Jim Ross, the cowboy-hatted mainstay of a thousand WWE matches, has retired, according to the WWE, finally leaving ringside to pursue other interests.
"At the age [of] 61," he wrote on his personal blog, "it's time to close this chapter of my life and begin exploring new, adventures while my health is great."
But why did he have to close this chapter of his life? The Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer hints that it's not quite as simple as Ross stepping aside. Meltzer indicates that Ross was fired on Tuesday night following a meeting with WWE head Vince McMahon. The precipitating incident appeared to be Ross's failure to control Ric Flair at a WWE 2K Legends panel this summer, where Flair effectively hijacked an entire panel of wrestling legends and told stories that embarrassed both the WWE and his fellow competitors.
Here's video of the entire panel; Flair begins going off the rails at about the 45-minute mark, then really gets rolling downhill at about the one-hour mark:
Flair continues telling rambling stories, forcing his way into others' stories and talking over Ross. At the time, Ross indicated he knew how badly the night was going: "This is real," he said. "This is reality television at its best. I’ve lost complete control of my job. I’m sure I’ll never be asked back, and this has probably destroyed what career I have left.”
According to Meltzer, some in the WWE wanted Ross fired immediately because he didn't effectively control the event, and if there's one thing the WWE can't stand, it's a lack of control. Ross had apparently said not long ago that he had no plans to retire from the WWE, making this an abrupt change of heart.
"Hmmmm....perhaps a book is in order some day," Ross said on his blog. "Time will tell. Now I actually have the time to write the autobiography many have asked about over the years." Wrestling fans can hope that it will shed light on this latest chapter in Ross's career.