WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross recently sat down with wrestlinginc.com for a chat. In it he discuses how he got into the wrestling business and a whole lot more. I posted a few highlights for you to check out. I would highly recommend checking out the whole thing via the link above.
Wrestling INC: When did you first started watching wrestling and became a wrestling fan?
Ross: I was probably 10-years-old, so around 1962. That was an era before cable. Most households got three network channels and one of them carried the local territory wrestling program. It came on and my dad made a deal with me that if I do all my chores, because I'm an only child on a 160 acre farm and did well in school, I could watch wrestling on Saturday afternoon. It came on at 4 p.m., so it broke into the workday a little bit, so my dad would cut me some slack and let me watch wrestling. He wasn't a fan of the genre. I thought it was a good deal and I learned about keeping my end of the bargain and became a fan for life.
Wrestling INC: When did you start to think you wanted to be involved with the business somehow?
Ross: I think that came much later. There was an angle on TV between The Kentuckians and The Assassins which lit the territory on fire. I remember Jody Hamilton giving Grizzly Smith a hard way and the announcer thought it had to be some sort of an illusion and the camera zoomed in on a close-up and it darn near cost the announcer his job at the TV station. You have to remember this was the early 1960s and extremely graphic. This wasn't the days of 24 hour news or TMZ, where you're looking for jaw dropping pieces of footage. I really became interested in that storyline and I kept investing my time in it. When I was in college, my fraternity promoted two events for Bill Watts and Leroy Mcguirk in 1972 and 1973.
I wasn't really fascinated by the promotional aspect, the marketing. I knew athletically I would never be a wrestler, I was still a fan of the genre, but was interested in how it worked. I casually looked at it as a job during college. We did well on those shows and Bill Watts said, 'when you get out of college give me a call and I may have something for you.' That was 1974 and you get out of college and like everybody else you're looking for work to start a career. I intended on going back to college to get my masters degree in education and eventually try to teach at a college. Curiosity got the better of me and I called Bill on the phone and he hired me. That's where the adventure begins. I thought it would fulfill my interest about pro wrestling and 40 years later we're still talking about it.
Wrestling INC: You often write about how it is harder to be a heel today than back then. It does seem harder to be a heel today because it's hard to have the crowd hate you when everyone is breaking the rules and there's no set of rules.
Ross: It defines logic and common sense that most of the rules have been eliminated. The companies want you to get lost in their shows and suspend disbelief at what's going on, but they take away the tools you've utilized to do that. If there aren't any rules for a villain to break, then why is he a villain? They may have a look of confidence, but in today's world of attitude, does that make them heels? Of course not, it's just a part of the game. You need more than facial expression and posture to be a villain. I still believe in a fictional TV show that to some degree, there needs to be heroes and villains. You can't put them in the same pot and expect the dish to taste the same. It's easy to build heels around the seven deadly sins. Someone brought up to me why the athletes aren't checked. It's because it's show business or Disney. It takes too much TV time and it's too old school to check someone's pads. How can there be no time limits on a TV show that always ends on time? The business keeps throwing things in the formula that slap you into reality and slap you out of suspending your disbelief by what they do or don't do.
Recently they had Beat the Clock on RAW. By adding the clock, it adds a sense of urgency, immediacy, and a stipulation the most causal of fans can buy into because everything we watch in sports has some sort of timing element. By not having any time elements, it's a huge exposé. How do you throw a guy into the corner, get on the middle rope, start punching his face exactly 10 times, and you don't have a broken hand? More telling is the victim has no visible evidence that he was struck at all. There's rarely a black eye, bloody nose, or busted lip. That defies logic. Back in the day, the placement of a few punches was a great generator of heat. I have no idea what you look like, but if you struck me 10 times in the face you'll leave something behind. Don't oversell it, but make it seem real. If we did, then we did our job.