Jim Ross talks about end of WWE run, AEW possibilities and the future

Jim Ross hopes to build up a busy schedule once his WWE contract officially expires at the end of March. Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

In early March, Jim Ross announced his decision to leave the WWE when his contract expires at the end of the month.

Ross, a WWE Hall of Famer who spent the bulk of a 25-year stretch dating back to 1993 in various commentary and talent-related roles with WWE, appeared on Outside the Lines Thursday to discuss that decision and his future, as well as some Oklahoma football insights on Kyler Murray.

Ross was blunt when telling host Ryan Smith about his status with WWE since re-signing with the company in 2017.

"I had two bookings in 2018, so I kind of felt the writing was on the wall," Ross said.

Ross technically appeared on three WWE shows in 2018, but his point is clear. Those appearances came alongside Jerry "The King" Lawler at the Manhattan Center for Monday Night Raw's 25th anniversary in January; at the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on the WrestleMania 34 kickoff show; and as part of the pre-show panel for the Greatest Royal Rumble. Both of those last two appearances came in April.

It came down to a matter of wanting to remain active and working.

"I miss being around people," Ross said. "The main reason I'm leaving WWE is because they weren't using me very much, and I feel like I've got some great years left. I needed to get out of the house, and I need to be involved. I need to be on the road, and I need to be around people."

Ross doesn't want to sit at home stagnant, dwelling on the past. Just as he was returning to WWE in 2017, Ross dealt with the sudden loss of his wife.

"Two years ago this month I lost my wife in a car accident, about 30 seconds from our garage in Norman ... there's no grieving manual that I've ever read, or been recommended to, that tells you how to get through this stuff," Ross said. "All I know is you've gotta keep getting up, and you've gotta keep taking steps forward."

From Ross' perspective, it was simply time to move on from the WWE with the hope of finding a more creatively fulfilling role elsewhere -- but he still had nothing but praise for his longtime boss.

"I had no issues, I wasn't mad at anybody -- there's no major controversy here," Ross said. "I believe WWE in general, as most television producers do, want to get younger. I've been around since the mid-70s doing this job that I truly love doing. When I was unable to get booked, to be utilized, I had to look for Plan B, and Plan B was, 'let's step away gracefully.' Vince McMahon and his family have been amazing to my family."

The natural question, then, is whether Ross will have any involvement with the upstart All Elite Wrestling -- a new promotion funded by the Khan family, who also own the Jacksonville Jaguars and English Premier League side Fulham FC. Though their debut show is set for May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, it seems as though there is no rush for either side to announce any type of deal.

In the meantime, Ross has his sights set on maintaining a busy schedule once his contract ends in a couple of weeks.

"We're talking, I just haven't signed anything yet," Ross said of talks with AEW. "My people and their people are doing their thing. The only agent I ever grew up knowing was a State Farm agent in Oklahoma, [but] I've got a real agent now. I'd like to get in some voiceover work. I wouldn't mind having a radio gig calling college football."