During the latest episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross talked about his comments about wrestling talent struggling to evolve and how those comments led to controversy with talent in AEW. Ross said he meant what he said and clarified why he made those comments
"I expressed an opinion, a philosophical opinion," Ross said. "I believe that what I said was accurate. I also believe at times, and I apologize for this, I could be very upfront. I rather tell you what time it is then make the watch. I think that's what I did there, I didn't mention any names, I didn't call anybody out, I tried to report it as what I think it to be which is an industry wide issue. What's next?
"I told somebody about this the other day, let's use the scaffold match as a parallel. What's next? A higher scaffold? How do you do scaffold match two? 'It's bigger and better than ever so somebody's going to fall farther!' I did ruffle some feathers, it wasn't totally my intention but I wanted to pay attention that this is an issue. Where does it stop?"
Ross said that talent need to realize that their health is an issue when they perform high risk moves they. He said it's tough to call a match and not say what he's seeing and pretend certain things are happening like a group of wrestlers standing on the outside waiting for a talent to dive over the ropes and land on them.
"How can we protect our talents that truly believe in their hearts that this is the way to create an emotional investment with the paying customer or the T.V. viewer?" Ross asked. "I just thought when is enough enough and some things are just simply illogical. If I call matches in my career, not just now in AEW or anywhere else, with reality in mind? Can you imagine all the times that you could have fun or not and be honest about things and call s--t out? It would be terrible and I think it's being more relaxed."
Ross talked about the feedback he got backstage from talent in AEW. He said he was surprised to find out that nobody confronted him about his comments.
"I didn't get mad at anybody over this deal," Ross said. "I think some got pissed at me. It's funny because nobody said anything. I thought there might be a discussion, I thought there might be some exchange of ideas and thoughts. I'll stand by what I said."
Ross also talked about how he's been coaching the referees in AEW about how to do certain things. He said he had a conversation with them about how to stand when someone is being beat down in a corner, to make sure to watch the pinfalls and whether or not the wrestler's shoulders are down. Ross mentioned how wrestling fans can see on all wrestling shows the mistakes referees make. JR said he was told by them that he's the only one who ever taught them these rules and noted how he gives them advice constantly.
"The referees are being more abused," Ross said. "We have nice people refereeing at AEW, hard workers, [but] I get on their ass sometimes. They all know I mean well by it and they all know I'm the only one that's gone to them since I've been with this company to try and help them with their work in the ring. They appreciate that. It doesn't mean that I am right.
"I'm glad I said it. I probably would have selected a better choice of words but I'll stand by the fact that I didn't call anybody out by name, I didn't try to humiliate anybody. If you were a talent who read or heard what I said and it bothered you, maybe theres substance there. Why would it bother you if it's a non issue? It isn't a non issue. Where do we take it to? Where does it end? I don't know where it ends."
Ross said that the biggest issue he has with the lack of evolution in wrestling today is the concern over the health of the talent. He believes that wrestlers need to adapt and learn more wrestling skills and tell stories in different ways than the way they do now.
"I worry about the health and welfare of the talent," Ross said. "So many wrestlers, even though many don't believe it, have limited skill sets to go out and earn a comparable living as they are earning now. I think that's frightening to them, they don't have enough tools in the tools box from a wrestling side of the toolbox to reposition themselves in the world of what we do. If you get hurt, what do we do with you? What do you do with yourself? What are you trained to do?"
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.