OFF THE RECORD
Last Sunday, TSN aired the final three Off The Record appearances. And lucky me - our first one is from MY FAVORITE PERSON ON THE PLANET - Jim Ross.
He's the second most powerful man in the fed - Senior Vice President Of Talent Relations, Jim Ross. His job is to keep the locker room happy. How does he do that? He tries to sign with positive attitudes who are dedicated to winning. It's easier to win when guys are co-existing in the locker room. They have egos, so it's challenging at times. They have one set of rules that everyone follows - and if anyone gets out of line they eliminate it.
Is disciplining drug problems his area? Absolutely - and he wants to see them work it out. There have been some situations where guys like William Regal have rebounded and comes back stronger.
n.W.o. - what are they doing to the locker room and how did he react? He and Vince discussed it several times, and looked at the legacy. They felt like the system in WCW helped cause the problems. Now we have three guys who are all over 40 and they realize their careers are more of less done. They feel the environment is fine for these guys, and rules are rules. The same goes for Hulk Hogan that goes for Crash Holly. Other than a few bumps, everything's gone fine.
Did JR hear from his own guys that they didn't like this? Agents? Agents were concerned, but no individual talents came to him. JR feels their management is far stronger. You couldn't get a straight answer from anyone in WCW. Here, you go to Vince and he'll give you a straight answer.
If the WWF was a football team - and they had big stars like Austin and Rocky, they couldn't bring in 3 big stars without upsetting them. If Rocky and Austin WERE upset with that, would they listen? Absolutely, because they need Rocky, Austin, Taker, HHH, and Angle to understand why these guys are coming in. They need to understand that there's money to be made.
The WWF is driven by superstars. The n.W.o. was the best thing the old WCW created, and this includes Sting and Goldberg. They felt it was a safe bet to bring them in. JR doesn't like to gamble.
It's natural to make friends with the wrestlers. One of JR's friends was Mick Foley. Where the hell did he go? JR says he loves Foley, and he was great for the locker room. JR is ducking the question like mad here. Michael keeps grilling, and JR says Foley's writing books, and trying to get a sitcom on TV. So was it HIM who wanted out? JR says it was mutual, because Foley couldn't keep up with a road schedule with the other plans that he had. Did he turn down angles? JR says no he didn't, he just didn't want to be in the ring anymore. Did he still want him in the ring? Not if he didn't want to be. He needed to heal. He wanted to be in a non-wrestling role, and they didn't have that.
At Wrestlemania, Stone Cold vs. Hogan could have been huge. Did they even consider it? He feels Hogan and Rocky are more compatible, and they like the marriage between Scott Hall and Austin. Hall's been great since coming back. The main event has a Hollywood sizzle, with Rocky's movie coming out soon.
Austin's usually been the #1 guy in the company - so why not have him there in the main event just for business? JR feels it's a triple main event as it is, and even Flair vs. Taker is a sleeper as a main event. Did he ever speak to Austin about working with Hogan? No, he was happy to be working with Hall. Yeah, OOOOOKAY JR... Last year was Austin vs. Rocky - and it was a one man show. This year they have more depth.
One of the toughest things he has to do is manage Stephanie McMahon. How much of a challenge is that? He won't talk to her any differently than the rest of the talent. If he didn't do that - Vince would probably replace him. The McMahon family pays him, so he owes it to them to manage their daughter. Will he yell at her? He doesn't yell at anyone. She co-ordinates the shows, and gets a lot of negative publicity. He doesn't like that - because Vince still has the final say. His heart is what they go with. JR feels that Stephanie is a long term investment in the company, and his big concern is that she doesn't get over exposed. You don't want to see her three times in a show. (No kidding!) Would he have hired her if she wasn't a McMahon? Yes - because she loves the biz. When he hires anyone, he wants to know they're a wrestling fan. He could care less if you trained in the dungeon, that's all fine and dandy, but you have to LOVE the sport.
QUIRKY FACT: Jim Ross patterned his on-air delivery after legendary sports broadcasters, Jack Buck and Harry Caray.
If Vince and JR come out of the mix, who's the next most powerful? He says it's someone named McMahon. Possibly Shane. Shane knows someday he's going to be called on to fill Vince's shoes, so he's learning that role right now.
Talk about power. Who is the most influential wrestler on the roster? If someone was to pull the ultimate power play, who could get away with it? JR doesn't like their chances, because there's not one guy they can do without. The game is bigger than the players. Vince may not agree with that though. There's no longer a place to go either right? JR feels that stuff is blown out of proportion. Those power plays are so few and far between. He doesn't want to do business with people who are like that.
Paul Heyman - is he a master politician? He's brilliant, and his ego is far more in check now than it was when he was running ECW. Jim Ross says Paul is easy to hate. Paul E. Dangerously is a man that is incredibly easy to dislike. He's a great villain manager.
Did Heyman get fired by JR in WCW? JR didn't fire him - but yeah he got fired a couple of times. He might have fired him if he'd been in that place of power, yeah because he's such a pain in the ass. Everyone gets fired - he's been fired twice by the WWF.
We'll answer that in a moment. First - Wrestlemania needs a plug! It's their Super Bowl, or the Grey Cup. Hah, Michael tells him it's not as big as the Grey Cup, but maybe the World Series.
About Steiner, yes there's a possibility. They're dealing with his drop foot syndrome. They're interested, but they're more concerned about his health.
He was more than happy to cash his cheque the week before and the week after. He asked Vince to wash it well. If he said he loved every segment they did, he'd be lying. But he has a job to do. For what they wanted to do with The Undertaker, it worked. It was an interesting night that he'll write about someday.
He says never say never, but he thinks the Jarrett's are busy elsewhere. He says he and Jarrett had a deal, but Jarrett and Russo were closer. He thinks Jarrett and Russo had a back handed deal. JR believes Jarrett to be a mid-level talent - so he doubts Jarrett will come back.
Michael thanks JR and says there's no one like him. Big handshake, and we wrap it up.