Ross opens today’s show by reacting to the news that his longtime friend “Mean” Gene Okerlund has passed away. He says the news took his breath away, and he immediately wanted to pick up the phone and call his old friend. He saw Okerlund at a recent WrestleCade event, and he was unaware at the time that this would be their last meeting.
He points out that Okerlund was one of the first people to accept him when he arrived in WWE and he never forgot that. Okerlund had a monstrous voice and was a part of so many classic segments over the years, and he will be truly missed.
Ross is intrigued by the new upstart AEW (All Elite Wrestling). He mentions that he’s met Tony Khan (President) before and he’s a very bright young man, and there’s no denying the impact that Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks have had on the industry over the years. He doesn’t think these individuals will waste their time trying to compete with WWE, because nobody is going to knock WWE from the top of the ladder.
He points out that people have been asking him about his future and whether or not AEW will be a fit for him, especially with his WWE contract expiring soon. Ross says his employment status doesn’t really bother him at this point, and he’ll deal with any opportunities as they arise.
Ross really liked this week’s Smackdown Live segment between John Cena and Becky Lynch. He thought it was great to see Lynch get the “John Cena rub”, and she handled herself very well in the segment.
Ross is very impressed by the ongoing development of the Women’s Division. He points out that Lynch is in a great spot on Smackdown Live, Charlotte has proven herself over and over again in the past few years, and Asuka is “money” if used correctly. He also thinks Ronda Rousey needs to be involved in the main or semi-main event of WrestleMania this year, so it’ll be interesting to see who she faces.
Ross welcomes his old friend, Jim Cornette to the show to have a discussion on the current state of professional wrestling.
Cornette admits that he doesn’t watch much wrestling on television these days because he doesn’t want to be subjected to the terrible things that are happening in some matches nowadays. He informs that people send him clips of some of his favourite performers such as The Revival and Walter, and he’s able to enjoy those clips.
Cornette thinks one of the biggest problems today is that there are people in the board rooms having a legitimate impact on how these wrestling shows are presented, who got into the business because they were fans of the performance art of the business. They focus on creating characters and formatting shows rather than letting the performers naturally connect with the audience.
Ross informs that the only knock on Cornette’s work was that it was too good for a Manager. Cornette says he tried to do what Bobby Heenan always did; make the offence look believable even when common sense might have told you that it shouldn’t be believable.
Ross says the most over performers on WWE’s roster today are the females. Cornette points out that there’s no full-time male performer who is comparable to Rousey, who continues to impress after having one of the greatest debut matches of all time. Other performers such as Charlotte have taken the lead and broken down barriers in her first few years with the company as well.
He continues by saying that today’s male roster is full of performers who are too timid, and he thinks someone has to step up and challenge the boundaries of what a WWE Superstar is, similar to what we saw from The Rock and Steve Austin 20 years ago. Ross agrees entirely.
Ross says it was great to see Cena back on WWE programming this week. Cena is making waves in the film industry now, and Ross says he never signed anyone to WWE who worked harder than Cena.
A listener writes into the show and asks Ross if any of today’s announcers reach out to him for advice from time to time. Ross says he’s helped some people informally, through text or a phone call, but there’s a lot of insecurity and jealousy in the wrestling business. People seem to think that asking for help from a veteran makes them look weak, even though it doesn’t.
Ross welcomes Josh Matthews to the show.
Matthews informs that he was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Gene Okerlund’s passing. He grew up listening to and watching Okerlund on a weekly basis and he learned so much from him. Ross says that Okerlund was so humble and lovable, and he never really understood just how big of a star he was.
Ross admits that he probably could, or should have helped Matthews more when he was a young upstart announcer in the company. Matthews says Ross didn’t have to say that, adding that Ross helped him more than he’ll ever know. Ross would often send him notes and suggestions, and he learned so much just listening to Ross over the years.
Matthews informs that he can recall WWE paying him $50,000/year early on and he was blown away by that amount of money. That was a lot of money where he came from, but it didn’t go very far in the Northeast. Ross says he knew a lot of television production guys who were just getting by financially during those years while working for WWE.
Ross says he’s really high on Impact talent, Tessa Blanchard. Matthews considers her to be one of the best workers in the world. The knock on her was that she had a poor attitude and Ross says he heard similar rumours, but neither of them have seen that side of her. She worked with Matthews’ wife a couple times this past year and there were never any issues.
Speaking of Matthews’ wife, he points out that it can be tough to spend time together when they both work such frantic schedules. His wife, Madison Rayne is a professional wrestler, and they have to make time to see each other, usually having dinner together each day. They also have a child that they’re both happy to be able to spend time with.
That sums up this week’s episode of The Ross Report. You can listen to the show yourself anytime here, and I’ll catch ya next week for another recap!