Promoting legend and former TNA owner Jerry Jarrett rips Vince Russo, explains why he brought Vladimir Kozlov to WWE, comments on his friendship with Vince and Linda McMahon
Monday Night Mayhem radio with Jerry Jarrett
Hosts: Big Mosh and Adam
Available at MondayNightMayhem.com.
Jerry Jarrett was welcomed to the show by Mosh, Blade, and DFL, and as Mosh brought the listeners down The Mayhem's "Memory Lane," Jerry mentioned how of all the places he lived (including Atlanta, Ga. for World Championship Wrestling, Dallas, Tex. for World Class Championship Wrestling, and Stamford, Conn. for the WWE, which he went on the record saying, "Being a country boy, I did not fit well in Stamford"), that Nashville, Tenn. is his favorite. He jokingly said that he tried talking Vince McMahon into moving the WWE HQ to Tennessee...without much success. Jerry said that he does have fond memories of his time in the WWE, despite the difference in surroudings.
Jerry wished to bring the fans up to speed on his health since leaving TNA Wrestling: He has been doing well, and has now been able to devote more of his time to his family and to his construction business. "Being outdoors is great. The construction business is stress, but not the same kind of the stress as the wrestling business."
Mosh and DFL asked Jerry about the progression and development of Total Nonstop Action, and whether he thinks the product of the early days is better overall than today, as some fans who have followed the company from Day One may tend to believe. Jerry said very candidly that the "old-school" days of NWA-TNA "bring a smile to his face," as they were a throwback to the '70s and '80s. He was a lot more involved in those early years of the company, and is slightly prejudice to that timeframe, because of his involvement. Jerry went on to say that the judge and the yardstick of success in wrestling is making money. People's opinions are their opinions, but it all boils down to what if their is a bottom financial line.
As to how the development of NWA-TNA first started, Jerry described in detail what ensued leading into the night of the first show. He vividly recalled the time where he sold his stock in the Memphis and Louisville territories to his former partner, Jerry "The King" Lawler. At that point in time, he was out of the wrestling business. After WCW closed up shop and his son departed the WWE, Jeff came to his father. With there being a void with World Championship Wrestling out of the picture, Jerry then bought into the concept of NWA-TNA, something that he does not regret at all in his life -- as he defined it, "trying to do everything you can for your children."
Jerry figures that at that time, despite accumulating some wealth in the business, it would take approximately/around $50 million dollars to get onto broadcast television...something he did not have. They were able to get In-Demand to jump on board for a 52-week PPV budget. Their collective hopes were that word of mouth would help grow the product, which did not happen. The company was out of money, and HealthSouth backed out, but the Carter Family was there to invest into the company's ownership, and keep it thriving at that point—which as all TNA fans know, is true still today.
DFL asked Jerry whether he believes that the criticisms of his son, Jeff, over the years have been harsh and whether or not he sees Jeff returning inside the six-sided TNA ring anytime soon. "Any time you join a family business, any time you follow your father's success, you open yourself to enormous criticism. Jeff knew that going in." He feels that the majority of Jeff's critics have been harsh, but having those "armchair quarterbacks" is a part of the business. Quite openly, Jerry said that "he has no idea nor no knowledge" of whether or not Jeff will appear on television for TNA in the weeks/months to come.
As many fans are aware of, Jerry brought current SmackDown superstar, Vladimir Kozlov (Oleg Prudius) to the WWE Headquarters in Stamford several years ago—a story that caused a lot of buzz amongst the internet. Jerry has an extensive network of dear friends that are Russian, one of them whom has offices on Wall Street and Moscow. That individual asked whether or not Jerry could get Oleg booked to wrestle. Jerry obliged, and said it would not be much of a problem.
By that time, he was not active in TNA booking...Jeff was. He informed his son of the situation, letting him know that "it would be advantageous" of the company to give Oleg a look-see. Jeff said that Dixie was against it, and did not want to invest money into someone who would not produce dividends immediately. TNA was not against Jerry bringing Oleg to the WWE. Jerry very much classifies both Vince and Linda McMahon as friends, and holds them both in very high esteem, so he called John Laurinaitis, left a voicemail, and fast-forward one week later when Jerry and his wife were on a shopping trip in New York City, Johnny Ace returned the call saying, "If Vince says you recommend Oleg, he's signed."
He received a call from Vince to finalize the details of Oleg coming to Stamford, with the intentions of signing a contract. Does he think the world-wide-web blew the story out of proportion? He was not alarmed by it, nor was it a big deal to him, but it was the perception of the wrestling fans. At that time, Jerry was going through heart problems, which led to him having to depart the business from a full-time, day-to-day perspective, and him selling his stock to the Carter Family. He hopes and prays that Oleg continues his development as a WWE superstar, and he wishes him the best. Jerry describes him as "the real deal...coming from good stock."
