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Jim Ross on Tony Schiavone leaving WCW, why he had no respect for Bill Shaw, why Dusty Rhodes didn’t wrestle in 1991

This week on “Grilling JR” on, Jim Ross and Conrad Thompson covered Starrcade 1990 and all of the big wrestling stories from around that time period.

Here are some highlights from the podcast:

Tony Schiavone left WCW for WWE in 1989. Jim Ross was asked, “Do you think in hindsight Schiavone was not happy with his ‘demotion’ that you became the lead announcer, or was it probably more about that he didn’t have a lot of confidence the company was heading and felt like Vince McMahon’s outfit maybe offered a little more security?”

Ross responded: “I think it was because he no longer was on TBS. I don’t blame him. There was no reason for him to be x’d out altogether from TBS. I understand you have to have some symmetry and continuity and you have to have familiar faces on key programs. But he was going to be the face of syndication and at the time syndication had become a much bigger deal. Syndication meaning the local wrestling show, the local NWA Pro or WorldWide or whatever it may be. All those in the local markets, Tony was supposed to be the head guy of that, the voice of that brand. I think the decision makers, again, you might want to talk to him. You might want to sit down and say here’s what we are thinking as opposed to here is what we are doing. There’s a difference in that even in sentence structure. Here’s what we are thinking or here’s what we are doing. If it’s here’s what we are doing, that means I don’t need your feedback. You can either get along or you can move along. We don’t give a s**t because we know what we are doing anyway. I think that was the reason. I understand it. If I were in Tony’s shoes, I would have been pissed off as well. No doubt. I wish he could have stayed there. Again, communication in this company was horrific. I wish Tony could have stayed there and worked through it because I think eventually he would have been back to TBS. Maybe with him and I working together which would have been great, I think, I’m being egocentric maybe, I think we had good chemistry.  But, he didn’t give that opportunity a chance to happen and he was off to the bright lights and big city.”

Jim Ross was asked what he thought of Dusty Rhodes being brought back to book WCW shortly after this show. Ross said, “I had a feeling he would be back because it’s the devil you know vs the devil you don’t know type deal. Dusty had been there and done that. People were comfortable with him. I just felt like we did him a disservice by even thinking that you can wrestle again. If I was doing that piece of business of hiring a new booker, the booker is not going to wrestle under any circumstance. You have to fish or cut bait. Which one do you want to be, fish or fowl? You can’t be both. You will not be both.  It is not an option. Some bookers believe they can resurrect a territory or make things right because they’re brilliant. If Dusty was only focusing on the big picture and not himself creatively at times, things would have been a lot better. Bringing in a new booker with that management structure we had at WCW was like moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic. You’re going down and things are not going to be good and that happened…Looking back at the system of hiring a booker was not done so consequently I think upper management again made another mistake. Dusty could have been like the executive producer or something but on the day-to-day basis of creativity, I think we needed fresh eyes and a more contemporary point of view and let Dusty become like the G.M. of the team and the head coach would be the booker. Nobody had the vision to do that. I think that would have been a great help. That way we could use Dusty for all those big picture items which he was very good at and not being organized on a day-to-day basis. People don’t realize going back in time, being organized on a day to day basis was not Dusty’s strength. If he had not had J.J. Dillon joined at the hip, it would have been, at times I believe, chaotic.”

Jim Ross commented on Bill Shaw. He said, “He’s a liar. They wrote a contract for me and paid me a lot of money for a three-year deal and they wrote-in my job description, they meaning Turner. I didn’t have any say in that. It was unusual. It was strange. But, I went along with it because of the cash. He and I were talking and had a meeting. It was after Cowboy (Bill Watts) left. Eric took me off television and put me in syndication which he had no right to do. The contract didn’t allow that. So now here you have the choice of well, if he doesn’t accept this assignment, I guess he will sit home and get paid.  That’s how it was written. They wrote it. It’s not my smart lawyer doing all this wonderful maneuvering and J.R. is really sharp. Their lawyer wrote it and my lawyer agreed and off it went. So Bill Shaw tells me one time, ‘I’ll have you back on TV in 6 weeks or less.’ I said how are you going to do that? Eric took me off television. He said, ‘How am I going to do it? Eric works for me. I can do any Goddamn thing I want.’ So he already is circumventing Eric. If me coming back by circumventing Eric, the boss or whoever is the boss is, is not a good deal. Then he said, ‘Look, you’re making too much of this deal. A God damn duck can announce wrestling.’ I’m assuming he was alluding to Donald Duck or I didn’t know if I was Daffy Duck? I should have asked him, hey look you c***sucker. Am I Donald or am I Daffy? He was disingenuous. He didn’t want to be in charge of the wrestling brand. He didn’t respect the business whatsoever. I didn’t have any time for him. I thought he was a legitimate piece of s**t who couldn’t control his own ego and be a decent human being simply because he got saddled from Ted Turner to be in charge of overseeing the wrestling division. Shaw did it reluctantly. I thought he showed disrespect for what we all did for a living constantly.”

Click below to listen to the entire podcast.

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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