Even though Jim Ross has been mostly off the WWE Raw broadcasts since 2008, it’s still nearly impossible for me to watch wrestling without yearning for it to be narrated in his voice. Apparently I’m not alone; in the introduction to his recent podcast with Shawn Michaels, J.R. said that he receives a constant influx of tweets wishing that he was calling play-by-play instead of the comparatively calm and understated Michael Cole.
“None of the announce talents in WWE are doing their jobs without specific directions,” said Ross in the audio snippet below. “And their work is stylized now to fit the company’s directives. I’m not sure that my skill-set would fit very well at all in today’s WWE. That’s not a bitch. It’s not a complaint. It’s just matter-of-fact.”
“I think sometimes the announcers get a bad rap because they’re trying to make sense of some very unique creative,” he continued. “They’re trying to maintain continuity and tell stories. They have to do it in a certain, specific way, with a certain tone. They can’t yell at their audience. There’s a difference between yelling at your audience and showing passion and emotion, and sometimes that does increase the volume.”
Reading between the lines, and drawing from J.R.’s later conversation with HBK in which it keeps coming up that “one man” is responsible for the WWE’s missives, it appears as though Vince McMahon decided specifically to take the program’s announcing in a different direction from Ross’s renowned exuberance. One can certainly envision McMahon accusing J.R. backstage and in the headset of yelling “at” people. (As opposed to the counterargument that he was yelling “with” them.)
In my opinion, it remains a pretty unfortunate development, but getting perpetually upset about it is akin to cursing the weather. It’s entirely out of our control.