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Jim Ross explains why Debra was dropped as The Rock’s manager in 2001

Jim Ross and Conrad Thompson covered WrestleMania 17 on the latest episode of Grilling JR. Mania 17 is considered by man fans to be the greatest WrestleMania in history and was arguably the peak of WWE and it was just a week prior when Vince McMahon announced that he had purchased WCW.

Mania 17 included The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE Championship, Austin’s heel turn, Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon in a Street Fight, The Undertaker vs. HHH, Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit, the 2nd TLC match between The Hardys, The Dudleys, and Edge & Christian, and much more.

Here are some highlights from the podcast.

Jim Ross talking about the HHH-Undertaker match at WrestleMania 17:

I remember Vince and I talking about the show.  We had these sheets.  On one side of it you had all the babyfaces and right across the same sheet you had all the heels.  When you book somebody like for a house show run or whatever, you just mark their name off.  The irony was that when we started playing this card, two very prominent names had not been marked off, Undertaker and HHH.  Well, we didn’t have any time to build a great long story, but because of Undertaker’s tenure and being over, and HHH getting over, we weren’t second-guessing that.  I’m not going to tell you their booking was an accident.  It wasn’t an accident, but it was an afterthought because they were not involved in a primary story.  This thing was so heavily Austin-Rock oriented.  We didn’t know the ladder match was going to be a phenomenal success until we saw it and those guys over delivered.  The Undertaker-HHH match came together late, but you knew it was going to be a hell of a match because you have two amazing talents in there.  They told a good story.  They had plenty of time, 18 minutes and change. To come together late, I thought it was a really good outing from both those guys.”

Steve Austin’s then-wife Debra was ordered by Vince to be The Rock’s manager and was quickly dropped. Ross addresses why this was dropped:

“I think Rock and Austin were both uncomfortable with it.  It just seemed like, ‘Why are we doing this?’  Debra always made a picture better because of her beauty.  She’s a gorgeous Alabamian.  But, her services in that role were not needed.  I think Rock and Austin just wanted to keep it serious and transact their business because neither of them were overly sure how this was going to be received.  I had my ideas.  You got the homegrown Texas product wrestling in his home market.  Just down the road he grew up in Edna, advertised from Victoria.  He watched Houston Paul Boesch television his entire life.  We had told that story.  It was like a homecoming for the challenger, so who do you think they’re going to cheer?  It wasn’t they were angry at Rock.  You have a Texas legend here that’s coming back and just drew the biggest event in Astrodome history over any event and we’re going to turn him heel.”

The entire podcast is up now at

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to for the transcription

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