The legendary pro wrestling play-by-play man announced his intentions to leave the pro wrestling business today, Wednesday, September 11. According to wwe.com, Ross plans to spend more time on personal business endeavors, particularly his ever-growing barbeque product company, J.R.’s Family Bar-B-Q.
According to The Wrestling Observer, the decision came after a meeting with WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. The two discussed Ross’ future with the company and ultimately the decision to part ways and for Ross to retire was what came of the meeting.
Ross is a lifelong pro wrestling fan who entered the business in 1974, initially working as a referee for Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling. In 1982 he became the lead commentator for Mid-South and Watts’ right hand man behind the scenes.
Ross then joined the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987 when Crockett bought out Watts’ territory. Ross worked his way up the ranks and remained with NWA/WCW until early 1993 once Eric Bischoff took over the reigns of the company.
He then joined the World Wrestling Federation, with his first on-air assignment being that of WrestleMania X in April 1993. Ross made his debut while wearing a toga, as part of the Roman-themed event.
Other than a couple quick firings early in his career, Ross remained a consistent part of the WWE family for the next twenty years. He became the voice of WWE and Monday Night RAW in particular. He and Jerry “The King” Lawler gelled into an iconic broadcast team and the two were rewarded for their work when both were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.
By the late ‘90s Ross also worked his way up to the position of Executive Vice President, Talent Relations, a position he served in for nearly six years. He stepped down from executive and management roles in 2005.
He quit commentating full time in October 2009 after suffering a third attack of Bell’s palsy. Since then Ross has appeared on-camera for special appearances, sporadic storylines and as a mentor for younger announcers. He also served as an advisor and talent scout in the revamped Talent Relations department.