Former TNA World Heavyweight and owner of Global Force Wrestling, Jeff Jarrett recently took some time to participate in an exclusive interview with PWMania.com. Jarrett revealed the changes of the wrestling industry, new opportunities with Global Force Wrestling, his time with the TNA promotion and his experiences competing in both Puerto Rico and Japan. Check out the complete interview below:
As a third generation entertainer/ entrenched in the business, was training under your dad both beneficial and detrimental? And how did it differ from your training under the late Buddy Landel?
Let me stop you, I wasn’t trained by Buddy. He never trained me. That’s a rumor that got put out there. He and Bill Dundee beat me up for the very first time. That was sort of my induction so he would like to take credit for training me. (chuckles) He would like to say that he put me through what they say is the school of hard knocks. I have often thought and I’ve been told this by numerous people that I respect in the business that have been around a long time. When you’re the son of a promoter and the son of a wrestler, it’s the best thing that could ever happen to them and it’s also the worst thing that could ever happen to them all at the same time. You have to take the good with the bad because being the son of a wrestler and a promoter and being the grandson of a promoter on his stepmother’s side, it’s a wrestling family.
As I work through the difficult times as a rookie in the business and I’ve been in all my active years. I look back at all my life experiences and realize how valuable those early days were riding in the backseat of a car going to all those different towns and put down all those wonder cards or running the concession stands and setting up the ring. Just all the instances that are life opportunities that I got in the wrestling business. Then it just paid off because it opened so many doors for me and I got to wrestle at such a young age in Puerto Rico and in Texas and Japan. It really began to make me a more well-rounded as not just a wrestler where I sort of got my first taste at a young age, loving the production side of it and the promotion side of it. Just all the different components and departments so the short answer is I think is it was a huge benefit.
There is a lot of second and now especially third generation wrestler’s guys out there. The hottest box office attraction out there in Hollywood, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is a third generation, professional wrestler and his ability to connect with the audience is you have to assume, I certainly do that at a very young age he saw his grandfather, a beloved individual. He saw his father travel around the country and become champion every place he went. So that was in Rock’s blood at a very young age and he obviously worked his butt off and continues to work his butt off but parlayed that into a much bigger position other than a professional wrestler and, box office attraction. Now he is a worldwide brand.
Describe your time traveling the independent scene in Japan and Puerto Rico after leaving your Dad’s promotion?
In those days, I was on the tail end of the territory days so to get the opportunity to fly out to Puerto Rico and have a match on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and see the different styles and it was a really wild set of circumstances but it was so fun and fresh and new. I was on one of the anniversary shows and Hurricane Hugo I believe is the name came in and it rained it out. I caught the last flight off the island of the American Airlines flights. Adventurous, would be to say the least would be to a 20, 21, 22 years old and living that type of lifestyle it was pretty crazy.
Then I get over to Japan and Bob Orton (Jr) was my partner and we wrestled some legends over there. I was in a tag match with another gentlemen wrestling and we took on at that time the Midnight Rockers. It was a lot of fun and very adventurous for a young guy in the business. Without question, there was something I could take from it. The different styles in Puerto Rico with Carlos Colon and Japan the strong style even in the Von Erich’s territory in WCCW. The Texas style was different. Even in our home territory it was different. The Louisville crowd was different than the Memphis crowd and people would come in and learn that and you have to learn to live through the people and you have to truly listen to your audience. That is something that I was fortunate enough and able enough to wrestle and have a different style and have a different ear for what ride the fans want to go on.
The initial inception of the Double J character in the WWE in the early 90’s was a flamboyant persona not often seen today. What was the inspiration for the character and could it work today?
The inspiration was very simple. My God give name is J-e double f J-a,double r-e-double f. I am from Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve got a strong passion for country music, I love it. I probably think I’m a better singer than I really am. I had jumped from the boy at home and in those days they called them babyfaces in this area and then I stood on the grandest stage in 1993 in WWF and just that persona took on a whole new life. During that era especially, when you entered into the WWF things were amplified larger than life much more than they are so today. The world has changed and times have changed and no, you can’t introduce a character in 1993 even though that character was truly and extension of my personality. You can’t introduce that in 2015 like you did in 1993, not even close. Obviously that is who I am, Mark Calloway is an extension of his personality that has been as successful as The Undertaker, Stone Cold and same with others. It’s all planned extension of your personality and not playing somebody that you are not. That for me is a recipe for success and not playing somebody you are not. An extension and taking a part of your psyche and really diving into it and letting the fanbase attach to it.
When you returned to the WWE, Jeff Jarrett had an edge about him. How did you feel it reflected the attitude era at the time?
Everybody that was part of that era on both rosters were just stacked full of talent. WCW was stacked top to bottom, the WWE being stacked right to the bottom. Everyone was scratching and clawing and doing their best too. It was drastically different in 97’, 98’, 99’ then it was in 91’, 92’, 93’ and everybody had an edge and some more than others. I had a series of matches with X-Pac and DX which culminated in a hair match and there were some other matchs it was such a unique time and I was fortunate to be a part of both organizations during the Monday Night Wars. From 95-96’ and 96’-97 and 97’-99’. I jumped back and forth so I was there when the nWo was red hot and I was there when Stone Cold and The Rock and DX were red hot. It was a really cool time in the business and the business was red hot.
