WWE let go of Jim Ross in 2014, after decades of loyal service as the undisputed voice of wrestling. He had gone through all the highs and lows of professional wrestling over the years and had a difficult relationship with Vince McMahon, but nobody every expected to see him released from the company.
But why was Jim Ross fired by WWE? In this article we’ll break down what happened to get him fired and who made the call get rid of the greatest commentator in WWE history.
Jim Ross Was Fired In 2013 Due to Ric Flair
Jim Ross was fired due to an event held in August 2013 to promote the video game WWE 2K14. He was anointed the host of a panel of legends discussing the game and it’s new “Wrestlemania” Mode, where players could replay all the greatest moments from the last thirty years of Wrestlemania.
The panel included seven of the top talents in WWE history. Good Ol’ JR was tasked with controlling Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Paul Heyman, Mick Foley and “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Despite being a panel full of huge personalities, it was only Flair who would make himself a nuisance although the entire went off the rails due to his involvement.
Ric Flair claimed he had not had anything to drink, but many have theorised that he was drunk during the broadcast. He has a known history of alcohol troubles and almost died a few years ago due to his many health troubles.
He took over the panel, jumping around topics out of nowhere and taking over the panel, telling stories about the past seemingly randomly. He interrupted other wrestlers, including Daniel Bryan by saying that he “didn’t belong there” alongside the legends like himself, who he claimed had been wrestling for 41 years.
The panel went completely off the rails. Ric Flair suddenly started talking about the death of his son Reid, who had passed away just months prior. He also called John Cena a “hardcore drinker”, something which was not smart to say about the number one babyface in the company and the WWE Champion at the time. He also made a number of other statements that made the WWE and the panel’s sponsor very unhappy.
Jim Ross wasn’t blameless in all this. He was also visibly drinking while trying to conduct the panel, which may have gone against him. He also failed to moderate the talk, letting Flair go off on wild tangents and saying controversial statements without challenging him or shutting him down.
He was aware of his lack of control. During the panel itself, he made a number of self-deprecating remarks regarding his performance. He knew he could be in trouble and didn’t seem to care, saying;
“This is real. This is reality television at its best. I’ve lost complete control of my job. I’m sure I’ll never be asked back, and this has probably destroyed what career I have left.”
His WWE contract was up a few weeks later and they had been phasing him out of the company for a number of years. After Summerslam 2013, it was announced via WWE.com that Jim Ross’ contract would not be renewed and that he had effectively been fired by the company.
JR initially revealed he planned to retire, but that was not the case. The Wrestling Observer reported that Vince McMahon personally made the call to not renew the deal, directly because of the disastrous panel for the WWE 2K14 game.
“The decision, which was made by McMahon, was first told to us by a source in the company that it was possible, if not likely on the day of SummerSlam, stemming from the now-infamous 2K Sports symposium where Ric Flair spoke at length about a variety of subjects,”
You can watch the full video of the panel here.
Jim Ross later explained in an interview with Grantland that the panel was indeed the reason he was fired. Despite his decades of experience in the business he was let go due to one mistake, adding to the theory that Vince was just looking for a reason to get rid of him and finding it.
Speaking about the firing, Good Ol’ Jr said he was on a “runaway train” that he couldn’t “keep on the tracks”, although despite his comments at the time, he never saw himself being sacked for it.
“I was conductor of a runaway train. I was supposed to keep it on the tracks and that didn’t happen. So I don’t have any issues taking responsibility. Did I envision that it would help facilitate my exit? No. But I could see the thinking behind it.”
He would later be brought back on a part-time basis, commentating select matches like Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. He has since signed for AEW where he commentates on their weekly programming and continues to be one of the best commentators in all of pro-wrestling.
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