Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Monday, October 10, 2005
Pro Wrestling--- I'm not an extremely religious person, but I truly believe that if there is a hell, Vince McMahon is going to go there when he dies. The reasons are too numerous to list (perpetuating racism and exploiting terrorism for profit this past July, anyone?), but the latest one is removing from his job a long-time loyal employee and the universally recognized best play-by-play man in the pro wrestling business, Jim Ross, simply because he has Bell's Palsy and is therefore not an "attractive announcer."

How many wrestlers have been passed by over the years because they didn't have the "look" that Vince McMahon has a fetish for? (You know, the big, muscular "roided-up freak" look.) How many young wrestlers have taken steroids because they know that they're never going to be successful in the #1 organization, WWE, if they are can't achieve a modicum of that look, which is impossible to achieve without freakishly muscle-bound genetics, or large amounts of steroids? How many wrestlers have died with grossly enlarged hearts due to steroid usage? Too many.

Vince McMahon, in his fetish for big men, has long valued appearance more than talent in his pro wrestlers. Now that policy is extending to announcers. Jim Ross has had Bell's Palsy, and many of his facial muscles are paralyzed. This causes his face to look awkward, but his appearance is far from freakish and is actually much less "abnormal" than a 60-year-old man like Vince McMahon walking around with his arm muscles still magically getting bigger every year.

More importantly, the Bell's Palsy that Jim Ross suffers from does not affect his performance as the best play-by-play man in the wrestling business. All it does is make him look different. Vince McMahon doesn't care. To hell with Ross' experience of over 30 years in the wrestling business. To hell with the fact that he's still the best play-by-play man in the business. To hell with the fact that he has stood by WWE through thick and thin over the years. Vince wants an attractive guy as WWE's lead announcer, and to hell with the man who has been the voice of WWE for years.

Not only that, but in removing Jim Ross from his position as Raw's play-by-play man in a real life decision made a few weeks ago, Vince McMahon booked a storyline in which Ross would be humiliated one last time. There was no tribute, there was no 30-second-long "thank you" for all of the great moments that Jim Ross made even better over the decades as an announcer, or all of the hard work that he put in for years as WWE's #2 man behind the scenes as VP of Talent Relations.

I could anticipate McMahon publicly humiliating Jim Ross in a fake storyline, firing him in a storyline, even having Linda McMahon kick Ross in the groin as part of the storyline, all of which happened on Raw. According to reports from the Pro Wrestling Torch, Jim Ross is taking his real-life firing extremely hard, and an on-air storyline in which he is publicly humiliated probably isn't going to help on that front, but Vince McMahon gets off on that kind of thing. I wouldn't expect anything less from a scumbag such as McMahon who derives pleasure from screwing with people, and I wouldn't expect him to start showing class or taste now for the first time in his life.

What I can't understand is why Stephanie McMahon, in the same segment, was booked to slap Ross directly on his face, despite the fact that Ross has had Bell's Palsy and isn't exactly supposed to be slapped in the face. The last time WWE booked Jim Ross in an in-ring segment, it was in a match with Vince McMahon's beloved son-in-law, Triple H. During that match, an errant punch actually connected with Ross' face instead of being pulled by Triple H, and it resulted in Ross suffering from numbness and blurred vision for a couple of weeks after the match.

He still did his job on Raw for the next several weeks when that happened... you know, just like he always has. Just like he did when he had just received word that his mother died, and he still did the play-by-play on a WWE pay-per-view because they had no one else on hand to do it. Just like he did when Vince McMahon insisted that "the show must go on" after Owen Hart fell to his death in a WWE ring. Ross was always there to do his job, and no one was better at it. And yet just a few months after getting hurt in a match with Triple H that he should have never been booked to do, here's Vince McMahon, gleefully booking his nipped-and-tucked daughter Stephanie to slap Jim Ross across the face. Does that make you feel like a man, Vince? Does that get you off?

In the big picture, Stephanie being booked to slap Jim Ross in the face, despite the risks to Ross' health, is just an example in the bigger picture. Vince McMahon doesn't give a damn about Jim Ross' health, or Jim Ross in general, despite his years of loyal service as the best play-by-play man in the business, despite the fact that fans around the world love him. Vince has no problem giving a big "F-U" to Jim Ross or to the fans, just as he has done before.

Jim Ross is still able to do his job, and he's able to do it just as well as he ever did, but Vince McMahon doesn't give a damn. Ross has Bell's Palsy, Vince wants attractive announcers, and so Jim Ross has to go. F--k you, Vince McMahon.

Update with Additional News on Jim Ross Situation at 4:05 AM:
In a Wade Keller Audio Update on the Pro Wrestling Torch web site, Wade Keller adds some more information and perspective to this situation. Full credit for this information goes to PWTorch.com. Keller reported, "Sources who are close to [Jim] Ross say that he is absolutely torn up inside, and that this has been taking an incredible emotional toll on him for the past month, ever since the rumors started behind the scenes that WWE was looking to put a 'pretty face' on the air [and remove Ross]... I've been told that there is more to this story that would make it seem even worse than how it looks on the surface... It was very emotional behind the scenes tonight. There were lots of people who were fuming mad."

Keller also commented about Ross personally, with some of the most moving words that I have seen or heard about this situation. Keller said, "Here's a guy who has given his life to WWE for a long time. He held that company together during the Monday Night Wars, in terms of talent relations, and producing house show line-ups, and being a close consultant with Vince McMahon on top matters... and it's not like I have this great personal affinity for Jim Ross. It's the fact that he was the best guy for the job, he was a great announcer, he did his job, he never took vacations, he always showed up, he worked his way through health problems... The way that he is being discarded after being the best announcer in the history of the business, and still at the top of his game as an announcer, is just a huge adjustment. He loves his job, and what he said on the air last night was true. All he wants to do is announce pro wrestling. That's what he lives for, that and his family."

Keller also spoke about how Ross' case of Bell's Palsy got so much worse a few years back, ironically while on the job for WWE, which is something that I alluded to in my previous rant. Keller said, "He was on a trip to Europe [for a WWE pay-per-view] when his mom died, and that's what caused a recurrence of his Bell's Palsy. So, he traveled to Europe, got the news that his mom died, [the stress from that] caused the Bell's Palsy reaction, and he still worked the WWE pay-per-view in Europe as scheduled. [The Bell's Palsy] happened because of the stress of the job, and now he's getting fired because of it."

Again, full credit for the quotes from the aforementioned audio update go to the Pro Wrestling Torch's Wade Keller, who runs the best pro wrestling web site on the planet at PWTorch.com.