Mike Jackson has been wrestling since the early 1970s and the Alabama native doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon.
Jackson – who was known as one of the best “jobbers” during the territory days – made waves more than 40 years after he made his wrestling start in April when his Impact Wrestling TV debut aired on AXS and then went viral on social media.
See, Jackson is no typical “old timer” in the business. At 70 years old he does things that some 25-year olds can’t do in the ring. To know Jackson in 2020, though, you need to understand how he came up in the business to be able to survive in it for so long.
When Jackson was just eight years old his family moved to Birmingham, Ala. and that’s when the young “Action” Jackson fell in love with professional wrestling.
“When I first started watching wrestling – I was probably eight or nine years old – it was guys like Len Rossi, Tojo Yammamoto, Bearcrat Brown and the Mighty Yankees,” Jackson continued. “Those were the guys that I saw on TV here in Birmingham and at the Boutwell Auditorium.”
Jackson started to get involved in the business after attending shows at the Boutwell Auditorium and befriending the son of longtime referee Bob Holland.
“His son would go up every Saturday night to the Channel 42 tapings and help set up the ring and he would keep time for the matches and park cars to make a little money,” Jackson said. “When he moved to Tennessee to go to college I took over that job. I started doing it every Saturday night at the TV station and going up (to Boutwell Auditorium) on Monday night for (famed NWA Mid-America promoter) Nick Gulas.”
Jackson began refereeing some NWA Mid-America spot shows and then began to train to be a wrestler on his own.
“I started petty much training myself and got involved with it from there,” Jackson said of the beginnings of his career.
Suddenly, Jackson was working with some of those same stars that he became enamored with watching on Birmingham TV.
“I loved working with Tojo, The (Wild) Samoans, the Mighty Yankees and I even got to work with Lou Thesz and Jerry Lawler,” Jackson said of working in NWA Mid-America.
Jackson was never a giant in professional wrestling, standing at around 5-foot-10-inches and less than 200 pounds at the time. This was the late 70s, though, and the mid 80s era of giant muscled up bodybuilders had yet to come in wrestling. Still, Jackson needed something to make him stand out from the pack.
“Back when I first got into (wrestling) you didn’t have to weigh 300 pounds and be all muscle,” Jackson said. “225 pounds was pretty good size back then but I loved watching guys like Len Rossi – he was probably the John Cena of the 70s (in Birmingham) – and I loved watching some of the guys that did more of the aerial, high flying stuff.”
Jackson was also athletic and as such he began incorporating high-flying moves into his arsenal, becoming a wrestler ahead of his time.
“I was doing stuff back then that they’re doing on TV today and think they have a copy write on it,” Jackson joked. “I was doing it in the 70s – guys like me and Hector Guerrero – we were way ahead our time I guess.
“We did a lot of that stuff. I wanted to separate myself (from everyone else). I wasn’t big and I wasn’t strong. I couldn’t suplex or bodyslam guysall over the place but I could throw a pretty good dropkick and do a nice flying headscissors and things like that.”
As Jackson gained more experience he also began traveling more. If you can name a territory, he likely worked there. Mid-South Championship Wrestling, Georgia Championship Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida and Jim Crockett Promotions were all homes to Jackson at various points in the 80s.
Jackson most regularly worked with GCW based out of Atlanta and Continental Championship Wrestling based out of Dothan, Ala., as well as working TV tapings for Crockett.
“First of all, it paid really well,” Jackson said of working with the Crockett’s and GCW. “When I first started working over in Georgia there was guys like Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Andre The Giant and Ivan Koloff; some of the biggest names in the world. I first went there in 1974 and worked for them off and on for about 15 years.”
Jackson also had fond memories of working with the Fuller’s in Continental in his home state of Alabama.
“I worked for them for several years,” Jackson remembered. “Dothan was on Saturday night at the Houston County Farm Center. It was always packed, a good place.
“It was great (in Continental). I got to work with some great guys like Bill Ash, Scott McGee, Scott Armstrong, Larry Hamilton, the Fullers, Jimmy Golden, Austin Idol. There was some great guys.”
Jackson said that legendary Hall of Famer “Bullet” Bob Armstrong – who he met in Continental – was someone he owed a lot to in his career.
“Continental was great,” Jackson continued. “It was short trips and good money. “Bullet” Bob looked after me over the years (there) and helped me out a lot. I feel like I owe him a lot.”
