By Giancarlo Aulino
In this episode of Beyond The Game, VIBE Correspondent Giancarlo Aulino interviews World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross. Jim has served as WWE’s play-by-play announcer for twenty years and is widely regarded by fans as being one of the greatest professional wrestling presenters of all time.
In addition to his role as an announcer, Jim has held the role of Vice President – Talent Relations for WWE. During his time in this role he signed some of the biggest stars in the industry including: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Brock Lesnar, Mick Foley and Edge. Currently, Jim works as an announcer for AXS TV, where he along with MMA fighter Josh Barnett, provide English commentary for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) events.
Giancarlo: You’re the author of Sloberknocker: My Life in Wrestling, which has been very successful since its release and is at the top of the charts on Amazon. What motivated you to want to write a book on your career in pro wrestling and what was that process like for you?
Jim: When I left WWE in 2013, I was looking for projects to do. I’ve been approached by various publishers to write an autobiography and I just never took the time, or thought I had the time. Then when we left WWE in September 2013, I found myself with time to strategize new projects and writing a book was one of them. We brought it forth chronologically with all the research we did. We had a roadmap. Paul O’Brien is my writing partner and he and I will work together as it stands today, on the sequel to Slobberknocker, which we hope to have out by the holidays of 2019. As for the process, it’s all great. I enjoy it and it was cathartic at times. It was challenging to finish though because my original writing partner dropped dead of a heat attack, and as soon as we were coming down the homestretch of finishing the book, my wife got ran over by a careless driver and killed. So it was challenging to get my creative spirit back, but I remember my old-man telling me in the ninth grade: “You know son, quitting is the easiest thing in the world to get good at.” I remembered that for some reason—there’s always a reason—and we finished. I’m sure happy we did, it’s exceeded our expectations. It’s on its fourth printing. It’s being talked about for other projects, spin-offs, including some video projects based on the book, so we’ll see how it all works out. It’s been a very fun process and for me being a widower, and certainly being unprepared for such, it gives me projects to work on. I can be around positive people, I can be around people that want to be around me and vice-versa, so it’s a purpose and it serves many masters. In addition, you hope to make a couple bucks on some books, but bottom line, you want to make sure that you’re enjoying the fruits of your labour and I have been on this book so far.
Giancarlo: This morning you helped the great people of New Orleans kick-off WrestleMania Weekend with your one-man show, where you tell stories from your career in pro wrestling from behind the scenes, or even stories you had from sitting on commentary. What’s it been like for you to interact with your fans from around the world, and what have you enjoyed most from your one-man shows?
Jim: It’s heartwarming. The reception that I’ve been getting, and I’ve gotten the reception positively for many years. I’m very blessed to say that. I’ve always been embraced by the fanbase because they knew early on, and those that have followed my career over the years, know that I want to keep it pretty real. I don’t play the role of wrestling announcer. I don’t have fake costuming and all these other things. I’m me—for better or for worse quite frankly--and so I think that they saw that I was real and that I was a legitimate wrestling fan just like them. It just so happened to be for me, that I had a little bit better seat than most of them sitting ringside all those years. I think that’s the whole deal. They didn’t feel like they were being worked, they didn’t feel like they were being played when they heard my work, because it was me being legitimate within the context of the genre. I wanted to say things when the match is going, that you could relate to without rolling your eyes.
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