There’s a new book out there that’s perfect for wrestling fans that was written by legendary WWE Hall of Famer and current AEW announcer Jim Ross. As you will read in the pages of “Under the Black Hat” and in its predecessor “Slobberknocker,” JR was much more than an announcer in his wrestling career. You can get your autographed copy of “Under the Black Hat” at JRsBBQ.com right now. The book is officially on sale on websites like Amazon today.
This book is just under 300 pages as Ross tells us about his wrestling journey from when he returned to the WWE commentary desk at WrestleMania 1999 and it covered the last twenty years of his life. The “Slobberknocker” book that is now on paperback covered the earlier part of JR’s life and career.
While Ross was the voice of WWE for most of his 25+ years there, he was also the Vice President of Talent Relations from the mid-1990s until the mid-2000s. When you think about that period, it was the best roster WWE has ever had and JR deserves a lot of credit for having a keen eye for talent.
Some of the best stories in the book involve JR’s interactions with WWE’s Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, who comes off as a man that is just as boisterous as many of us think. There’s a story about Vince getting enamored with Brock Lesnar from the first time he saw him and Vince told JR: "Goddamn. He looks like a Viking!" The way Ross wrote about it was very funny too because of how excited Vince was when he saw Brock, noting that it was like Vince was "gliding" after meeting him. It’s definitely one of my favorite stories in the book and you could say Vince is still enamored with Brock twenty years after that meeting.
There’s also a story about when Vince first met Eddie Guerrero where Vince thought he was too short, but Ross and Bruce Prichard told Vince to trust them because Eddie was a special talent. They were right. There are also stories about when Jeff Jarrett got a huge payday from WWE on his last night in 1999, Steve Austin’s walkout in 2002 and what two superstars helped him have a great night in 2010 after he didn’t get to call a WrestleMania match. No spoilers here, pal.
The relationship between McMahon and Ross is covered in-depth throughout the book. A lot of wrestlers have written books or done interviews talking about McMahon, but there’s nobody that knew him like JR. That’s because JR was one of Vince’s biggest confidants due to JR’s role as the head of Talent Relations. There are so many stories of the great things Vince did for JR, but there are also the bad moments where Vince felt like humiliating JR for some reason. Remember that awful feud between JR and Michael Cole in 2011? JR hated it, but Vince loved it because of course, he did! What you learn the most is that there was a lot of respect and love between Vince and JR even with the tough times along the way.
It was also wonderful to read all the stories about JR’s late wife Jan. She meant so much to him. There were many instances in JR’s career where he may have been unsure of something or reluctant to do an angle, but Jan was there to support him and guide him when he needed it the most. When Jan died in 2017 it was right before JR was asked to return to WWE for WrestleMania 33 to call the Reigns/Undertaker main event. JR said that the wrestling business helped heal him that night. The love that JR had for Jan is evident throughout the book. It breaks my heart knowing that he lost her way too soon, but he also knows he has an Angel looking down on him for the rest of his days.
There’s one constant throughout the book that tells the reader exactly what Ross is: A wrestling fan that lived his dream and thanks to his current role in AEW, he's still living his dream.
I highly recommend “Under the Black Hat” by Jim Ross. It’s a lot of to fun read and I think any type of wrestling fan (whether hardcore or casual) is going to enjoy it. The emotional connection that JR has with wrestling fans at home is a special one and that comes through in his words. JR is not a bitter man that has an ax to grind with a book like this. He's a wrestling lifer who has been through a lot and was always a team player through good times and bad.
I've never met Jim or interacted with him much online, but I admire him a lot and I'm glad he wrote this book. I'm sure it was therapeutic for him to look back on his career as well as his personal life and lucky for us, we get to go on that journey with him.
You can get your autographed copy of “Under the Black Hat” at JRsBBQ.com right now. The book is officially on sale on Tuesday, March 31 at online booksellers (like Amazon) as well.