During a recent episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross covered the 2001 Royal Rumble which saw Stone Cold Steve Austin win the Royal Rumble for a record third time. Ross also discussed the Big Show during that time and how he had to convince him to lose weight. He mentioned how his weight was becoming an issue with different commissions across the United States and it was going to cost him his job. Ross also mentioned how the Andre the Giant comparisons may have negatively impacted the Big Show.
“I thought his weight and his obesity would shorten his life,” Ross said. “I’m thinking that he’s a step or two away from being non-licensable. All of the states were still adhering to the licenses, athletic commissions. He’s such a sweetheart of a guy, god damn it’s like you’re going to pull a William Perry on my ass, you’re going to eat yourself out of a job. I was concerned, I don’t think he took it seriously. The only way you can get talent to take you seriously is to affect their money. That’s it.
“Now look at him today, he looks great. He doesn’t look to be unhealthy, he’s probably lost 100 pounds. He looks excellent. He could always do it, but I think he got influenced. He listened to the last guy that talked to him sometimes and some of the guys that talked to him, it was all about size, getting bigger. [They’d say] look at Andre, by the way, Andre died at 46.”
Ross also talked about his role backstage working as head of talent relations during the Attitude Era. He said when he worked in an administrative role, he would tell everyone their ultimate goal is always about representing one man: Vince McMahon.
“It’s our job to make sure he is represented as he would want to be,” Ross said. “We can never let him inadvertently go back on his word if we can or at least bring it to his attention. ‘Remember Vince, we told this guy blank.’ You couldn’t imagine how many times I’ve told him that and it wasn’t because he was trying to screw them, he would forget.
“I would like to think everybody that was working under him might not have been as diligent as I. I loved working under him, I didn’t like being produced by him [on commentary], he probably made me a better broadcaster though. That was our job.”
Every year, the Royal Rumble match often has guest appearances and surprise entrants. From moments such as Edge coming out of retirement after 9 years due to neck surgery and John Cena returning just two months after a torn pectoral muscle to win the match in 2008, to having Drew Carey being a surprise entrant in 2001. Carey at the time was the host of Who’s Line is It Anyway and was an entrant in the match. Carey had a face off with Kane then was quickly eliminated by himself. Ross talked about the guest appearance of The Price Is Right host and said Carey didn’t make the biggest impression inside the ring and knew very little about wrestling when he arrived at the show.
“He probably had as less of an impact from a guest star as anybody I can recall off the top of my head,” Ross said about The Price is Right host. “He was hot on television, he was getting a lot of media attention. The reason Drew Carey was on this card was to get outside pro wrestling media exposure. He wasn’t a fan, maybe he was just the biggest star available, I don’t know. He was a nice guy, but I don’t think he really knew why he was there other than to promote what he was promoting. He didn’t have a big impact on what we were doing.
“Just didn’t connect as I thought it should have. I wasn’t real high on the execution of Drew Carey in the match but they got him in and out, at least that was painless. He seemed like he had fun, he knew why he was there, to promote his product and let us promote his products. But he didn’t understand the very basics of wrestling, he probably never had seen a Royal Rumble match in his life.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.