In Defense of… 07.05.06: Jeff Jarrett (Part 1 of 3) [REPOST]
In Defense of…
By JP Prag
Jeff Jarrett (Part 1 of 3)
Hello everyone still in a food coma, and welcome back to In Defense Of…! Although a little late, our article has returned for an insane challenge. But before we get there, be sure to read our last case for the nWo Split, which can be found in Part 1 and Part 2.
And with 76.2% of the vote, The nWo Split has been found:
Another one… for the good guys. I love being able to use that phrase whenever we do an nWo related case. Anyway, that was all for the nWo 10 year anniversary. It’s July, which means it’s time for a whole new direction!
Now, perhaps this is your first time clicking on In Defense Of…? Maybe you didn’t read about the nWo Split, the European Championship, Jeff Hardy, DDP, Hulk Hogan, the World Heavyweight Championship, Scott Steiner, the Ultimate Warrior, Vince McMahon in the Death of Owen Hart, Larry Zbyszko, Scott Hall, New Jack, the McMahon-Helmsley Era, Mike Awesome Leaving ECW, Sid Vicious, the Undertaker, the Sport of Professional Wrestling, Lex Luger, WCW Thunder, the Brand Extension, Goldberg, Vince not buying out WCW’s contracts, Earl Hebner Screwing Bret Hart, Dusty Rhodes: Head Booker, The Finger Poke of Doom, Kevin Nash, the Elimination Chamber, or even Eric Bischoff. It might be that you think one man controls an entire organization unjustly, and only uses it to cement his own legacy. Well, for those new to the concept, this article has a pretty simple premise:
Certain people, events, organizations, and storylines in wrestling history have gotten a bum wrap. Some writers have presented overtly critical comments and outright lies as fact, and others have followed suit. Well no more! “In Defense of…” has one reason: to bring the truth to the wrestling fan!
And that’s what I intend to do.
Me? I’m the One and Only JP, and I’m on vacation this week. You would think that would give me more time, but you would be sorely mistaken.
Some dame walked into my office and said…
Our story begins a long, long time ago with a man named JS:
My case is Jeff Jarrett.
I have been a huge fan of his ever since we started calling him J-E- Double F, J-A- Double R-E---- Double T! Yet, it seems that every so called smart fan on the net has it in for him. He seems to be the most hated guy this side of Triple H. And all I want to know is WHY? What has he ever done? He has always been the blue print for a cocky heel, good on the mic, excellent in the ring, and could carry any feud.
And I know a lot of the complaints are about how he is dominating TNA, but even when the WWF didn't pick up his contract during the invasion, no one shed a tear for him. So my question is, can you defend him? Or at least tell me why he's such a bad guy.
Next up was 411mania’s own (sort of) John Dee with:
I’m telling you now though dude, if you ever want to lose a case, take on the one I dared you to do - defending… Jarrett’s never ending title runs .I don’t think it could be done.
After that is was Mark Radulich with:
In Defense of Jeff Jarrett - TNA Champion (I actually know what the complaints are and I think these people are full of crap, I'd love to see man defended)
But that wasn’t enough for Rick Cobos:
Jeff Jarrett: TNA's constant "main attraction" regardless of who the TNA champ is
Still with more was Jon Foye and this synopsis:
I have a case I would love to see. Everyone in the IWC seems to knock Jeff Jarrett; saying he does not deserve the NWA title, that he uses his backstage stroke to regain the belt at the expense of others, and that he is not a great wrestler. This comes despite the fact that the man is a consummate professional, has been in the business ALL HIS LIFE, and is great at manipulating a crowd.
And then Aaron Dorman had to add this:
Defend Jeff Jarrett. All folks ever do is crap on him, but ignore the fact that Austin held him down and how over he was in his last WWF run, not to mention that he was really the last great star of the territories
But what about Jason from Brooklyn, NY? What did he say:
I think u should do an in defense of Jeff Jarrett, he’s probably the most hated man in wrestling today, due to supposedly keepin’ himself on top, which is part of what I think makes him an effective heel.
Daniel Norman has less loving reasons for me to defend Jarrett:
I'd love to see and try you defend Jeff Jarrett.
