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By Rick Roos on 2007-03-23 11:34:00

I attended the Jim Ross speaking event at MIT last night.

As a former MIT student and wrestling fan, I think there was a good mix of both types there among the 60 or so people who showed up.  Chris Nowinski attended; he looked smaller than I thought he would.  One thing that struck me as odd was that I didn’t notice any obvious wrestler or diva wanna-bes.  I thought a few might come to try and get an in for a job; that’s what I’d do if I was one of them.  When else would you get that kind of access to Jim Ross?!

JR showed up around 15 minutes before the event in a sport coat, slacks and a dark hat.  He hung out and talked to the organizers.  There did not appear to be any WWE reps with him.

The program started by showing some WWE promo video – well done and edited as usual for their stuff - and then some JR highlights, which consisted of snippets from his famous sit down with Mick Foley and his calls of the Taker/Foley hell in the cell match.

JR then spoke for a little over an hour on a wide range of topics.

Among the highlights was his chronicle of how he entered the business.  First he was a college graduate hired as a gopher/driver for Leroy McGuirk, who had become blind, then he became a referee for $25-40 per night plus extra money made by driving talent to and from events; then finally offered chance to announce and the rest is history.  He told a very funny story about McGuirk.  Apparently the gentleman got wind that Ted Dibiasse was dating his daughter and told JR to drive him to Shreveport .  JR saw that the man had been drinking and had a gun tucked into his pants and became worried about becoming an accessory to murder.  Fortunately they never got there because the man was smoking a cigar and the ashes burned his pants, which allowed JR to get the gun and to convince the guy to sleep it off.

He also traced his career from the 1980s until now, which mostly consists of information fans already knew.  He did go into detail about his health scares and how those affecting things.

Another interesting story is how explained the lineage of The Rock referring to himself in the 3rd person.  He said that came at JR’s suggestion after JR had interviewed Deion Sanders a few times and heard how effective it could be.

I didn’t take notes, but among the other notable points (as best I remember them – hopefully there are no inaccuracies) were:

  • He had VERY harsh words for Spike TV and for the US government’s “witch-hunt” of Vince McMahon in the steroids trial, likening it to the US government going after Al Capone for tax evasion.
  • He noted that young guys cannot tell stories and are “rushed” into the spotlight, which hurts them and the overall product.
  • He did say that the business has changed but that it’s still about telling a story where good battles evil and there is a common denominator that most or all fans can understand.
  • He said he likes to know as little as possible about what will happen in the matches he’s announcing, noting that he did not know the Foley HITC cage fall was coming.
  • He said he still has not watched the Owen Hart dying PPV nor the RAW tribute and says he never will unless he writes an autobiography.
  • He stressed several times that he thinks you can find better talent when you look past the “body builders” and noted that he signed or was responsible for brining it Foley, Austin (who he said made $13 million one year), the Rock (to whom he gave $150,000 in his first year, which the office thought was insane), Trish Stratus, Lita, John Cena, etc.
  • He said that no matter what Vince does, JR admires that he always does what’s best for business.
  • He said that if it was up to him, young talent would not be on RAW until they’d been in the business at least 5 years.
  • He mentioned ROH a few times, and from his comments it seems like he respects the promotion.  He didn’t mention the current or former ECW at all, nor did he have much to say about WCW.
  • He says he has high hopes for WWE Digital Media and WWE 24-7, noting that it was his idea to acquire all the footage WWE now has, which he says total about 90,000 hours.  He said it made natural sense because most of the footage aired only once.
  • He seemed to mention Randy Savage’s name a lot.  He thinks it would make a lot of sense to induct Savage into the HOF at Wrestlemania 25 due to that being a special event.  He stressed though that he has little to no say in who gets inducted.
  • I’m not sure I heard Hulk Hogan’s name mentioned once, except in a reference to “Hulkamania” as a time period.
  • He thinks that Vince was smart because he realized that cable TV would be a natural fit for wrestling; he also said he thinks wrestling “made” PPV into what it is.
  • He said his Bells Palsy still interferes with his speech if he’s tired, if he’s been drinking, or if he gets too excited.

He mentioned steroids offhand a few times but did not directly address the current controversy specifically, unless it was via a question after I left.  As for the Q and A, the handful of questions I heard before leaving were nothing to write home about but JR answered them well.

All-in-all it was an entertaining and informative event.

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