Jim Ross, renowned as the best commentator in pro wrestling history, is calling it a career. The announcement came on Wednesday. Being a wrestling broadcaster is a unique job. Because of sports entertainment’s scripted nature, he often knows everything that’s going to happen. In this era of Internet dirt sheets and “smart marks,” most fans know the basics of what’s going to happen. The announcer’s task is to make it all sound new and exciting, and no one has ever done it better than Ross.
In JR-speak, a main event everyone looked forward to was a “slobberknocker.” Wrestlers didn’t just hit the canvas, they landed with a “resounding thud.” And JR’s most famous phrase, the one that has launched a thousand viral videos, declared “Oh my God, he’s broken in half!” It’s been used on everything from LeBron James dunks to Miguel’s unintentional leg drop at the American Music Awards.
Unlike broadcasters at typical sporting events, wrestling commentators aren’t impartial. It’s a job requirement that they wear their hearts on their sleeves. They lament this week’s travesty of justice with the same vitriol we would if we were in the ringside seat.
“Why, you son of a bitch, why?” JR pleaded during a Triple H heel turn.
Growing up as a wrestling fan in the South, I got to hear JR call Mid-South, NWA and then WCW matches. But to truly become a legend in the business, you have to go to the WWE. When Ross arrived, viewers all over the world heard the incredible voice. He was an integral part of getting Attitude Era superstars such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Mick Foley over with the crowd. His star grew to rival theirs because of how good he was at boosting their characters.
Wrestling fans love a good argument almost as much as a main event match. We’ll come to blows over whether Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair or Shawn Michaels was the greatest superstar of all time. As far as the best announcer, the discussion begins and ends with good ol’ JR. Retirements in this business often aren’t very long. I’ve lost count of the number of retirement matches Flair has had. But if we really have heard the last of Ross on the mic, today my heart is broken in half.