Jim Ross has always been one of my favorite color commentators. This affection goes as far back to his Wrestlemania IX debut in the infamous toga outfit ( I wonder if he still has that stored away in a vault somewhere as it hasn’t been seen since).

Wrestlemania IX for me was very memorable because of not only Jim Ross solid debut but also because of key matches on that card. Take your pick, Tatanka vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental championship, Steiner Brothers against the Headshrinkers, Money Inc vs. the Mega-Maniacs, or how about Undertaker facing Giant Gonzalez? By God that hideous costume of Gonzalez still resonates deep in my psyche. Most memorable moment though hands down goes to Yokozuna defeating Bret Hart for the WWF Championship with help from his manager Mr. Fuji. That was until Hulk Hogan came out to check on Bret when an impromptu challenge was issued to the Hulkster. 22 seconds later after a punch, punch, clothesline and a big boot we’d see Hogan become the new WWF Champion. Talk about a pay-per-view and great moments as Jim Ross along with Macho Man and Bobby Henan helped in their color commentating for me to still recall the event all these years later. An impressive debut for Mr. Jim Ross who’d go on to have a long career in the WWF/E for almost 25 years.

That all in mind it was a no brainier when Jim Ross was bringing his Ringside one man show to the Nations Capitol in Washington, D.C. at D.C IMPROV August 10th I decided I had to attend. I secured VIP tickets a month in advance to take advantage of the meet & greet before the show and priority seating. Never had the chance during the WWF Attitude to attend an event with J.R as the voice of WWF/E but I knew exactly where I was every Monday night and that was watching Monday Night RAW on my TV. Simply put folks, like the late NBC4 news anchor Jim Vance, I grew up watching Jim Ross. Jim Ross for me represents my childhood from the age of 12 to now. From a distance, over the years for me he became that long distance friend and relative I knew would always give it to me straight up honest and good when it came to storytelling, investing in a match, rivalry, a program, etc. When it came to needing that wrestling fix I didn’t have to channel surf with J.R at the helm for 2+hours every week. Also helped that back then there was such a plateau of great talent. In time Jim Ross became my favorite hero much like my John Wayne. Not everyday you get to meet and greet your heroes, those you hold in high regard, those that played a huge role in the passion, the love and desire to continue investing time, money, and energy into something that you feel matters to you and like minded folks as well. It’s not everyday you get to tell that hero thanks for always being there through the years.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Jim Ross Ringside show but I knew there was going to be stories because that’s always something he’s been very fantastic at…Telling stories. I made it a purpose to make sure my schedule from my jobs and shows clear so there’d be no conflict in attending. Not too mention it’s always been a homecoming every time I return to my old stomping grounds in D.C. I actually was in line by 4pm to the surprise of no lines forming yet. My girlfriend shortly came afterwards and we just hung outside the club until it was time to go inside by about 5:30 although the doors didn’t officially open until 6. As always the staff at D.C IMPROV is the friendliest, most professional and easygoing you’ll come across. Us VIP’s were able to get a glimpse of good ol J.R minutes before the meet & greet and he looked pretty well rested and ready to rock. Just as soon as we saw him he disappeared quickly realizing we came a little early. We would see him a few minutes later though for the meet & greet. I rehearsed no lines, I already knew what I was gonna say which was from the heart. Besides, I was the third person in line. I pushed my girlfriend in front of me to gather my composure. Now how about that?! Here I am almost in my late 30’s and I still get nervous with butterflies despite being a podcaster and social media personality. Anyway, I digress…

It was a smart move putting my girlfriend ahead of me as she helped break the ice for me and I’m sure the other guys who may have felt a bit nervous. Jim recognized at this point she was the 1st female in attendance and that she better be careful cause she was gonna be hearing some things and also the men were probably gonna be breaking out into a fight cause a woman is in attendance. It made us all break out in laughter. I said to Jim she’d be okay cause I was her man and I’d protect her. “How are you brother”, was the words Jim Ross said to me as I approached him to say hello. I shook his hand and said “Pretty good sir”. “Ready for tonight”, he asked. I told him I was looking forward to it and that I couldn’t wait. Also that I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time. He thanked me and told me that meant a lot and to enjoy the show and that he hoped to see me again afterwards.

