going to do too much one day and he’s not going to wake up. You can’t force a guy to go to rehab. I’m either going to solve your problem or eliminate it, and that’s what they came to.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Have a news tip or correction? Send it to [email protected]