Examining Jim Ross' Legacy Following Retirement from WWE

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Examining Jim Ross' Legacy Following Retirement from WWE
Photo: WWE

No longer will we hear Jim Ross emote into a microphone during a WWE match; his legacy is left to speak for itself.

After being the definitive voice of the WWE for two decades, Ross has officially hung up his headset. As reported by WWE.com on Wednesday, "Jim Ross announced that he is retiring from WWE today."

Former hardcore champ Al Snow wished him well.

Vince McMahon did the same.

Fans haven't heard much from Ross recently. He only called the occasional huge match and worked behind the scenes, prepping the next generation of announcers at NXT. For the majority of his career, though, Ross elevated the work wrestlers did in the ring.

He brought searing passion and a love of the business to Mid-South Wrestling, WWE and World Championship Wrestling.

Debating the greatest pro wrestling commentator comes down to two men, Ross and Gordon Solie. As for the greatest in WWE history, there is no debate.

Ross stands alone.

To hear a match with Ross on the call was to watch wrestling morph into poetry, for the scripted action to feel real, meaningful and unforgettable. As talented as the men who have had to follow him are, it hurts to watch an icon walk away.

Ross' archives, the trail of greatness behind him, will have to satisfy the audience's hunger.

When Stone Cold" Steve Austin won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XIV, it was Ross' echoing of his name that cemented the moment as unforgettable.

Undertaker throwing Mankind from the top of the Hell in a Cell in 1998 was a stunning moment. Ross exploded with emotion, screaming, "As God as my witness, he is broken in half."

The fire in his voice, and both the concern and awe reverberating into the microphone that night, made it more than a wrestling stunt; it made it theater.

This is what Ross brought to WWE during his 20-year run. Whether it was Jeff Hardy nailing Triple H with a Twist of Fate or Shawn Michaels driving his elbow into Vince McMahon's chest, Ross made moments bigger.

Having the New Age Outlaws push Mick Foley and Terry Funk off a ledge inside a dumpster might have felt silly with another commentator. Ross did well to play up the violence and the danger involved, scripted or not.

Try to imagine WrestleMania X-Seven without Ross reacting to Austin aligning himself with McMahon by saying, "Stone Cold is shaking hands with Satan himself." Try to imagine WrestleMania itself without Ross leading the audience along, adding layers to the story in the ring and tattooing his famous lines into our memory.

Following Ross as the voice of the WWE is as unenviable job as being the shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls after Michael Jordan or taking Babe Ruth's spot in the lineup after his retirement.

He retires as the gold standard, one that we may never see reached again.

Michael Cole and every announcer after him will be measured against the best in the business. Ross’ successors have to work in a shadow that is impossible to step out of.

"Good Ol' J.R." leaves WWE after pouring himself into the microphone each and every night. He leaves as the single face on WWE's Mt. Rushmore of announcers.

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