AEW’s Jim Ross on Calling the Exploding Barbed-Wire Death Match
More than 40 years into his storied career, Jim Ross is still passionate about pro wrestling. The proud Okie brings his knowledge and experience to All Elite Wrestling commentary each week,and with AEW’s Revolution pay-per-view on the horizon — and his latest book, Under the Black Hat: My Life in the WWE and Beyond, coming out in paperback — TV Insider thought it was time to catch up with the legend.
It’s been almost a year since AEW made Daily’s Place in Jacksonville its regular TV venue. How has shooting in one location been for you?
Jim Ross: Being able to do my work from one location adds stability. You avoid the airports, more COVID exposure. I’m 69 and in the high-risk group, even though I get tested virtually every week. I’m really happy we are based in Jacksonville—so much I bought a home here. When we’re ready to go back on the road, I’ll be ready to go. But I grew up on a 160-acre farm in eastern Oklahoma. We had plenty of creeks and ponds, but no beach. I miss my family, but this has been a dream come true to live where I can look out my window and see nothing but sand and the Atlantic Ocean.
Congrats on the paperback release of your second memoir, Under the Black Hat. The book has gotten a great response.
It’s not a typical pro wrestling book. I don’t analyze headlocks or evaluate body slams. I just tell the story of my life and journey. Unfortunately, when we were finishing the book, my wife Jan got killed in a vehicle accident in 2017. That added a different level of emotion. I wanted to show through the writing how important your significant other can be and should be in your life. For many years, I took that for granted as a career guy and workaholic. A lot of people said, “I didn’t know you wrote a love story,” they expressed they couldn’t get through it without crying. That was not my intent. It was to tell a true story from my heart that more people could identify with.
You mentioned on your podcast that there’s been some movement in adapting your two autobiographies into a TV series or movie. What can you share?
I’m having a meeting with a gentleman who wants to write a script. He has several shows on television already. [In fact] we’ve had several people talk to us about turning my story into a movie. We’re still in the talking stage, but it has a pulse.
How do you think the AEW Dynamite commentary team is meshing these days?
Any time you have a three-man team, it takes time to get your rhythm together. All three of us have play-by-play backgrounds, so we had to adjust our timing. I think we’ve done really well. I try to play to everyone’s strengths. The nice thing is we all like each other. I think 2021 is where we really define this three-man team.
How much does social media impact your approach to broadcasting?
It’s always challenging to read negative remarks from people you don’t even know. They get personal sometimes. I’ve had people say “I hope you have another stroke.” I don’t find any value in a comment like that. First of all, I’ve had Bell’s Palsy, facial paralysis three times. I’ve never had a stroke. But it’s the time we live in. Everyone is outspoken about any topic. I take it all with a grain of salt. People have a right to an opinion. Sometimes it’s sobering, and they can make good points. I have miscalled things. I’m human. It’s live TV with no net, but I don’t let negativity get me down.
What are your thoughts on the major signings the company has made with Sting and Paul Wight?
I’ve known Sting since the 1980s. Any time you can reconnect with a friend, that’s a good thing. Paul Wight I signed for WWE back in the day. I’ve got a history with them. Sting wants to go out on his own terms, like a lot of performers and athletes do. When people bring up the age thing, that’s not a great attitude. What we do is performance art, so these guys just have to adjust their act, so to speak. I’m fully confident in our owner Tony Khan’s selection of talent and how he chooses to use them.
Kenny Omega is defending the AEW championship against Jon Moxley in an exploding barbed-wire death match at the Revolution pay-per-view. How have you prepared to call this one?
The exploding barbed-wire death match is a match I’ve never called. I’ve never seen one in person! Thank goodness for YouTube. This is a car wreck waiting to happen. Having real barbed wire around the ring ropes is daunting. I’ll prepare by watching Terry Funk, Mick Foley, and Onita, a Japanese star who really created this match. The performers provide the music, and we as broadcasters provide the lyrics. The less I know, the better off I am. I love the surprises.
Any other matches you think will steal the show?
Chris Jericho and MJF are facing the Young Bucks in a match that has become very personal. Should be an amazing contest. Jericho is a Rembrandt on a different canvas. MJF is a young prodigy who will be a big star. Young Bucks might be considered the best tag team in wrestling. Matt Hardy versus Hangman Page has a chance to be a sleeper. This card has something for everyone I think.
AEW Dynamite, Wednesdays, 8/7c, TNT
AEW Revolution, March 7, 8/7c, Pay-Per-View