ORLANDO -- WrestleMania weekend was always supposed to be a homecoming for Jim and Jan Ross.
Long before Sunday's WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross was in talks to return to the WWE, where he provided the soundtrack to some of the most memorable moments in the company's history from 1993 to 2013. The plan was he would call one match at WrestleMania and would rejoin the company on a part-time basis; calling big matches at select events and hosting specials on the WWE Network.
As it looked like a deal would eventually happen, Jan, who married Jim in 1993, began to prepare for her favorite weekend of the year. Jim was already booked to host two of his popular one-man shows, "Ringside: An Afternoon with Jim Ross & Friends," in Orlando, but Jan was overjoyed at the prospect of once again seeing her husband back with the WWE.
"She and I started to talk about this weekend a long time ago," Ross told ESPN.com. "She was excited about the potential of me rejoining the WWE. She always believed that was our home. She had great friends and great relationships there from Vince and Linda [McMahon], right on down. They loved her, especially Linda. Linda McMahon was one of my wife's big heroes. I know Jan had done ample shopping because we had been invited to go to the Hall of Fame [induction] so we could walk the red carpet. She was really, really excited about that. Her other wish was to hear me get introduced and hear, 'Boomer Sooner.' Maybe she will."
Jan died on March 22, shortly after she was struck from behind while riding her Vespa home from the gym and suffering multiple skull fractures. The news shook the wrestling world, which had come to know and love her.
It was impossible to know Jim without knowing Jan during Ross' time with the WWE. She was his rock and served as a mother figure to many WWE wrestlers during Ross' time as the head of WWE's talent relations where he signed many of the company's biggest names from The Rock and John Cena to Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton.
"So many of them knew my wife and many of them reached out endlessly in the last 10 days, which has really been cool," Ross said. "They knew Jan well. When we'd have someone come off the road to Stamford to do [stuff], we'd have them over. Steve Austin came there a lot and I think that's where we bonded. He'd come in and bring his gear and he'd say, 'Can I use your washer and dryer?' Well, she wouldn't let him use the washer and dryer, she just did his laundry, but she did that for others and she cooked. It was a female voice to talk to that cared. So as the 'coach's wife,' she was the star of the team, much more than me; she was the star of the team."
Ross knows Jan had two wishes for this weekend, and while the couple wasn't able to walk the red carpet of the WWE Hall of Fame together, he believes she will be looking down on him and smiling as "Boomer Sooner" plays at the outdoor Camping World Stadium Sunday and he walks down the ramp to call a match at WrestleMania.
"I want to believe and I have no reason not believe that it's going to feel good," Ross said. "I have seen my friends here and they're my extended family. I spent 21 years with that company. I'd like to think Jan and I played a small part in helping retool the publicly traded WWE after staving off bankruptcy and some bad financial problems that we all battled through. It would be very cathartic. She wanted to go shopping and wear her good threads on the [Hall of Fame] red carpet, and she wanted to hear the crowd reaction if I got to come down to call a match. We can't do anything about the Hall of Fame and the red carpet, but maybe we can do something about the other."