Four Divas join J.R. for book cover shoot

by Phil Speer at (8/29/02)

Jim Ross donned a black apron to go along with his black Resistol hat. The voice of RAW and the head of World Wrestling Entertainment's talent relations department, Ross shot the cover of his next cookbook Wednesday at his Connecticut home.

Four WWE Divas -- Lita, Stacy Keibler, Terri and Trish Stratus -- joined him, as they will also be part of the cover. The book is titled "Raw Heat," and subtitled "Real BBQ: True Tales of the Grill, the Ring and Country Cookin'." It's due out in May 2003 from Simon & Schuster's WWE Books division.

"It's really great to do it at J.R.'s house with this being his cookbook, and knowing that this is where he does his barbecuing," Terri said. "It makes it more authentic to me. It makes the cover more authentic to be in his backyard."

The cover of J.R.'s first cookbook, "Can You Take the Heat?", was also shot at his home -- specifically, in his kitchen - and featured The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin with J.R. on the front, and Debra and J.R. on the back.

"It's flattering to know that Stacy and Trish are filling the shoes of Stone Cold and The Rock," said Stratus, who participated in at least one photo session Wednesday with Keibler. Which Divas will actually appear on the cover -- and which will appear on the back cover -- will be determined later.

The four female Superstars gave up what would have been a day off, but they said it was worth it.

"It's always an honor to be on a cover because it's a great thing to frame," Stratus said. "I have a room where I display all my covers and it's just a proud example of your hard work. Plus, a book is forever."

Keibler added that she enjoys the opportunity to hang out with her fellow Superstars outside the workplace.

"It's really been fun being here with the girls and with J.R. because we're not at work; we're not stressed out. We're having a good day," she said. "It's always enjoyable to work with the talent outside of the ring. And J.R.'s hilarious."

Indeed, Ross dished out more than his fair share of one-liners in between photo-taking. When a WWE official checked on Trish's hair, J.R. quipped, "How does my hair look?"

Ross said he has submitted 165 recipes to Simon & Schuster, and officials there will pick the best for "Raw Heat." He said the recipes came from his mother, grandmother, friends of his family, his wife and himself.

"My wife and I both like to cook," he said. "I find it kind of therapeutic. I think more men should learn to cook. We all like to eat. When you've been in between marriages a couple of times like I have, you find yourself wanting to entertain a lady friend, and sometimes it's nice to be able to cook for them. And then sometimes when you're just by yourself, it's good to be able to cook yourself something good as opposed to ordering a pizza or getting Chinese delivered."

But Ross promises that the book will be about much more than cooking.

He'll feature behind-the-scenes stories from WWE and other promotions for which he's worked. The tales will be short, but considerably longer than the brief anecdotes in "Can You Take the Heat?" Ross also says he plans to include some top-10 lists, such as the Superstars' favorite catering sites.

"In my job as the head of talent, I have the occasion to talk to the talent on a variety of issues, personal problems and challenges in their lives, concerns about their career and their creative direction," he said. "(I'll include) things of that nature that, more than just J.R. the announcer. But then J.R. the announcer has had the privilege of seeing a lot of real interesting matches and being involved in a lot of interesting periods.

"We're going to do another book, about my career, in another year or so. So this will be kind of a precursor to that."

The book will also feature stories about Superstars who have passed away, such as members of the Von Erich family, Andre the Giant, Brian Pillman and Owen Hart.

"My greatest memories of Owen were the fun things that he did," Ross said. "The ribs that he played on me personally were really fun, and I'll always remember those. So I think in the end of the day all that stuff will be a fun read, and I hope in a small way it'll honor the memory of some of the guys who were here with us."