During the latest episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross covered the short career of Umaga in WWE. Ross mentioned his memorable match at WrestleMania 23 as the representative for Vince McMahon in the Battle of the Billionaires against Donald Trump and his pick, Bobby Lashley. He said the reason they chose Umaga and Lashley for those spots was because of the commitment they wanted to make in putting them into a major match at WrestleMania.
“He was the next thing we had to be unbeatable,” Ross said. “McMahon was obviously trying to stack the deck with the baddest dude on the roster. Even though he lost to Bobby Lashley, he lost because of Stone Cold quite frankly. Storyline-wise, it made a lot of sense. Reality-wise, it looked good on a poster, it was a good booking. We were still committed to Umaga’s growth, and him being a key role in this match at WrestleMania was not going to stunt his growth. And the same theory is applicable to Bobby Lashley.”
After the Battle of the Billionaires resulted in Vince McMahon having his head shaved, he inserted himself into the Lashley/Umaga feud and became the ECW champion, wearing a do-rag. Ross talked about Vince getting involved in the Lashley/Umaga storyline, and said he had a different perspective than most when Vince would get involved and wrestle.
“One of the things I liked about it was when Vince was wrestling, that means he was not sitting at the gorilla position producing the announcers,” Ross said. “Lawler and I would look at each other and not say a word, but we both had that twinkle in our eyes. Of course, Lawler didn’t get lambasted. I’d get lambasted for Lawler. Vince never jumped on Jerry’s s–t, so I got it. Stuff like, ‘God da**it, JR, what’s wrong with Lawler? Fire his a** up,’ so somehow or another, Lawler’s lack of productivity tonight is my fault?
“When Vince was a performer, it was a glorious time because it allowed Lawler and I to create our own content. Much like we do on Wednesday nights on TNT, we create our content. Tony Khan is not in our ear. Occasionally, he’ll say something. Things are fluid, things change sometimes. Nonetheless, that was almost like a night off. It was fun – you look forward to it because you can get in your groove, get your flow going. And hopefully the flow is good enough so the viewers like it.”
Ross also talked about the time the members of Jackass showed up on RAW. He talked about Steve O’s memorable encounter with Umaga and how Umaga would not stop pounding on him. Ross said maybe Umaga should have laid off a bit, but he beat him down because of the way he was not selling his moves.
“The term Jackass never fit anybody or any group better than those dudes,” Ross said. “They were spot monkeys. Beat me up, make me bleed, make me hurt, make people uncomfortable watching. I’ll say this – they had balls. Steve O found out that you’re screwing with [Umagas] livelihood. That ain’t going to fly. It was a little uncomfortable to watch but in a sad, perverse way, kind of fun.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.