Throughout all the craziness, incredible moments, and highlights in wrestling from 2021 across WWE and AEW, one of the most memorable has to be Big E finally getting his break as a singles star and becoming the WWE Champion. The New Day member won the championship after cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase against Bobby Lashley on an episode of Monday Night RAW.
On a recent episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, AEW Commentator Jim Ross spoke about his excitement for Big E in becoming champion and revealed why he believes the WWE product has gotten stale. Continuing to talk about Big E’s crowning moment on this week’s episode of the podcast, Ross mentioned the first moment he heard the WWE Champions name and how he recruited Big E to WWE.
“I sat down in a first class seat beside this dude and he knew who I was, the hat kind of gives you away, and he’s a wrestling fan obviously but he was big into Iowa athletics,” Ross said. “Like a big booster, and loved Dan Gable, and wrestling, and football, so we had a nice conversation. He said, man, ‘I got this kid at Iowa and I think he’s got a star wrestler written all over him. He told me about him, he said ‘He’s about 6 feet, he’s a defensive tackle, and he’s the strongest guy on the team. He makes everybody laugh, he’s got a massive personality.’ I asked a few questions that I would normally ask. I don’t even think I was in a role then, but I got word back to the home office about this kid that we should check into.
“I think I may have told Jerry Briscoe, and so, that led to Big E getting noticed and led him onto building his body of work and career. And now, he’s one of the top guys in the whole company, which that is so rewarding to see happen. To have some small little piece of helping a guy get to the next spot, now I’m sure he’s making seven figures plus a year. He’s very well respected in his community. His peers love him, he’s good for the wrestling business and his success can only help others of color without a doubt.”
As a guest on The Ringer’s The Masked Man Show Podcast, Big E spoke about the importance of being a black champion in WWE, saying he’s glad it’s becoming commonplace for black wrestlers to be stars in the company. Ross mentioned how proud he is of Big E and his ability to be a role model for young black kids growing up, wanting to be a WWE superstar and champion someday.
“We have role models as kids. All the star wrestlers were white,” Ross said. “Vince has done a great job of broadening the scope. Using minorities and inter-genders and all of that stuff, I don’t get involved in that stuff. Either you’re a good wrestler or you’re not. I don’t give two s**ts what your political affiliation is or your sexual persuasion is. I don’t care and nobody should care.”
The AEW Commentator continued his story about hearing Big E’s name for the first time on a flight, and how that conversation made him contact WWE about him. Ross finished his stance on Big E by saying every wrestling company in the world needs someone like him in their locker room.
“I got him on the radar,” Ross mentioned. “The powers at be saw what I saw, this guy had pictures of him, they were buddies. He had pictures of him on his phone, so I got a good look at him, and the only thing he said was ‘He might be too short to play defensive tackle in the NFL but he’s got a great 40 time, which means he’s athletic and has fast feet. Strongest guy on the team. He’s just 5’10 or 5’11, something like that.’ He came in and blew them away, and he’s a good citizen. Every company should have their share of Big E’s in it because he’s a good citizen and a good representative of the brand.
“You need guys like that in your locker room, you need guys that are upbeat, and positive, and are willing to help in your locker room. WWE probably has plenty of them, but Big E is maybe at the top of that list. Of course [in AEW], we’ve got some of our own guys. Chris Jericho is a big leader with us. To me, he’s one of the MVP’s, if not the MVP. If you’re going to be successful, you have to have somebody who’s going to have locker room leadership, and we’ve got a lot of good leaders.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.