Describe the “Chosen One” character and the revamped nWo faction. Would you have done anything differently new looking back?
Well obviously, you are not in the position of decision making. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20. But it goes without saying that the original Four Horsemen will always be the best version of the Four Horsemen. The original core group of the nWo, the original three Scott (Hall), Kevin (Nash) and Hulk (Hogan) are obviously the very best version. They do say though that the most sincere form of flattery is imitation so, as it rolled along there were different versions of the Four Horsemen, there were different versions of nWo and then it split to red and black and then it reunited. That’s a part of this business that has always been around and hopefully it won’t always be around but at Global Force what we are trying to do is to truly evolve the presentation and the production of professional wrestling because the world see’s so much more in 2015 it really does. There are Youtube stars that have never been on TV but they have their own Youtube channel and they are truly pop culture stars. That goes to show you in my opinion in 2015 where the world is heading. You don’t need to be on broadcast network like you had to be 15-20 years ago. The age of the digital technology especially with all the social media platforms it’s just a different era.
As part of the nWo and now aligned with the Bullet Club in NJPW lends itself for some interesting in ring competition. What similarities differences can you see in both factions?
Those guys, the Young Bucks, Doc and Karl have already been part of our Grand Slam Tour shows the first seven that we’ve had. The in ring ability of the Bullet Club versus the in ring ability of the nWo and I think those guys (nWo) would be the first to tell you is that without question would say the Bullet Club is off the charts bell to bell more talented. They organically came out from Fergal DeVitt and Karl Anderson and those guys came up through the hard way in the New Japan dojo. They worked their butts off, match after match, tour after tour. The timing was right also as it all exploded all at once. It is a completely different set of circumstances then the nWo when it was real life set of circumstances when Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, arguably two of the biggest four or five guys in the WWF at the time defected and went south and were taking over. That was as real as it gets. But when you talk about competitive and Global Force Wrestling, we are going to bring that type of competition to the forefront.
Scott and Kevin walked in and were making much more money than the established WCW stars. This is a business so they stepped in and they took over from day one. Then as Hogan became a part of that mix then who had already gotten multiple fat pay checks and deservedly so as he moved through his time. That group, all three of them were much better known as the faces of WWF. Now here they are in the Turner group taking over, so this was some real life emotion here coming out and I still believe this was the big success of it. Having AJ (Styles) now as a face of that group is great. Timing is everything and when you get back to the original nWo angle and you can go back with Stone Cold Steve Austin 3:16 was born and then fast forward up to the Bullet Club and how the turn happened organically blossomed from one thing into the next as circumstances would take place, AJ would leave his comfort zone goes over to Japan, shocks the world and he’s pardon the pun a Phenomenal athlete, a phenomenal professional wrestler. He just stair stepped it up and took the Bullet Club, collectively to another level. A couple of months after that timing is everything and Global Force was inking a deal to promote Wrestle Kingdom 9 and they brought me into the Bullet Club with the suit and I whack Tanahashi. The true story and Tanahashi has told people that his own daughter was in tears just because of it. I am not saying that to say something about myself but collectively the group already have that aura around them. Then you have Bad Boy Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale and then Cody Hall, Scott Hall’s son. They just keep stair stepping it up, where it is without question the hottest faction in professional wrestling, bar none.
TNA has seen peaks and valleys in the promotions existence. To what did you envision initially with the promotion & to what have you attributed its longevity?
The simple answer is the alternative. At that time when it was launched, WWE had just bought their competition WCW and, I thought there was a huge void in the marketplace for another organization and launched the company. I attribute the longevity to the rabid TNA fan base that was build starting when the company began in 2002 and continued to be built for many years. That carried them for quite some time. It is that rabid, dedicated and loyal fan base. That is what us at Global Force, we are in the process of trying to do the same. To try and create that brand awareness here in 2015 with multiple styles, multiple talents from different promotions all over and under one umbrella and I’m looking for the chance with GFW and we’ve already had a done so somewhat with the Grand Slam Tour, just that rabid fan base where people really want to be a part of it and really want to pull together and connect with those different fan-bases from around the globe.
Describe the Ring Ka King experience and working with Sonjay Dutt at the time?
It was very rewarding. Endemol from India partnered up with us to be one of my favorite experiences in my entire career in India and be in that setting and with an off the charts group of unbelievable talent. No, not everyone got along but at times that’s what makes up a great locker room where there are egos and striving and competing to be the very best as there were experiences that were very unique. Ring Ka King to this day was a result of the Colours Network. It was incredibly successful in ratings and I would love to go back over there and do another season. But the Indian television market is a unique one and that network quite frankly is like an NBC. It is a major broadcast network and professional wrestling doesn’t have a long term play over there but professional wrestling in India is wildly loved and has a real place in that country.
