Powell's Blog: Jim Ross is exactly what TNA and Dixie Carter need
By Jason Powell
Friday, April 30 – 11:22 A.M. (CT)
It's D-Day for Jim Ross. His latest short-term contract extension with WWE expires today, meaning he could become a free agent. I've heard from multiple sources that there is not a non-compete agreement that would prevent Ross from working elsewhere for 90 days, so he could potentially sign with another company and debut immediately.
It's possible that Ross and WWE could strike a new deal. WWE has signed last minute, short-term contract extensions with Ross twice before, and they could either hammer out a long-term deal or agree to yet another short-term contract. However, Ross hasn't shown any signs in his latest blogs that he and the company are closing in on a new deal.
Ross has noted that he's been informed that he would not be used as a voice of one of the weekly television shows. Keep in mind that this is the same company that features Michael Cole and Todd Grisham as play-by-play voices. Vince McMahon spends a lot of time screaming at Cole through the headsets during live broadcasts, and insiders say he's not crazy about Grisham's work, which explains why he's the odd man out on pay-per-view Sundays.
Given that information, one would naturally assume that McMahon would jump at the chance to re-sign Ross. However, the clock is ticking once again. Is Ross playing hardball in the negotiations? Is WWE looking for a way to ease out of this long-term relationship?
Vince didn't exactly endear himself to Ross during WrestleMania weekend by not even taking the time to meet with him. Ross was also relegated to the "friends and family" bus rather than being put on the same bus as the regular crew during WrestleMania weekend. Ross may not be sounding off on these matters in his blog, but I think it's safe to assume that he felt snubbed by the way he was treated during WrestleMania weekend.
When most fans think of Ross, they think of his work as a play-by-play broadcaster. He's arguably the best play-by-play voice in the history of the pro wrestling industry. I included the word arguably, even though I personally believe he's best of all-time. No matter where you rank Ross on your top play-by-play list, it's important to note that he has also been a key player behind the scenes in WWE.
Ross was the head of talent relations and set the table for the company's magnificent success during the Attitude Era. He compiled one hell of a talent roster at a time when WWE was going head-to-head with a company in WCW that clearly had more money to play with.
Ross has been involved in WWE creative meetings, and was a key member of Vince's inner-circle before he opted to move away from Stamford, Connecticut to his home state of Oklahoma. Ross continues to handle the WWE payroll despite the fact that he is no longer in charge of talent relations, meaning he has a lot of inside info regarding the talent.
Meanwhile, TNA desperately needs a true authority figure behind the scenes. Homicide mentioned in a Busted Open satellite radio interview this week that he has no idea who's in charge of the company these days. Everyone knows Dixie Carter is the owner, but I've heard countless people within the company make similar statements regarding the mysterious power structure.
Needless to day, TNA shouldn't just look at Ross as a potential play-by-play voice. That should be a big part of the package, but Ross could do so much more than that for TNA behind the scenes if he's willing to do so.
This is a pivotal time for TNA. The company is fresh off it's worst television rating to date, and it's not every day that someone with Ross's credentials becomes available. The company has had more downs than ups since it moved to Monday nights, and they desperately need someone who can step in and steer the ship. TNA needs someone to make the tough decisions regarding talent and the office structure, and Ross is the ideal candidate for such a position.
I'm sure it's not an easy decision for Dixie Carter to give an outsider she barely knows so much power. However, the current system the company is using just isn't cutting it. Dixie has to realize that this company needs a respected leader with years of experience to lead them down the right path.
If Carter's goal in her negotiations with Ross is bring him in to serve as the play-by-play voice and be yet another voice in the crowded creative meetings, then she's making a mistake. Sure, Ross would be helpful in such a role, but Carter would be better off taking it one step further and making Ross the true general manager/president of the company.
Ross knows how to assemble a winning roster despite having less money than the competition to play with. He has experience as the hatchet man who can make the tough calls regarding talent and other areas of the company. He also has good relationships (at last word, anyway) with Eric Bischoff and perennial booking candidate Paul Heyman. If there's an area of the business that Ross doesn't know how to manage, one can only assume that he knows someone who can.
TNA needs a true leader, not just another chef in the crowded kitchen. Furthermore, Dixie still needs someone to guide her and her company through an industry she hasn't mastered yet.
If Ross doesn't re-sign with WWE, then TNA has a chance to pull off a real game changing move that would immediately enhance the on-air product and pay long-term dividends behind the scenes. If Dixie signs Ross and turns over the keys, then, as some guy in a black hat once said, "Business is about to pick up."
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