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Under the Black Hat

My Life in the WWE and Beyond

Read by Jim Ross

From legendary wrestling announcer Jim Ross comes a candid, colorful memoir about the inner workings of the WWE and the personal crises he weathered at the height of his career.

If you’ve caught a televised wrestling match anytime in the past THIRTY years, you’ve probably heard Jim Ross’s throaty Oklahoma twang. The beloved longtime announcer of WWE is already an icon to generations of wrestling fans, and he’s not slowing down, having just signed on as the announcer of the starry new wrestling venture All Elite Wrestling. In this follow-up to his bestselling memoir Slobberknocker, he dishes about not only his long career, which includes nurturing global stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena, but also about the challenges of aging and disability, his split from collaborator Vince McMahon, and the sudden death of his beloved wife, Jan. The result is a gruff, endearing, and remarkably human-scale portrait, set against the larger-than-life backdrop of professional wrestling.

Ross’s ascent in WWE mirrors the rise of professional wrestling itself from a DIY sideshow to a billion-dollar business. Under the Black Hat traces all the highs and lows of that wild ride, in which Jim served not only as on-air commentator, but talent manager, payroll master, and even occasional in-ring foil to threats like Paul “Triple H” Levesque and Undertaker. While his role brought him riches and exposure Jim never dreamed of growing up in a small town in Oklahoma, he chafed against the strictures of a fickle corporate culture and what he saw as a narrow vision of what makes great wrestlers—and great story lines. When suddenly stricken with Bell’s palsy, a form of facial paralysis that makes it impossible to smile, he stared down his greatest fear—being cast out of the announcing booth for good.

Picking up where Slobberknocker left off and ending on the cusp of a new career in a reimagined industry, Under the Black Hat is the triumphant tale of a country boy who made it to the top, took a few knocks, and stuck around—just where his fans like him.

Photograph by Craig Hunter Ross

Jim Ross has been involved in professional wrestling for more than forty years. Elected into the WWE, NWA, and National Wrestling Halls of Fame, Ross is also a New York Times bestselling author, a BBQ guru, and the cohost of his own podcast, Grilling JR. He is the weekly voice of All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite, shown on TNT in the United States, TSN in Canada, and ITV and FITE in the United Kingdom. In addition to Under the Black Hat, he is the author of Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling and two cookbooks: J.R.’s Cookbook and Can You Take the Heat?

Photograph by Craig Hunter Ross

Jim Ross has been involved in professional wrestling for more than forty years. Elected into the WWE, NWA, and National Wrestling Halls of Fame, Ross is also a New York Times bestselling author, a BBQ guru, and the cohost of his own podcast, Grilling JR. He is the weekly voice of All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite, shown on TNT in the United States, TSN in Canada, and ITV and FITE in the United Kingdom. In addition to Under the Black Hat, he is the author of Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling and two cookbooks: J.R.’s Cookbook and Can You Take the Heat?