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Jim Ross: Vince McMahon secretly helped Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan get big money contracts in WCW



On the latest episode of Grilling JR on, Jim Ross and Paul Broomwell watched the 1/19/98 episode of WCW Monday Nitro. This was the Nitro that went up against the WWE Raw show that featured the confrontation between Mike Tyson and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Here are some highlights:

Jim Ross talked about whether making Scott Steiner a World Champion was a good idea: “It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Scotty Steiner had the ability to be the World Champion. He had the look. He had the demeanor. But, sometimes he was so volatile and outspoken that he was considered that he might not be as reliable as he needed to be in that role. I think he would have been a great champion, quite frankly.”

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JR on Gene Okerlund's jump to WCW: "Vince kind of helped facilitate Gene going to WCW because Vince had made the decision that he wasn’t going to retain his services but he didn’t want it to get out. So, by letting Gene’s contract expire, then you have a deal where it’s as if he’s being stolen like the Luger Mall of America thing where he just shows up. That allowed Gene, according to what Vince was telling me, more money and negotiated a better deal from WCW because of the timing of the thing. I thought that was a big get for WCW. Gene was a fixture of the glory years, of the biggest years of WWE and so to get him in WCW was a coup I thought. I thought it was a good deal. Same thing with Heenan. Same mindset with Heenan. He let WCW “Steal Heenan”. I talked to both of them. Both those guys got better deals and Okerlund got a huge hop on the hotline. He made a lot of money on that deal. It really was a win-win. Both of those guys got better deals. They probably worked fewer dates. Less time invested. I thought that was an honorable thing that Vince did. I probably, and this is me talking, and it’s not official at this point in time in my life, but, I would have been hard pressed to get rid of both of those guys because I liked being around them, but, I’m glad we did what we did.”

Ross gave his thoughts on Booker T: “Bottom line is Booker delivered. Booker as a single was money. I didn’t dislike the Harlem Heat team, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes the guys have to separate and move on. Booker is a hell of a hand. Of all the guys that we hired during that Invasion angle, Booker probably, at the end of the day, I can’t think of anybody else that superseded him. He was probably the best success story that we had. He worked his a*s off. He wanted to get over and he knew that WWF at that time, WWE eventually, was his calling card. That was where you can make a bunch of money, establish his reputation, and get to the top of the mountain, and he did all of that.”

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