While WWE masqueraded the departure as a "retirement," Ross' sudden disappearance didn't pass the smell test, especially given his notorious mistreatment through 20 years with the company. Right on cue, reports began to clarify a story that initially didn't pass the smell test.
Per Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via Wrestlezone), Ross' failure to control what he described as an "impaired" Ric Flair, during a WrestleMania panel, led to his hybrid retirement.
For those who have followed the storied, at-times sabotaged, WWE career of Good 'Ole J.R., they know by now this is simply the "off-again" phase in an abusive relationship.
Ross' loyalty to WWE is the very quality, or flaw, that facilitated decades of greatness punctuated by embarrassment.
The promotion has condoned the mockery of his Bell's Palsy, drafted him to WWE's B-show on national television without telling him, according to a piece on J.R.'s Blog, and (legit) relieved him of his announcing duties with his wife in the audience, as reported by F4Wonline (via Wrestlenewz).
Through it all, Ross marched along, ever the consummate WWE soldier, right up until he was allegedly given his walking papers.
Ross seemed to admit fault in his chronic loyalty. While speaking of all the career opportunities he was excited to explore post-WWE, Ross told Newsday:
I wanted to get into the podcast business, I wanted to get into one-man show stuff. I wanted to look at other opportunities, like this Fox Sports thing that I'm doing now. And I knew I couldn't do those things while I was under contract to the WWE. But to be honest, to be totally frank with you, I had such a loyalty to that company, and I still do, that after 20 years I didn't know how I was going to say goodbye.
It is that very same loyalty that makes Jim Ross' imminent WWE return nothing more than a phone call away. The most poignant part of the quote—"...and I still do..."—is the unconditional support that has defined the one-way relationship Ross shares with his former employer.
Regardless of the torment, Ross has been institutionalized by WWE like Brooks Hatlen in Shawshank Redemption. The 20 years he spent doing time for Vince McMahon was an alternative lifestyle that created unmatched highs. Highs that were appreciated tenfold because of the very public lows.
With WWE's history set to come full circle at a monumental WrestleMania XXX, it would be flat-out cruel for the promotion to go through with this event without its greatest announcer at least making a cameo. Therefore, do not expect to see or hear from Ross come April 6. Such a golden opportunity for cruelty to Jim Ross is just too good for WWE to pass up.
If ever WWE needs an experienced hand to lend his support in any capacity, however, James "Brooks" Ross will not only answer the phone on the first ring, he'll board the next flight.