Jim Ross remembers the first SmackDown after 9/11

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September 11, 2013

WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross reflects on the first SmackDown after 9/11.

Mr. McMahon worked the telephones, speaking with everyone from the Governor of Texas to the Mayor of Houston, among many others, with the idea to produce SmackDown live from Houston on Thursday night. It would be the first public assembly of its kind in our country since the tragedy.

“Tonight, the spirit of America lives here in Houston, Texas,” McMahon stated from center ring as he opened the broadcast that was hosted by Paul Heyman and me. It was as emotional and as unique a broadcast as I was ever challenged with in my career and I’ve done a few. Vince McMahon’s leadership was truly an inspiration to me. I think I can speak for Paul Heyman, if I dare, in that regard, as well. At that time, Heyman and I were not a part of the SmackDown broadcast team, so getting the announcing nod that night was an amazing honor and of which I will forever be indebted to WWE’s Chairman of the Board.

I can’t remember a single bout that was held that night.

Here’s what I do recall:

Lilian Garcia’s stirring rendition of our National Anthem. Bone chilling.

Every WWE Superstar — friends and foes alike — coming to the stage at the beginning of the night.

Retired Naval Lt. Commander and Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Michael Thornton sitting at ringside. It was this American hero who was so instrumental in getting Houston’s city fathers to allow the event to take place.

The amazing fans of Houston for packing the arena with amazing emotion and patriotism.

By the time that we went on the air Thursday night, I think that I can safely say that few of us, if any, had more than a few hours sleep in 72 hours. However, the atmosphere Thursday night, Sept. 13, 2001, in Houston was the most uniquely significant adrenaline rush that I’ve ever experienced.

I was proud to be part of the WWE team — and even prouder to be an American.                         

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