Wrestling commentary legend Jim Ross has been a staple of All Elite Wrestling program ever since he signed a multi-year contract with the young promotion back in April. "Good Ol' JR" has an unrivaled wealth of knowledge regarding the wrestling industry thanks to his decades-long career in WCW and WWE, and he's brought a great deal of that prestige to the commentary table alongside Tony Schiavone and Excalibur. Hours before AEW's latest episode of AEW Dynamite, Ross spoke with ComicBook.com on a variety of topics, including some of the debates among wrestlers and wrestling fans surrounding AEW.
The company's latest pay-per-view, Full Gear, ended with a hyper-violent Lights Out unsanctioned match between Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega. The match, the third of its kind since AEW launched at the start of 2019, featured chairs, tables, broken glass, an unprotected ring canvas and yards of barbed wire. Ross said he felt the match stipulation needs to be used incredibly sparingly going forward, advising that it not be used again for at least a year.
"We're certainly not going to build our brand on hardcore matches," Ross said. "I was chatting to Kenny Omega last night, at our production meeting over at the [Nashville Municipal] auditorium. I said, 'Obviously I think with my instinct and my experience, the next time we're going to have a lights-out match would be maybe a year from now.' That was my off-the-top of my head remark, and nobody disagreed with me. It was a one-off deal, added a little joy for the hardcore fans who love that kind of stuff, but that's not going to be our call anymore.
Ross then compared the match to how WWE used to only use the Hell in a Cell stipulation under special circumstances. Nowadays the match is used two to three times a year for only one specific pay-per-view.
"It's like how they [used] Hell in a Cell when I was WWE," he added. "The more you do it, the more they're not special, the more they're watered down. You want to keep the Lights Out concept viable and you don't over expose. And I think this whole regard, so we're definitely not doing hardcore wrestling where we have blood every week and all that kind of stuff."
Ross also addressed how many fans and former wrestlers, some of whom are still is goof friends, chastise AEW for using unorthodox wrestlers like the 5-foot-2 Marko Stunt or the nonchalant Orange Cassidy.
"We are a performance oriented community and fans have identified with Marko and all the kid's trying to do is live his dream. So when old school guys, a lot of them, my friends that don't like what we do, I just ignore it because they want to live in the past and we can't do that," Ross said. "Any of us, what we do for a living, everything's new and evolving in our world, but you find a lot of people are just about the societal theory of being negative or looking at something as a half full glass, half empty glass.
"I can tell you right now, Orange Cassidy is a good kid and he's a smart young man, but do I understand fully his evening persona? Not really. I don't. I don't know where he got the idea, but I can tell you that organically, whatever reason, good or bad, he's got a following, and where he goes with that following remains to be seen. None of us should criticize someone because of their age or their size or their skin color or any of those things. It's so passe and it just doesn't even need to be in our workplace. We have a very eclectic roster of all body types, orientations and so forth. I love the openness of what we do in that regard. But I don't get how a lot of the guys b— and moan about wrestling's not what it used to be. Everybody's not going back to wearing black wool tights and doing things like we used to in the old days. Did I like the old days? Hell yeah, I loved it. But we had to move on."
Ross later added that he's looking to reinvent himself in his current role in AEW, similar to how AEW World Champion Chris Jericho has repeatedly reinvented himself in recent years.
"I'm living every minute because I want to reinvent myself. I want to reinvent. I've done that before in my lifetime. I've taught different types of wrestling, different styles, and now I'm back doing another different style. And I want to reinvent. It's what Chris Jericho has done. For us guys who've been around the block a couple times, you got to keep letting yourself do as best you can.
Ross will appear on AEW Dynamite this Wednesday night at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Downtown Nashville. The show starts at 8 p.m. ET on TNT