A bit of a surprise move hit the news on Wednesday, as WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross apparently has decided to retire from WWE. Ross who has sporadically been with WWE since 1993, announced his retirement and stated he was doing it to "focus on his personal business endeavors".
He has often controversial play-by-play man through the years. After being removed from TV in 1994 following a case of Bell's Palsy, a facial paralysis, Ross returned to WWE in the fall of 1996 and unleashed a bitter promo aimed at WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. He talked about former stars Diesel and Razor Ramon, who had both moved on to WCW earlier in the year, and promised he was bringing them back. What he did, was bring two people to "Monday Night Raw" dressed as the former superstars.
He made the full-time switch to broadcasting in 1997, after McMahon stepped away from the headset to pursue his on-screen rivalry with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. He was fortunate enough to call some of WWE's most legendary matches, including Austin's WWE Championship victory over Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 14, the infamous Hell In A Cell encounters with The Undertaker (both against Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley), and Ric Flair's retirement match.
In 2012, Ross stepped in for fellow Hall of Fame announcer Jerry "The King" Lawler, after he had a heart attack during a live episode of "Raw." Ross filled in at the broadcast table with Michael Cole while Lawler recuperated at home, and was more than ready to welcome him back in an emotional segment that lasted nearly 30 minutes on the night Lawler returned.
McMahon himself took to Twitter following this announcement, and thanked Ross for 20 years of services with WWE. Ross himself had the following to say later Wednesday evening about the situation.
The feedback I've received re: my @WWE retirement has been amazing. Heartfelt thanks to all. I'm ready 4 the next adventure. Stay tuned!
The decision for Ross to retire will close the final chapter in a broadcasting career that has spanned over a quarter of a century. He has called matches for the NWA, WCW, WWE, and has been a part of some of wrestling's most historic moments.