STORY WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER/For Digital First Media
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) brings its Royal Rumble pay-per-view to the Wells Fargo Center this weekend and as it transpires with these types of things, the spectacle will bring with it multiple ancillary happenings like autograph signings from long retired grapplers and independent wrestling organizations looking to ride on the coattails of the big show.
None are more anticipated than Ringside with Jim Ross taking place at Underground Arts. The legendary commentator puts on the one man show in the early afternoon Sunday, allowing fans to whet their appetite before the main event in the evening in South Philly.
“JR is a bona fide, living legend – he’s the voice of wrestling,” said Andrew Goldstein, who is hosting Sunday’s affair. “But aside from just getting to hear the pipes, the guy was behind the scenes for most of the biggest wrestling angles of the last 30 years, from Mid-South to UWF to NWA/WCW, to WWE…he’s either hired, fired, or called the matches of every major wrestling superstar of a generation. So the catalogue of stories JR can and will tell is off the charts.”
A former member of the WWE creative team member, Goldstein helped come up with the storylines for the federation. These days, the Temple University graduate is a transplanted New Yorker where he’s a television writer and producer, a comedian and still a fan of the actions inside the squared circle, taking part in as many wrestling related occurrences as his schedule allows. He’s especially eager to host Ringside with Jim Ross, which features an expansive question and answer segment with those in attendance.
“There’s no question he won’t answer,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
Goldstein sees the Royal Rumble, one of the longest running WWE pay-per-views, as a marquee event for the organization. Set up like a battle royal, the intrigue is ramped up as every two minutes a participant is announced. The audience never knows who is going to come out from behind the curtain and run to the ring next.
“The Rumble is the official starting line for the Road to Wrestlemania so of course I want to see who wins the Rumble match itself,” he said. “Since they’ve attached the “winner gets a title shot at Wrestlemania” stipulation to it, it’s become pretty anti-climactic over the years, as it dilutes the number of competitors with a legit shot to actually win it, but bottom line, the Rumble match – with its countdown format and tradition of kitschy/nostalgic surprise entrants – is always the most fun WWE spectacle of the year.”
On the flipside, as a lifelong wrestling fan, Goldstein longs for the days where there were only a few pay-per-views a year as opposed to a dozen, along with the saturation on both television and house shows.
“Dude, I long for the days when I didn’t have to sit through three hours of wrestling every Monday night just to stay current — it’s brutal,” he said. “The whole business is over-exposed, with 6 plus hours on TV a week — and that’s just the WWE, twelve plus pay-per-views a year, and now an entire streaming service dedicated to WWE’s vast library of footage. It’s too much!”
IF YOU GO
What: Ringside with Jim Ross
When: 2 p.m. Jan. 25
Where: Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., Philadelphia.