WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross did an interview recently, in build-up for his one man show tonight at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, and Sunday afternoon at Underground Arts in Philadelphia, PA. In part two of the interview below, JR discussed Brock Lesnar possibly re-signing with the UFC, who should win the Royal Rumble, if Sting should face The Undertaker at WrestleMania over Triple H, the Lucha Underground rumors and more.
Click here for part one of the interview, where JR discussed working with Matt Striker for the NJPW pay-per-view earlier this month, working with Randy Savage, if WWE had any interest in re-signing Savage in 1996, what fans can expect from his shows this weekend and more.
Tickets for both of JR's shows this weekend are available at AXS.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JRsBBQ and check out his blog at jrsbarbq.com. Also, don't forget to order some of JR's BBQ Sauce, which is great for the kitchen and the grill, at WWEShop.com by clicking here.
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It seemed until a few months ago that Roman Reigns would win the Royal Rumble, Brock Lesnar would retain the title and the two would square off at WrestleMania. Now it's up in the air. What do you think should happen?
Well first off, I like up in the air. I like multiple ways to skin the cat and approach the Royal Rumble. I've done a lot of media just as Daniel Bryan was coming back, and I've said if he could come back and regenerate the momentum he had prior to his injury that it would be hard to keep him out of the main event of WrestleMania. He was building great momentum and was arguably the hottest thing in WWE with the "Yes movement." It became a pop culture thing. I've went back and forth on that. After seeing Daniel Bryan the past couple of weeks and the fans still embracing him, he has the it factor, his size works to his advantage. He's the underdog. I think Bryan winning the Royal Rumble could create the biggest amount of water cooler talk. But do you go with Reigns, Bryan, or do you have a wild card up your sleeve? A lot of it comes down to what Brock Lesnar is going to do.
If you're armchair booking, there's a much bigger picture than the winner of the Royal Rumble. It doesn't end on that day, it starts on that day. It looked as if to me that Roman Reigns was on this journey to win the Royal Rumble and become WWE Champion at WrestleMania. I believe in him and he's going to be a big time player, I just don't know if he's going to be ready and there's no use in wasting the opportunity. Don't rush it. Daniel Bryan has much more experienced, is a much more refined worker and can have excellent matches with anybody on the roster. Roman just hasn't had the opportunities that Daniel Bryan has in terms of matches, experience, years, different styles, training. In a nutshell, I was thinking Roman Reigns, but I was giving consideration to Daniel Bryan.
But what's most important is who wins the WWE title. Is Brock Lesnar going to escape with the title? Is John Cena going to redeem himself? Will Rollins cash in Money in the Bank? It all depends on if Lesnar stays after WrestleMania, or takes care of unfinished business in MMA.
That's what makes the Royal Rumble exciting. It's not the undercard. There are 30 men in the Royal Rumble match, and there may be a sleeper that may come out the winner. What if Rusev wins it? You know Cena's going to around for the long haul, you know Rollins is going to be there long-term, but you don't know if the WWE World Heavyweight champion will be around long-term. He may go back to MMA, and you know his managers and agents will want him to hear the offers from Bellator. Bellator signing Brock Lesnar would be a huge deal to launch their brand.
I'm really anxious to watch the event because it has a lot of unpredictable elements. It's still in that very complex stage. I wont read the spoilers. I don't know why real wrestling fans read spoilers. Internet websites have to do it. Most movie sites review a film, but won't reveal to ending, but that doesn't apply to wrestling. I'm not an advocate of that.
If you're in Dana White's shoes and Lesnar were to go back to the UFC, who would you book Lesnar against?
It would be someone that had some name identity, but not on the upswing of their career. Someone who needed to be more relevant. Brock Lesnar is going to turn heads, but a name, I don't know. There's a lot of guys in that heavyweight division who have been around for a while who could absolutely beat Brock, because I don't know how much he has left in his MMA tank. I'd reintroduce him and rehabilitate his image, and give a peek in to Lesnar's training camp to show how motivated he is and how interested he is to get his way back to the top. It's gotta be the goal, to come back and beat as many people as he can and get back in to the title picture. That's where you make all the money, you gotta make it back to the title picture. He'll make great money anyway because he's a pay-per-view seller. If he signs, he's a great story.
Kind of like CM Punk, who is a great story just by signing and training. Punk is already of great value because he has a huge fanbase who will support him no matter what he's doing. Whether it's a personal appearance, TV show, not withstanding him training for his first UFC fight. UFC can get great mileage out of both of those guys just based on name value. One is established, and the other is making a debut and they're interest there.
