The Jim Ross Report – Josh Matthews + J.R.’s Tribute to Mean Gene
Release Date: 01/02/19
Running time: 2:19
Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
What’s On J.R.’s Mind – Mean Gene Tribute
- J.R. heard Mean Gene passed away at the age of 76 prior to recording this podcast. The last time he saw Gene was Wrestlecade on Thanksgiving weekend.
- J.R. says he can identify with Gene’s life especially the latter stages. They were overachievers and Gene had a unique skill that will never be matched. Gene had great instincts and an ability to enhance stars by what he said. He was a special talent and had a great voice.
- When J.R. got to WWE in 1993, Gene was one of the few people (including Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan) that accepted him when many people in the company did not.
- J.R. has much love and respect for Gene who was there when J.R.’s wife passed away.
- There is a lot of intrigue around All Elite Wrestling. Tony Khan will be president of the company. J.R. met Tony and talked about wrestling who is a huge fan.
- J.R. doesn’t think anyone will beat the WWE but he thinks AEW should have an athletic presentation.
- J.R. thinks they are close to having a TV deal.
- This will be good for the wrestling business and give people more places to work
- J.R. enjoyed the Cena/Becky Lynch interaction.
- Brock Lesnar will be back on RAW this week along with Cena and Braun Strowman.
- J.R. feels the women are utilizing social media better than the men.
- Right now, you should use every tool at your disposal to get over.
- WWE signed Pat McAfee who is a former punter for the Indianapolis Colts.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi has re-signed with NJPW. J.R. expects him to beat Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom. This is going to be a great match.
41:32 – Jim Cornette part 2
- Cornette doesn’t watch the TV product because of the bad things that catch his eye. He does watch links that people send him. He likes Walter and The Revival who remind him of Blanchard and Anderson. People will also send him links of things that make wrestling look bad because they know he’ll cut a promo on that.
- J.R. says the most over performers are the women in WWE. This isn’t a knock on the women but more a knock on the men because there are more men and have more money invested in them but they’re not as over.
- Cornette says there is a specific group of people who pull for the underdog but you have to have the right underdog. Generally, people want to back a winner.
- To show that a talent is important they have to be winning and have to be allowed to talk and tell people why they’re interesting. If the crowd doesn’t get behind that person they should go away and reinvents but if the crowd do get behind that person, you keep going.
- If someone comes in and is competitive with people who are not the top of the card or are viewed as lower card wrestlers, people will perceive that person at the same level.
- The problem has become that people in the ring and in the office got into wrestling because they are fans of the performance of wrestling as opposed to the concept of wrestling. As a result, the product is more dependent on a choreographed, athletic routines instead of simulated conflict. Cornette also feels shows are too structured as opposed to being organic. Wrestling is about getting the fans to buy into what you’re doing and surprise them with a contest they can emotionally attach themselves to.
- When building a promotion, Cornette suggest getting a group of talent that fits together and not be schizophrenic. Come up with a style of wrestling and try to come up with a different product than the WWE.
- JR talks about issues with announcers today and talking during action. Cornette agrees that announcers should call the match instead of concentrating too much on backstory. If people have been watching regularly they will know the backstory.
- The stars have aligned for the women’s division because you have a couple of tremendous athletes (e.g. Charlotte) and one with mainstream credibility (Ronda).
- The men’s division doesn’t have someone that can get over like Rock and Austin. They keep a lot of the guys under their thumb.
- At this point, the women are in more of a position to have a Rock/Austin type character, while the while men are too timid to follow the example of the Rock and Austin.
- J.R. says if someone on the men’s side can break out of their comfort zone and get over, they’ll find the company will embrace them more and give them a push. With the shortage of stars, men and women have more leeway because all wrestling companies are looking for stars.
- Cornette says you have to find someone that says they want to get over and knows how to get over, otherwise you just have Enzo Amore. So far this is happening more on the girls side than the guys.
- J.R. says the WWE has to commit to someone and if that doesn’t work move on. But it can’t just be three weeks. Get someone on a roll.
