Jim Ross and Conrad Thompson discussed WWF’s Royal Rumble from 2001 in the most recent episode of the Grilling JR Podcast. They covered a lot concerning this particular event, including Stone Cold Steve Austin winning the Royal Rumble Match for a third time. Ross was open about the Big Show dealing with weight issues and how he had to convince him to get the weight off. JR talked honestly when it came to these issues concerning the big man and that it was gonna cost Big Show his job. Ross explained how all those comparisons to Andre the Giant may have unfortunately been affecting the Big Show.
“I thought his weight and his obesity would shorten his life,” Ross would say. “I’m thinking he’s a step or two away from being non-licensable. All of the states were still adhering to the licenses, athletic commissions. He’s such a sweetheart of a guy, god damn it’s like you’re going to pull a William Perry on my ass, you’re going to eat yourself out of a job. I was concerned, I don’t think he took it seriously. The only way you can get talent to take you seriously is to affect their money. That’s it.”
“Now look at him today, he looks great. He doesn’t look unhealthy, he’s probably lost 100 pounds. He looks excellent. He could always do it, but I think he got influenced. He listened to the last guy that talked to him sometimes and some of the guys that talked to him, it was all about size, getting bigger. (They’d say) look at Andre, by the way, Andre died at 46.” Ross also discussed what his role back was like being the head of talent relations during one of wrestling’s most popular and easily one of if not it’s profitable times during the Attitude Era. Ross worked in an administrative role, he would convey to everyone what their ultimate goal was. The fact was, it was all about representing one man and that’s Vince McMahon.
Ross said, “ It’s our job to make sure he is represented as he would want to be.”
“We can never let him inadvertently go back on his word if we can or at least bring it to his attention. Remember Vince, we told this guy blank. You couldn’t imagine how many times I’ve told him that and it wasn’t because he was trying to screw them, he would forget. I would like to think everybody that was working under him, I didn’t like being produced by him on commentary, he probably made me a better broadcaster though. That was our job.”
Every year, fans witnessed guest appearances and surprise entrants for the Royal Rumble. Think back to just last year with Edge making his return after 9 years due to having neck surgery to John Cena returning just two months after suffering an injured torn pectoral muscle and by the way he won the match in 2008. We even saw celebrities such as Drew Carey appearing as one of the many surprise entrants we were just talking about. Carey was a surprise entrant in 2001. Carey had been the host of Who’s Line is it Anyway which was a popular show on television at that time. Carey had to face Kane of all the wrestlers in the match, a funny moment happened when Carey eliminated himself from the match. Ross said Carey didn’t make the biggest impression when it came to being inside the ring and that Carey knew very little about wrestling upon arriving at the show. Drew Carey is currently the host of famed game show called The Price is Right, and also he starred in a self-titled TV sitcom The Drew Carey Show before during the 1990’s.
“He probably had less of an impact from a guest star as anybody I can recall off the top of my head,” Ross expressed about Carey. “He was hot on television, he was getting a lot of media attention. The reason Drew Carey was on this card was to get outside pro wrestling media exposure. He wasn’t a fan, maybe he was just the biggest star available, I don’t know. He was a nice guy, but I don’t think he really knew why he was there other than to promote what he was promoting. He didn’t have a big impact on what we were doing. “Just didn’t connect as I thought it should have. I wasn’t real high on the execution of Drew Carey in the match but they got him in and out, at least that was painless. He seemed like he had fun, he knew why he was there, to promote his product and let us promote his products. But he didn’t understand the very basics of wrestling, he probably never have seen a Royal Rumble match in his life.”
Credit goes to the Grilling JR Podcast quotes used for this article.