Jim Ross ends his WWE career as the best to ever sit at the announcing table, a gallery of great calls hanging up forever.
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WWE announced his retirement on Sept. 11 after a Hall of Fame career. In every match and segment that he called, Ross" passion powered through the screen. No one has been able to play with fans" hearts like an instrument in WWE history the way Ross did.
Whether he was calling Mankind falling from the Hell in a Cell or Kurt Angle spraying his enemies with milk, Ross timed his words excellently and chose the perfect line more often than not.
In chronological order, here are the most memorable and most powerful calls of his career, those that pinpointed and emphasized the emotions of a WWE moment like no one ever will again.
The underdog shocked the world, and Ross was there to amplify the effect of that upset victory.
On WWE Action Zone in 1995, perennial jobber Barry Horowitz pinned Skip of The Bodydonnas, an outcome no one saw coming. Leave it to Ross to make this feel like a miracle.
He famously shouted, "Horowitz wins! Horowitz wins!" with shock reverberating through his voice. It was a simple, yet powerful call that maximized the drama of the win.
The action was minimal as two badasses clashed, but Ross made it sound like the fight of the century.
Leading into WrestleMania XIV, WWE signed Mike Tyson to be a special enforcer in the WWE Championship bout between Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Tyson and Austin collided in a segment on Raw in 1998.
Ross was there to emphasize Tyson"s power, Austin"s toughness and the significance of the two champions of different worlds smashing head on. Ross did well to pull away when appropriate to let Austin and Tyson shine on their own, but he inserted himself at just the right moment.
His overwhelming excitement to see this fight break out forced the audience to join him in his passion.
Sometimes pro wrestling commentary requires poetry, and sometimes a moment just calls for exaltation.
When Steve Austin won the WWE Championship from Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV, it was more than a title win; it was the official beginning of the Austin era in WWE.
Ross" call of that moment was as simple and powerful as "The Giants win the pennant!" A roaring crowd rose to their feet as he poured himself into the microphone. It created a sound bite that would be replayed for years to come, an essential part of Austin"s story.
When WWE"s action leaned more toward sport, Ross thrived. When it slid into the world of ridiculous, Ross was just as successful.
It"s hard to imagine Gordon Solie knowing what to say when the New Age Outlaws locked Mick Foley and Terry Funk in a dumpster and pushed it off the stage.
Ross dragged pathos into an odd, surreal situation when he said, "Human beings are in a dumpster."
He sounded concerned for Foley and Funk"s health, angry at both Billy Gunn and Road Dogg, but also indignant at people who would dismiss this moment as "fake." He said, "I hope there"s not some idiot out there saying, "Well they know how to fall.""
There isn"t a more famous call in WWE history than Ross flooding the microphone with emotion as Undertaker put Mankind (Mick Foley) through hell at King of the Ring 1998. How many other wrestling calls get inserted into NFL hits and NBA dunks?
It was a match built on two violent, insane moments where Mankind took risks that endeared him to the WWE audience forever and risked his life in the process.
Ross" screaming, manic, passionate call made it an unforgettable bout. He filled the action with quotes fans know by heart from "Will somebody stop the damn match?" to "As God is my witness, he is broken in half!"
Ross sounded equally concerned and in awe at what he was watching and had the crowd follow him in those emotions.
Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) fought for his career in a Hell in a Cell match against Triple H.
That vicious, bloody battle from No Way Out 2000 benefited from the emotion Ross added to it. Ross was clearly rooting for Foley and against Triple H. He painted a picture of a tough, resilient hero trying to survive a villain"s onslaught.
That was most clear as the match came to a close.
Triple H hit his Pedigree and went for the pin. Ross shouted, "Kick out, Cactus!" The commentary he provided after Foley"s loss made this feel like more than just a wrestling match, but a work of theater with Foley playing the tragic hero.
At its most violent, WWE offered blood and broken tables on a regular basis. Ross helped drive home the humanity amidst all the carnage.
