WWE Hall Of Famer Jim Ross recently took to his podcast, “Grilling JR,” to talk about several professional wrestling topics.
Here are the highlights:
Jerry Lawler and Ross auditioning talent for initial XFL commentating gigs:
Well, first of all, he knows football better than he wants to let on, because he’s a big Cleveland Browns fan. And I mean, die-hard. So he knows more about football than he’d probably wanna let on. Secondly, Lawler and I were considered local or accessible. I lived in Connecticut at that time, so we used the production facility at 120 Hamilton to use the auditions for all the football people.
The play-by-play guys and the color guys that WWE was auditioning for the XFL. I did tons of interviews for different guys that were color guys, and I did the play-by-play on the demos. And then Lawler did the same thing, except his role was the color analyst with a variety of play-by-play guys that they were auditioning.
How they got the announcing gig:
At the end of the day, when the conversation came down to, ‘Okay, we’ve done all the auditions, all the hay’s in the barn, who do we like?’ And Dick Ebersol, who was the president of NBC Sports at that time, says, ‘Well to be honest with you Vince, our consensus is that we need to use JR and the King. They’re good, they’re really good.
They have great chemistry and they both love the game, and they understand it.’ And so, that decision was made on that first week of the XFL to put Lawler, myself and Jonathan Coachman together at a game in Orlando that became the A game after the original A game — with [Matt] Vasgersian and [Jesse] Ventura — got a little out of hand.
The pay for the job:
The money was never great. I did it because I loved the game and I always wanted to fulfill a dream as a bucket list. Conrad, we made $1500 a game for this thing. Yeah, I’m serious. $1500 a game. They paid our T&E [travel and expense] and all that good stuff, obviously. But $1500, it was not big payday money here. It wasn’t a big deal, no. Everybody’s talking about Ventura making a million [dollars].
So you know, Ventura’s making a million for a little part of a season of football which is great. Good for him, he got a hell of a deal. But the rest of us didn’t do it for the money. And at that point, when Lawler saw that the $1500 was all we were ever going to get, it took another day away. He could have made more than that going to do an independent wrestling show in Tupelo.
H/T 411Mania for the transcriptions