Jim Ross talks WCW not seeing money in The Undertaker, Bray Wyatt - Taker comparisons, More
WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross appeared on The Rack Radio Show, which you can listen to on Thursday nights at 10pm ET. They sent us the highlights below, you can listen to the full interview by clicking here.
His thoughts on the College Football Playoffs and if he thinks they worked: "Yeah, I think it works; I think, well, for the teams that were omitted from the final four, I think it speaks very clearly that eight teams would be better than four and I think, eventually, the eight-team playoff system will be initiated. But, in any event, that fact that the game, the championship of college football, was decided by the teams on the field as opposed to balloting or voting or polling, whatever, is, I think, a real good thing. So, I enjoy the tournament format; its great episodic programming a tournament is, that's why NCAA Basketball in March is the big deal, because of Mar5ch Madness; the NFL Playoffs, it's the same thing. So, I like the system and I'd like to see more teams get the opportunity to participate and if the television ratings are any indication, fans would certainly invest their time in watching a tournament an extra week."
What it was like commentating the "GFW Presents New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom 9" event: "It was fun. Once you get past the travel, and you can navigate around the language barriers in Japan, then everything else is really positive. The event was in the Tokyo Dome, 40,000+ fans on hand I think, and it was the first time we've aired, or anyone aired, a New Japan pay-per-view in North America and it did really well. It's been critically acclaimed as one of the better pay-per-view wrestling shows in years and it was really neat to be able to be part of that.
For me, after 40 years in this business, and then being out from the play-by-play table for a while, you have those doubts and wonder how much gas is left in the tank and are you going to endure this four-hour pay-per-view with the last hour is your most important because your matches, those are the main event? So, I had a great time; it was unique, not quite what I'm used to here in Oklahoma, but it was a good, fun experience and I hope we get to do some more; those talks are ongoing. I signed a contract to do one, but I'd certainly be interested in doing more if it's the right place, right time and all those clichés. But, I had a great times and it's good to know I hadn't forgotten how to do my old job so there's a lot of nostalgia in that regard."
If he thinks New Japan could do well in the US market: "I think they could if they started airing; I mean they started airing on Friday nights an hour-long TV show with English commentary on AXS TV, formerly HDNet, Mark Cuban's outfit. Depending on what kind of audience they pick up, they'll be able to measure the popularity and then once all the pay-per-view numbers come in on that show that will be another gauge that they can utilize; as long as you have English-speaking commentators, who can explain who all these men and women are, then I think they'll do well because their product is really sound and their in-ring psychology is very old-school oriented but is surrounded with all these modern accouterments.
So, I think it has a real good chance of being bigger; I'm not sure how it's going to do on weekly TV, and I don't know how well AXS TV does in general, but if it did well on pay-per-view, then that gives you some indication that there's people willing to invest in it and if that the case, just like with any other entity, it's all about the cash. So, if it does well, I would think you'll see more.
"I had a great time with it; I love the product. It's very hard-hitting, they demand physicality from their talents and it's a little unique. It's a different presentation than you see in North America; I'm not telling you it's immensely better, I'm just telling you it's different because everyone has a brand that they like. It's like buying barbecue sauce; you can buy JR's BBQ sauce or Sweet Baby Ray's or your local flavor. But the bottom line is there is enough audience to go around, so I think that they would do well here, if they could just get a foothold."
His thoughts on the Undertaker:
"He's a guy I have great respect for. When I was in charge for hiring the talent for WWE and the talent department as an Executive Vice President of the company, he was a very strong, positive influence in the locker room. He was the captain of the team, for lack of a better term; so if there were issues that I needed support on or advice on or needed a to go guy to get honesty and hit you right in the gut with the truth, it was the Undertaker. So, I always got plenty of Undertaker stories.
"Actually, he was wrestling under a mask in Dallas when I saw him, and we brought him to WCW and then he stayed in WCW and one of the officials there, his contract was coming up and I said 'We should renew his contract' and this guy says 'Well, obviously, you don't know anything about talent because he'll never draw any money and he'll never be a big star.' SO, I go to the Undertaker and I said 'Look, don't try to broadcast this, but you need to try and get that WWE offer nailed down because they're not going to give you a raise here and you need to know the honest truth.' And Vince saw what I saw; here's a 6'9" guy who's very athletic and it's up to the promotion to find the right creative for this or all the talent; it's up to a coach to put the guys in the right position to win the games, to have the right game plan.
"So, yeah, I do have a lot of stories about Taker, he's a wonderful guy and obviously coming to the end of an amazing career. I don't know how many he's got left in him, I don't have any idea if he'll be at WrestleMania this year or not. My sense of it is that he will; that's only my intuition, because I think the day the Undertaker retires will be the cause of a huge promotion, well-planned, well-thought out celebration of his years of contribution and I haven't heard any chatter on that matter.
I just can't see him 'Ok, he got beat by Brock Lesnar last year and the streak at WrestleMania is over, so he's just fades away'; I just can't see him fading away without some sort of classy send-off and maybe that's at WrestleMania this year, I don't know. It'll be a sad day when he's no longer back in the ring, but it happens to everybody; there's a DNA expiration date on everyone's body, somewhere in wrestling, where it tells you enough is enough and maybe he's hearing those whispers now from himself, I don't know. But he's a class act, a first-ballot Hall of Fame guy and he'll always be part of the company no matter what role he may assume once his wrestling days have completed."
His thoughts on Bray Wyatt and a possible likeness to the Undertaker:
"I like Bray Watt, I liked his grandpa Blackjack Mulligan too. I liked his dad Mike Rotunda. I think Bray Wyatt is a very unique character and I'm not sure if WWE knows exactly what they have on their hands because the character is still evolving and that's much like the Undertaker in the early going, they weren't sure where this was going to evolve to but it seemed to feel right. So, that's where I kind of sum up the situation; the somewhat of a macabre aura around the Undertaker, obviously, and this kid comes in, Bray Wyatt, and he assumes this character, makes it his own in that sense of a TV persona and he's really good at what he does.
"So, I think he's got great potential to have a very successful career but I really believe we're not going to know exactly what color to pain that character, what brush to use, until it evolves a little bit more. But, the good news is, however it evolves, it's going to be a successful evolution. He's a very talented kid, he's unique and different; people notice him and he does unique things. All those things are prerequisites to become a pro wrestling star: you've got to get noticed and remembered for the right reasons by your consumer base or fan base, and Bray Wyatt has those traits. I'm excited to see how he advances in the future; he's certainly a keeper and if he has half the success the Undertaker did, WWE should feel very fortunate."
Source: The Rack Radio Show
Photo credit: Ty Lee