If you watch professional wrestling, you are aware of how much an announcer can positively or negatively affect the match taking place inside the ring. No other commentator has exemplified this statement more than the man World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) recently parted ways with.
Good Ole' "J.R." has sat ringside for some of the most influential, embarrassing and momentous occasions in fake wrestling history. His Southern drawl and guy next door demeanor -- paired with a signature cowboy hat and love for barbecue sauce -- have earned him a place in WWE's Hall of Fame for his announcing work.
Could that potentially cross over into the blurred realm where wrasslin' and mixed martial arts (MMA) meet in 2013?
In an appearance on The MMA Hour, Ross discussed the potential for a move to MMA and as someone who is close to wrestling knows, you can never say never.
"No plans at this time to make this move. However, I'm open minded. Would I listen? Absolutely."
But what is Ross leaving the door open for, especially with the recent surge of outsiders (like this guy) trying to delve into the budding MMA landscape? Is this a potential foray into the business side of UFC, or just announcing?
"I think that, quite frankly this may sound egocentric, but I think the transition from calling a pro wrestling match to calling MMA fights would be easy, it would just be getting more familiar with fighters, more familiar with techniques, nuances that I try to study with ample preparation. I'd say the same thing about broadcasting football."
This is in no way a diss (like this one) to those already announcing MMA, namely Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, who have been complimented previously by Ross for their job in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). But Ross is speaking truth, because in MMA there is no agenda (at least there isn't supposed to be) in getting one of the fighters "over."
An announcer's duty is to simply provide analysis and play-by-play of what is going on. Both things Ross does phenomenally well, sans WWE chairman Vince McMahon screaming in his headset.
Here's a sample:
Ross also did WWE business very well. He worked as the Head of Talent Relations for a number of years, including during the late nineties when pro wrestling was at its most popular level in the U.S. since the early fifties.
"Boomer Sooner" was partially responsible for signing a number of unknowns who went on to major fame in pro wrestling including John Cena, Randy Orton and Adam "Edge" Copeland. He also believed in recruiting from college football and college wrestling, signing former University of Miami lineman Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and NCAA champion wrestlers Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar.
He also landed Steve Austin, who went on to become pro wrestling's biggest drawing of the last 20 years.
Ross had met with UFC President Dana White briefly several months back when he was in Las Vegas for a pro wrestling reunion convention. He had a meeting set up with UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner, who he knew from when Ratner was on the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and they regulated pro wrestling.
"It was impromptu, casual, very quick, but a very positive meeting with Dana."
All this lays the groundwork for J.R. being brought on as a senior official who can weigh in on talent and learn the ropes. Much as UFC already does with retired fighters the likes of Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes. He conveyed at this stage of his life, his interest would be more UFC-oriented than working for another organization.
"Would you rather broadcast the arena league or the NFL? The UFC is the NFL. In my opinion, at my stage of the game, for me to be interested in something in the MMA world, it would be the UFC, or somebody has to sell me on the opportunity it would be equally as challenging and equally as rewarding. I'm certainly open minded. I think I'm a good enough businessman not to eliminate any opportunities. But my preference would be the UFC, if that could be my next adventure, my next journey, headed in that direction. I wouldn't close the door on anybody."