Thanks to JA D’Amato for this report:
About 400 at the Gramercy Theater for the early show. Joey Styles and Tommy Dreamer sat next to me in the balcony. ESPN’s Robin Lundberg introduced J.R., who came out to Boomer Sooner, of course.
J.R. told childhood stories of being conceived on Route 66 in a pickup truck to getting scared by a snake in an outhouse. He remembers at 10 years old that he made sure to do his chores so he could watch wrestling from Tulsa ran by Bill Watts. His first wrestling memories were watching Grizzly Smith and the Assassins at 10 years old.
Ross met Bill Watts in college and went to work for Leroy McGuirk who was blind. He bought his cigars and whiskey and soon found himself in booking meetings where he gained his education on the business. He had to referee matches, work on the ring crew, and drive wrestlers to make ends meet. He told a great story about Dick Murdoch and a transvestite. Ross moved on to the UWF being bought out by Crockett and shared a classic Ric Flair limo story. He said Ted Turner’s associates hated wrestling and had no respect for it.
J.R. moved on to entering the WWF and debuting at WrestleMania 9 in a toga. He talked about getting fired and then his return on Raw with Randy Savage, who he says was the hardest person ever to work with. He regrets putting the business ahead of his first two wives. He remembers the death of his parents coinciding with what event he was working that night. Ross loved telling gross stories of making Gerald Brisco puke with his flatulence and Vince sharting in his pants.
After about an hour, J.R. had a Q&A session. Questions ranged from the Montreal Screwjob to Mid-South memories to current superstars. His top choice of return match to announce would be anyone vs. the Undertaker. He read a limerick from William Regal to close. Awesome show, I could have listened to J.R.’s stories all night.
Jonathan D’Antoni sent in this report:
I attended the first JR show here in NYC at the Gramercy Theater. Doors opened at 4 and the show did not start till 5pm.
It was a quick show since he had two shows so he was only going to be out a short amount of time. It went about 90 minutes total. He had a pretty good delivery as he had some funny stuff that had the crowd laughing. Crowd was almost all male. Tommy Dreamer and Joey Styles were in attendance.
First hour of the show was JR just giving a history of him in the business (Watts, Midsouth, NWA, WWE). All of it he added a story or two which were pretty funny (Being Leroy McGuirk’s errand boy, calling a match with him where the wrestler shit his pants in the ring and McGuirk not knowing his mike was on saying he smelled it on the air, sharing a limo with Ric Flair and two women and Flair took out his private parts, etc).
He did a q&a where the crowd asked questions. Crowd asked about the best/worst person he promoted from talent relations that made it. Forget the best but the person who exceeded expectations was Foley who he said he knew would make it but never to the degree he did.
Said Vince let him sign Foley because Vince wanted him to know what it was like to fail by putting his neck on the line for someone and then having that person not make it.
Fans asked about the Montreal Screwjob and if he knew the finish (he didn’t), what he thought of the current writers for WWE (he thinks they overproduce and don’t let guys just wing it on things they believe in), and what he looked for in talent (wanted real athletes from other sports who would always compete for the top spot and wanted an environment where nobody was comfortable in the #1 spot).
Two questions in particular were most interesting and saddening. One fan asked him about his bouts with Bells Palsy and JR was very honest saying how hard it was to come back from that. Said it was the toughest thing he has ever been through and he was very thankful that Austin and Rock (whom he said he recruited both) that they asked for him to call there match at Wrestlemania after he had been out.
Said he had an intestine problem and sleep apnea which his wife noticed and told the doctor he didn’t breathe when they slept (66 bouts per minute where he stopped breathing at night) and that the doctor said he had 30 days to live if they had not found he had these problems and treated them.
The other question was asked by an 8 year old girl who asked how he felt when Owen Hart died. JR said he was watching the monitor when he saw Owen fell out of his peripheral vision. Said they were playing video packages as Jerry Lawler got in the ring, and then they started playing video packages while they were working on him. Said Kevin Dunn told him he would be giving an update on Owen and then asked what Owen’s status was (JR at this point didn’t know he was gone).
Kevin Dunn said into his headset, “Owen Hart is dead” and then he started counting, “10,9,8…” cause they were coming out of break and going live to the announcement you saw on the ppv. JR said he hasn’t watched that call he made that night ever again.
Overall the show was a good show albeit way short. He could have stood up there for the whole show and just fielded questions and the crowd would have loved it. I would have loved to just hear from him more but it was a fun 90 minutes. Definitely suggest if you get a chance to check him out.