Show: Wrestling Epicenter
Guest: Jim Ross
Date: 04/18/20
Your Host: James Walsh

It was truly an honor to get 15 to 20 minutes of time with the voice of AEW and, in a lot of ways, the voice of pro wrestling for over 49 years as we had the opportunity to speak with "Good Ol' JR" Jim Ross. JR's new book, Under the Black Hat, picks up where his last book Slobberknocker left off and features very real, very emotional stories about his wife Jan and her untimely passing just over two years ago. It is, in a lot of ways, a love story as much as it is a wrestling book.

We do talk a little 'raslin as well as we discuss why he calls Jungleboy "Jungle" Jack Perry, the recent AEW ratings dip, Coronavirus, the loss of Howard Finkel, the recent WWE firings, and even if we will get a college football season in 2020. Lots of ground covered in a short period of time. So, tune in!




On how the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his book promotion:
"Well, the closure of the book stores like Barnes and Noble and others didn't help, obviously. Thank goodness we have plan B in place where you can get your Under the Black Hat book on audiobiook, on E-Book, or if you go to, you can get an autographed and personalized, first edition, hardcover with a little premium bookmark we had made. And, I will pay your shipping if you live in the lower 48, as we say. So, is a great place to visit. It don't cost you any money. Of course, we're also selling lots of books on Amazon,,, and wherever books are sold online. The book is doing very well, James. Thanks for asking. We just had to make the best of the situation. I couldn't open the book store doors. But, I sure could go the other route and that is what we have done and it is selling great. We are very blessed."

On the challenges of reading the audiobook version himself:
"It was challenging. To read and talk about portions of the book with my late wife and how she died and how emotional, important, how big she was to my career and how she interfaced with so many WWE stars like "Stone Cold" (Steve Austin) and others. I felt like I owed that to her. It was one of the most daunting things I've ever done in my life - Reading the audiobook. It was so deeply personal and I had to relive all of those things. Long story short, it took me twice as long to read this version than it did to read Slobberknocker simply because of all the emotional content. I found out very quickly, James, that when your eyes are filled with tears, it is very difficult to read."

On the content of Under the Black Hat versus his first autobiography Slobberknocker:
"Slobberknocker, my first autobiography, ended with (Shawn) Michaels and (Steve) Austin (at WrestleMania 14). That is how we ended my first autobiography, Slobberknocker. We picked it up here with Under the Black Hat. We talk about the Attitude Era, the Monday Night Wars, the original launch of the XFL, WWE going public, me being replaced 2 or 3 times, a few bouts with Bells Palsy, and then, of course, the most poignant thing in my life which was losing my best friend, my wife. It was a priority to write. It is an emotional book. It is very, very honest. If you're a wrestling fan, if you are a fan of relationships... It is not about "Well, this guy had the best dropkick." Or, "This guy had the best headlock." We don't even go there. I tell real stories as the head of talent relations, my work ringside with Jerry Lawler and Paul Heyman... It is a heavy duty read."

On the book almost being a love story in a way: "
"I appreciate that. Everything about this book is real. It isn't meant to make me look good. It isn't meant to sugar coat things. It isn't a hatchet job on Vince (McMahon) or anybody else. It is about what happened, what was said, how I felt... And, as you said, there is a love story aspect. I never dreamed it would be perceived that way."

On if he's ever seen a more passionate audience than the AEW faithful:
"We had a very loyal and passionate audience in Mid South. The level of talent that was able to connect with the audience was pretty amazing for a small wrestling territory. But, on a national level, I think fans are telling us (AEW) that we are ready for something different, an alternative. I think our talents, many of them that have been to the big dance like Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Cody (Rhodes), Dustin (Rhodes)... These guys are lifers and connect with the audience as naturally and organically as anybody I've ever been around. I think the audience can tell that, can feel that. This virus (Coronavirus, COVID-19) kind of curtailed the momentum we were building. But, AEW is a great company. I love what we're doing. We have great leadership in Tony Khan. We have some great 20 somethings out there living their dreams. There is nothing more rewarding for an old vet like me than seeing these kids living their dream just exactly as I did when I was their age."

