“Good Ol’ JR” Jim Ross has built a captivating legacy on commentary from his work in Mid South Wrestling to WCW to WWE. His iconic calls are remembered fondly in wrestling history. Who could forget his line “Good good almighty, that killed him!” when Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring 1998? Or When JR emphatically shouted “Stone Cold! Stone Cold! Stone Cold!” when Steve Austin won his first WWE Championship at Wrestlemania XIV? When all is said and done, Jim Ross will go down as one of, if not the, greatest commentator in the history of pro wrestling. However, when it comes to his current work post-WWE, and especially in All Elite Wrestling, his best days are far behind him.
After a turbulent WWE 2K14 panel in 2013, in which Ross failed tremendously to control the infamous event after uncomfortable remarks from an inebriated Ric Flair, the voice of the Attitude Era was released. Two years later, Ross would begin English commentary for New Japan Pro-Wrestling alongside Matt Striker for Wrestle Kingdom 9. JR would sign on as the lead announcer for New Japan’s American broadcast on AXS TV in 2016, in addition to What Culture Pro-Wrestling‘s Refuse to Lose and True Destiny internet Pay-Per-View events. At Wrestlemania 33 in 2017, the “Boomer Sooner” himself would return to WWE, as part of a new two-year deal, to call the No Holds Barred main event between Undertaker and Roman Reigns. He would spend the next two years calling for the first Mae Young Classic, 25th Anniversary of Raw, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 34, and Greatest Royal Rumble before leaving the company on March 27th, 2019.
Just one week later, after leaving WWE for the third time, it was announced Jim Ross had signed with AEW. He would be flanked by Excalibur and Alex Marvez for the company’s inaugural Double or Nothing Pay-Per-View event. During AEW’s first year many fans were dismayed over Ross’s commentary. Ross would repeatedly criticize the matches in AEW, in addition to mispronouncing the names of multiple wrestlers. His disconnect for the product shown through this past Dynamite when in a no disqualification tornado tag team match, meaning all competitors are legally allowed in the ring at the same time, JR repeatedly asked who was currently the legal man. Between calling Yuka Sakazaki “Yuka Sakazawi” and yelling about how modern wrestlers are ungrateful during the Hikaru Shida vs Diamante match, it’s clear that Jim either doesn’t know the ins and outs of AEW or quite frankly doesn’t care. And while it’s true everyone has a couple of bad days, JR has made no effort to improve himself after multiple mishaps and infuriating comments on modern wrestling. His reputation has remained indifferent ever since Dr. Britt Baker famously cut a promo calling him a “lazy barbecue sales rep.” While there have been instances in which Ross has spoken favorably of AEW, even saying it is worth watching over NXT, his commentary continues to drag down the matches every Wednesday night and it is clear he needs to go.
AEW has more than enough options on who to replace for Ross. “The Human Suplex Machine” Taz, has decades worth of experience in the booth alongside Michael Cole, Joey Styles, Mike Tenay, and currently with Excalibur over on AEW DARK. Vickie Guerrero, before becoming the manager for former AEW Women’s Champio Nyla Rose, provided entertaining commentary for a stint on DARK alongside Joey Janela and Excalibur. Colt Cabana performed recently on commentary for this past Dynamite along with past stints in the booth for Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). The most popular option many fans would recommend would be inaugural AEW World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho. Having done commentary for AEW during quarantine that has drawn comparisons to the late Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, the former Y2J excelled in the role and managed to successfully help multiple wrestlers get over during his stint in the booth.
However, with all those options listed AEW should strongly consider returning to the tried and true two-person commentary formula. Wrestling fans have begged for two-person commentary teams to make their way back for years. Professional wrestling commentary is preferred with one person as the Play by Play, calling the action as it happens, and the other as a Color Commentary who defines the personality of performers along with the story. Three-person booths suffer from everyone trying to get their lines in and they end up stumbling over each other. WCW, WWE’s most notorious competitor, implemented three men booths for years that were successful at times that AEW was inspired to replicate. However, while Ross, Excalibur, and the greatest commentator in the history of our sport,t Tony Schiavone, have worked better than other teams, they still suffer from too much information being thrown out a once and everyone trying to relay it. WWE implemented three-man booths on Raw in the mid-2010s that has resulted in atrocious commentary. Who could forget Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and John Bradshaw Layfield making Raw insufferable in 2015? When JBL and Cole worked together as a duo on Smackdown in 2007, they were an efficient team that added to the product. Three-person teams more often than not take away from the action instead of adding to it. As the old saying goes: two’s company, three’s a crowd.
AEW bringing in JR was originally a sound idea. His name alone still invokes fond memories from pro-wrestling fans of slobber knocker WWE spectacle. Unfortunately, after repeatedly dropping the ball and causing friction at the announce table, it’s more apparent than ever Jim Ross needs to leave the booth. JR could easily find another role to play in AEW such as a sit-down interviewer for Dynamite if they wish to keep him on TV every week. The fact is, Jim clearly isn’t comfortable where he is and neither are the fans. If JR doesn’t want to root for the home team, then he simply needs to get out of the stadium.
Stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TNT and AEW DARK Tuesday nights at 7pm EST on YouTube.