Guest: Jim Ross sits down with X-Pac!
Release Date: March 28th, 2018
Recap by: Sean McGraw
X-Pac is joined by Jimbo, Denise, Bill and TK. This week’s guest will be Jim Ross.
New Japan Strong Style happened. Jimbo and Denise were there in person. X-Pac asks if there was a difference of energy from the crowd this year as opposed to last year. Because of the structure of the building the sound was delayed. The stadium seating was much better this year. The high points were better this year, but the overall card was better last year. Switchblade vs. Hangman Page was a good match but put in a bad spot. X-Pac says that they could have done some spots differently to be more effective. They had a good match but since both performers are still young, their inexperience hindered the match a bit.
The Golden Lovers vs. The Young Bucks was a great match. Bill says that he talked to Kenny a few days before the match and Kenny said that he thought it was way too early to be having this match. It was a match in which the performers had to pack in both the emotion and the physicality that would live up to the fans’ expectations.
Bill says “It’s a shame that Kenny broke his face all to pieces.” X-Pac says, “God, yeah. Man enough with the dropping each other on the heads. We gotta cut that out…The bosses of the companies, I’m not picking on New Japan alone, they need to tell these guys to cut that s**t out. And there needs to be consequences when they keep doing it. Or else the consequences down the road are something that people might think that they’re willing to accept, but once they get there, trust me, you will NOT like it.” (X-Pac is really passionate here and I think it would be wise for the promotions and wrestlers to take his words to heart).
Bill says he kept flinching at a bunch of spots in the matches pointing out that Hangman could have died in one spot. X-Pac says he gets it. He’s been in the spots were you need to take these risks to get a buzz about you, but it’s not going to do you any good if you can’t pass a physical and get to the big dance you’re trying to get to.
X-Pac thought the Killer Elite Squad was really entertaining. He says he thought that they take themselves way too seriously to work with Yano, but he was pleasantly surprised. X-Pac also enjoyed Zack Sabre Jr. and Minoru Suzuki. X-Pac says that that the stiff shots to the neck between Suzuki and Ishii were fine because they weren’t head shots and he liked how they got the crowd going.
Interview with Jim Ross
This interview was recorded the day after the New Japan Strong Style Evolved show. JR says that SSE was a marathon and “ambitious.” He also says that today’s discussion will be interesting because his filter has worn out. X-Pac says it’s ok and that his own filter is always worn out.
Jim’s podcast has found a new home on Westwood One on April 11th. Jim wanted all of his WrestleMania experiences fresh in his mind when he gets restarted on the podcast. There are a lot of events going on in New Orleans during WrestleMania week including Jim’s show. Jim stresses that even if someone isn’t a fan of WWE, their influence is undeniable because WrestleMania provides an opportunity for a ton of other shows to take place in the area that it’s in. “If you’re making money off the wrestling business…it’s smart to take [your] show where the audience is.”
Jim says he’s thankful for his fan base. They have been an amazing medicine for him since his wife was killed. Everything that Jim does in the wrestling business is a labor of love and he says he can’t get enough of it. He doesn’t need a fundraiser, but he needs to extend his arms to the people that are positive. They have been a lifesaving support mechanism for him.
Jim says he likes what he does. It doesn’t feel like work to him. He has fun doing the New Japan shows. He says the fans are very passionate and he is passionate about helping them build their brand. He says that some of the diehards aren’t seeing the whole picture. X-Pac says he thinks that the diehards don’t want them to expand. They want it to only be “their thing.” Jim says he understands that some of the fans are loyal to Don Callis and Kevin Kelly because those are the guys they hear the most on New Japan Pro World and he says they do a great job, “but at the cost of gut and quartering Josh Barnett and me, really? Is that your axiom for the day?” X-Pac can’t believe that’s where the fans are focusing their energy.
X-Pac says he really enjoyed the show. He says that aesthetically, last year’s show didn’t look quite as good, but the crowd seemed livelier because of the more intimate venue. He says that’s really nitpicky. He tells Ross that he thought they were excellent on commentary. Ross thanks him and says it’s a tough thing because some matches don’t have a tent-pole to build a story around. He says that Matt Jackson’s back was a tent-pole – a running theme. A lot of matches today – not just in New Japan – are built more around getting people’s elements in rather than putting them together to tell a story. X-Pac agrees and says that those spots get a pop, but the heat is not sustained.
Ross says it was a challenging show to call because of how long they had to sit there. Ross thought the Bucks vs. Golden Lovers match was great and thought it would have been even better if it had been earlier without the crowd being so fatigued. He compares it to going to see a four hour movie and how that would be tough to sit through. Ross is also a fan of Minoru Suzuki. X-Pac says he loves Suzuki’s work. Ross confuses Ospreay for Sabre and apologizes because he confuses their names a lot (this is a common criticism of his New Japan work). He attributes it to them being Caucasian Brits – it’s a visual thing. The Sabre-Suzuki tag match was a lot of fun to watch.
Jim is also a big fan of Okada and says that he might be taken a little bit for granted just how good he is. He has performed at a high level in several main events with a lot of different opponents with different skill sets. Ross says that he has delivered every time. Ross told Okada over a little tequila the other night that the way that Okada and Naito delivered in the main event at Wrestle Kingdom was a hard thing to do.
The Strong Style Evolved card was interesting. He says that a lot of the matches had some highlight reel spots, but he thinks that a lot of the wrestlers could have arranged things a little differently to have them make more sense and tell a stronger story. As it is the finishes are all the same – somebody misses something big and the other guy hits something big and it’s over. X-Pac says that they are missing out on some good false finishes. Ross agrees and says that a lot of times guys aren’t going for pins early enough or if they do and it’s not close to time to go home they are half-assing covers and kicking out at 2 ½ anyways. (This is really strong analysis here. Good stuff.)