- Cornette says concentrate on your main event talent and feed the other guys while fostering an environment where one of those mid-card guys could bubble up every once in awhile. If you have guys on the second match in heavy angles then you have nothing because it’s chaos up and down the card.
- If you involve everyone and everyone has to be on the show it’s like having a dozen 7 foot guys and you have no giants. Only top guys should be seen and heard that much. Other guys should be involved in matches.
- As an example, other guys in UFC get fights but Conor McGregor gets the press conferences and the big league treatment
1:40:47 – Josh Matthews
- Gene’s passing put a damper on the day. Josh has been watching wrestling since WrestleMania 2 and he was the guy. Mene Gene was a part of his childhood.
- When Josh was a young announcer with the WWE, he would sit in the studio and watch Gene do the show. He was a pro.
- J.R. says Mean Gene didn’t know how big a star he was. He was humble and real.
- J.R. says he apologizes for not having Josh’s back more while he was in the WWE. Josh says that wasn’t necessary and says early on his career, J.R. actually did help him by sending him some notes after watching a tape. Paul Heyman told Josh to find his voice and to try and be a combination of J.R. and Joey Styles.
- When Josh was a sophomore in college he saw J.R.on a commercial promoting Tough Enough. Josh recorded the promo and sent a tape to New York the next day.
- Josh made it to the finals of Tough Enough but didn’t win. MTV approached him about being a VJ. Fast forward a couple years, during a Tough Enough reunion tour, Michael Cole and Kevin Dunn asked him if he would be interested in being an announcer. Three weeks later he was living in Stamford.
- Josh was 22 and was making 50K which was a lot of money but not in the northeast.
- Josh will be calling the Homecoming PPV in Nashville. He says the show top to bottom is impressive. The challenge Impact has is that you can see a lot of their talent working in other promotions so they have to give the fans matches no one else can.
- LAX vs Pentagon JR / Fenix could steal the show and the return of Ultimate X gives an old school feel of what Impact used to be.
- Josh tries to spend time with Konnan and creative guys like Sonjay Dutt. Then they get to TV and Konnan suggests something all ideas are open. Everyone on creative works together.
- Josh says Tessa Blanchard is incredible and has all the tools. The knock on her is her attitude isn’t great but he’s never seen that. She is respectful and engaged and hasn’t done anything to hurt anyone.
- Gail Kim will be the special ref for the Tessa / Taya Valkyrie match which adds another layer to the match.
- J.R says Brian Cage vs. Johnny Impact for the world championship will be a good match and Josh says Brian could leave as world champion.
- J.R. asks how Josh and his wife (Madison Rayne) manage their schedules especially with a child involved. Josh says it’s not too bad because they are around each other so much and their schedules work pretty well. They recently relocated to Columbus and have family nearby if they are both working.
- Sami Callihan will be on the ppv. He has done a lot for Ohio wrestling. He’s a polarizing figure but you always want to watch him.
- Scarlett Bordeaux is a new talent from Chicago. There’s a lot of layers to her that hopefully gets peeled back as we move forward. She is sexy but can also wrestle.
- Josh is friends with Cody and Madison is friends with Brandi. He is proud of what Cody and the Bucks are doing but doesn’t know what they are doing. He considers Cody a real friend.
- Impact is switching networks to the Pursuit network.
JR thanks Josh for being on the show and they sign off.
Rating – 8/10
I will admit, I did not get a chance to listen to the entire podcast so this rating is based on the What’s On My Mind segment and the two interviews. J.R.’s tribute may not have been eloquent but you could tell it was real and a fitting tribute to Mean Gene. The Cornette interview was excellent. Even though Cornette can be flippant some times, he obviously knows a lot about wrestling and I’ll admit, I tend to side with Cornette on a lot of his ideas about the wrestling business (although not necessarily the name calling and some of the negative stuff he says about today’s wrestling). The Josh Matthews interview was also interesting and a good update on what Impact Wrestling is doing. Overall, great interviews and a definite recommend.
Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to www.pwpodcasts.com. One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.