Jackson became known as one of the top “jobbers” during the territory years, but he didn’t look at that as a negative and took pride in making all of his opponents look great and in return many stars at the top of the card – like Ric Flair, Bobby Eaton and the like – liked to have good, competitive matches with him, as well.
Despite wrestling legends over his career like Flair, Eaton, Thesz, Koloff, Bob Armstrong, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and countless others, it’s actually a name that might surprise some that stands out as his all-time favorite match: Allen Martin of the USWA tag team Rock ‘n’ Roll RPMs.
“I’ve wrestled Ric Flair three times but probably the best match I ever had in my life was with Allen Martin of the Rock ‘n’ Roll PRMs,” Jackson said. “There are some really good guys around here that I like to work with (in the Birmingham area), too.”
As Crockett’s promotion became WCW, Jackson continued to work as an undercard performer there for several years and even made appearances for the World Wrestling Federation in the early 90s before those TV appearances began to dry up.
“When you get old they just kind of put you out to pasture because you’re ‘not good for TV’ anymore,” Jackson said. “I started doing a lot of independent shows and different things and still travel a pretty good bit and still get some pretty good bookings to this day.”
Since the early 90s Jackson worked for various promotions around the country, trains younger wrestlers and even promotes shows of his own. As the years went on, Jackson remained in relative good health and continued to work.
“I’ve had my share of injuries,” Jackson said. “I had knee surgery on my left knee, I separated my shoulder and I’ve had a couple or three teeth knocked out, but I haven’t had the back or neck problems that a lot of guys have that end their careers.”
While Jackson continues to work in wrestling at 70 years old even he admits that in 1974 he could have never dreamed he’d still be in the ring in 2020.
“Absolutely not,” Jackson emphatically said about whether he thought when he was younger he would be wrestling this long. “I really didn’t think that but God was good to me. I’m very well blessed and I’m probably in better health right now then back when I was 30 years old.
“I work out regularly, do a lot of cardio stuff. I’m 70 years old and if this (COVID-19) virus wouldn’t have happened I had four bookings for this week alone.”
Jackson said it’s his love for the business that keeps him going all these years later and he has no plans of stopping.
“I love the business and it’s good for me,” Jackson said. “I made some good money at it, I like to travel, I like to meet the people and I like the competition.
“I plan on doing it – I don’t know if I have 70 more years left – but I’m going to keep going as long as the good Lord will let me.”
Most recently Jackson became the talk of the wrestling world when footage of his Impact Wrestling debut went viral on social media. Clips of his patent ropewalk and dives were shared and viewed millions of times. Jackson, who doesn’t use the Internet, had no idea until people started calling and texting him.
“I had no idea because I’m not a computer person,” Jackson joked. “I do understand that it went viral but I didn’t until I had different people from different organizations call me and different guys I wrestled with call me and say they saw it. It got over pretty good I think.”
His appearance for Impact Wrestling came after Impact officials saw him work at a wrestling fan fest in Charlotte, NC last year.
“I was in Charlotte at the fan fest there and those guys came up to me and talked to me and asked if I would like to be involved with Impact,” Jackson remembered. “They flew me to Philadelphia to a House of Hardcore show and I did my thing there and it got over like a million dollars and then they brought me to the TV show in Atlanta in March right before everything (with the virus) went down.”
Jackson said that when things settle down from the COVID-19 pandemic, Impact has already reached out to him about returning.
“They pay really well and the guys there are really good to work with and they’re strictly business and I like that,” Jackson said of Impact. “As soon as this virus thing gets over with they offered me the next three TV tapings, so I want to keep working with them. I’m flattered really.”
With more than 40 years in wrestling, Jackson said he owes a lot of it to his faith.
“Wrestling has been good to me,” Jackson said. “I made a good living at it, I have a nice house, I have nice vehicles, but the best thing that ever happened to me was when Jesus saved my soul. I want to give all the glory to God. He’s been good to me.”
Jackson said that he enjoys working with younger talent and helping them out but has spotted an issue that he hopes some of the young guys can fix in the business.
“There are some young guys out there that are really great,” Jackson emphasized. “Guys have to understand, though, it’s a business and you have to treat it like it is.
“The problem with wrestling today, I think, is that there is too many wrestlers and not enough fans. Everybody is a wrestler now a days and that is not a good thing for our business. Guys need to look at it as a business and treat it like it’s a business and they’ll go far with it.”
As Jackson continues to tear it up in the ring across the country, he also wants fans to contact him to purchase DVDs, T-shirts, pictures or anything else. To contact Jackson to purchase any merchandise, call him at 205-936-9050.