Jim Ross leaves WWE to sign 'most lucrative wrestling commentary deal ever' with rivals AEW
Legendary wrestling commentator Jim Ross - aka J.R. - has officially signed with WWE's upstart rival All Elite Wrestling.
According to a press release from AEW, Ross has signed the “most lucrative deal in pro wrestling commentary history”. Officially, he will act as "Senior Advisor" - AEW has already announced Alex Marvez and Excalibur as the commentary team for their first event, though we can't imagine that he'll be far from the commentary booth.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) April 3, 2019
Along with Jerry 'The King' Lawler, Jim Ross was the soundtrack to many of the Attitude Era's most iconic moments in the late 1990s. J.R. left WWE in 2013, and spent several years commentating elsewhere, including for New Japan Pro Wrestling and ITV's World of Sport in the UK. He then returned in 2017 for occasional guest commentary and some special appearances, before announcing that his contract had expired earlier this year.
AEW was launched by former WWE star Cody Rhodes and indie tag team the Young Buck, after securing backing from entrepreneurs Shahid Khan and his son Tony, who own both Fulham FC and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On September 1st, 2018 Rhodes and The Young Bucks held an event called 'All In' in Illinois, that included some of the biggest non-WWE talent from around the world. It was attended by 11,263 fans - making it the first non-WWE wrestling show to sell over 10,000 tickets in the United States since 1999, and caused shockwaves across the pro wrestling world.
According to Forbes, Shahid Khan is the 217th wealthiest person in the world, so this would be the first time since the 1990s that the WWE would have faced any competition with that kind of financial backing.
AEW will hold their first show 'Double Or Nothing' on May 25th in Las Vegas, at the 15,000 capacity Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.