WWE Hall-of-Fame announcer Jim Ross may have been pushed out of the organization after he and wrestling legend Ric Flair reportedly got drunk at a recent company event, a new report suggests.
The WWE announced on Wednesday that Ross, 61, would be leaving the company after 20 years to “focus on his personal business endeavors.”
Dave Meltzer, editor of The Wrestling Observer, has suggested that “JR” may have been fired for his behavior at the "WWE 2K14 30 Years of Wrestlemania" symposium held last month in Los Angeles, according to an audio update cited by WrestleZone.
According to Meltzer, WWE officials talked about firing Ross from “the minute [the symposium] ended.” In fact, JR reportedly met with WWE chairman Vince McMahon one day before his retirement announcement, with only "a handful" of McMahon's close advisers aware that the meeting took place.
Ross was the moderator for a roundtable discussion, which include past and present WWE superstars including Flair, Mick Foley, Steve Austin, Rey Mysterio, Paul Heyman, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. Flair appeared noticeably drunk at the symposium, taking control of the conversation and telling a series of embarrassing anecdotes.
During nearly 20 minutes of ranting, Flair discussed WWE superstar John Cena’s newfound affinity for drinking alcohol; the recent death of his son Reid from a drug overdose; and his time at rival company TNA. Ross made several attempts to curtail Flair’s ranting before finally admitting that he’d “lost complete control” of the situation.
“This is real. This is reality television at its best. I’ve lost complete control of my job. I’m sure I’ll never be asked back, and this has probably destroyed what career I have left,” Ross said, as Larry Brown Sports notes.
In perhaps a bit of tongue-in-cheek, Ross then addressed the event’s audience. “I’d like to thank Grey Goose for sponsoring this part of the broadcast.” And, Flair acknowledged that he had been drinking, saying, “Wait til I get to the bar tonight. I haven’t started yet.”
Some wrestling pundits and WWE fans noticed that Ross also seemed to slur his words at certain points, prompting them to accuse the longtime WWE announcer of being drunk. Ross quickly dismissed the rumors, explaining that he sometimes slurs his words when tired from his battle with Bell’s palsy, a form of temporary facial paralysis.
“When I'm tired my Bell's palsy has always made he slur @ times giving some who don't know me the wrong impression. Weakened facial muscles,” Ross tweeted in August. He said allegations that he was drunk were “ridiculous.”
Neither Ross nor the WWE has suggested that his departure was anything more a retirement. In a blog that promotes JR's BBQ, his signature barbeque sauce, Ross on Wednesday night said that his “run in WWE has exceeded [his] wildest dreams.”
WrestleZone's article, however, noted that Ross "stated as recently as a couple of weeks ago" during a Q&A session in the UK that he had no intention of retiring from WWE.
We’ve included a video of the “30 Years of Wrestlemania” incident below. Fast forward to the 45-second mark for the beginning of Flair’s ranting.