On AEW's recent downturn in ratings and losses to WWE NXT:
"No knee-jerk reaction. I'm not worried. You said the numbers are going down - True statement. In certain demographics... This is far from a disaster. With our show sandwiched between all the WWE shows on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, our audience is still finding us. The empty arena stuff effects everybody. It isn't the usual ambiance that we're all used to. Sometimes, as you said, the fans are as big of a part of the show as anybody. Our audience are very young, defiant, and make a lot of noise. All of us really miss that! The numbers thing... Look, I learned a long time ago. We got our ass (WWE) beat 83 weeks in a row by WCW and I was in the talent relations chair. We didn't have time to worry about the ratings because in 6 days after you got the ratings, you had to do it again. That's not a lot of time to moan about it or to celebrate. So, the ratings right now, for me, I'm not worried about it. It means nothing. It means something, obviously. But, we're doing just fine and we know where we're going."

On his calling Jungleboy "Jungle" Jack Perry Instead of just Jungleboy:
"First of all, "Jungleboy" Jack Perry and I have had a lot of conversations about a lot of different things. He's one of my favorite kids to talk to. I love his up-side. I've met his mother, his grandmother, and his sister. I take a vested interest in getting to know these kids. The issue is real simple. You can't be Jungle BOY forever. You can't be Jungle BOY when you're 40. You can't be Jungle BOY when you're 35. But, you can be "Jungle" Jack Perry forever. It is as simple as that. There are people on Twitter who went ballistic. Quote, unquote, JR is trying to kill Jungleboy! Are you serious? Where did you get that idea from? It is all just big picture stuff. And, all of it is accurate. He is Jack Perry! He's one of the building blocks we're going to continue to build our brand with along with other 20 somethings."

On the passing of Howard Finkel:
"It broke my heart when I saw it. I last saw Howard at a WrestleMania when I was asked to come back. Howard was a staple for me when I was in charge of talent relations. Howard was the first one connected to my department every single day. I never remember Howard missing one day's work ever and some days he probably should have because he came in with the sniffles or feeling rough. But, so many great memories! He's the best ring announcer to ever do it. In boxing, the great Jimmy Lennon certainly is sometimes considered it. But, Howard Finkel, certainly is the greatest ring announcer I ever worked with. Howard used to bring me the paper every morning, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. He used to get it at 5 or 6 in the morning when he was on his way to work. I could always tell what he had for breakfast because the reminisce was always left on the paper. (laughs) But, I loved him! His heart was good. I'll say this - Howard Finkel loved pro wrestling more than anyone I ever met. He is an everlasting part of the fabric of the wrestling business and I'm honored that I had the opportunity to work with him all those years. 26 years, I worked with Howard almost every single day."

On advice for the recently released WWE stars:
"Don't allow anyone outside yourself or your family to stop you from your dreams. If you love wrestling, don't let this bump in the road turn you off to wrestling. As someone who got knocked down a time or two, you have the option to get back up. Or, you can stay down and feel sorry for yourself which I find to be embarrassing and unacceptable for myself personally. It is time to hit the reset button. Re-invent yourself! When you come back after been laid off, are you going to be better than you were when you left? Are you going to recognize what were perceived weaknesses and turn those weaknesses into strengths? This has a lot to do with talent... Maybe everything to do with the talent. How are you going to hit that reset button? How are you going to reinvent? Please don't get into the "Woe is me, my dreams are over." Your dream is not over! If you think like that enough, you're going to have a self fulfilling prophecy which I find unacceptable as well. It is not the end, it can be the beginning. Stay positive! Get better at who you are and what you are. And, come back with a plan!"

On if there will be college football this fall:
"It is going to be a photo finish! If the kids can't get back in the classroom, there's not going to be football."