To generations of pro wrestling fans, Jim Ross is what they think of when they think, “great play-by-play.” Ross became a legend by understanding the product, being able to tell a passionate story and go completely over-the-f*cking-top when necessary. Okay, he could go over-the-top even when it wasn’t, which is why he’s such a fantastic meme.
According to Jim Ross, he’s not sure “Jim Ross” would be able to exist in WWE’s current setup. In a recent interview on The Steve Austin Show, good ol’ J.R. spoke about the problems with WWE’s announce team, and why him coming back and taking over in the booth wouldn’t help things.
“I think those guys have a tough job. It’s just a different style. I’m kind of glad that I’m not [in that position]. They have more to sell. They have a mall where these other wrestling companies have a storefront. They have a smaller inventory to sell, whereas the WWE has a ton of things to promote and sell and their own network, et cetera, et cetera. So the announcers are obligated to get so much of that content in and that’s built into the show.
I do miss walking out there and sitting down and going to work, but I don’t know that my style in what I’m most comfortable in doing would be applicable in WWE these days based on how the guys are produced and the obligations they have to get the product over and all the stuff they’ve got to sell.”
Would Jim Ross work as an announcer in 2015? Is WWE actively trying to avoid announcers with personalities, in the hopes of creating harmless spokespeople who can appeal to the widest, most basic audience?
Compare and contrast Ross’ analysis of the announce team with that of former WCW announcer Scott Hudson, who opened up (a little too much) on the In Your Head podcast.
“Well first, Michael Cole sucks. That guy couldn’t call a one-horse race. Unfortunately, the best announcer they have on Raw is Byron Saxton, and they don’t let him show his stuff. JBL, he’s terrible, he’s horrible. They don’t know what to do, but then again I’ll give Cole at least a little bit of credit in that he’s doing what he’s told. If he wasn’t doing what he was told, he would be working for Joey Styles at the dot com office. And that’s sad, is that they’ve got the best announcer in the last twenty years on staff not announcing. The guy for New Japan, Mauro Ranallo, he’s the best announcer in wrestling and it’s not even close. He’s fantastic. The guys on Ring of Honor, Kevin Kelly and the rest of that bunch, they’re good, too. But the announcing on basically every WWE product across platforms is atrocious.
I’ve gotta say this, I’m a huge mark for The King; he could read things out of the phone book and I would listen. So I love The King, take him out of that equation, otherwise the announcers there are worthless. But, to their everlasting credit, they’re doing what they’re told. And Vince is happy as a clam, watching ratings … and viewership and everything else and gimmick sales go right in the tank.”
So, what’s the answer? Does the announce team suck, or is it by design? Is there a way to improve the announcing, or does WWE have exactly what they want?
If Jim Ross wouldn’t fit in on Raw, are we even watching the same show?