- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Six years after Jim Ross started making J.R.’s Bar-B-Q sauce, his wife, Jan Ross, says she still gets a little kick out of opening the refrigerator and seeing her husband’s face on the label staring back at her.

“It’s like, ‘Hello, there he is,’” Jan Ross told The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/1ylYng2 ).

A longtime Norman resident, Jim Ross retired from his 20-year career as a WWE color commentator last year, and has been in the process of reinventing himself.

Ross still wears his trademark black Resistol cowboy hat around town and can be seen on the sideline of most University of Oklahoma football games.

Since his retirement last September from the WWE in part because of facial paralysis from Bell’s palsy, Ross has embarked on a touring, one-man show called “Ringside: An Evening with Jim Ross,” and has done some mixed martial arts announcing. He also has a hefty online presence with about 1.2 million Twitter followers and hosts a popular weekly podcast, The Ross Report.

“Someone asked me recently when I will actually retire, and I said, ‘When I take that final dirt nap,’” Jim Ross said.

Dedicating more time to cultivate his growing barbecue product business is part of his process of reinvention, he said.

Like his trademark catchphrase from his WWE days, Jim Ross now hopes that “business is about to pick up.”

He doesn’t like to talk sales numbers, but said the J.R.’s brand is growing, albeit not as fast as he would like.

“Business has grown exponentially every year, but as any entrepreneur will tell you, we’re not selling enough,” he said.

Manufactured locally by Oklahoma City-based Clements Foods Co., the J.R.’s Bar-B-Q line includes spicy mustard, chipotle ketchup, in addition to both original and spicy barbecue sauce, beef jerky and seasoning salt.

Jan Ross developed the flavor profile for the barbecue sauce in the couple’s home kitchen, basing it off the sauce that Jim’s mother made at home while growing up in the town of Westville in Adair County.

Jim Ross also is looking into offering a diabetic-friendly barbecue sauce.

The line has a growing network of distributors around the world, including in Canada and the United Kingdom, and negotiations are underway to get J.R.’s products distributed in Australia. A grocery store chain with stores across the southeastern United States also is considering carrying the products, he said.

Locally, J.R.’s Bar-B-Q products are sold at eight metro-area Crest Fresh Market stores and Norman’s three Homeland stores.

“We are very proud to have his products in our store. We do have a lot of people who ask for them,” said Tommie Wright, manager of the Homeland store at 24th Ave NW and W Robinson in Norman.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com

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