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WWE taking mic out of Ross' hands
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun


Too old, too fat, too Southern.

That has been the knock on Jim Ross for the better part of the past decade, as various WWE executives have made intermittent powerplays to remove him from the broadcast booth.

But with every attempt to drop Ross in favour of a younger and more cosmetic model, it quickly became clear Monday nights just aren't the same without good ol' JR.

But according to reports circulating this week, WWE bosses may finally pull the trigger and break up the longtime Raw announcing team of Ross and Jerry (The King) Lawler.

Over the past year, WWE has teased a change by sporadically adding Jonathan Coachman (a horrible commentator but a Vince McMahon favourite) to the tandem.

This week, word leaked that longtime UFC announcer Mike Goldberg is on the verge of agreeing to terms with WWE, if he hasn't already signed a contract.

Goldberg is expected to take over as the lead announcer on Raw, with Ross relegated to being the frontman for WWE's new Internet initiative, Raw Unlimited.

Ross will host the web-only Monday night broadcast, which will show behind-the-scenes footage from Raw while the TV feed is on commercial.

Although some degree of fan backlash is anticipated -- Ross is widely regarded as the best play-by-play guy in the business, while Goldberg has little or no knowledge of pro-wrestling -- the switch could happen as soon as next week.

BIG NUMBERS: Even though Monday Night Raw is usually one of the highest-rated shows on Canadian cable television, TSN doesn't usually issue press releases touting the success of WWE's flagship show.

But the viewership was so high for last Monday's episode -- a three-hour special in honour of Raw's move from Spike TV to the USA Network in the U.S. -- that Canada's sports network is shouting from the rooftops.

The magic number was 614,000 viewers, a 75% jump on what Raw typically draws in Canada on Monday nights.

Even more impressive is the 400,000 viewers who stuck around for a fourth hour to watch a retrospective best-of- Raw compilation show.

In the U.S., the numbers were equally impressive, with Raw drawing a 4.7 rating (around 5 million viewers) in its usual timeslot, an audience jump of more than 1 million on the previous week's show on Spike TV.