Grant Belcher, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY -- One of the biggest names in World Wrestling Entertainment had a chance to return to his roots this weekend.
Jim Ross, the voice of WWE and an inductee with the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame class, grew up in Westville, Oklahoma and played football and basketball for the Westville Yellowjackets in the late 1960s.
He was an all-conference lineman for two years and moved on to NSU in Tahlequah.
Though Ross certainly made a name for himself in Oklahoma Sports, he obviously had a much bigger stage set ahead of him.
Ross said he was first introduced to the world of professional wrestling at a fundraiser event at NSU. He hooked up with pro wrestling personalities Leroy McGuirk and Cowboy Bill Watts, and as his father put it, "ran away, joined the circus and never came home."
After being right in the middle of a worldwide phenomenon for so many years, Ross said the real gist of it boils down to a couple of basic elements you can find in any popular form of entertainment.
"Wrestling has been around in syndication forever, it's the classic good versus evil," he said. "It's like a male soap opera but the men and women are so athletic. It's show business, but I admire them so much for their athleticism."
It wasn't long before Ross was hosting national and eventually global wrestling shows, including hosting the most watched weekly cable series in TV history on Monday Night Raw.
Though Ross is quite obviously one of the biggest names in WWE history, he injected even more star power into the sport with his knack for recruiting talent that would later become global icons such as The Rock and John Cena.
"Way back in the day, The Rock had been cut from the Calgary Stampeders (CFL) football team after playing for ‘The U' (Miami), but he didn't have a job," Ross said. "He had $25 to his name. But I went down there and scouted him and signed him, and as they say, the rest is history."
All the years he spent playing, officiating and simply being around high school and college sports came in quite handy.
Ross said many of the same approaches a college scout and recruiter might take in finding a great athlete can also apply to finding the next big names for WWE.
"When I recruit, I'm like a college recruiter," he said. "Are you an athlete, do you want to play, and do you have the heart to go through and pay the cost it takes to be great? So it's just an episodic television show that doesn't go away."
Ross was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 and also has a wide range of ventures these days including best-selling books, movie appearances and world-famous barbecue. He heads up a line of barbecue sauces, condiments and beef jerky based out of Norman that sell at WWE's official store (WWEShop.com) and at local Homeland stores.
These days, he lives in Norman and continues to serve on staff with WWE as Senior Consultant to Talent Development.
On perhaps the biggest national sports day of the year in Super Bowl Sunday, Ross came by the Oklahoma Ford Blitz studios to chat with Dean and John about everything from the big game, the Sooners and the upcoming WWE events in OKC.
The WWE Presents Raw SuperShow takes place at 7:15 p.m. Monday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, then moves on to Tulsa at the BOK Center at 7 p.m.
Check out the video above to see John and Dean's full interview with Jim Ross.