The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Eck conducted an interview with Jim Ross in anticipation of Friday’s “10 Years Of Smackdown” show. Here are some highlights:
On the show’s most memorable episode:
I remember being part of that broadcast because of the uniqueness of it; the delicate nature of what we were addressing; the fact that it was one of the first public gathering of folks after the tragedy of 9/11. That to me was probably the most memorable Smackdown that I have been a part of. It was more memorable than the first one, even though the first one was exciting and it was a new venture. Just the nature of the subject matter of the program and what had happened in our country that week was much bigger than a wrestling match.
On the viability of the brand split and roster depth:
I think very few will argue that the talent rosters within the business in general are dangerously thin. The mantra to develop new main event stars I think should be a business-wide referendum. It certainly is a priority in WWE. The only way that people are going to get their opportunities is to get television time. If you have a set hand of main eventers and theyâ€™re on every show, itâ€™s going to preclude others from getting the opportunities that they need to break through and to become stars of their own. So even though the brand separation does have some liabilities, I think that in the long term the brand separation is an absolute necessity for individuals to be able to get face time on television and get ring time on television in a viable way.
On how he evaluated talent when he was in charge of hiring:
I always looked to hire talent not to fill a card or hit in their seventh or eighth hole, but that could headline a pay-per-view. I needed to seem in them that they had the ability â€“ at least at the time that I evaluated them â€“ that someday if they continued to improve, with the aptitude they have and their physical gifts, that they could be the main eventer on a pay-per-view. Because the worst that can happen is that you recruit someone and sign them and train them, and they barely miss. And if they barely miss being able to headline a pay-per-view, you still have a real good, solid, reliable, talented performer who can contribute.
On The Rock and whether his love of wrestling is genuine
I think that John Cena at times has been misquoted or what heâ€™s said has been misinterpreted. I canâ€™t speak for John Cena nor will I. I do know that The Rock has always been a fan of the product, and I know that itâ€™s in his blood. You canâ€™t be a third-generation performer and not have the business in your DNA to some degree. I think people get the misperception that any time â€“ and fans are just as guilty as some of us are â€“ someone chooses to do something else for a living and they leave wrestling for whatever reason that their love of the product has completely been eliminated, and I donâ€™t agree with that. Iâ€™m sure that there are wrestlers who were famous in their day who have left the business and couldnâ€™t care less about it today, and thatâ€™s certainly their prerogative. I donâ€™t think The Rock is that way whatsoever.
And on whether John Cena has beef with the Rock:
Would John Cena like to wrestle The Rock? Of course. Who wouldnâ€™t? I donâ€™t blame John for wanting to wrestle Rock if thatâ€™s his goal, but I can tell you this:I talk to John at every TV that Iâ€™m at and heâ€™s there. I consider him a friend and we talk about a lot of things â€“ and he knows that I have a good relationship with Rock and I signed Rock and brought him to WWE â€“ and heâ€™s never said one word to me negative about The Rock.
He also talked about his move to Smackdown (he was more annoyed with how he was told, live on TV, than the actual move) and how Raw and Smackdown compare as brands (he agrees with Eck that Smackdown is more in his wheelhouse now that Raw has become more of a variety show with some wrestling matches). There’s a lot more at the interview, and it’s well worth reading.
Tags: Friday Night Smackdown, Jim Ross, john cena, The Rock, WWE