BYT Interviews: Jim Ross
Brandon Wetherbee | Aug 10, 2017 | 12:00PM |

You know Jim Ross’ voice. Even if you don’t follow pro wrestling or the WWE, if you’ve used the Internet in the last 18 months, you’ve heard Jim Ross’ voice. Here’s the most recent example of a Jim Ross call re-appropriated for meme reasons:

The most beloved professional wrestling announcer is at the DC Improv August 10, 2300 Arena in Philadelphia August 12 and Gotham Comedy Club August 18. His Ringside show, part story telling, part stand up, part Q&A, is catered towards wrestling fans. But his story is much more universal than what happens inside the squared circle.

If you’re interested about Ross’ thoughts about the current state of the WWE Universe or indie wrestling or his former boss Linda McMahon, there are places for that. What hasn’t been covered nearly as much is an aspect of his upcoming book, Slobberknocker, that wasn’t revealed until 2017.

Like a lot of Americans, maybe an epidemics worth, Ross has struggled with prescription drugs. So we asked him about it.

Brightest Young Things: I didn’t know anything about this until I was doing research for this interview. You’re talking about your drug problems. You’re not the youngest man and there’s a stigma of being open and honest about drug use. What was it that made you write this down? Why open yourself up to this?

Jim Ross: First of all, it’s the truth. Secondly, I have two granddaughters who are going to read this book at some point in time and they need to know that grandpa wasn’t perfect. He had issues but he found solutions to his issues and continued to move in a forward direction with his life.

I wasn’t the cocaine guy or any of the recreational indulgences to any degree, but I had doctors that were more than willing to prescribe me whatever I thought I needed. That included Ambien, and Ambien is a temporary treatment for insomnia. I was on Ambien like 15 years, so I was building up resistance to it. I had to take more in a stronger dosage and then I had to add Xanax to it. This all was to sleep. That’s all. This wasn’t to take during the middle of the day because I couldn’t handle the pressure, I thrived on the pressure, I thrived when I was at work. I just couldn’t turn it off to go to sleep. I find out when I moved to Oklahoma I had a severe sleep apnea. I stopped breathing 99 times in an hour, so all that time in WWE when I was medicating, it was because I had sleep apnea. I didn’t even know what sleep apnea was. So I came home to Oklahoma and left my post there at WWE which is maybe at the end of the day one of the smartest things I could have done. I wasn’t Good ol’ JR at that time.

I got to Oklahoma and my wife mentioned to my doctor that I was making these noises. He said it sounds like you have sleep apnea. They said, “You’re on your way to dying because your heart can’t stop breathing.”

One time we were doing a feature with Reggie White, the great football player NFL Hall of Famer, at his house in Knoxville before WrestleMania XI. He has sleep apnea and wouldn’t use a sleep machine, a breathing machine, because, he thought, I don’t know, it was not very manly? I don’t know why he thought that. But none the less, that’s the only time I ever heard of sleep apnea.

I had this issues. I’m going to be honest my book. It’s gonna be an honest book. It’s not a book about headlocks. It’s a book about life. It just so happens it’s a book about the life of a guy that wrapped his way into the wrestling business through a summertime job that lasted 40 years along, going from the farm of Oklahoma to the garden of Madison Square.

I didn’t want to leave things out that could help someone because my situation on the prescription drugs came about through a medical condition that went undiagnosed. I got to believe that others got the same issues. I know that people on the airplanes are drugged to the max. One of the reasons there are issues on airplanes is prescription meds legally that calm them down and some of them are not reacting well to it. You see people taking pills on airplanes and you see they have cocktails and you know that stuff isn’t supposed to go together and we wonder why the hell there’s conflicts on airplanes.

I just want to be honest and I was. A lot of my buddies had no idea of these issues. I had people I work with that had no idea about the issues because I didn’t reach out to HR. I didn’t research to our own drug program. I got back to Oklahoma and thought I’d die.

I’m opiate free of everything and I have been for years. It’s a lesson. It’s a part of the journey, man. If I didn’t share it then I don’t know why I even wrote the damn book.

Guys getting laid on the road or smoking a joint or whatever, how much of that can you read? God almighty, somewhere along the way you get tired of that a little bit. So it’s a real book about a real life of a real guy who was a wrestling fan that got into the wrestling business accidentally and hung around for 40 plus years and had a pretty decent run for himself along the way. That’s kinda how I look at it. I just wanted the damn thing to be honest and it’s going to definitely be honest. There’s a lot of things in that book that people are going to read that they didn’t know.

It’s a big project and one that I’m enjoying finally putting to bed. We were still writing when my wife got killed and I had to address that. It’s a labor of love and I hope it does well and it’s kinda the last project she and I did together so I hope for that reason among other reasons that it’s successful.

Purchase tickets for Jim Ross’ August shows on his site. Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling will be available October 3, 2017.