Jim 'JR' Ross, for the majority of wrestling fans growing up today, is the voice of wrestling. Having sound-tracked their most enjoyable wrestling events he is an icon not just in the UK but across the world. Having had a tremendously impressive career over more than 40 years, fans might believe his Wikipedia page when it says JR 'semi-retired'. Speaking to JR, Royal Ramblings had the feeling that his career is only just beginning! He was speaking to us having just signed a new deal with CBS in the USA to call their boxing matches and with AXS TV to do commentary for New Japan Pro-Wrestling Matches. He has one of the top 100 podcasts in the world which has some 500,000 downloads a week, he's writing his autobiography, running spoken word shows (including at the House of Blues in Dallas after the post-wrestlemania Monday Night Raw) and notably for UK fans has become the spokesperson for the free-to-download FITE TV App. We spoke to JR about his exhausting list of ventures and when we might next see him in the UK. Read on!
Can you tell us about the FITE TV app you're now working with?
It's an amazing innovation. Especially if you are a fan of combat sports. If you like Pro Wrestling, if you like boxing, if you like MMA - then the app is a wonderful meeting place. It is so easy to operate. I'm not a real techy but it was very easy to navigate and I found plenty of events I was interested in, many of which were free. I think it is also an oasis for promotions that want to get their product exposed to a larger audience than they have before and so fans can see a lot of smaller independent wrestling promotions that have really good, hungry talent that want to advance their careers. It is going to conveniently bring products to fans much of which they have previously not been able to see. If you have Wi-Fi, if you have a smart TV, you can watch all the events available on the app, on your TV at home. But if you are travelling and you are worried about missing an event, or you want to see it live, and your hotel has Wi-Fi, and you have a smart phone or a tablet, you can watch it right on that. The FITE TV people are building relationships with literally hundreds of promotors so if a UK promotor, of any of the genres that we mentioned wants to expose their product, they do so with the app and have it watched from New York City as easy as they can from London. I've invested in it and I think I made a good investment - we've already exceeded 15 Million downloads. The app is universal. There is one app for the world.
You have run your spoken word tours in the UK, might you be coming back?
I am coming back and we are talking to a variety of promotors at the moment. It is on our radar for this year and there are a lot of markets I have not played yet but would like to. We have always had great success in the UK but there are so many places I have not had the opportunity to visit for my show and I am hopeful I can make that all happen this year. I find the UK fans have smart, learned questions and they're more respectful than just about any fan in the world. I loved going to the UK and I even enjoyed the food.
Talking of food, we know you do a good line in sauce - can we get it in the UK?
Well Americansoda.co.uk is located in Manchester. They have our products and you can order on line and get real fast home delivery. They have been our partner for several years now and building our brand. Our BBQ sauce is unique for that part of the world. Our business has been good but challenging as you have to monitor your orders and monitor your inventory more carefully as you have to order everything by boat and it takes time to get over. But they have been a great partner and we respect what they do. They sell a lot of our product and make several orders a year!
Whenever John Cena is in the UK he teases a British-based Wrestlemania. Will it ever happen?
I don't have a definite answer, but I have an opinion and I think as the WWE continues to give more dependence on their network for all the product disruption, I think the chances increase every year that this will happen. There's no doubt that the WWE Wrestlemania event could sell out any stadium in the country. I'm not saying that in an egocentric way, that is my opinion. They did it before with Summerslam years ago and as Gorilla Monsoon would say, the fans were hanging from the rafters! WWE looks at revenue from Pay-per-Views - primarily being from North American and North America TV providers wanting the show to be aired at 7pm Eastern Time. That's been relieved a little bit simply because of the fact that WWE now controls their own platform. I think the chance has increased since the network and I would say, merely as speculation and knowing how important the UK is to WWE for their global picture I am beginning to believe that there is a greater chance than before it is going to happen.
Who do you were standout UK talents and what do you think of the current UK scene?
I have always been impressed with guys like William Regal and the British Bulldogs - I think the Bulldogs the late Davey Boy Smith and Tommy Billington AKA the Dynamite Kid are long overdue to be inducted in to the WWE Hall of Fame. That's just my opinion. They were a great team and brought acclaim to their homeland and were way ahead of their time in terms of their in-ring styles. I don't think anyone would argue the fact that they are a Hall of Fame worthy team. It's just unfortunate that Davey is no longer with us and Dynamite has had his share of health problems which would prevent him from coming to the states for any ceremony. I would like to see those guys honoured at some point - I think it would be great.
I've been surprised by how many UK promotions have done well financially without television - and hopefully some will reach out to FITE TV and let their intentions be known. I'm confident WWE scouts will be watching the app because they're always looking for the next big thing. I love the resurgence of the UK wrestling scene because it just gives an opportunity for these talents to live their dreams.
Jim Ross can be found on twitter at @jimrossbbq tickets for his Wrestlemania shows at the House of Blues can be found on TicketMaster.com and if you want to buy his products in the UK visit http://www.americansoda.co.uk/ To find out more about FITE TV and to download the free app visit http://www.fite.tv/ or download it on the Itunes App Store or Google Play today!