Ross says that The Young Bucks, Omega, and Ibushi are willing to try new things and add things to their toolbox. Usually those things are not added just for the sensationalism but they add to the storytelling. X-Pac agrees and says that it’s changing things up too. In professional wrestling, things start to look a little too routine at times.
X-Pac asks what the difference is between calling for New Japan and WWE. Ross says in WWE you have every whistle and bell and everything that you could possibly need to make your job better and have a greater chance of success in that respect. He says that the AXS guys are the best group of guys he’s worked with, but they have a smaller budget and wrestling is not their expertise. He doesn’t have anyone in his ear like Vince would be. Ross has a lot of notes and people to help him with the New Japan roster.
X-Pac wants to know who Jim really is impressed by as far as the Japanese guys go. Ross says Okada is his guy. He’s 6-3, has good looks and natural charisma. He likes Goto and compared him to Bret Hart for being underappreciated and technically sound. He looked at it as a compliment but some people weren’t happy with him about saying that. X-Pac says he understood the comparison immediately. Ross also thinks that Minoru Suzuki is an all-time great villain. His facials are about as good as Ross has ever seen. X-Pac adds that it’s amazing because he’s in what some people would say is the twilight of his career. Ross says Suzuki’s intensity is amazing. He says its awe inspiring how good Suzuki is.
Jim and X-Pac talk money in wrestling. Jim dealt with money quite a bit while working in Talent Relations for WWE. He would advise wrestlers to make sure that they had a plan money-wise. Jim says that if a wrestler is able to get consistent bookings for 10 years they should be set money wise to live comfortably. X-Pac says that if you make it through those ten years that you should have a big enough name where you can make money off of the wrestling business forever.
Jim says he and Vince were big into buying tape libraries to build the network. A lot of the tapes were reused, so a lot of content was recorded over. He says that the original tapes were like gold. Vince told him one time that the WWE Network is going to make Jim immortal. Jim said he thought of Hulk Hogan, because Hogan is immortal not Jim. He then thought about it and pretty much everything that JR has ever done in the wrestling business – Mid South, Smokey Mountain, Crockett, WWF/E) is owned and curated nicely by Vince on the Network. X-Pac says that guys that want a cut of money from the Network should just be grateful that there’s a place where people can go to watch you wrestle. That is far more valuable than the $2 you’d get every quarter. Jim adds that it also allows you to market yourself for appearances and cons and things of that nature.
Jim says that if he were booking WrestleMania this year that Undertaker vs. John Cena would be the last match on the card. X-Pac says that he KNEW that last year wasn’t Undertaker’s last match. Jim Ross agrees. Jim says that Undertaker will retire when Undertaker wants to retire. Until he says he’s done, he’s not done. X-Pac says that they were saying that Undertaker only had a few more years left when he first got to WWE in 1993. Ross chuckles and says that Undertaker is the greatest star that the company has ever developed and promoted. There’s nobody that’s ever been bigger, more influential, more tenured. He’s worked in main events all around the world when the global expansion was first starting. X-Pac says he’s the guy that they depended on when business was tough. He had cracked ribs and a crushed orbital bone and was still making the towns and closing the show because they needed him.
0:00 – 14:54 Intros and Strong Style Evolved Discussion
15:46 – 1:07:20 Interview with Jim Ross
1:07:21 – 1:12:32 Show Wrap up
I enjoyed listening to this episode. I think when you get two great wrestling minds like JR and X-Pac together to talk about wrestling you’re going to come away from it with a better understanding of the craft. I appreciated how they were able to talk about a wide range of topics from New Japan’s Strong Style Evolved to The Undertaker at WrestleMania. I’m glad that X-Pac is acting as a voice of reason when he gets passionate about the high-risk spots and dropping people on their heads. Too many bad things can (and have) happen from it and those spots seem unnecessary.
I thought the analysis of current day match structure was pretty interesting and I do tend to agree with them for the most part. One thing that kind of rubs me the wrong way about Ross is that he seems to be overly defensive of the criticism against him. He’ll bring up topics in a defensive way that acknowledge the critics when the acknowledgement itself seems unnecessary which in turn probably invites even more criticism. He’d probably be better off just ignoring it altogether because he’s earned enough in this business to do so. That being said I thought Ross and Barnett were a little below average on their call of SSE mainly because their excitement in their calls doesn’t match the excitement level of the action in the ring. It’s unfair to compare them to Callis and Kelly, because Callis and Kelly are Attitude Era JR and Lawler good. Plus we don’t know how Ross and Barnett are being produced by AXStv.
I thought Jim’s praise for Okada and Suzuki was well deserved and agree with their statement that Suzuki has the makings of an all-time great Villain. X-Pac’s and Ross’ take on the WWE Network was also a good point to make. Overall, this was a good episode with a lot of good information and analysis to take away from. Well worth a listen.
Sean is a media professional from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sean’s earliest memory of wrestling is seeing Kane on WWF television in 1998. Sean watched primarily WWF in the Attitude Era and dropped off just before the initial brand split. Seeing recap promos of the Undertaker building up to WrestleMania 20, he became hooked and has been an avid fan ever since. Sean’s wrestling preferences currently lean more towards NJPW/ROH/NXT but he remains a fan of it all. In his spare time Sean enjoys cooking, baking, and going to the gym. You can follow Sean via Twitter @stmcgraw and Instagram @stmcgraw09.