With over 40 years of experience in wrestling, Jim Ross has earned the title of the greatest and most memorable commentator in the history of pro wrestling. He’s nailed the most unforgettable catchphrases in wrestling commentary, and proved that the job takes a lot of talent. You may think of him as another familiar face in wrestling but what do you really know about:
- His career before wrestling
- His health
- His projects outside of commentating
Currently, Jim isn’t a part of the WWE anymore but he’s still making the rounds in the independent circuit. Even if there’s no chance of ever getting JR back on the WWE commentating roster, we still have the archives of classic unforgettable WWE Network moments created by Jim.
Here’s a list of things you probably didn’t know about Jim Ross:
He’s working on an autobiography. The book, entitled Slobberknocker, is set to be released sometime in 2017 by the independent book publisher Skyhorse. In a blog post, Jim released some details on the book, saying: “We are compiling a helluva book with tons of stories, life experiences and professional experiences of a life long pro wrestling fan enduring all that comes with that distinction of one who left the farm of rural Oklahoma to become a ‘rasslin’ lifer.’ Honored to say that no one in pro wrestling history has had a journey like ours.”
He retired from the WWE in 2013. The voice of the WWE stepped away from his position at the company but he didn’t give up wrestling commentary. Jim went on to work with Matt Striker as the English language commentator for Global Force Wrestling’s presentation of one of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s events. He’s currently working in the independent circuit.
He almost joined TNA in 2010. Jim considered switching from being the voice of the WWE to being the voice of TNA. After his contract with the WWE ended in 2010, he negotiated a contract with TNA but at the very last minute he renewed his WWE contract instead.
He was not born in Oklahoma. Jim was born in Fort Bragg, California but he was raised as an only child on a 160-acre cattle ranch in Westville, Oklahoma.
He was an athlete during his younger years. Although we know him for his talents behind the mic, Jim used to be a great athlete as well. In his high school days he played basketball, baseball, football and he became a two-time all-conference football player for the Westville Yellowjackets.
His break into wrestling wasn’t as an announcer. Contrary to popular belief, Jim started out as a referee. Jim didn’t have the best time as a referee, so he jumped onto the opportunity of commentating when an announcer failed to show up.
The worst day of his life. It happened in December 1998 while Jim was working in the UK pay-per-view Capital Carnage. Jim was under so much stress and grief over his mother’s passing, that he suffered an attack of Bell’s Palsy. This caused him to take a three-month break from commentating.
His cowboy hat. It turns out wearing the cowboy hat wasn’t Jim’s idea, but a creative decision by the WWE. Apparently, Vince McMahon urged Jim to wear the hat in 1994, but Jim didn’t cave in until the 1997 Royal Rumble. Vince’s idea became so intrinsic to Jim Ross’ commentating persona that it was odd to see Jim without his signature cowboy hat.
The UFC chapter. After Jim and the WWE parted ways in 1994 for a brief period of time, legend has it that he began to negotiate a commentator spot at the UFC’s pay-per-view scheduled to take place near the end of that year. Obviously, that never happened, but it’s interesting to think about the possibilities of a world where Jim Ross switched over to the UFC in 1994 and never went back to the WWE.
His movie cameo. During the 1999 biopic on Andy Kaufman, Man on the Moon, Jim donned his commentator headset to play a fictitious version of himself. In the movie, Jim damned Kaufman for his total lack of respect, and he shouted “He’s the King!” as Jerry Lawler arrived.