Jericho welcomes Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler to the show. This is the last live interview from last year’s Jericho Cruise.
Jericho says his two favourite commentary teams in WWE history were Vince McMahon and Jesse Ventura, and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Both teams had so much chemistry, and both teams had a huge contrast between the play-by-play and colour commentators.
Jericho asks Ross and Lawler how they came to be WWE’s commentary team during the attitude era. In 1993 Lawler moved from Memphis to WWE. He wrestled for over 20 years in Memphis and never once thought about doing commentary. He started wrestling in WWE and worked a program with Bret Hart. He notes that the “Kiss My Foot” match against Hart paid him $150,000, the most he’s ever been paid for a single match.
One night Vince McMahon was preparing for a show and saw his commentary partner, Randy Savage, appear on WCW programming. He asked Lawler if he could do commentary that night and said he’d have a replacement the next week. 23 years later Lawler’s still doing it.
Ross notes that he started in a three-man booth with Lawler and McMahon. He always assumed the play-by-play role was McMahon’s job until he got bored with it. Ross thinks that’s exactly what happened once McMahon discovered how much fun playing the evil Mr. McMahon character was.
Ross notes that working in the 3-man booth was a lot of fun. Those were great times because McMahon was so busy with everything else that he didn’t have time to worry about Ross or Lawler. There was no one feeding them lines during the broadcast and they were able to talk freely.
During the heights of McMahon’s heel run in WWE, only Kevin Dunn produced them in their ears, which was glorious according to Ross. As McMahon’s on screen role changed, he started to produce them more and more.
Ross took the brunt of McMahon’s wrath and Lalwer rarely heard criticism, and Jericho thinks that’s because McMahon doesn’t like to criticize the wrestlers if he can avoid it. Ross thinks Jericho’s right, joking that they’ve been trying to replace him for 20 years and they’re still trying.
Lawler recalls Michael Cole’s rough start as the lead play-by-play man for WWE. They were promoting an upcoming match between The Rock and Steve Austin as a “first time ever” match, even though they had a thorough program just a year earlier.
At one point during the broadcast Cole brought up their history together and McMahon was furious. Over the headset he said, “Michael you stupid son of a b****. Why the f*** would you say something like that?” Cole froze and Lawler picked up the slack for a few minutes while Cole regained his composure.
Ross notes that Mick Foley couldn’t take that verbal punishment, joking that his own father didn’t talk to him the way McMahon did through his headset. Tazz also wasn’t a fan of that environment. Lawler recalls one night during a live show, McMahon got so angry he told Tazz and his partner to take off their headsets and walk to the back.
Ross can recall McMahon screaming at him to say something one night. The segment passed and Ross didn’t say it because he didn’t think it made sense. When they went to commercial Ross knew he’d be screamed at again by McMahon but instead McMahon told him he was right to not say it. This is an example of McMahon changing his mind in a split second, and Ross actually got rewarded for going against the boss’ orders just a few minutes prior.
Jericho asks Lawler where he came up with all his terrific one-liners. Lawler says he read a book by Louis Safian called “101 Insults”. He jokes that he made a living from that book.
Jericho asks Ross and Lawler about the night Owen Hart fell to his death. Lawler says he saw Owen fall first and rushed to the ring. He could see the colour draining from Owen’s face and knew it was bad. After paramedics rushed Owen out of the arena his situation was unknown by the live audience and even Ross didn’t know how Owen was doing.
Kevin Dunn spoke to Ross through his headset and told him they were going live to him and he’d have to give the viewers at home an update on Owen’s condition. Ross told Dunn that he hadn’t been given an update, and Dunn said, “Owen’s dead. You’re back in 10,9,8..” Ross still doesn’t know what he said that night. Jericho notes that both men deserve a lot of credit for keeping the show going that night.
Jericho asks Ross and Lawler how they manage to go an entire broadcast without using the washroom. Ross jokes that there’s a reason all announcers wear dark suits. He says he stops drinking water around 3PM in the afternoon, but for real long shows he would wear Depends just in case. Lawler says he can’t remember even one time where he really had to use the washroom live during a show.
Lawler notes that this commentary career really fell into his lap. It wasn’t something he ever really enjoyed doing right from the first night McMahon asked him because he wanted to be a wrestler. For a long time he even wore his ring gear at the commentary table, showing that he was still a wrestler at heart.
That sums up this week’s episode of Talk is Jericho. You can listen to the show yourself anytime here, and I’ll catch ya next week for another recap!