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J.R. slammed for Byte This! comments
By JOHN POWELL -- Co-producer, SLAM! Wrestling




Disparaging remarks towards the Japanese wrestling industry made by WWE Executive Vice President and on-air personality Jim Ross have sparked anger and outrage.

A guest on this week's Byte This! webcast on the WWE's official Internet site, Ross addressed the rumours that former WWE star Steve Austin may be signing on to wrestle in Japan. New Japan Wrestling announced their intentions to bring Austin aboard and Austin is negotiating with Dreamstage Entertainment which has already brought Austin's WWE pal - Bill Goldberg - into their ranks. Rumour has it that Goldberg and Austin are interested in working a high-profile dream match in Japan. Due to nagging injuries, Austin hasn't wrestled a match since Wrestlemania XIX in 2003 where he fought The Rock.

"They're desperate. The Japanese pro wrestling is sucking pond water. It's not drawing. Goldberg went there. He did not draw...maybe once or twice, said Ross commenting on the situation.

Since the statement was made last Thursday, many of those who intimately follow the Japanese scene took exception to Ross' contemptuous thoughts.

"I think Jim Ross' comments about Japanese wrestling are based on ignorance. I don't value anything he has to say about it because he knows very little about the history and the culture of wrestling in Japan, and I have serious doubts he's even the slightest bit knowledgeable about the current scene in Japan," said John Molinaro, the author of The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time and a former contributor to SLAM! Wrestling who now works at CBC Sports Online.

To Molinaro, who covered the international wrestling scene for SLAM! Wrestling, Ross is a prime example of how some North American wrestling fans and industry types are uneducated and close-minded about any of the successful promotions beyond the borders of America or Canada.

"It sounds like he's the stereotypical North American wrestling mark who has his head buried in the sand and thinks the WWE is the end-all and be-all of wrestling," said Molinaro. "Like so many people in positions of power in American wrestling over the years, especially in the WWE, Ross has little or no appreciation for foreign wrestling cultures."

So infuriated by Ross' statement was Japanese wrestling journalist Zach Arnold, that he published a personal and public statement on his influential Puroresu Power wrestling site. Arnold stated that the WWE shouldn't be pointing fingers at the Japanese wrestling industry when the WWE itself has suffered a steady decline in popularity for many years.

"Let me give you some advice Jim," wrote Arnold. "Let people like me worry about the situation in Japan and you go focus on improving the company you work for, which is sucking wind right now."

Arnold believes that the downhill WWE feels threated by the surging popularity of Dream Stage Entertainment's products like PRIDE which features authentic, in-ring fighting competitions mixing various combat deciplines including karate, judo, kickboxing and wrestling.

"Is the WWE that uncomfortable about their Japanese deal that they think DSE promoting Goldberg versus Austin will kill their deal?," asked Arnold. "If I'm DSE, DSE has to be having a field day over the fact that a company official from the WWE is upset about them."

Ross comments on the Japanese industry came just one day after the WWE announced that they would be holding two Smackdown! house shows in Tokyo, Japan, in July. The WWE is using the Japan debut of The Undertaker to hype those dates.

Smackdown! last visited Japan in July 2003 with sold-out shows at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama and at Kobe World Hall in Kobe.


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