In the world of professional wrestling, where scripted storylines and choreographed matches reign supreme, there has been a notable shift towards a more improvisational approach. Wrestling legend Jim Ross, now with AEW, recently shared his insights on this transformation during a compelling episode of "Grilling Jr." In the lead-up to the 2003 Survivor Series, there was a pivotal moment when wrestling icon Steve Austin and some WWE backstage producers encouraged wrestlers to abandon traditional match rehearsals.
Instead, they advocated for performers to trust their instincts, react to the live audience, and call the action in the ring. Jim Ross, a seasoned commentator and respected figure in the wrestling industry, shed light on the reasons behind this seismic change and its impact on wrestlers' careers.
He emphasized that many wrestlers were initially resistant to this shift, preferring the familiarity of rehearsed matches based on memorization. "A lot of talents just don't want to change," Ross observed. "They like the match-by-memory scenario.
I don't, quite frankly. Because my guys get off their script, or off their set pattern of moves, and they have to deviate sometimes [if] things go awry ... [otherwise] the match becomes sloppy and somewhat predictable. So, it was time to ...
I just think talents are so much better off if they are connected emotionally and psychologically to each other in a match, instead of going by memory."
Wrestling's Evolving Challenges
Ross went on to explain the challenges associated with the old rehearsed format, which often felt "cumbersome" over time.
This sentiment was not only shared by performers and announcers but also by savvy fans with a deep understanding of the wrestling business. "It gets awkward sometimes, and that's what you don't want," Ross continued. "You want it to seem like a natural progression in a match.
I like the fact that talents are calling it in the ring and they're using the material that works to make their match more believable, and that's always been the key. You do that by not memorizing your spots. Austin was one of many who wanted to go back to doing what they believed was the right thing for the match." This shift toward more spontaneous in-ring performances has not only added an element of unpredictability but has also allowed wrestlers to better connect with audiences.
It's a testament to the ever-evolving nature of professional wrestling, where adapting to change can make the difference between success and struggling to remain in top spots. As the wrestling world continues to evolve, the insights from veterans like Jim Ross offer a fascinating glimpse into the ongoing transformation of this dynamic and entertaining industry.