Jerry was very open about his true feelings for one of the current members of the TNA Creative Team, Vince Russo. "I have no regard for Vince Russo," he said. "I think he is a detriment to the wrestling business, and I don't think he has ever, ever been successful in the business." Jerry continued on by saying that Vince has taken a lot of credit for the WWE's success while he was there, and was "the captain of the ship" when WCW sunk. "I do not consider him an asset to the wrestling business in any way."
On the subject of TNA eventually competing on a one-on-one level with the WWE, Jerry replied by saying: "Bob Carter has a lot of money, but he don't have enough to compete with Vince McMahon. You can't buy competition with Vince...Vince is a third-generation promoter, he knows the wrestling business...His life is the wrestling business 24/7. I can tell you that, because I am one of the few people that stayed in his home with him and Linda...Unless you have the same kind of credentials in the wrestling business, the same kind of money, and most importantly, the same kind of dedication, you cannot compete. Ted Turner could not compete."
Jerry said that he wanted NWA-TNA to have their own niche audience, not to compete with Vince. He wanted to appeal to the fans that loved wrestling. "If you have every show, you can probably know when I quit booking...probably show 25, 27, 28, because the emphasis was on wrestling." The short answer as to whether anyone can compete with the WWE (including TNA), his answer was/is "No."
It has been over 25 years since the legendary angle in Memphis, Tenn. that many fans around the world still remember to this day: Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman. Jerry remembers his time with Andy very fondly: "He was a huge, huge wrestling fan, and was one of the finest people I ever met." He thinks that Andy never let his "star character" get to his head, and actually lets The Mayhem listening audience know that Andy coming to Memphis happened by accident: "Verne Gagne said no, Vince McMahon said no, I said yes." And the rest fans...is history...
Some wrestling critics have stuck to their beliefs over the years that the legendary of World Class Championship Wrestling, Fritz Von Erich, should have taken his promotion national, when business was booming and when The Von Erichs/Freedbirds feud was lighting up the entire world of professional wrestling. Many fans know that after SuperClash III (involving the WCCW, CWA, and the AWA), Ken Mantell and Fritz Von Erich sold WCCW to the owner CWA owner, Jerry Jarrett.
Jerry believes that the opportunities were there for Fritz to go national. However, he does believe to an extent that there could have been more outside/pressing factors and/or demons that were not evident on the surface that Fritz could have been trying to deal with, instead of whether or not he should go national. He does believe after taking over, the company was pretty profitable: "The boys went from broke to making $20,000-$25,000/month from royalty/profit checks." Unfortunately, certain people in power abused themselves to no end, and their "greed" made him say "to hell with it"—and so, he moved back to Tennessee.
If Jerry was asked by Vince McMahon, would he go into the WWE Hall Of Fame, Jerry said the answer to that would be "an easy yes." Jerry gives credit where credit is due, and says that "by far," the most-smartest personal in the history of the wrestling business is Vince McMahon. He considers himself Vince considers him a friend. If you want to hear who Jerry would want to have induct him if the time came for his "Call To The Hall," you have to listen in to find out.
Jerry closed the interview with some words of advice for those who are trying to break into the business: whether it be as a performer or a booker. "Go into the wrestling business loving it with your whole heart....You will be happy whatever you are doing. Those people who go into it for fame, glory, and money, do not usually make successes."
Personally/professionally, Jerry has no regrets on his time in the business, nor we he go back and change a thing. He looks at everything he went through as "a blessing," both negative and positive.
In this one-hour-plus exclusive interview (which many fans have heralded as a possibility for "Interview Of The Year"), Jerry gives his uncensored thoughts and takes on just how close he was to purchasing World Championship Wrestling prior to Vince McMahon buying the company, if his relationship with Jerry "The King" Lawler has been strained over the years, his greatest memories of TNA Wrestling, if there was/is heat between himself and Dusty Rhodes (being the one who was asked to terminate Dusty from his duties at that time in TNA), whether he thinks that "Wildcat" Chris Harris (Braden Walker) and Ron "The Truth" Killings (R. Truth) will achieve success in the WWE and defy the odds of those who believe that TNA stars cannot adapt to the WWE style, just how close Mick Foley was to signing with TNA, the chances of Memphis Wrestling returning to any resemblance of its "glory days," the importance of "telling a story in the wrestling business," why he does not believe in "coddling" wrestlers, whom he classifies as "the most talented" person he has ever worked with, and why he strongly feels why the WWE will not last forever.
You can purchase Jarrett's book, "The Story Of The Development Of The NWA:TNA, A New Concept In Pay-Per-View Programming" through www.Highspots.com, www.Amazon.com, and other internet sites. Also, check out Jerry's official MySpace page (located at www.MySpace.com/JerryWJarrett).
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