On the latest episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross mentioned how he was on a short term contract with WWE in 2006. He said WWE was positioning Todd Grisham to come in and take his job and be the new him. Ross talked about the night WWE decided to have Kevin Federline, former husband of Britney Spears, face John Cena on the New Year's Day episode of RAW. He mentioned how frustrated he was that night when Vince McMahon wouldn't let him take the day off to watch his hometown football team.
"I had been with the company since 1993 and I had never taken a day off," Ross said. "I had never filled out a vacation form. On that night, my Sooners played Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, and I really wanted to go to the game. I got turned down. Vince said we need you, we got to have you call this match. It's important.
"Here's a guy on a temporary week-to-week type deal, and I'm getting all these messages. I wasn't pissed off at the contract, I was pissed off that I wasn't granted a day off. You got your golden boy Todd Grisham who's going to take my place - stick his ass in there."
JR also shared his belief on why Vince may not have let him take the day off, saying he might have done it to spite Ross. He said it was ridiculous he couldn't get the day off because it wasn't like he was going to miss out on an instant classic match.
"Was it the fact that 'we could piss his ass off because I'm not going to let him go to the bowl game'?" Ross said. "I think there's a plausible reason for that. Do I definitely know? Hell no. That's me and my ego talking, but how much would it have hurt for me to miss a RAW? I hadn't missed any except when I was sick.
"I just felt like it was unreasonable. Vince knew my passion for Oklahoma. I just think that was another way of getting at my goat and seeing how I'd react. I had to be there to call the big K-Fed vs. John Cena match. It wasn't like calling The Rock and Stone Cold, let me tell you that.
Ross continued to give credit to Cena for being the man to step up and create chicken salad out of chicken sh**. He said the reason this match was put together was to boost ratings as football was going head to head with WWE.
"My hats off to John Cena for going along with it and making it something," JR mentioned. "K-Fed probably did a bit better than some of us perceived he might. Vince's idea was counter programming. All the football is going to be on and we're going to counter program it. I don't know how the ratings were, but Vince's idea was to counter program football with sports entertainment."
Ross continued to talk about the match between Cena and Federline, saying that Vince just tried to bring in a new audience. He also gave the main reason as to why the decision was ultimately made - to have a high profile celebrity match on January 1st.
"Vince's unquenchable thirst for mainstream publicity," Ross responded. "K-Fed was a favorite of TMZ, a favorite of social media stuff; he was trying to maintain his relevance because his marriage was on the rocks. That fed into the hand of WWE as far as social media and outside media. It was just that desire to get the brand in new eyes and Vince thought K-Fed was a vehicle to do that, and it was controversial."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.