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WWE Hall Of Famer Jim Ross Defends WrestleMania Booking Of Undertaker & Shane McMahon

WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross, known affectionately to fans as “Good Ol’ J.R.,” was the featured guest on the most recent episode of the PWI Podcast, which is available via iTunes and PWI’s official website.

The show is the official podcast of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, which is one of the most respected media outlets in the world of professional wrestling. Speaking to PWI Senior Writer Al Castle, Ross touched on a number of big stories, most notably the forthcoming WrestleMania match between The Undertaker and Shane McMahon. He noted that the much-anticipated bout is on the minds of almost every wrestling fans these days, but not everyone is enthusiastic about the pairing.

“I can tell you I was in Las Vegas for the press conference for my fight the week that Shane McMahon came back to television,” Ross explained. “The day after, as a matter of fact, (I was) in the Oklahoma City Airport, where I rarely get stopped and asked wrestling questions anymore because I’m there so damn much. And all kinds of acquaintances and airport staff were asking me about Shane McMahon. In Vegas it was the same story… So a lot of people are talking about it. And obviously when you have a lot of people talking about something they’re not all going to like it. I get it and I don’t have a problem with people expressing themselves and their opinions. But when people are so adamant that they know without a shadow of a doubt that this is bad booking, I sometimes am embarrassed for them.”

Ross also expressed confidence that Shane McMahon and The Undertaker will have an “extraordinary” showing when they meet for the Hell In A Cell Match at WrestleMania 32.

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Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker battle it out at the WWE SummerSlam 2015. Lesnar broke ‘Taker’s “undefeated streak” of 21 years at WrestleMania 30. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)

The Undertaker has been a mainstay on the WrestleMania card for over two decades. The so-called “Dead Man” amassed an “undefeated streak” of 21 wins until he was pinned by Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 in 2014. Although rumors have swirled about Undertaker’s retirement since then, he has returned to the ring numerous times. He faced Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 31 in 2015, picking up a win in that contest.

As reported by WrestlingINC, Shane McMahon was announced as Undertaker’s WrestleMania opponent when he returned to WWE on February 22. As noted above, their bout will take place inside the Hell in a Cell enclosure, a setting in which the Undertaker has had some of his most career-defining moments. A further stipulation of the match holds that Shane O-Mac will get control of Monday Night Raw if he wins the match.

Asked by Al Castle if full-time wrestlers would be justified in feeling slighted that they are not getting a shot at Undertaker because of Shane McMahon’s return, J.R. said that he did not think any such grievances were well-founded. Ross drew upon his decades of experience in the business in explaining his position.

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Global Media Executive Vice President Shane McMahon and his sister, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Executive Vice President of creative development and operations Stephanie McMahon. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“It’s not the first time and it’s not the last time that people are getting passed over,” Ross said. “I found wrestlers that have complained regularly, loudly— discreetly loud— about their spot being taken by a non-regular normally didn’t work hard enough or smart enough during the year to keep their spot. I heard that same thing. What do you think would happen in Bill Watts’ territory when he would bring in Andre the Giant to work the Super Dome or Dusty Rhodes or Tommy Rich or the NWA champion? You’d get the same thing: the guys in the locker room bitching and moaning that somebody was coming in and taking their pay off… At least these guys who are on the roster are getting a weekly check, so they’re still going to get paid for their efforts or non-efforts at WrestleMania. Is it the ideal scenario? No. The cure is to make yourself indispensable and invaluable for the next one.”

Indeed, prominent spots in this year’s big WrestleMania event have come about even with Shane McMahon filling a key spot on the card. Injuries of rising stars like Cesaro and Neville – the latter of whom suffered a nasty ankle injury during a Monday Night Raw event earlier this month – have made booking this year’s hallmark WWE show a bit dicey. Nevertheless, the card has a few noteworthy matches, as is apparent on WWE’s official site, including a title bout between Triple H and Roman Reigns, and a street fight pitting Dean Ambrose against former UFC and WWE champion Brock Lesnar.

WWE WrestleMania will take place on April 3 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas.

[Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images]

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