wrestling / News

Jim Ross on AEW and WWE Holding Shows Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Adding Cinematic Elements Like the Boneyard Match & How AEW is Producing Content

April 11, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

Speaking with Jeffrey Harris for the 411 Wrestling Interviews Podcast, AEW announcer and WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross weighed in on AEW and WWE continuing to hold shows during the COVID-19 pandemic and how both companies are adding cinematic elements such as WWE’s Boneyard Match at WrestleMania. AEW and WWE are both continuing to air weekly amid the current health crisis using a variety of workarounds such as pre-taping content and using empty arenas. WWE took the opportunity to produce two unique matches in the AJ Styles vs. Undertaker Boneyard Match and John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt Firefly Fun House Match at WrestleMania 36.

Jim Ross discussed why both companies are continuing to hold shows and how adding unique elements is necessary and beneficial right now. He also weighed in on how AEW is producing content in the current social distancing climate, putting the matter directly in the hands of talent in terms of the content outside of the ring. You can check out the highlights and the full audio below:

On WWE and AEW holding shows amid the pandemic: “I think it’s a matter of fulfilling your commitments. They [both WWE and AEW] have a commitment to their various broadcast partners that they’re gonna provide programming, first-run programming, so that’s something we’re both doing. I look at it as they’re honoring their commitments and keeping their hand of the bargain up. They’re having to do it in a very unique way, but as long as they can find sound studios or somewhere that it’s legal to do a controlled taping, I perceive that both of them are gonna continue to do exactly what they’re doing until this thing has been eradicated or at least relieved in some degree.

“So I think it’s just a matter of keeping the commitment. Fans need entertainment. I need it, I found myself watching new shows. I’m binge watching things I normally wouldn’t binge watch. And I know that next week, I’m gonna have the opportunity to call the Jon Moxley-Jake Hager No Holds Barred Empty Arena match by myself that will air on TNT next Wednesday night at 8/7 Central. So I’m jacked about that. That’s a big deal for me. And so I get out of the house, I get to do a little voiceover, it’s gonna be great. So I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve got high hopes.”

On adding cinematic elements like WWE did with the Boneyard and Firefly Fun House Matches: “Well, I think based on the hand that we’re dealt, you can’t have fans. You can’t go to arenas, you can’t travel your show. So how do you create — continue to create first-run, fresh product? Well, you pre-tape it, and you pre-produce it. And you add all the neat little whistles and bells that you can do with a good production team. And there’s no doubt that not only do we have a good production team — it’s smaller, it’s tight knit. We’ve got some great talented guys. But they have got an expansive production team with a lot of bodies, a lot of creativity.

“So I think that inevitably, to get fresh content and some significant developments like a Boneyard Match, for example. Which I thought was phenomenal, no pun intended for AJ who was amazing in that match. And one of my all-time favorites, the Clint Eastwood of WWE, good old Undertaker, Mark Calloway, who I love. I can’t see as if — why wouldn’t it be a sign of the times based on the hand that we’re dealt? I can’t see both companies shying away from pre-produced elements that would be first-run that nobody has seen.”

On how AEW is producing content right now: “And in our state or situation, we don’t have any writers. We don’t have any producers. We have coaches, and we have talents that are motivated to create their own content. Just like Chris Jericho did when he did the drone thing from his hot tub a few weeks ago from his backyard. That was Chris’ idea, Chris shot it. Maybe had a family member shoot it, hell I don’t know. And it may have been shot on an iPhone, I don’t know that either. Wouldn’t doubt it. But our talents are being encouraged to create their own content and send it in. And if it’s good and it fits the storyline, et cetera, et cetera then they’re gonna air it. So I think that’s a great development for us, and I can’t see it stopping as long as we’re in this empty arena environment.”

In the full interview, JR discusses his new memoir Under the Black Hat: My Life in the WWE and Beyond (you can check out our review of the book here), leaving WWE and going to AEW, why Steve Austin turning heel at WrestleMania X-Seven was a mistake, AEW and WWE holding shows during the COVID-19 pandemic, his thoughts on the cinematic matches at WrestleMania 36, the Revival’s WWE release and how they would fit in AEW, finding the balance between in-ring product and entertainment aspects of wrestling plus much more.

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0:00: Introduction
0:41: On writing his new memoir Under the Black Hat: My Life in the WWE and Beyond and what the book covers
3:06: On when the process of writing the book began
4:06: On his relationship with Vince McMahon, staying friends even with his going to AEW and why he left WWE
6:35: On his memories of WrestleMania X-Seven, Steve Austin turning heel and how Undertaker vs. Triple H was booked
8:53: On if Austin’s heel turn falling short influenced WWE to keep John Cena & Roman Reigns as babyfaces, why Cena stayed babyface
12:46: On when he first met with Tony Khan, why he came joined AEW, misconceptions of why he left WWE and people confusing Vince McMahon with Mr. McMahon
16:59: On AEW and WWE continuing to hold shows amid COVID-19 pandemic, both companies having broadcast commitments, looking forward to calling Jon Moxley vs. Jake Hager
18:56: On AEW changing their setup to deal with the empty arenas, what to expect from the Moxley vs. Hager match
20:34: On what he thought of WrestleMania’s Boneyard Match and adding preproduced elements to matches in the current situation, how AEW is handling it
22:55: On finding the right balance between in-ring product and entertainment content, talent needing to create their own content
25:16: On the positives and negatives of talent using social media, why people should avoid going negative
27:18: On The Revival’s WWE release, being a fan of them and how they would fit into AEW
30:04: On where to find him online, where to get Under the Black Hat
31:59: On his advice for people during the pandemic

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