The guy is only a multiple time world champion because during WCW's demise they threw the belt at anyone (see: Russo, Vince and Arquette, David) and his daddy owns TNA. Even when he is not the NWA champion in TNA he is always trying to turn the focus to him. I might watch TNA more often if Jarrett wasn't pulling a HHH times 10. The stroke is a crappy finisher and he is not the wrestling god he seems to think he is, that's JBL's role!
Plus there was… what? Oh, that’s all Stenographer found on a quick search. But the Jarrett comments have been everywhere, which makes him a perfect candidate for In Defense Of…!
Jeff Jarrett. There are few people today more vilified by the IWC crowd than this man. TNA, whose audience his heavily hardcore internet wrestling fans, is faced with the dilemma of their hometown audience pelting the ring with garbage at the site of him. Despite being on a much smaller stage, the hatred for Jeff Jarrett is many ways surpasses those of Triple H, a man despised for marring the boss’ daughter and always finding his way back to the championship when others seem more worthy.
Jeff Jarrett is the villain of the internet generation. He’s part owner of the organization that he is champion of. He is the center of storylines and television above the home grown talent. He is highly paid in a land where few are making money. He is screamed at each week to not appear on TV, yet there he is every week.
But does Jarrett deserve all this hatred from the internet crowd? What has he really done to deserve the enmity of so many? And is this opinion shared by the rest of the kayfabe world, or is this just another instance of the IWC thinking it is better than anyone else who watches wresting.
We will explore the life and times of Jeff Jarrett, find out what really makes this guy tick. We’ll look at his record and accusations, and find out if Jarrett is really a devastating force for professional wrestling, or a misunderstood hero who should be applauded for all he does and each and every day.
Where did we get this country bumpkin?
I liked the way Aaron Dorman described Jeff Jarrett above: “[H]e was really the last great star of the territories.” This could not more accurately describe the early life of Jeff Jarrett. To understand the character and the person, to begin to know his actions, we must first explore his past and truly delve into what made Jeff Jarrett into the person he is today.
That means that our story will begin on April 14, 1967 in a well known town called Nashville, TN. Actually, it starts a little before that.
You see, to understand Jeff Jarrett, you first need to understand his father: Jerry Jarrett. From Wikipedia:
Born into poverty, Jerry Jarrett was exposed to the wrestling business at a very early age. His mother worked as a ticket vendor, and Jarrett began selling programs for a promotion owned by Roy Welch and Nick Gulas at the age of seven. After receiving his driving license at fourteen, he became a wrestling promoter, renting buildings, advertising shows, constructing the ring, selling tickets, and stocking refreshments. He worked as a promoter until he left Nashville to attend college. Upon graduating, Jarrett worked for Welch and Gulas as an office assistant, and became a referee by default after a referee no-showed. He soon returned to promoting, working his way up from local promotions to regional, then national promotions.
While working as a referee, Jarrett decided to become a wrestler, and was trained by his friend and future tag team partner Tojo Yamamoto and veteran wrestler Sailor Moran, and wrestled his first match in Haiti in 1965.
Jarrett became a successful wrestler in the South, particularly in his home state of Tennesseee, forming tag teams with Jackie Fargo and Tojo Yamamoto. At one point he participated in the extremely hazardous Scaffold Match.
Jarrett operated multiple wrestling promotions throughout his career, including Mid-Southern Wrestling, the Continental Wrestling Association, the United States Wrestling Association, World Class Championship Wrestling and, most recently, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Jarrett was often the business partner of Jerry Lawler. In the 1970s, Jarrett began televising his shows.
And that is what Jeff Jarrett grew up in as well. Unlike many second and third generation stars (The Rock, Shawn Stasiak, Randy Orton, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Villano IV, Villano V, Carlito, BG James, etc…), Jarrett was exposed to all facets of the business at an early age. He understood the needs of booking and story-telling, of selling tickets and captivating the crowd. While many of these others learned from their forbearers how to wrestle, they did not learn the secrets behind the business.
But Jarrett did. His education began behind the scenes. So when the question comes up (and it will later) what did Jeff ever know about running an organization, the answer is he was born into it. He was a part of his father’s organizations and learned from him. Of course, it was an old-school territory based system, and Jeff knew he had to be different to succeed. But we’ll return to that later.
