Donald Wood sent this in.
Fellow columnists Mike Chiari, Brandon Galvin and myself had former WWE, WCW and TNA star Jeff Jarrett on the show this week, and it was a great episode with plenty of exclusive content.
We talked about Global Force Wrestling, Wrestle Kingdom 9, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Jim Ross, his run in WCW, thoughts on TNA, what it would take to compete with WWE and so much more!
YouTube interview: http://youtu.be/U3ih-RD9dWc
Jeff Jarrett Transcription
Donald Wood: Global Force Wrestling will host the North American presentation of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s “Wrestle Kingdom 9” live on Pay-Per-View on Jan. 4. How would you describe the event to casual wrestling fans who have never seen New Japan wrestling or Wrestle Kingdom?
Jeff Jarrett: How would I describe it? I would have to say that this is a can’t-miss event and that’s really taking on a lot of ground. It’s hard to say in this day and age with so many events and so many Pay-Per-Views. We have all the stars aligning: It’s in the Tokyo Dome, over 50,000 fans, Jim Ross is going to be calling it, the New Japan the promotion is red hot, the Bullet Club is the hottest faction, and the addition of the Flips app it has become the most widely distributed live Pay-Per-View wrestling event in the history of our business. And that really says something there.
Mike Chiari: Global Force Wrestling already has global partnerships with many top-level promotions including both New Japan and AAA among others. Once GFW has its own product and roster how do you plan on using that your advantage? Could we see things like talent exchanges, super shows and things of that nature?
Jeff Jarrett: Absolutely. That’s all part of the Global Force Wrestling plan; establish and get the brand awareness. Over the years, if you rush it to market and it’s not ready it’s a sure sign of failure. So we are taking our time and methodically rolling it out and establishing our brand. The philosophy of us partnering with New Japan is to set up a talent exchange. I think it’s healthy for promotions to work together as oppose to against one another.
Brandon Galvin: Your family has been the industry for decades and you’ve seen every side of the business. When it comes to the creative and storyline building of a company, what do you think resonates most with fans and what they’re looking for? And how will you look to relay that to your audience in GFW?
Jeff Jarrett: In this day and age, this show is a perfect example. Jim Ross with several of our promotional videos said ‘don’t over think things.’ This business is built on championships, hard hitting action, and larger than life personalities. With the videos we have rolled out, we used what I like to call docu-style. With the wrestling fan now, they are so knowledgeable and it’s such a small world. Just today I talked to the Australian fan base and Dublin, Ireland. I’ve done wrestling podcasts promoting Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Brazil, Portugal, United Kingdome, Germany, and South Africa. The wrestling fan is so much more connected and much more knowledgeable than in the past. They want to see that hard hitting action, the very best of professional wrestling, the larger than life personalities, and that’s what we’re going to present.
Donald Wood: When we spoke to Jim Ross in October, he talked about his interest in announcing for a wrestling promotion again. It was announced just a few weeks later that he would be the play-by-play commentating for the Global Force Wrestling pay-per-view. What does adding Ross to the announce team do for the credibility and mainstream marketability of Wrestle Kingdom?
Jeff Jarrett: When New Japan and Global Force Wrestling solidified our relationship and we made it public back in August, our next step was how are we going to bring New Japan to the North America market? It became real obvious that the Dome Show is literally on par with WrestleMania. So when we finalized the Pay-Per-View contracts, we said to ourselves, ‘Who is going to be the English speaking announcer?’ Jim Ross is the voice of today’s wrestling generation, so when he was available it was definitely a no-brainer. I’ve worked with his management people in the past, they are straight up, stand up, and honest guys. We came to an agreement and got him on board. I knew he would take this event to another level, but it has far exceeded my expectations. Just the media requests alone over the last three weeks have gone through the roof. Jim is doing main stream media already like Fox Sports, Grantland, and other promotions like that. Everybody wants to talk to Jim about this event because he is the voice of today’s wrestling generation. When you talk about a talent in this business, you think of a Hulk Hogan. He came on the scene in 1983, had a 20 plus year career, and a main event mega roll. Well, Jim Ross is exactly the same. He is the best of the best of the best. Dating back to the WCW Clash of the Champions and roll through all the WrestleManias Jim has been a part of, when he says this may be the very best main event he has ever called, that’s strong words and that resonates with me. When Jim Ross says things like that, it makes people stop and really think about it. Then you start to see how things are adding up it really has become a can’t-miss event.
Mike Chiari: Ring of Honor is going to have a presence on the Wrestle Kingdom 9 card, and there has been a great deal of speculation regarding GFW and ROH potentially having a working relationship moving forward. Firstly, has any progress been made on that front? And secondly, how vital do you believe ROH involvement could be to GFW’s success?