It's not one of those situations where Brock Lesnar will face someone and you ask who it is. It'll be someone who has a name that people have heard of that needs a big win. I don't know who it is, but I know what the description will be.
Sting vs. Undertaker has been a dream match for a long time, would you go with them facing younger talent at WrestleMania, or do you match them against each other? It seems as if Sting vs. Triple H and Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt seem to be the plans.
Bray Wyatt can become a big star by facing the Undertaker and having a special match. That seems like the best long-term. 3 of those 4 names are at the end of their run. Father Time indicates that to me. I think Triple H and Sting would have an excellent match, but he's not 25 year-old Sting. He can still have a great match in there with a great worker. Booking is not a real complicated process. It's a matter of bringing out strengths and hiding weaknesses, Triple H would be really good with that. If Undertaker wouldn't have been defeated and had some of the WrestleMania sizzle taken off, Sting and Undertaker would have been excellent. I don't know that everyone wants to see that match now. I'm not as motivated as I was to see it this time last year.
I like the idea that Bray Wyatt has the chance to face The Undertaker out of the guys we just mentioned and people know that Undertaker can lose at WrestleMania. Him working the Undertaker and having a real strong match will help him. The announcers and everyone involved can help the Bray Wyatt image. If you call it strategically, you have a chance to make Bray Wyatt a significant player win, lose, or draw. People can get over by losing, they have and they will. Certainly it can be done. I'd lean towards featuring Bray Wyatt against the Undertaker, the booking alone makes him more viable. Triple H vs. Sting, Triple H is such a great strategist and Triple H would put that match together very logically and would play to their strengths.
I'm still not sure that Taker is going to wrestle at WrestleMania 31. I hope that he does, if he's healthy and motivated. Motivated means a match that doesn't intimate that he's stayed too long. Any day that he can't be The Undertaker to an extreme degree is the day he says "adios." I thought that if he were to ever retire it should be in Arlington, Texas at Cowboys Stadium so that WWE can have an impressive attendance number. You see him for the last time in the palace of Cowboys Stadium. This is Sting's one shot to get the WrestleMania moment that he deserves. Of course Triple H doesn't wrestle much anymore, but he still has the same pride in his work as always.
Konnan was saying on his podcast you've been talking with Lucha Underground. Can fans expect you back on commentary this year, is that even what you're interested in?
I haven't had any conversations with Lucha Underground. I have yet to talk to any of them. The last person I talked to from Lucha Underground was Matt Striker at Wrestle Kingdom 9. I have not had one phone call, text, fax, whatever from Lucha Underground. Will those take conversations take place? I have no idea, I have a manager who handles that. I wasn't looking for the Wrestle Kingdom 9 gig when it came about. My manager Barry Bloom approached them about it and I wasn't really interested in it. It was the day before my birthday and it was in Tokyo, and my wife and I had already planned for months to go to the big Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier fight in Vegas. We had to cancel that trip and it took her out of the equation. We agreed that we could go to Vegas another time. We got the money, my compensation, but you still have to go to Tokyo. It's a four hour show and I've never prepared so much for a show, because there's so many new talents. I watched the Youtube stuff and got to liking it, and talked to my friends who were New Japan aficianados who kind of pushed me more into it. The business end was completed to our satisfaction. If the fire had gone out and I didn't have any more fuel in the tank, the last thing I wanted to do was go back and do another one and overstay my welcome. I was never going to let myself get in that position. But it worked, and I felt good about how we performed, I enjoyed the product on YouTube, I enjoyed it in person.
At the time I'd only planned on doing one. As I sit here, I don't have any booked or tentatively scheduled, but I'm open minded about doing more PPV events for New Japan or anybody else if it's the right time or the right money. If you have a PPV that will prevent me from going to an Oklahoma University football game, I don't know that you can afford me because I'd rather watch a football game than work at this point in my life. I don't say that to be arrogant, I'm 63 years old and there's things I'd rather catch up on. It's gotta be the right deal, the date has to be right. I'm not against discussing it, considering it and if I accept the gig, I'm all in. It seems a lot of people liked the commentary, which is always nice to hear. I don't have anything on the books for a wrestling commentary gig.