Once that all concluded we went and got the best seats in the house. The food as always at IMPROV is on point. Dinner consisted of chicken tenders with cheese fries and two Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA. The show began promptly after 45 minutes with opening MC, Chad Dukes from 106.7 The Fan who didn’t appreciate my heckling as I groaned loudly and shouted not this fucking guy. I was being playful and sarcastic as someone I chatted with briefly before the show proclaimed Chad was his friend. I tell you folks you can’t make this stuff up. Chad did a pretty good job opening for Jim Ross but in all honesty I was there to see the man himself and it came after about 15 minutes of a decent monologue from Chad that consisted of his man crush for Jim and a funny Cyber Sunday ppv event at the MCI Center where his wife sounded like comedian Jim Brewler when Stone Cold Steve Austin came out.

Jim Ross took to the stage wearing his trademark black cowboy hat, pressed blue jeans, shined black shoes that had a cowboy style to them at the end tips, and a dark blue collard buttoned shirt. He took to the stage and owned it like Johnny Cash or John Wayne approaching a bartender at the saloon for the very 1st time. He thanked us all for coming out just like Chad did as Washington Redskins were to face the Baltimore Ravens in a little while in a pre season opener for both teams. J.R told us that the way the show was going to work was he mainly was going to rely on questions from the audience with help from Chad. Based on the questions he’s asked it would have him transition into other topics but coming back full circle to the question at hand.

One question among many that stood out was Jim Ross candid thoughts on who on the WWE roster booking wise does he look at that just doesn’t seem to have it all together and is frustrating as result. Jim was quick to point out that a problem like this will always continue to exist regardless if it’s in the WWE or in another company. As of this moment however J.R felt that Bray Wyatt is one that stands out. He’s booked as a heel yet when it comes to his entrance he has his fireflies ( fans in attendance supporting Bray with the light from their cell phones ). Far as J.R was concerned that was very head scratching. In addition J.R admitted he doesn’t understand half the promos that comes from Bray’s mouth but that he has great charisma and is pretty solid in the ring. In Jim’s estimation Wyatt has the potential to be a really great Babyface if that’s the route WWE wants to go. One a funny note Jim Ross poked fun at the House of Horrors match Wyatt had with Randy Orton. It was mentioned how that match had so much potential to really elevate Wyatt but came up flat and how Randy Orton came off like a half naked delivery man.

An audience member brought up who J.R felt should be in charge of the company once Vince McMahon finally steps down. A lot of the audience members yelled Jim Ross. He admitted how flattered he was but that in this point in life he’s got too many things going on and quite frankly he’s getting up there in age. He candidly put over Paul Levesque a.k.a Triple H and cited how he 1st signed him to a multi-year deal in the WWE. He knew that Paul had the pedigree ( no pun intended ), the desire to excel in the business but even he admitted he never thought it would go to the level of where Paul is at this stage in his life. From NXT, to the Mae Young classic tournament launching soon, even the upcoming United Kingdom show, Paul Levesque is the one behind them all as his fingerprints can be felt. Jim mentioned how closely he’s been able to work with the man and that from the business perspective far as he’s concerned Paul gets it. That combined with Paul having a great appreciation and understanding of the wrestling side just overall makes him a really great successor to Vince McMahon. Jim also stated he’d love to see a situation where in the WWE there’s not as many folks writing for the shows based on what he’s experienced working with Paul.

Among the thoughts and laughs a somber moment came when a question was brought up on Jim doing more football and boxing commentating. He stated that right now all he can invest in is wrestling because as we speak he’s gearing up to go to trial. Turns out the young man who killed Jim’s wife Jan Ross a few months back wants to go to trial. Jim Ross asked his attorneys if he really has to appear at trial and he was encouraged to do so. He said it’s been really hard for him as he’s been mourning but also been trying to stay busy. It’s a wound he really isn’t looking forward to opening even more. For the time being though until a later date all he can focus on is his one man shows and work for New Japan and WWE. On a much lighter note Jim Ross was sarcastically asked by Chad if there was any projects Jim was working on that fans can look into as it was a great transition for Jim to talk about his upcoming book, Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling due in October. One of the 1st things I noticed upon arriving for this event was the huge poster promoting his book and I was surmised that there weren’t a few copies available for sale. I understood why after the fact when Jim revealed that he thought initially he was done a while back but when Jan died he wanted to go back and revisit the book and of course speak of her passing. She was very instrumental in the way this book was being handled. From what stories should be told, what should be left out and never mentioned, etc. He said that he’s written many books in his time but that this one is very raw, very emotional, straight from the heart and that fans will hopefully enjoy it for what it’s worth.

