In an exclusive phone interview with SLAM! Wrestling conducted late Friday afternoon, Jim Ross, Senior Vice President of Talent Relations, addressed a series of issues, including the return of Triple H this past Monday, the performance of Chris Jericho so far as W.W.F. World Heavyweight Champion and the impact Ric Flair has had on the promotion since returning this past November.
The foremost question on the minds of every wrestling fan is when the proposed splitting of the W.W.F. into two separate promotions is going to take place. The talk of the industry for the past several weeks, fans have grown increasingly impatient as the split has been delayed several times now.
Ross stated they’re currently working out the finer points of the split but that he didn’t have a set timeline as to when fans could expect to see it happen.
“That’s a creative issue that would be better if asked of Vince,” Ross informed SLAM! Wrestling over the phone from his office in Stamford, CT. “I don’t know when the brand is going to be split, I just know that they are. It is going to happen, though. Absolutely it will.”
Ross went on to speculate that it “could” happen either before next month’s ‘No Way Out’ pay-per-view or just before WrestleMania but cautioned “you shouldn’t read too much into that.”
Turning his attention to the return of Triple H this past Monday on RAW, Ross felt it was a night that the main event star “will never forget”.
“It was a night that’ll be one of those significant moments in a guy’s career and I was happy to share in that. He really has worked overtime to get better in rehab. I don’t know of anybody I’ve ever been around to train harder, eight to ten hours a day virtually every day for weeks and weeks and weeks, to make it back. Thus far, knock on wood, he’s feeling very well.”
Ross went on to confess an admiration for Triple H over his ability to return from such a serious injury.
“He’s a guy that trains like a warrior in the gym. He sticks to a rigid diet. He’s probably as dedicated a trainer as far as hitting that gym and watching what he eats, as anybody I’ve ever been around. Even when he was on crunches, his diet was such a huge diet. He stayed right with it. I admire that.”
Ross also revealed a deep-rooted respect for Chris Jericho for rising to the challenge of being the W.W.F. World Champion.
“He works his ass off, he’s a top hand, he’s reliable, he’s professional, there’s absolutely nothing to be unhappy about with Chris Jericho as our champion. He certainly deserved the opportunity. I’ve always been a big fan of his and I admire his character.”
Ross also had glowing praise for Ric Flair and the way he’s had such a big influence in the WWF locker room.
“I think a lot of the young guys we have on our roster are big Flair fans and he’s been very gracious with his time. He has melted into the team and the locker room exceptionally well. He’s treated respectfully, he’s communicated with openly and I think he really appreciates that.”
“I know we’re very thankful that we got him. He deserves to be seen with a smile on his face because he certainly paid his dues and left his mark on the business,” continued Ross. “He’s arguably the greatest in-ring performer that I personally saw. He deserves good things and good experiences and I hope we’re able to facilitate that for him. He has been a huge positive for us behind the cameras.”
Ross was quick to deflect criticisms made by WWF fans that the promotion was not using Flair to his full advantage and that he should be more involved in the main event mix.
“In front of the cameras it’s subjective because people can look at him on TV and Flair fans what him used more and the other fans that have not grown up with the Flair legacy might want him used less. You can’t make everybody happy. You never can. But all I can judge him on is how he’s fitting in the real scheme of things in the locker room and with the TV personnel and he’s been absolutely tremendous to work with. We are very thankful he’s with the company and I think he can contribute for a long time to come.”