I like Konnan, don't get me wrong, maybe they liked my work at Wrestle Kingdom, maybe they know I'm not contracted to anybody, maybe I'm a candidate for something, I don't have any idea. It would take a very special engagement for me to re-engage a weekly TV show. I have so many projects that I love to do. I'm trying to finish an autobiography, which is an incredible undertaking. I'm doing these one man shows, my podcast is growing to be one of the top-3 podcasts of the year. I have 70,000 words on this book already. All I'm thinking now is Sayerville and Philly. If I do weekly TV, I have to take something off my plate, and those are money projects. I'm at the age where I enjoy working a part-time schedule. Never say never, but it would have to be an extraordinary situation. The consensus will be that I'm BS'ing, and that's how we are, we're a negative society. That's the way it is.
I'm busy. I'm not on the inside of Lucha Underground, I don't know what they talk about. I watch their show. I think it's very innovative. I like the fact that they give you good matches, and I like the fact that they're an hour format. The Network they're on is not a household name, so it'll take a little while to build an audience, probably a year or so. It'll take all of 2015 to continue to brand themselves.
TNA is going to spend most of 2015 giving their fans a chance to find them on Destination America too. When they announced they were going to Destination America, I didn't even know if my provider had it. I had never watched a program on Destination America. It'll take 2015 for them to re-establish. They just have to consistently produce good television. 2015 is a big year for wrestling. There's going to be a lot of things that come along. It just makes sense that if your brand has been mildly successful or if you've had struggles, why are you continuing to do the same thing? If you're football team and you're struggling, why would you continue to do the same? Why wouldn't you go to a new offense? I say the same thing about the wrestling business, if things aren't where you want them, it's the audience telling you they want to be served something else. Every show you do is market research, and empty seat is market research. That fan wasn't motivated to buy a ticket. I think it's going to be a provocative and interesting year for wrestling fans.
It begins and ends with WWE, they have a lion's share of the field. It's going to be interesting to see how other promotions get more unique, or different. You can't be cookie cutter and use the same format. You have to move the chains. Times are changing. Every company that we've mentioned need to develop new main event stars, every one of them. That should be their priority. Sometimes the least expected person gets over, so you have to make sure you're paying attention and doing what your audience wants you to. The audience is always right, the customer is always right. Any smart business in the world tries to satisfy their consumer base, and sometimes wrestling struggles to do that. Sometimes we take things for granted, but we'll be fine. Change can't be seen as a negative.
Again, I'm not saying Konnan's lying. If I was in conversations I'd just say "I'd rather not talk about that." If you want to hire me, talk to my representation. We aren't looking for a certain gig. As fun as (Wrestle Kingdom) was, it was a one off. I got there Friday, and it was a marathon pay-per-view. In, out, bam.
I love how they train the talents, that dojo there. The talents doing the janitorial work or putting the rings up. The dojo I find to be very intriguing and very smart. I find it very questionable that some American kids feel entitled would go that extra mile to get in the business. If they had to clean the toilet, they might not want to do that, pay the price to get in the business. They pretty much eliminate their sexual life and relationships and dedicate their lives to improving their craft and skill. After all those years being on the road every week, I don't think I'm motivated to get back in that heavy grind. I get to go to all my sporting events and I like that. I'm not any less of a fan than when I was immersed. I'll always be a fan, it's in my DNA. Tomorrow's not a guarantee, and when I say that at 63, my parents died at 64. Even though I'm in good health, my subconscious tells me that my parents passed away at the same age. It's always there. I want to make sure I enjoy life to the best of my ability because tomorrow isn't a guarantee.
What can fans expect from your show [tonight and Sunday]?
They're very unique. The first priority of my shows are the people sitting there watching it. I want them to have a great experience. There will be some funny stories; I'll do a monologue where we'll get things going from my territory days.
It's a labor of love, it's a way of interacting with the fans. I owe the fans everything I've ever accomplished for supporting me. It's a small way of giving back. I enjoy the Q&A's, but even more I enjoy the VIP meet & greets. We set a certain number of tickets aside, maybe 100, and then people bring memorabilia and sign it. I give them a bottle of barbecue sauce as a thank you.
You'll get a few laughs, you'll get some new information, some things signed. We'll start the meet and greet in Philly at 1, it'll run until 3, then we'll start the show and it's going to be over around 5. People will be able to very easily make it to the Royal Rumble. We'll be doing it at a place called Underground Arts, minutes away from the Wells Fargo Center. Tickets start at $20. Any information they need, they can get at www.AXS.com. For Sayerville, we'll be at the Starland Ballroom Friday night. It's an 8 o'clock show with a six o'clock meet and greet, tickets also start at $20.