Was Jim Ross involved in negotiations between WWE and the Watts family?
“I was involved in it in the early going several years ago,” said Ross, who worked for Mid-South Wrestling and works for WWE. “The dialogue between WWE and Bill Watts ex-wife Ene and his family have been on-going for several years, and for whatever reason we just couldn’t come to terms that both entities were comfortable with.
“After we got so deep in the negotiations, at a certain point, I removed myself from the negotiations because I really felt like it was a conflict of interest for me. Bill Watts was my mentor. He gave me my first job in the business. I was close to his family.
“So at a certain point, when it got real serious, I felt like I had done my due diligence. The company was aware of how I perceived the [Mid-South Wrestling] brand. They knew that the brand had been maintained, and the master tapes had been protected. So I’d done my job there, but when it got down to really seriously talking about the money, I felt like it would be best for me to back out of that aspect of it.
“That was me. It wasn’t WWE or the Watts family. It was me saying, ‘Hey, look. I’m too close to this brand to be as objective as I need to be from a WWE standpoint.’ Somebody else needs to step in here now that doesn’t have the emotional investment in the brand and the history of it. It made sense for me to let somebody else pound out the dollars and do the deal.
“I think I’d done my work. I think my work was explain and communicate to WWE what was there in the [Mid-South Wrestling] library and the many things that could be mined out of the library. As far as the Watts family was concerned, I think I’d done my job with them. WWE was seriously interested in it. I thought it would be a great way to preserve the legacy of all the hard work that was being done at that time that I was a part of, first-hand knowledge of knowing how hard we worked to make that brand successful. It wouldn’t be forgotten, and it would be a way that the world could enjoy what we did, enjoy our work.
“So I’d done my share of lifting and left it to the WWE’s people to finalize it. I was real happy that they finally got it done.”
More perspective on the deal.
“If you’re the seller, you have a certain figure in mind that you perceive the product is worth,” Ross said, “and with that comes a fair amount of emotional attachment, obviously. So you got to filter that out as best you can, but it’s hard to do, when your life’s work is on this videotape. Then on the WWE side, you’ve got to make a smart, strategic business deal, based on what the market will bare and what the content, the library, in general is worth. It’s tough to finalize one of those deals.
“If we were buying it from a third party that wasn’t involved in living it, breathing it, being around it 24/7, it probably would have moved a lot faster, but we weren’t. We were buying it from the people who helped created the brand. Even though Bill didn’t have anything to do with the sale, his family certainly did, and they knew the work that Bill, the patriarch of the family, had put into it, and the sacrifices the family made financially and timewise.
“So it was a more involved process than buying a library from a third party or from someone who was very disconnected from the product itself.”
Prior to the deal, the Watts family sold Mid-South Wrestling DVDs online to a small Internet audience.