Jeff Jarrett: The overriding philosophy of Global Force Wrestling is to not only recognize other promotions but help promote them as well. Ring of Honor’s Pay-Per-View a couple of weeks ago, we used our digital space and social media presence to help promote those guys. What Ring of Honor and Global Force have agreed to is to really focus the matter at hand: January 4. reDRagon have phenomenal talent and possibly the show stealer. Their match is 2015 wrestling and beyond. The Time Splitters, The Young Bucks, who I believe is the best tag-team in wrestling today, and the Forever Hooligans is going to be a four corners tag match. No doubt that it will be a potential match of the year and an awesome match. Ring of Honor and Global Force are taking it step-by-step, having patience, and focusing on January 4 at this time.
Brandon Galvin: Jeff, some of the best wrestlers in the world are currently working the independent circuit and making waves throughout the industry. As you scout talent for GFW, are there any specific wrestlers that have caught your attention as a promoter and fan of the sport?
Jeff Jarrett: Well those types of specific talents I hold close to the vest at this time. I said it back in January of 2014, I feel like the business is on the cusp of a real boom period. With Lucha Underground on Del Rey, New Japan coming to Axis, congrats on TNA going to Destination America, and Ring of Honor syndication. You know we are gonna have our roll out in 2015 and I’m very excited. Back to your point, I know the indy guys, I think that’s almost a negative condensation, I call them the free agent market. I think the free agent market is as healthy as it has ever been with established guys that had their runs on TV and the national presence. Much more important, the undiscovered talent is through the roof. It is a really deep talent pool.
Donald Wood: Let’s talk about Global Force Wrestling. There has been plenty of talk about you starting another promotion as you did with TNA, but wrestling fans have yet to see an original in-ring product. Do you plan on making this a weekly television show and is there any timetable for a possible television or pay-per-view debut?
Jeff Jarrett: In 2015, the roll out will continue. I can tell you one weekly show will not get it done in this day and age. The brand awareness needs a constant touch point with your fan base. If not on a daily basis then an hourly basis. With the roll out that we are doing with Wrestle Kingdom 9, the videos leading up to January 4 are going to get much more match specific talking about the exact match ups. We really focused on presenting this product in a new manner. I believe it’s going to be much more of a weekly show. The digital age has consumed with entertainment going online like the WWE Network and New Japan World. But it’s not just wrestling, Major League Baseball has such a strong online presence and other forms of entertainment.
Mike Chiari: With the exception of WCW, no wrestling company has given WWE a true run for its money since the territory system broke down. With GFW’s partnership announcements a lot of people are comparing it to the territories. Do you view it in a similar light? And do you believe you have a business model that is capable of providing WWE with some legitimate competition?
Jeff Jarrett: The territory model those days are gone just because of technology. The partnership and respect of we will help you guys promote this if you help us promote that. I believe rising tide brings all ships up. I believe that’s a philosophy that proves to be successful. When you talk about competition, that’s such a close-minded mentality. It’s not about competing against WWE, we need to worry about our success and our bottom line. In the music business, Taylor Swift can sell out Madison Square Garden seven nights in a row, but three weeks later Garth Brooks can come in. Are they competing against each other? Maybe the press will say this guy sold more tickets or downloads, but I say no. There are different forms of music and entertainment. New movies come out every week but they aren’t in competition they are still in the entertainment business. That’s how I see the wrestling business. WWE has probably 85 or 88 percent U.S. market share in the wrestling space. I want to do everything in my power with Global Force Wrestling to break and get some market share. That’s the real focus.
Brandon Galvin: When you appeared on Jim Ross’ podcast, you discussed your thoughts on the TLC PPV event. Your perspective of watching a wrestling event must be far different than ours. Could you explain to us as a promoter and owner what it is that you look for when you watch another company’s event?
Jeff Jarrett: Well, I believe you probably missing the most important factor when you say that I look at it differently. I need to do everything in my power to look at it through the fans eyes then I’m missing the point. Are they really enjoying it? Why are the enjoying it? And you listen for the reactions. You listen with a trained ear over the years for how they are responding and what is that response. When I watched that PPV, Dolph Ziggler tore the house down, and as a wrestling fan how can I walk away and not like it? It was off the charts. I still have to look at it through the fans eyes and say to myself, ‘Did I enjoy that, will I keep spending my money on it, will I keep going to the website, will I continue to support the promotion?’ those are the most important things. Me being in this business and my family being in this business since back in the 1940s we realized that. The wrestling fan so to speak has put groceries on our table for over 70 years and that is very important to me.
Donald Wood: One of the biggest pieces of news from the past year was you joining New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Bullet Club stable. As a member of heel stables in the past, what do you think makes the Bullet Club so successful and how do you think your inclusion has impacted the group?
