Jim Ross: “I like to leave the TV audience wanting more”
Donald Wood from Ring Rust Radio sent in:
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Jim Ross Interview Transcription
Ring Rust Radio: While you will be calling the action for AXS TV’s four-part coverage of Wrestle Kingdom 11 starting Jan. 13, you first called the action at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in 2015. How has your perception of the company changed in that time and did you approach this year’s commentary any differently?
Jim Ross: As we record this I haven’t done it yet. I’m going to record the commentary Tuesday in Los Angeles. Then it’s going to air on Friday as you mentioned. I will approach this show not unlike any other major event, no different than how I would approach WrestleMania. I will be prepared as far as my biographical, historical notes and then let the event flow, let it to come to us and try to be an extenuation. Again, the talents are going to play the music and we are going to provide the lyrics. I don’t want to hear the music until I sit down in the chair in Los Angeles. I don’t plan on watching the event before I get to LA, it’s not my style.
Ring Rust Radio: One of the top debates in the business lately is how long wrestling shows are. We’ve seen WWE expand some of its major shows to more than four hours and Wrestle Kingdom in general is a longer show too. What are your thoughts on how much wrestling content is out there for fans to consume and the length of shows in general. What do you think is the sweet spot for a weekly TV show and special event?
Jim Ross: I am thinking a weekly TV show should be an hour. I like to leave the TV audience wanting more. I believe in today’s somewhat shallow at times main event talent pool, producing an hour is very compatible now a day. I like the one hour scenario. I don’t have any issues with a two hour show, but I stop at that. For a major event or PPV attraction like a Royal Rumble or WrestleMania might be a little different. Three hours you start flirting with disaster. Can you sustain a solid product and keep everyone’s interest? How many times during that show do you restart it? You can only do that so many times because then your live audience starts to burn out. An hour a week is my thinking now and that doesn’t seem to be the trend. If you don’t have a two hour show you aren’t really in the hunt. I think ROH among other companies like Lucha Underground produce interesting TV and they do it in an hour.
Ring Rust Radio: As someone who has seen almost every style of wrestling during your career, what are your thoughts on the break-neck pace and fighting spirit shown in New Japan which some wrestling fans have criticized?
Jim Ross: I don’t have any major issues with it. As long as any pro wrestling we see on the TV screen doesn’t insult my intelligence and can continually use common sense, basic logic and the presentation, I am pretty cool with it. At times, what happens is when talents wrestle too fast, there are several things you have to deal with. One is; are you wrestling faster than the audience can process? The answer to that question is often times yes. If that is true, then you are failing. Secondly, the faster some talents work, the more risk plays into the equation and then the opportunities for injury increases. The third factor is when you work so rapidly and you are doing all these amazing athletic things that seem like the Flying Wallenda’s and your defying death, then you have your crash and burn scenarios, it seems like both the victim and offender recover too quickly. Therefore, they aren’t selling. Then if you take selling out of the equation, then you are taking out a major emotional element in the match. That’s kind of my take on it. I don’t have a problem with it. I think every great main eventer I worked with had the ability to change gears and go to the next level. They also knew though they couldn’t stay at that next level. If they do, it ceases to be special. I think that’s why a lot of people say some talents work too fast, they aren’t selling the big moves, they are doing too many big moves and then at some point, the inevitable is factored in and that is the anatomy is only going to let you take so many bumps. Everyone has a different bump card and when it’s up, it’s up.
Ring Rust Radio: Something that we talk about a lot on this show is the idea of protecting a finisher or signature move and whether those moves become devalued when they’re kicked out of during matches, especially on numerous occasions. What’s your philosophy when it comes to maintaining the credibility of a finisher?
Jim Ross: I am a major proponent of such. I haven’t seen the Omega and Okada match I am calling on Tuesday. I have read about it, how can you not unless you go radio silent? I heard that Omega, who used the One Winged Angel to shoot an angle about three weeks ago on a table, that’s his go to, but he never got to in the match. He attempted to which he should have, but didn’t get to. He was very smart and kept the One Winged Angel clean. Speaking to your point here, I am not a big fan of kicking out of established finishes. There is a litany and multitude of things talents can do to each other that create a dramatic near fall without it having to be your finish. For some reason that’s never explained, we get these major shows and I guess it’s the overwhelming adrenaline rush, that creates an environment where it takes three or four of these established finishes to beat someone where any other night you can do it with one. Sometimes we over think it and it can be illogical at times. I am not a big fan of that and I think less is more. It creates much bigger pops if things have exclusivity. Sometimes the bookers are lazy and sometimes the talents are going to take a shortcut. Instead of going the extra mile and getting the people in the palm of your hand, you got to go the shortcut of kicking out of established finishes as your hook and I think it’s uncreative.
Ring Rust Radio: Over the past year we’ve seen both AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura make the leap from New Japan and have huge success in WWE and NXT respectively. New Japan obviously still has a lot of big-time talent currently, but who are some performers specifically who you believe have the skill set and the makeup needed to go to WWE and be a top star if they desire to?
Jim Ross: That’s a pretty straightforward question for me. We all have our preferences, likes, and dislikes. If I was WWE—and not that their not who knows—I would go after Kenny Omega as soon as he is available. He isn’t going to get any younger. He is 33 years old, so it’s time to go get him. If he has any dreams of getting in the WrestleMania mix, he should do it at 33 rather than 35 in my opinion. He would be my first choice out of the New Japan roster right now. Ricochet is another guy. Will Ospreay. I believe that Cody Rhodes still has an immense upside. With everything he is doing in the independent scene and how he is managing his career, I know his dad would be very proud of him as far as having a booker’s mentality. New Japan’s cupboards aren’t bare. I’m contracted to do 50 shows for AXS TV for New Japan and one of the things I’m looking forward to are not the multi-tag bouts where you got 14 tags. They might as well get a carnival barker to do that because I’m not very good at it. It’s just spot after spot so it’s an odd layout. There’s never really any thread going through the show. It’s just you get your stuff in and then I’ll get mine in, you do this big move then I’ll do mine, whatever. I really am excited about the one-on-one matches between the Junior Heavyweights. I really believe Kushida can become head honcho of that group even though he isn’t champion right now. They have a great roster right now in Junior Heavyweights that should produce some of the most compelling one-on-one matches you will see anywhere in the world and hopefully we get our share of them on Friday nights.