WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross spoke with Yahoo Sports to promote NJPW on AXS TV. Here are the highlights.
Do you think CM Punk made the right decision leaving the WWE and starting a mixed martial arts career with the UFC?
Yes, because he was miserable with the WWE. He could have probably went on to do something else in wrestling if he chose to. But he seemed as if when he left it was cathartic for him. He’s a very introspective guy with a high IQ who seemed to be more at peace leaving the turmoil of the WWE behind. But it has kind of followed him with the lawsuit with the WWE and the injuries that have postponed his UFC debut. I think he’ll stay the course and eventually make his debut. What kind of career he will have? I’m not so sure. He’s an attraction. A well conditioned Kimbo Slice, if you will. He’s a student of the game and I would never discount his desire. I think he made the right call because you can’t stay in an environment and be miserable. It’s unhealthy mentally and physically. He seems to be happier now that he’s married and now he’s at home more. He’s so good at wrestling, there’s no reason that he can’t eventually circle around and come back, if he wanted to. He’ll never have a problem finding work but his window to try new things like the UFC is small. Until he proves that he’s a skilled fighter, his cache is his reputation as a pro wrestler with the WWE. Brock Lesnar was the same way until he proved he could kick some ass.
What’s your take on the current state of pro wrestling?
There’s certainly an ample amount of product to consume. You don’t have to look far to find wrestling. But regarding the in-ring product – and this is where I tag in the grouchy old school J.R. – it can use some work. I have no issues with effort from today’s guys and gals. But I think most wrestlers work too fast and try to get everything in. These guys work so fast that they forget the most crucial element of wrestling: selling. If I can’t see your angst, feel your pain and see your jubilation, you’re not selling. You have to sell yourself and your emotion. It’s a key element that, without it, neuters your product and it becomes a stunt show.
With WrestleMania around the corner, there has been a lot of conversation about the main event between Triple H and Roman Reigns. If you were still with the company, how would you suggest they book the match?
I’d do a double turn like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Bret Hart had at WrestleMania 13. I would have Vince McMahon in the corner of Triple H. I would have The Rock, Roman’s cousin, in his corner. I’d have Roman Reigns cheat to win and The Rock would come in to say ‘what the hell is going on?’ and Reigns would drop The Rock with a Superman punch. Vince McMahon would align with Reigns and screw over his son-in-law that got too big for his britches. Reigns would be champ, Triple H would be pissed at his father-in-law and Reigns would go over as a huge heel.