Ever since the announcement was made about the WWE Network, fans from all over the world have been buzzing with excitement.
When you look at enthusiasts and lovers of the game, there may not be one bigger than Jim Ross.
The legendary broadcaster has worn many hats within the industry over a career that spans nearly 40 years. “Good Ol’ JR,” who spent more than half of his career in WWE, couldn’t be happier in seeing a longtime vision become reality.
“The network is something that many of us have spent ample time in WWE talking about,” Ross said. “Talk of starting a network goes all the way back to when WWE started buying wrestling libraries. I was involved in the process as one of many people involved in the process.”
No matter the match or the promotion, Ross’s passion for pro wrestling shined bright. He helped provide the soundtrack for so much history in the squared circle. There is no doubt we will hear his Hall of Fame voice throughout much of the content on the new network.
“I’m sure I will be a part of it in one form or another as they have the Mid-South library, the Crockett portion of WCW, the Turner portion of WCW and the last 20 years of WWE,” Ross said. “Whether I’m going to do anything else [new] for it obviously remains to be seen. That is WWE’s call. It’s a wonderful opportunity to continue to grow the brand. I think it’s ahead of the curve as far as distribution is concerned.”
The man under the signature black hat watched intently the announcement -- which was made in Las Vegas -- just like any other member of the WWE Universe. No longer officially under contract with the company, Ross didn’t know what would unfold ahead of time.
“I was very impressed with their presentation,” Ross said. “I watched it on my iPad. I thought it looked great. I hope that fans are as excited about it as I am. I think the value of $9.99, $10 bucks you might as well say, is fantastic. You think of what you can take out of your daily, weekly, month routine to find that extra 10 bucks. There are quite a few things you can eliminate and find an extra $10 to get all this content…I like the fact that if you are in the mood or something specific from that genre, it’s accessible when you want.”
The question is with so many hours of programming available at a fan’s fingertips, is it too much of a good thing?
“I’m sure there will be some heavy consumers that can’t get enough,” Ross said. “I think it will probably iron out where people have their favorites. Nonetheless, it reminds me when the NFL Network came on and football freaks were overloaded on the network. Then they kind of settled in to watch specific programs. I kind of went through that whole phase, too, with football.
“It’s just an amazing positive development. I think that is really a game-changer. I think it’s a terrific way of distributing the content. It will get the WWE in the genre of pro wrestling to potentially millions and millions of people.”
Another plus Ross sees with the network is the opportunity for novice fans to experience wrestling from different eras. Thanks to all the libraries WWE has in its possession, they can go down memory lane to the territory days.
“If you look at the demographics, people are going to see it for the very first time,” Ross said. “For example, that Mid-South stuff, it’s going to be new [to them]. All of those shows from the territories, they didn’t go into reruns either. They ran them one week and the next week and the next week and so on. A lot of those programs are going to be brand new to large groupings of viewers. So I’m happy for WWE. It was a big win for them. So on February 24 line up to order it. I think it’s going to be great.”
Ross has embraced technology and what social media has to offer. The barbeque sauce entrepreneur and connoisseur blogs regularly on his website. He is also arguably the most interactive wrestling personality on Twitter, responding daily to fans and lending real-time analysis when WWE, football and UFC is airing. The veteran is very much connected.
“I guess you can say I am fundamentally sound in being able to write a tweet or a blog,” Ross said. “It’s a great trend. It’s a great way to market things. It’s a great way to communicate. I enjoy communicating with fans. I’m still a fan and will always be a fan. I was a fan long before I started earning money in the business. I’m a lifer. I didn’t plan on being a fan of the genre to some extent. I kind of was reluctant to get into the Twitterverse.
“I did it, and I’ve enjoyed it. My followers list continues to grow. That’s kind of rewarding that people want to follow you and read what you have to say. If you’d ask me 10 or 20 years ago, I probably would have looked at you with a crazed look of, ‘What are you talking about?’”
• Follow Jim Ross on Twitter at @JRsBBQ and visit http://www.jrsbarbq.com/ to purchase his signature products and read his writings.
• Spend “An Evening with Jim Ross” on Saturday, March 4 at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City. http://concerts.livenation.com/event/00004B81F2499B3E
• Look for more installments with Ross coming soon.
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.