Anyway, much like his father, Jeff’s first steps into the ring were in the referee’s shoes. From Mathew Sforcina’s Evolution Schematic of Jeff Jarrett (Part 1):
Jeff started his career following his father’s footsteps directly, becoming a referee in the CWA, also known as the Mid-South Territory. But he quickly gave up being the law to become a wrestler.
This could also be pretty close to the story of Shane McMahon, who learned the business and actually was a referee in the early 1990s. But unlike Shane, he was neither content to sit backstage nor just help the wrestlers out. He wanted to be a part of the spectacle. He wanted to learn to be the best.
So in CWA Jarrett began to hone his craft. Much like the Guerreros, Mysterios, Harts, and the like before him, Jarrett had really been training to be a wrestler since he was quite young. That is why it is no surprise that Jarrett was able to capture his first title when he was just 19 years old. From Accelerator3359:
Jarrett's first title reign came in August '86, when he teamed with Pat Tanaka to win the CWA International Tag-Team Titles from Akio Sato & Tarzan Goto. Sato & Goto won the belts back a week later. Jarrett, undeterred, found himself a new partner in Paul Diamond, and got the belts for the second time in November '86. Once again, Sato & Goto won them back.
As a tag-team specialist, Jarrett then moved on to the AWA for a short while before making an appearance in the USWA Southern Title Tournament. Much like Larry Zbyszko before him, his mentors felt it best that he travel many territories to flesh out his ability. Although skilled in the ring and on the mic, and having a crucial understanding of the business behind the scenes, Jarrett was still young and in need of seasoning and experience. He accepted this advice and continued to try to build a path all his own. His work was recognized when in May 1987 he captured his first single’s title by defeating Moondog Spot to win the NWA Mid-American Heavyweight Championship.
Jarrett’s time soon was split between CWA, NWA, USWA, and WCWA (World Class in Texas with the Von Erichs). But times were changing. At this point, the WWF has become a huge national promotion and was destroying the territory system once and for all. JCP/WCW, the largest of the NWA territories, was losing money hand over fist despite being wildly more popular in the south than the cartoony WWF. That popularity made little difference in the effectiveness of running a promotion. The other territories knew they had to combine or die. So in 1989, the WCWA (where Jarrett was) was sold into USWA, and a new chapter was born.
Win a title, lose a title, win a title, lose a title…
During all this time, Jarrett was winning and losing titles on a regular basis. As was the Southern booking style at the time, a title reign of two months was considered a grand success. Jarrett had most of his wins in tag action, but also spend a good deal of time around mid-card singles titles. Also, you must know that Jarrett was a beloved babyface during most of this period. Not because he was forcing it on the fans or that his father was booking for him, but because the fans were cheering him and wanted him to win. Jarrett had many years as a face and experience at being one that make him believe he can do it again. While the argument can be made that he is much more effective as a heel, Jarrett’s own experience shows that he knows how to be a strong babyface and has the potential to be one again.
Anyway, with the 80’s moving into the 90’s, Jarrett found a new partner and mentor who also saw him as a future superstar: Jerry Lawler. From Accelerator3359:
In February '91, Jarrett found the ultimate partner in Jerry "The King" Lawler, who basically ruled over the USWA. They beat the Fabulous Ones for the USWA World Tag-Team Titles in February '91. But March turned out to be a bad month for Jarrett, as he would both lose the Southern Heavyweight Title to Tom Pritchard and fell to the Texas Hangmen (with Eddie Gilbert, recently returned, subbing for Lawler). As he always had done, Jarrett kept fighting, returning to beat Pritchard in a rematch for the Southern Heavyweight Title in April. The belt was held up a few days later, but Jarrett quickly won another rematch, getting the belt for a fifth time. He would finally lose the belt for the last time to Eric Embry in May '91.
Shortly thereafter, when Robert Fuller was turned on by his Studs, Jarrett remarkably came to his aid, forming a team with him. They quickly showed their skills by beating the Texas Hangmen for the USWA Tag-Team Titles. In June '91, the two also defeated Samu & