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  Jan. 17, 2002



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Jim Ross on Hogan, Nash & Hall, brand split
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling

Jim Ross is the man on the hot seat these days. As Senior Vice President of Talent Relations for the W.W.F., he's one of the most powerful men in wrestling. A real mover and a shaker.

So last Friday, when he confirmed to SLAM! Wrestling in an exclusive interview that the W.W.F. was negotiating with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, the wrestling world immediately sat up and took notice.

This afternoon, Ross took part in an hour-long conference call with reporters to address several issues, including the status of the company's ongoing negotiations with Nash, Hall and Hulk Hogan and where things currently stand.

"There's absolutely no update since you and I last talked last week," Ross told SLAM! Wrestling when asked if any contracts have been signed. "Negotiations are still ongoing and once lawyers and agents get involved in negotiations, they historically... they certainly don't speed up, so that's kind of where we are at this point. They're ongoing negotiations and I'd like to be able to give people a better update but that's exactly where we are. Nothing has been signed. We're still talking to representatives of the talents and that's the story as we speak. There's no timetable."

Ever since Ross revealed to SLAM! Wrestling last week that the W.W.F. was negotiating with Nash and Hall, and 1wrestling.com broke the story about Hogan, the Internet has been abuzz. Critics, pundits, reporters and fans have been almost unanimous in their condemnation of the W.W.F's move to sign the trio.

The general consensus being expressed is that it would be a colossal mistake and huge error to bring in three wrestlers that have a reputation for being master manipulators and politicians backstage. Not to mention, as so many have this past week, that all three are well past their physical prime and that the decision to negotiate with them is a sign of just how much the W.W.F. is out of touch with wrestling fans in terms of what and who they want to see.

Ross feels otherwise.

"Well, obviously we disagree. We're all putting the cart before the horse because no contracts have been signed. It's not unlike any other criticism we receive, whether it be for a hiring or a termination or a storyline. Depending on who you are, how personal {the criticisms} are, they always sting a little bit, but we have to do what we believe is best for the company."

Ross believes that despite their previous track records in the W.W.F. and W.C.W. that Hogan, Nash and Hall can fit into the W.W.F. locker room and be team players. He also reiterated what he told SLAM! Wrestling last Friday in that he feels all three should not be judged by their conduct in W.C.W. He says W.C.W. lacked leadership and structure, insisting the W.W.F. is on the right course by trying to sign them, despite the opinions and views of sceptic reporters and fans.

"We believe our environment here is very strong, very resilient and that anybody we bring into the locker room, no matter who they are, has to fit into the fabric of the team. We think we have sound management. We have strong leadership. Neither of those things existed in Atlanta. So, I think it's a different environment. You can only do what you believe is right. I appreciate the fans and their feedback but the bottom line is on this particular matter we disagree and time will tell, if they sign, who's right and who's wrong."

Ross was also asked about the proposed splitting of the W.W.F, a topic SLAM! Wrestling grilled him on last week, and maintained no timetable for the split has been set.

"Of course that's a very topical subject these days. All I can tell folks is that the brands are definitely going to split. They'll be two distinct brands under the WWF umbrella. When those brands separate is still to be determined. My best guess, and again it is a guess, it'll probably be after WrestleMania. But I could be wrong on that. That's a Vince McMahon decision and it could be done earlier, but my gut instinct tells me it'll probably be done sometime after WrestleMania."

Ross is optimistic that the brand split will give the W.W.F. "a little bit more depth" and go a long way to "get more people involved in storylines".

"I would like to think this brand-splitting is going to be very successful situation for us once it is implemented. I can tell you from experimenting from rosters, it is going to give talents an infinitely better opportunity to move to the next level once these brands split. Some guys that would not have been brought into the primary roster as quickly are going to be given a much better opportunity."

"If you look at this strictly from a mathematical standpoint, instead of having 80 guys to play with on Monday night, you have 40. Just looking that alone, it increases your odds if you're a talent... you're going to have a heck of a lot better chance of being noticed as one of 40, as one of 80."

Ross admitted there is a reserved optimism about the split amongst the W.W.F. talent roster: "The guys I have talked to in that regard are looking forward to it. But still, there is that fear of the unknown and until they get into it, we're going to have people that are going to be apprehensive and concerned about it."

Check back with SLAM! Wrestling first thing tomorrow morning as we'll have more with Jim Ross talking about this Sunday's Royal Rumble pay-per-view. On Saturday we'll have another story with Jim Ross talking about the W.W.F. potentially signing Bill Goldberg and Scott Steiner, a possible return to the ring from Shawn Michaels and Eddie Guerrero, the status of Lita and the Hardys, his feelings on Jeff Jarrett and so much more.

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