I’ve recently had the fortune to speak to Nick Aldis & Chris Mordetzky. Both give you a great deal of credit your ability to find talent and assemble tremendous teams to further create opportunities. To what do you attribute this ability, awareness and sense?
I appreciate those guys commenting on it but to me its always simple. Cream always rises to the top and when you look around and I’ve been blessed and fortunate enough, I probably watch more live wrestling for somebody my age then anybody in the world and I’ve just gotten lucky with that. Plus, I grew up in a territory and promotion and wrestled for 7 years for 6-7 nights a week and then I got the chance to go to the WWF and at that time they were touring 20-23 days a month. Then, I went to WCW and I was on not just the majority of television but the house shows as well and so I’ve just had that opportunity. When you see talent, going to show and when now you have the luxury of watching them on Youtube you can see how a guy carries himself, the confidence in his eyes and I can watch a guy literally in the ring and know if he’s sure of himself or not. So you just have to have that aura about yourself and one of the things I absolutely loved about this business is going out there, finding talent, finding guys that really really love it and they have a work ethic and they’ve got the right attitude where they are going to make a career out of this and if I’m going to make a career out of this then I am going to invest in myself, I am going to invest in this business and I am going to dive in head first and realise that you are going to reap what you sew. So if you are going to sew some real seeds of passion early, they are going to reap them when the time is right. Both of those guys (Mordetzky and Aldis) check out all those boxes as far as reaping what you sew.
During your time in TNA your on screen character had seen a number of changes. To which feuds could you attribute further character development?
I have always enjoyed being challenged. The ‘Double J MMA’ was a lot of fun to this day, I am undefeated in MMA bouts and had a lot of fun with that as well. Also the series of matches that I had with Kurt (Angle) at that stage of my career is something that I’m very proud of. I know he pushed me, I hope I pushed him. We turned out some really physically brutal matches but it was rewarding and like any wrestler you have to evolve and evolve with the times and keep challenging yourselves and the audience will latch on to that and realise that the effort is all about that and all about effort and in 2015 the wrestling fan is so acute to what is going on. They do not take a lack of effort ever.
The appearance and capture of the King of the Mountain title on TNA’S Slammiversary PPV stunned the wrestling world. What was the inspiration to create this appearance & match?
It came out of the blue, it came unexpectedly. I didn’t know at first, I had no idea and then once everything was laid out and the opportunity to compete at King of the Mountain match at Slammiversary and then when we tabled the discussions about a talent exchange and potential co-promotions and the opportunities, again at the end of the day it was twofold I made the decision of what was best for my family and what is best for Global Force Wrestling and we persevered through that and we’re looking forward to the weeks and months to come on just what will turn out. It was a lot of raw emotion over there over several days and something I soon won’t forget.
The birth and emergence of GFW has provided a new outlet for several former TNA, WWE and WCW talent. How did the idea come about? Is your vision reminiscent to that of TNA’S initially? And how will the recent television deal allow for viewers available all over the continent and not just the U.S to see them?
The vision is fundamentally, very different. It’s also because of the timing of things. I named the company April 7th, 2014 and went directly and worked to form alliances with major promotions in Japan, Mexico and independent promotions in South Africa, Europe and Australia and really dialed in and the NEX GEN title was about giving guys opportunity which quite frankly are too many to name. Just in Lake County (Ohio) last weekend at the Grand Slam event, the main event of that show was Showtime Eric Young, a guy who is under contract with TNA wrestling has a serious issue in his head that I, a non-contracted TNA talent left his promotion with a belt and we invited him on the tour and out of that he faced Johnny Gargano, a local guy who is a phenomenal talent just a tremendous talent wrestling in his home promotion right there in Cleveland, AIW and that was the main event. That is a part of what we are doing when we are heading to Vegas.
We are going have Kushida the top Junior in the world out of New Japan Pro Wrestling competing for us, we are going to have Bobby Roode, the best wrestler in TNA wrestling, we are going to have Chris Mordetzky, we are going to have Nick Aldis, we are going to have Micki James who is a multi-time women’s champion. Sanada, he is a (Great) Muta protégé. So all of these different talents jigsaw, wrestling under one umbrella and that’s a big part of the vision. Then that’s the bell to bell vision and then you want to take outside of that all you have to do is go to @GFWwrestling our Youtube channel or any of our social media platforms and the word that I use is authentic. We’re diving into guys real life stories, why they want to wrestle, why the want to be in GFW, why they want to main event, why they want to be a champion all of these stories that make our business very very competitive at that’s at the core of it. That people at times, where it really hasn’t been brought to the forefront, there is going to be an enormous amount of competition within our industry and we’re going to document. We release information at the right time and we want to give the Global Force wrestling fans every ability and chance they could get to view Amped and that doesn’t only go for the United States or all of North America it goes for literally all around the world, all around the globe. So that is a challenge for us right now but it’s something we are working our way through and when the time is right we will definitely and Marc, I will probably come back on here with you to share it and we’re excited about releasing those details.