During Chris Jericho and Triple H"s Last Man Standing at Fully Loaded 2000, Ross sounded horrified by what these men were putting themselves through. It was enough to make one forget that the outcomes are scripted and that the violence is controlled as much as possible.
Both men lay on the outside of the ring, and Ross" call was an infusion of electricity in an already dramatic bout.
The despised corporate villain joined forces with the beloved rebel, and Ross helped tattoo the moment onto our memories.
Vince McMahon helped his longtime rival Steve Austin in defeating The Rock at WrestleMania XVII, and Ross" disbelief and anger sizzled. "Tell me this is not happening," he said.
Ross" public friendship with Austin made this all the more powerful. He was not only a commentator watching a man turn to the dark side, but a man watching his friend betray us all.
"I thought I knew Austin," Ross said, pain humming in his voice.
Credit Ross for giving a silly segment plenty of heart.
In 2001, The WCW Alliance and the WWE Superstars were at war. Kurt Angle brought a strange bit of ammunition to that battle when he drove a milk truck into the arena.
Had another announcer been at the helm here, it may have felt like a throwaway, ridiculous moment. Instead, Ross helped turn into a valiant act of rebellion, screaming "Milk-o-Mania is running wild!" with great enthusiasm.
Triple H"s run as a heel benefited greatly from Ross" onscreen hatred for him.
In his eyes, Triple H was inhuman and Ross made it easy to forget that this was just a wrestler playing a part. When Triple H attacked Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam 2002 with a sledgehammer, Ross painted him as the devil.
This was Ross" best match as a whole, helping to make Michaels" return a dramatic masterpiece. It"s his response to "The Cerebral Assassin" attacking Michaels that had Triple H looking far more merciless and having the fans desperate to see the eventual rematch.
Take everything Ross did for Horowitz back in 1995 and triple it. That"s how much he made Jeff Hardy"s attempt at an upset of Undertaker mean on Raw in 2002.
The two foes battled for the WWE Undisputed Championship in a ladder match, and Ross was clearly rooting for Hardy.
The smaller, less established star nailed Undertaker with a chair shot, and Ross delivered his famous line, urging Hardy on with searing passion.
Ross delighted in Steve Austin demolishing Eric Bischoff at No Way Out 2003. Unlike a sports announcer, who has to remain impartial, Ross sided with Austin as much as the fans did.
Justice finally being served and the villainous, smug authority figure finally getting the beatdown he deserved was made into a celebration by Ross" commentary. He was on fire all night, but the post-match rant elevated the bout beyond its in-ring quality.
Ross turned a one-sided match involving a non-wrestler into a classic moment.
At WrestleMania XIX, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels had a stellar match.
Those two Superstars did plenty inside the ring to create emotion and tell the story of a younger wrestler looking to overtake an older one. Ross" additions, though, empowered this bout beyond that.
Jerry Lawler mentioned that Jericho was like a young lion looking to become the alpha male, and the line Ross followed up with was poignant and perfect. Ross may be more famous for shouting "Oh my God!" and other emotional outbursts, but he built his Hall of Fame career on gems like this as well.
The end of Wrestlemania XX was one of the most moving moments in WWE history; Chris Benoit"s crimes took much of the joy away from it.
In 2004, Benoit had been wrestling for decades, struggling to make it to the top. He was told he couldn"t be a true star because he was too short and not charismatic enough.
When he defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels to win the World Heavyweight Championship, Ross punctuated Benoit"s odyssey, as he called it.
Ross" scratchy voice delivered one of wrestling finest lines, a gorgeous summation of Benoit"s rise to prominence.
At WrestleMania 27, Undertaker put his undefeated streak on the line against Triple H. Ross made him out to be more than a wrestler, but something supernatural.
When Triple H failed to pin Undertaker late in the match, Ross" shock elevated the moment. He sounded as if he"d seen a ghost and was in disbelief of Undertaker"s ability to kick out there.
This was when Ross had gone part time, coming in only for WWE"s biggest matches. He rocked it each time. Even as a pinch hitter, he made wrestling grand and reminded us how great of a storyteller he is.
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