WE Hall of Famer Jim Ross spoke with the Wrestling Observer about his career and calling NJPW on AXS TV. Here are the highlights.
What led you to come back to announcing pro wrestling after having already done it all in the sport?
Well, I never stopped loving wrestling. I certainly didn’t stop loving being a broadcaster; it’s that I didn’t have a team to play for. After leaving WWE, there were some opportunities that came about but nothing really fit what I was looking for. I guess I’m an in-ring snob. If I want to invest my time at this stage of my life, I want to really enjoy the product.
After doing (New Japan’s) Wrestle Kingdom 9 in January of 2015, I knew that I was going to like the product. Going beyond watching the one hour edited show that I was watching every Friday night on AXS with Mauro and Josh, I got to see the product unedited, live in person at their biggest event of the year – and it hooked me.
You departed from WWE and will now call New Japan on AXS TV, while Mauro Ranallo left AXS TV and New Japan to be the lead announcer on SmackDown. What are your thoughts as your two career paths cross going in different directions?
It’s coincidental isn’t it? It’s very ironic that’s how its worked out, but I think we’ve both got wins. Mauro’s living a dream of finally working in WWE, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, and so that’s good for him. He’s allowed to continue to do his MMA and boxing, so he came out on the other side really well. I think that I did as well. I think I found my gig, I found my home that I hope is in place for years to come.
Josh Barnett and I are really hell-bent on helping build a brand. We want to do more with New Japan on AXS. I don’t know what shape that’s going to take right now, I don’t know how all of this is going to evolve, but I know that from the AXS upper management team, they are very interested in joining New Japan in as big of a way as New Japan will allow.
You can read the entire interview here.