Jeff Jarrett: It’s real. When you hear Karl Anderson sit down and talk about it, it’s like, I get it. The original club, the building blocks of it, was four guys in a dojo, and that’s not an easy way to come up in the business. They all organically rose up and came together. Prince Devitt and Karl were real brothers and the people knew it. When they approached me with it they said, ‘Jeff this is right up your alley. We do what we want, when we want, where we want.’ When Devitt left and AJ Styles stepped in, I don’t think the timing could have been better. No disrespect to Devitt who will be a household name in the years to come, but AJ has come off a strong run with a worldwide company and he fit right into that slot. He became the champion, and the Bullet Club went to another level. They found out that Global Force and New Japan were cementing their relationship, they approached me and said, ‘Hey, we want you to be a part of it’. How do you turn that down? They are the hottest faction when I’m talking to Sydney, Australia and Dublin, Ireland, and you go to independent shows and see Bullet Club shirts everywhere that speaks volumes.
Mike Chiari: The vast majority of wrestling fans would probably agree that TNA was at its best when you were at the helm. With TNA transitioning to Destination America and essentially rebooting its product what are some of the main things you believe TNA needs to do in order to reestablish that success?
Jeff Jarrett: No comment on that. I wish those guys nothing but the best, but I want them to figure it out on their own and they will. They got a good group assembled over there and I wish them nothing but the best. I’m happy with them getting a deal with Destination America there is so much there that nobody knew before. It’s healthy for the industry for them to stay afloat.
Brandon Galvin: A lot of wrestlers today appear hesitant to reinvent themselves. How important is it for a wrestler to keep reinventing themselves and have wrestlers ever reached out to you for advice?
Jeff Jarrett: Wrestling is my passion. I love God first, my wife second, my kids third, and wrestling fourth. I love giving advice even though it’s not always good all the time but I try. As far as reinventing yourself and characters it comes from being around the business for so long. You get wrapped up in the character. You have to look at it through the fans eyes you know? The fans love something new and something fresh. You may be in love with a certain part of your DNA in your makeup and your character, that doesn’t mean the fans always will. The audience will tell you certain things they like and don’t like. You have to listen and be able to learn from that. It’s not major overhauls of characters, it’s tweaks. I think that’s what makes a really successful character and a run. Guys like the Undertaker over the years has been a master at it. Goes without saying Hulk Hogan went from the red and yellow to the black and white and that gave him an enormous tenure run so you have to know how to tweak things.
Donald Wood: As a wrestler, you achieved serious success in WCW, WWE, TNA, AAA and other companies around the world. Looking back through the years, what would you consider your proudest achievement in the ring and why?
Jeff Jarrett: That’s tough to say any one thing, you know like we said you evolve. My early days I was very proud of a match I had with Nick Bockwinkle in the first or second year I was in the business. I had a couple of matches with Kurt Henning that went 40 – 45 minutes and I was proud of those. Then you move into the first time I won the Intercontinental title against Razor that was a proud moment. The first time you win the world title of course that has to rank right up there to the very, very top because that’s a reason you get into the business is to be the world champ. Winning the Triple A heavyweight title and be the longest reigning non-Mexican wrestler to hold that title in my opinion is a heck of an accomplishment for me especially at my stage in my career. The series of matches I had against Kurt Angle were some of the most brutal and intense matches I have ever been in and I really enjoyed that. Go back a few more years and the series of matches I had against Shawn Michaels. It’s hard to say one and it’s fun to reminisce but I have to look toward the future.
Mike Chiari: One of the more controversial moments of your career was the WCW Bash at the Beach 2000 incident that saw you lay down and lose the world title to Hulk Hogan. Looking back at that situation now how do you feel about the decision to kind of air backstage dirty laundry in front of the fans? Do you have any regrets about how everything went down?
Jeff Jarrett: I worked for a company, and that company was in shambles, and it was a true microcosm of how that company was being run at that time. There’s not any one person to blame, it was the corporate environment and culture. You talk about football teams, like my beloved Tennessee Titans who have had a terrible year, you can’t really put that on any one individual. There’s new ownership, new General Manager, player personal, new coaches, new assistant coaches, and new players. I think it’s the environment it’s the culture and I think on the flip side of that you have to create a culture. Obviously the Green Bay Packers, they have been winners for years, and their culture is a winning culture. You look at the New England Patriots, it’s a winning culture. There are baseball teams and production teams and movie houses that do things right consistently. That 2000 Bash at the Beach the culture was toxic.
Brandon Galvin: One of my favorite feuds you had was against Raven in TNA for the title. Are there any rivalries or feuds that you enjoyed working on than anyone else?
Jeff Jarrett: Well I’ve touched on a few of them like my matches with Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. Early on in my career, Jerry Lawler, who was a child hood hero, we had a series of matches against the Moon Dogs, it was the hardest of the hardcore and I really enjoyed that. It was a really intense feud. You want me to comment on that night? You could feel the electricity that night. It was really magic that night. When Raven and I built up to that title match, we turned away people, we had more people outside the building than inside. It was a good night that night.