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Posted in: LOP Hall Of Fame
2016 LOP Hall of Fame Inductee: Jim Ross
By Super Chrisss
Mar 30, 2016 - 8:06:43 AM

Jim Ross
Class of 2016


I’m not the only who misses hearing that voice every Monday night, am I? Good ol’ J.R., or Jim Ross, was the commentator I grew up watching professional wrestling with. Younger fans may not have any idea who J.R. is; older fans might be shaking their head at me for missing out on the days of Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon. That’s quite alright, since it’s my duty (and pleasure) to officially induct a man who I consider the all-time voice of the WWE into the Lords of Pain Hall of Fame.

Nowadays, there are many fans – both new and long-time – who have become critical, if not disgruntled, of the current WWE product. Some will blame it on WWE’s unbelievably overwhelming list of injured or inactive superstars; others will point their fingers at the creative team. However, I think part of the blame falls on the shoulders of the current commentary team, at least the one we are forced to listen to every Monday night on Raw. After all, despite the weekly TV shows being a chore to get through more often than not these past few years, the fun of attending a WWE event in person never seems to subside. In my opinion, that’s because you’re not having to put up with Michael Cole and his sidekicks putting you to sleep with their commentary. If J.R. was still calling the action once a week – even at his advanced age of 64 – three hours of Monday Night Raw would be a lot more tolerable than it currently is.

There is a reason why many WWE Legends and Hall of Famers such as Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and Triple H have specifically requested to have their WrestleMania match(es) called by none other than Jim Ross: he always brings that ‘big-fight’ feel to any match which he narrates. It’s often said that a crowd reaction can make a good match great; well, the same can be said for commentary. No offense to Cole & co., but no one at the main roster announce table (with the possible exception of SmackDown’s Mauro Ranallo) can bring the same emotion, the same passion to a match the way Ross did during his run with the company. J.R. was able to make epic match-ups legendary by providing commentary which not only enhanced the story being told by the performers in the ring, but also told a story of its own. Whether or not you agreed with J.R.’s perspective (“That is one sick man”), it was always a joy to hear from the modest Oklahoman.

What is it, you may ask, that qualifies Jim Ross as one of the best, most highly respected announcers of all-time? Well, not only did he provide fans with countless hours of entertainment through his gifted mastery of gab and unique story-telling, but he endured a plethora of hardship during his affiliation with the WWE. In the twenty-odd years that Good Ol’ J.R. spent announcing at the commentary table, J.R. was fired numerous times (both in kayfabe and reality), asked to wrestle in numerous gimmick matches (despite not being an in-ring competitor), and had to suffer through countless humiliating angles, such as joining Vince McMahon’s ‘Kiss My A$$ club’ and being set on fire following an interview with Kane. Also, let’s not forget J.R.’s battles with Bell’s palsy, which played a huge role on both his health and physical appearance. Nevertheless, J.R. was a company man from day one all the way until his departure in 2014, the details of which remain clouded in controversy, even today.

Naturally, a Jim Ross HOF induction column would be incomplete if the WWE Hall of Famer’s good friend and long-time announce partner Jerry “The King” Lawler was not mentioned at least once. While the aforementioned Heenan & Monsoon will be remembered by many fans as the greatest commentary duo of all-time, other fans such as myself believe that J.R. & King are more deserving of that title. Good Guy J.R. and Evil King were so much fun to listen to; they were the perfect foil for one another. Ross was the serious play-by-play commentator who always cheered on the babyfaces (“That’s a human being, dammit!”); meanwhile, Lawler was the goofy colour commentator who rooted for the antagonists (“Oh, give me a break”). The chemistry Ross and Lawler shared was magical. When WWE decided to split the pair up in the late 00s by shockingly drafting Ross to SmackDown (especially to J.R., who was blindsided by the move), WWE commentary changed forever, and certainly not for the better. Lawler & Cole struggled immensely on Raw, while the combinations of J.R. & Tazz, J.R. & Todd Grisham and J.R. & Matt Striker never clicked on the same level J.R. & The King did.

Jim Ross has always credited the late Gordon Solie as his main inspiration for becoming an announcer for sports entertainment. Judging by what I’ve seen on SmackDown and NXT, it would not surprise me in the slightest if several of today’s commentators – including Ranallo and NXT’s Corey Graves – draw their announcing style from Ross. The Oklahoma Sooners fan has unquestionably left his mark on WWE history; even to this day, it is nearly impossible to watch highlights of timeless matches or historic moments without hearing J.R.’s commentary in the background. In fifty years’ time, should someone go through the trouble of creating a Mount Rushmore of wrestling commentators, there is no doubt Jim Ross would be on it. In fact, I don’t see anyone ever surpassing Ross at the booth, at least not in my lifetime. But I would love to see someone try.

Thank you, J.R. Your voice truly was one of a kind.