Welcome to the 3rd edition of the titleless NEWS section by Andy Gibson.
INDIE WRESTLER CONTACTED BY WWE FOR A CRUISERWEIGHT SHOW
My name is Steven Muehlhausen and I host a Pro Wrestling Show in Chicago called The Fight Club Chicago and I recently conducted an interview with Independent Wrestler Steven Walters, as he recently had a tryout match withWWE. Walters has also appeared as an extra on WWE TV as an EMT in the angle that exited John Morrison from the WWE, and he was used as a cameraman when he was attacked by Mark Henry when he was World Heavyweight Champion.
During the interview, Walters talks about how he has been approached by WWE for a Cruiserweight Show on the WWE Network.
Walters on being contacted by WWE: “I’ve been in contact back and forth from WWE about that Cruiserweight Show there going to be putting on the network soon. There looking for guys my size, around 200 pounds, like around 5ft 9 to 6ft tall also. I’ve been going back and forth with them a few times about that.”
When he was contacted: “It wasn’t long after I did that extra spot for them in December. I got hit with a chair. I got a chance to talk to Lauranitis a little bit. I got a 1 on 1 meeting with him. That was one of the things he approached me about.”
Last time he talked to them: “I talked to them was about 3-4 weeks ago. They had to push the debut of it back to later this year around November or so.”
The following matches have been taped for today’s edition of WWE NXT: REDEMPTION
-JTG (VS.) Derrick Bateman
-Tyson Kidd (VS.) Johnny Curtis
-Natalya Neidhart / Maxine (VS.) Tamina Snuka / Kaitlyn
JIM ROSS REMINISCES ABOUT HIS COMMENTARY DAYS IN WWE
Over the years, I’ve had many talented broadcast partners that have helped me grow as an announcer. Broadcasting is a team effort and two, or three, individuals not functioning as a team cannot be as effective as they can if they set aside their own agendas and focus on what they see on their TV monitors and embellish the TV personas of the talents involved. I’ve been blessed to have had many outstanding partners.
Over the next few weeks, I will address many of these broadcasting partnerships, starting off with some that I worked with prior to arriving in WWE in 1993.
My first broadcast partner provided colour commentary even though he was totally blind. Leroy McGuirk was a former NCAA Wrestling Champion at Oklahoma State University and long time kingpin of the NWA Junior Heavyweight Division before losing his sight in a car accident in Little Rock in the early 1950’s. My calls of the action had to be visual and descriptive. I attempted to paint a picture of what was occurring in the ring so that my sightless partner could contribute. It was a unique way to break into the world of broadcasting pro wrestling, especially if the boss (McGuirk was also the owner of the territory) enjoyed a taste or two of his favorite bourbon prior to going on the air. Production was barebones as we used hand mics, no headsets and a two camera shoot back in the mid ’70s to do the weekly, one hour TV show that aired in many markets throughout Oklahoma, Arkansas, southern Missouri and north Texas.
After buying McGuirk out, Cowboy Bill Watts expanded the territory to include the aforementioned areas while adding Louisiana, Mississippi and Houston. Watts named his company Mid-South Wrestling, which would later become the Universal Wrestling Federation or UWF. Watts was the territory’s owner, oftentimes its top wrestling star, TV producer/writer and broadcaster. In the beginning, my claim to fame was stating, “Hello everyone and welcome to Mid-South Wrestling! I’m Jim Ross alongside Cowboy Bill Watts . . . here’s Bill.” Then, at the end of the hour, after throwing in a minimum of thoughts during the show, I’d come with, “For Cowboy Bill Watts, I’m Jim Ross and we’ll see you next week for more Mid-South Wrestling.” I didn’t say too much, but I received a great education.
My role working for Watts changed over the years to where Cowboy was confident enough in what he had taught me that he left the broadcast booth completely to focus more on producing the TV show and managing the talent while overseeing the overall business of Mid-South. I learned a tremendous amount from Watts about in-ring psychology and how to tell a story that was believable to the viewers. Watts was a genius when it came to producing episodic, one hour TV shows that drove fans to the live events, which was our primary business before PPV became a major income stream.
Watts was known as a great promo talent in his wrestling days and he brought that same passion and attention to detail to broadcasting. Plus, he was always intensely prepared because he was the one who actually created the storylines. Certainly, without Cowboy Bill Watts being a great mentor and teacher, I would never had my journey in sports-entertainment broadcasting. Watts taught me in-ring psychology, as did many veteran wrestlers who Watts utilised, and that preparation was key. With Watts’ info in place, I added the natural passion that came with being a devout wrestling fan-turned-broadcaster and things seemed to click.
Cowboy’s stepson, Joel Watts, who was brilliant at editing vignettes and overall TV production, was my partner in the mid-80s after Cowboy decided to go younger by adding Joel alongside me and making veteran TV announcer Boyd Pierce the ring announcer. Joel was an intelligent young man but he was much more comfortable, or so it seemed to me, being behind the cameras instead of in front of them. Joel’s vignettes over the years were way ahead of their time. His work would easily stand up today as he ‘felt’ the genre and had excellent instincts
Freebird Michael Hayes was my first broadcast partner who was a pure, 100% antagonist. Hayes and I joined forces during Cowboy Bill Watts’ attempt at expanding the Mid-South brand by renaming Mid-South Wrestling the Universal Wrestling Federation. We were on over 120 local TV stations before eventually selling the company to Jim Crockett Promotions. Hayes was the vocal leader of The Fabulous Freebirds and was still an active in-ring competitor, but was an excellent colour commentator. We had natural chemistry as I tried to balance his over-the-top, villain verbiage with some degree of objectivity, which generally led to some heated on-air debate.
Many may argue that Jesse Ventura was the best antagonist broadcaster ever. “The Body” was very good and certainly unique, but Hayes could hold his own with any villain broadcaster with whom I ever worked. Ventura or Roddy Piper got more national exposure as antagonistic wrestling broadcasters, but I can assure one and all that Hayes was as good as any who ever sat in that chair during that era.
After the Jim Crockett Promotions buyout of Watts’ UWF — a business deal that turned out to be a train wreck of epic proportions — I started partnering with one of my all-time favorite people and arguably the most underrated wrestling broadcaster ever, Bob Caudle on NWA Pro Wrestling, which was seen in many local markets through syndication.
(Andy’s note – Thanks for keeping Sir Michael Cole’s seat warm for 20 years Jobber Ross)