In another piece of exciting news Jim Ross revealed how he and his team have acquired the rights to work on a movie based on Jeff Leen’s novel, an autobiography (The Queen of the Ring: Sex, Muscles, Diamonds, and the Making of an American Legend) of professional wrestler Mildred Burke. I actually grabbed a couple copies on Amazon right after the show and am looking forward to reading it as Jim stated it’s a must read for fans of wrestling. J.R stated how he’s really taking his time to get the right production team behind it along with a director, etc as he sees a lot of great potential in telling this story for the big screen. I can’t remember some of the examples he used but after hearing some of them I came away feeling he was going to try and give it the Mickey Rourke treatment from 2008’s The Wrestler. Another question was brought up bout what talents would Jim Ross use if he was starting his own wrestling promotion from higher management right down to his champion. Jim stated he probably would go with Paul Heyman or Jim Cornette but not both of them working together under the same roof. Far as a face for his company he went with AJ Styles as the man can do it all far as he’s concerned.

These are just some of the examples of topics covered during the event that was very informative, extremely interactive and pretty fun to attend. It even had a touch of philosophical thinking from the standpoint of Jim stating that for the longest time he thought the entire world revolved around him but a cold reality came when he lost Jan and it just changed his overall thinking and approach to life. It was a very humbling experience for the man as he told us a couple of times, for sure at the end of the show to don’t be complacent with where you are in life, don’t just get by because when you let that guard down and not continue to reach new heights in life, things have a funny way of smacking you right in the face. Simply put Jim Ross’s message was live life to the fullest, make the most out of it as we all have only one life to live. It had me walking away feeling even more motivated as well as my girlfriend of where we are in our lives and where we want to go with a renewed focus and drive. This experience also had me even more so respecting & appreciating Mr. Ross.

I was able to meet J.R one last time to sign some bonus items I purchased earlier in the night. I told him how much of an honor it was to finally meet him in person just to tell him how much I’ve appreciated all of his work through the years. I also told him how much I enjoyed the show and that I’m looking forward to the next one. With his head tilted down signing one of his photos to pass along to me he paused, looked up and said to me; “Lee, there might not be a next year. I mean–you never know. Remember what I said earlier”. I told him yeah I remember and proceeded to thank him again. He saw that I had also purchased his Slobber Knocker hat and asked if I’d like it autographed. Nervous but in the most happy way nervous I said yes, that would be awesome. He signed it, shook my hand, thanked me for coming out and told me to take care. I told him to have a great night and that I’d see him next time. As I walked outside it dawned me…I can no longer wear the hat. Looks like I’ll have to buy an extra one on his website. I walked away without a care in the world as I met someone I’ve idolized from afar. Hell, Jim Ross played a major influence in me wanting to get into color commentating when I was a kid and I had the privilege of doing so when I got older for a few very low budget wrestling promotions. I’ve even quietly done so on matches I felt the commentating was bad. Maybe one day I’ll release them to the public. Jim Ross for sure played a part in me deciding to get into the world of podcasting back in 2011. This moment for me in experiencing his one man show is something I’ll always remember until my dying day as it was that significant and that damn cool.

Can’t end this review without also giving the great staff at D.C IMPROV a nod. As always the customer service is top notch, excellent food, superb alcohol selection, and total professionals in how they organize meet & greets. I have frequented this club a few times over the years and love the overall treatment me and my friends get. If you find yourself in the metropolitan area close to the weekend and want a few drinks and laughs, D.C IMPROV is the place for you. For you Jim Ross fans that haven’t had a chance to experience his Ringside show here’s his upcoming schedule so far…

Friday, August 18, 2017 – 7:30pm

Ticket Sales: Start on 06/27/2017 10:00 AM

VIP Tickets: Includes Meet & Greet from 5:30PM-6:45PM & Admission to show at 7:30PM
$75

General Admission: Includes admission to show at 7:30PM
$30

Gotham Comedy Club
212.367.9000
208 West 23rd St.
Between 7th and 8th Avenues
New York, NY 10011

Gotham Comedy Club
New York, NY
Saturday, December 16, 2017 – 1:00pm

Tickets On Sale Tuesday, August 1 at 10am EDT

Time:
1:00pm – Doors for VIP purchasers
1:00pm – VIP session
2:30pm – Doors for General Admission purchasers
3:00pm – Show

Admission:
General – $30
VIP – $75

Laugh Boston
425 SUMMER STREET BOSTON, MA 02210
For more information on Jim Ross including his podcast, blogs, merchandise and more be sure to check out his official website