WWE Hall Of Famer and All Elite Wrestling (AEW) announcer Jim Ross recently spoke at length about his role in his first WrestleMania as lead announcer for WWE back at WrestleMania IX on the “Grilling J.R. Podcast.” Featured below are some of the highlights from the show.
On when he found out he was going to be the lead announcer for WrestleMania IX: “Not until we got to Vegas. I might have had a hint, because here’s the deal: It was gonna be Monsoon, the great Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage. And that was gonna be Wrestlemania’s broadcast team from ringside. Outdoors at Caesar’s Palace in the togas and stuff, that period costume. But Monsoon was ill. He came to Vegas but he wasn’t himself, so Gorilla basically just welcomed everybody to the show at the top of Wrestlemania and then pitched it down to me. That was kind of like an unofficial passing of the torch on that day. I did my own thing and then we brought out Heenan riding a camel backwards or something and then Savage came out in the Sedan. So I was nervous, as my dad would say, as a whore in church. I was awestruck a little bit. I marked out. I couldn’t believe where I was. I couldn’t believe the last six months of my life had been crazy. The only thing I could say is, ‘I didn’t screw this up. I didn’t screw this up like I did with Jan or drinking and driving, stuff that’s just stupid, stupid mistakes. I didn’t screw this one up. I got here. I’m here now. I signed.’ I felt comfort and I felt some stability.”
On infamously wearing a toga and sandals for the event: “He [Vince McMahon] asked me, he said, ‘I wanna ask you something. I know you’re a serious broadcaster and I like that. But this is kind of…this here’s the Palace so I need you to wear a toga, but if you’re not comfortable wearing a toga we’ll move your debut to King of the Ring or wherever or one of the syndicated shows.’ Are you kidding me? I said, ‘Vince I’m fine wearing a toga.’ I never wore a toga in my life. Funniest part of wearing a toga: me and Monsoon and Heenan dressed in the same locker room and Heenan begged me to go commando that day, not wear any underwear under my toga, cause ‘I’ll tell Vince and he’ll like it because it shows you got balls.’ And Monsoon, who’s 6’6 and standing behind Heenan, he’s standing there with a massive shadow right behind Heenan shaking his head no, waving his arms. Notwithstanding the reinforcement of Monsoon’s judgment, my own apprehensions prevented me from going commando and showing my white fat ass at Caesar’s Palace on PPV. Just wouldn’t have been a good look.”
On attending the WrestleMania IX production meeting: “When I got to Vegas for the production meeting, it was held at Caesar’s obviously in a massive room, and it was packed. I’d never been in a production meeting with that many people. It had everybody, everybody there. Everybody there was a purpose for, I get that. But I also felt like word got out like someone may have sent out an email like, ‘this new guy’s got a contagious disease’, because I wasn’t the most popular son of a bitch there. The word had already gotten out that he’s taking Monsoon’s place. Gorilla Monsoon’s an institution there. He’s beloved. And he earned all those things. As nice a man, as honorable a man as I’ve ever worked with, ever. So I had heat on me from the damn get-go.”
Check out the complete episode of the Grilling J.R. Podcast below.