Bruce Pritchard On Vince McMahon Not Being a Fan of Jim Ross Initially, Selling JR to Vince
During the latest Something to Wrestle With, Bruce Pritchard recalled the story of Jim Ross initially contacting WWE about a job and how Vince McMahon wasn’t a fan of Ross at the time. Ross was on the outs in WCW at the time when Eric Bischoff had just come into power, and had been removed from his play-by-play duties. He contacted WWE about a job, but McMahon didn’t like Ross’ commentary style and Pritchard and Pat Patterson had to sell Vince on the idea of bringing him on board.
Highlights from the discussion are below, along with the full podcast:
On McMahon’s opinion of Ross at the time: “He was not a fan of Jim. And what he was not a fan of, was the ‘This guy’s a five-time All-American this, and he’s that, and he’s…’ He wasn’t a big fan of — we created characters and Jim was into reality, and Jim was into, if they were a football player, or shoot wrestler than that’s what he exploited. But that’s the world he came from. And that was, Cowboy [Bill Watts, WCW head] was into that. So, ‘We’re real, they’re fake.’”
On Ross calling for a job: “I’ll never forget taking the call, man. Because we were downstairs in the training room, Vince, Pat and I. We used to go into the office, but we’d have to hide so that people couldn’t find us. There was a training room, and we would often go in there where no one could find us except for our assistants. My assistant called, and she goes, ‘Hey, there’s a guy on the phone. I think I know who he is, I think I’ve heard his name before, Jim Ross. He was trying to get ahold of you.’ And I said, ‘Well, put him through,’ because there was another little room right next to where we were. I said, ‘Yeah, send him down here.’ And I talked to him, and he explained to me what had happened [in WCW]. I said, ‘Okay, um, let me see what the temperature is here. I’ll give you a call back.’”
On selling Ross to McMahon: “So I walked back into the room and said, ‘Hey, that was Jim Ross. And he’s not gonna be doing play-by-play anymore, per se. At least on the major shows, as far as he knows. And he’s lost a lot of his responsibilities there.’ And Vince says, ‘Well, do you know him?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know him real well.’ And I explained how Jim had basically helped me out early on, and put me in the position of doing the interviews, just like you just explained. And I said, ‘What do think of him?’ Vince said, ‘I hate his commentary.’ And I said, ‘Well, he’s the hardest-working son of a bitch you’ll ever meet.’ I said, ‘He works as hard as you do, and loves the business. But god damn, Vince. We can change his commentary if you need to. He can take direction.’ But Pat was like, ‘Oh, my god! Can you imagine him in Madison Square Garden, and he’s calling? The excitement he would bring! Vince, he’s exciting!’ And Vince thinks about it, and goes, ‘Yeah, he is. It’s just, you know, college football s**t and everything, it gets to me a little bit.’ But he’s like, ‘You know, f**k it, man.’ He started talking about Don Meredith, and how beloved Don Meredith was in New York, because he was from Texas and he had that Southern accent. And he says, ‘My god, New Yorkers, they just loved him because he was this Southern gentlemen that was real. You know, with that Southern accent, god damn.’ He goes, ‘We could make, we could make this guy. Yeah, you know what? He’d probably be great. It’ll be a change. So we set up a meeting and had him come down. I’d like to meet him, I’d like to talk to him.’ And [we] set up the meeting [where he ultimately got hired].”