December 28, 2008
Catching up with Jerry Jarrett
By MATT JOHNSON - SLAM! Wrestling
Recently, SLAM! Wrestling writer Matt Johnson was able to interview TNA founder Jerry Jarrett by email. In this interview, Jarrett includes updates on his health, future possibilities in the wrestling business, and some thoughts on TNA. Jarrett left TNA nearly three years ago after a falling out with the current management team.
Matt Johnson: First and foremost, how is your health these days?
Jerry Jarrett: My health is good. In fact, my doctor says I am in better health than prior to my heart surgery. I feel good and finally have my strength back. I think this is due to me working physically every day and getting away for the stress of TNA.
MJ: Are you still active in the construction business and/or any other business ventures, or are you retired?
JJ: I don't ever intend to retire. I tried it once and felt useless every morning when I began my day of golfing or fishing. I'm happy to report that we are truly blessed in these tough times because we have an abundance of work. My only other business is a small international television distribution company.
MJ: When you look at TNA right now, do you take pride in what "your baby" has grown into, or are you frustrated the direction of the company and missed opportunities?
JJ: This question is kind of like asking a parent if they still love their child in spite of it being so ugly. I hope and pray that TNA prospers. I have three beautiful grandchildren that depend on the survival of the company.
MJ: Do you foresee any scenario where you could again be involved in the wrestling business, or has that ship sailed?
JJ: Two different groups overseas have initiated talks with me about the possibility of getting involved again. The prospect of traveling to Europe and the far east are exciting. However, my conditions are rigid and expensive. I would never enter another TNA situation.
MJ: Were you a proponent of the six-sided ring? Why or why not?
JJ: Jeff [Jarrett] was the proponent of the six-sided ring. I had mixed emotions regarding it. The purest wrestling promoter in me preferred the traditional ring. The side of me that has always pushed the envelope wanted to give it a try. In hindsight, I don't think it is a factor. The ring is only a stage in which you present your entertainment.
MJ: What was the story on you no longer being a part of the creative side of TNA? How did the situation unfold?
JJ: I grew exhausted of putting my name to a product that I did not approve. I simply walked away from that aspect of the business. My entire career has been spent trying to create reality based matches. Others involved in the creative side of the business thought reality based matches was old fashioned. I felt the company could never be successful without an effort toward reality.
MJ: There has been a lot of rumors and speculation as to the story of you leaving TNA. What is the real story on your departure from the company?
JJ: To answer this question truthfully becomes a personal matter. I had attempted to leave the company much earlier, but deferred because of personal concerns and issues. Those personal concerns and issues still remain. Therefore, I'll leave the answer to the pundits.
MJ: Are there people in TNA that you still keep in contact with?
JJ: No. There are many who are no longer at TNA that stay in touch.
MJ: When Vince Russo was brought back to TNA in 2006, it was reported that Jeff may not have supported the idea. To your knowledge, what is Jeffís feeling toward Russo currently?
JJ: I have no idea how Jeff feels now about Russo. I have spent years trying to figure out that relationship.
MJ: Did you watch any of the Hulk Hoganís Celebrity Championship Wrestling on CMT? What were your thoughts?
JJ: I have little opportunity to watch any wrestling because of the schedule of my construction work. I get up at 4:30 a.m. and seldom get home before dark. By the time I have dinner, I'm ready for a good night's sleep. My friend Jimmy Hart called and advised me about the new show. I recorded the show and was less than impressed. I loved the Hogan reality show, but this show could stand to be improved in my opinion.
MJ: On a related note, Eric Bischoff suggested that the reality show was the first step towards himself and Hogan getting back in the wrestling business. What do you think the potential of a new wrestling promotion headed by Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan would be?
JJ: I think there is a great opportunity for anyone who knows this business and has the financial resources to succeed. I do know that the Hogan name is a brand that could launch many shows.
MJ: Do you currently watch any of the WWE product? What do you like and dislike about the product?
JJ: The answer is the same as my answer (regarding Hoganís show). My schedule simply doesn't permit much television time.
MJ: Essentially, you played a strong role in getting Vladimir Kozlov hired by WWE. What is your impression of his performance thus far? He is pushed as one of the top guys on Smackdown. Can the traditional foreign heel work in 2008?
JJ: I am very proud of Oleg and grateful to Vince McMahon and WWE for giving him the opportunity. I think a good talent, a great promotion, and proper exposure are the important factors in box office success. I think the most successful roles are when someone plays themselves. Oleg is a Russian and a national champion in the real world. His role in WWE is reality based.
MJ: After reading the journal you published in 2004 and hearing several interviews you participated in, I am struck by your extensive knowledge and insight about the wrestling business. Do you see any way for you to pass the knowledge on to others in the future? What are possible vehicles for you to do that?
JJ: I was blessed to have been exposed to some of the great promoters and wrestlers when I began in this business. I tried to be a sponge and remember every bit of advice they passed along. This advice and wisdom served me well and I had a long run of success in the territory days. I have not been as successful passing the advice along. I make interviews as often as I can when they relate to something that might help the next generation in our business. I have a little segment on the website, Who's Slamming Who, and I'm in hopes someone will find the broadcast helpful in their wrestling career. There was a time when many of the talent from our territory filled the rosters of WWE and WCW. Today few of the talents from that time are active. I was asked about a book and up until now felt the effort would not be successful. Those people who the book might help, would not appreciate any advice. Those who don't need the advice would have no reason to read the book. This leaves my family to buy the book, (lol, no this leaves just some of my family to buy the book.)
MJ: Use this space to promote anything that you want to promote or to share any thoughts not covered in your previous answers. Thanks so much for your cooperation.
JJ: I am sometime sad that the reality of yesterday is not attempted in today's wrestling. However, I'm thrilled and happy to find so many dedicated fans to our business. Wrestling has been around for centuries and will be around a long time, thanks to the interest and dedication of the fans. Reality is already back and will continue to grow and this will assure the survival of professional wrestling.
Matt Johnson is a researcher and historian of World Championship Wrestling who continues to follow the business closely today. He graduated from Northern Michigan University with a double major in English and Social Studies and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.