Okay, let’s start with the bad news first. According to The Wrestling Observer, the talks to bring Jim Ross to the Lucha Underground temple have ground to a halt. I know, I know, I wanted to hear JR calling Fenix’s double-jump armdrags just as much as you, but it looks like that won’t happen. The good news, however, is that Ross is not the type to just fade away. Wrestling’s favorite Okie still has lots to say after his well-received trip to the Tokyo Dome for NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 9, and he called into Marvel’s weekly podcast to talk about New Japan and lots of other topics. The full conversation (found here on Marvel’s official site) is about forty minutes long and contains some great stories about Ross’s childhood memories of going to the drugstore where his mother worked and binging on Superman comics. Here are some of the best bits.
On the difficulties of calling Japanese wrestling: “With three bouts of Bell’s palsy (facial paralysis), I essentially had to learn to re-speak many words over again, multiple times. And with my Southern accent, for me to pop out some of those Japanese names with no strains or pains was not going to happen… I did more prep on that show than I had done on any wrestling show I had ever worked, including all the WrestleManias, which I thought I had over-prepared for.”
On Let’s Be Cops, one of the “horrid” in-flight movies he saw on his way to Japan: “These two guys wear cop outfits to a party or some kind of costume thing and then they’re mistaken for real policemen, so one of them comes up with the ingenious plan of the little pranks they can do and perks they can earn if they are cops. So, they buy a used cop car off eBay, and the ‘hilarity’ begins.”
On the main event of Wrestle Kingdom, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada: “The last match is always supposed to be the featured match, and it was… Okada was leading the series with three wins, two losses, and one draw… he’s almost like the heir apparent. Tanahashi knows his days are numbered, but he wants to be the one that flips the switch, not the company or another one of his peers.”
On Shinsuke Nakamura: “He’s pretty damn extraordinary, man… I was familiar with him when I got to Tokyo because I’d been watching YouTube videos for a couple of months… As a little boy, he started training in Muay Thai, striking, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, he has a winning record in MMA fighting, so he’s a trained killer, but his influences are Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson.”
On the importance of Archie Comics: “I think maybe my hormones were racing when I got attracted to the Archie comics… That was pre-Playboy days. That was before discovering Hugh Hefner, I was looking at Betty and Veronica.”
On being a character in Marvel’s 12-issue run of WCW comics in the early 90’s: “I was just tickled to death that I was actually [on] a page… I think Paul Heyman and Missy Hyatt were also kind of recurring characters because of the television show, and that’s what we were going with at the time. “
I respect the fact that he didn’t take a side in the Betty/Veronica debate. That’s the kind of issue that tears friendships apart.