Under the Black Hat: My Life in the WWE and Beyond by Jim Ross is a candid memoir from the voice of a generation of wrestling fans.
On the off chance that you’ve gotten a broadcast wrestling match in the previous THIRTY years, you’ve likely heard Jim Ross’ guttural Oklahoma twang. The cherished long-lasting commentator of WWE is now a symbol to ages of wrestling fans, and he’s not easing back down, having recently endorsed on as the broadcaster of the brilliant new wrestling adventure All Elite Wrestling.
In this follow-up to his bestselling memoir Slobberknocker, he dishes about not just his long vocation, which incorporates supporting worldwide stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena, yet additionally about the difficulties of aging and disability, his split from Vince McMahon, and the abrupt demise of his darling spouse, Jan. The outcome is a blunt, charming, and strikingly human-scale picture, set against the overwhelming background of expert wrestling.
Ross’ climb in WWE mirrors the ascent of expert wrestling itself from a DIY sideshow to a billion-dollar business. Under the Black Hat follows every one of the highs and lows of that wild ride, wherein Jim served as live analyst, but talent manager, finance ace, and surprisingly periodic in-ring foil to dangers like Paul “Triple H” Levesque and Undertaker.
While his job brought him wealth and openness Jim never longed for experiencing childhood in a modest community in Oklahoma, he scraped against the injuries of a whimsical corporate culture and what he saw as a thin vision of what makes extraordinary grapplers—and incredible story lines. When abruptly stricken with Bell’s paralysis, a type of facial loss of motion that makes it difficult to grin, he gazed intently at his biggest dread—being projected out of the reporting stall for great.
Regrouping and finishing on the cusp of another profession in a reconsidered industry, Under the Black Hat is the victorious story of a guy from the farm who made it to the top, took a couple of thumps, and stayed—exactly where his fans like him.
About Jim Ross
Jim Ross is one of the most legendary announcers in professional wrestling history. From his beginnings in Bill Watt’s Mid-South to the NWA, WCW, WWE, and finally, All Elite Wrestling; Ross has called it all.
- WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2007)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1999)
- NWA Hall of Fame (Class of 2016)
- Cauliflower Alley Club: Art Abrams Lifetime Achievement Award (2010)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated: Stanley Weston Award (2002)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Best Television Announcer (1988–1993, 1998–2001, 2006–2007, 2009, 2012
Under the Black Hat Review
Under the Black Hat is Jim Ross’ follow-up to 2017’s Slobberknocker. The book picks up where the previous one left off with Ross in the lead announcer spot for WWE during their most popular period. His second book is a step-up in a lot of ways from his first book as it has not only has more details, but also covers a more interesting time in the business. It’s hard not to think that Ross, no longer relying on WWE for his main source of income, felt more open while writing this as compared to the first.
Ross ran into many challenges during his time in WWE with most of them being because of Vince McMahon. The chairman of WWE often treated Ross as his punching bag and that definitely had an effect on Ross himself. That was bad, but there are other things in this book that Ross treats as being greater insults that simply were not such as being moved from Raw to SmackDown.
Of course, Ross was more than an announcer in his time and he ran WWE’s Talent Relations at a time when they brought in some of the biggest names in wrestling history. These stories are some of the better parts of the book, but there is sadly not enough of them. That era of his career could be have been this whole book and it’s sad that it didn’t make up more of this one.
Ross’ love for his wife came through clear in his first book and is even clearer here. The fact that he lost her, and how he lost her, is incredibly sad, but Ross handles it well as he gives her a fitting tribute.
Ultimately, this book is a good read if you are a fan of the man, but the book often leaves the reader wanting more.
More backstage stories, more anecdotes, more things that we don’t know about things we’ve seen it on TV, more color. Readers know Ross is capable of giving that color if they’ve ever listened to his podcast, but that color is often lacking here.
Other Books You May Like
Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by Mick Foley: Jim Ross provided the calls for some of the biggest moments of Mick Foley’s career and Ross will forever be linked with Missus Foley’s baby boy. This is the first and most famous wrestling biography, and fans of Ross are sure to enjoy it. (If they haven’t already read it.)
Young Bucks: Killing the Business… by Matt & Nick Jackson: Jim Ross left the WWE to head to the start-up All Elite Wrestling. That company might not exist if not for the contributions of the Young Bucks who tell their story here.
Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling by Jim Ross: Ross’ rise from a referee to an announcer is covered here. Ross goes from Oklahoma to Atlanta for WCW and, finally, makes his way to New York and the WWF. It sounds easy, but the journey was anything but.
Under the Black Hat Podcasts
Grilling JR: Jim Ross does a weekly podcast with Conrad Thompson looking back at his long and illustrious career.
Between the Sheets: Any fan of this book will surely enjoy Between the Sheets which looks back at pro wrestling history through the lens of the wrestling media. With episodes going multiple hours, this is the deepest dive into wrestling history out there.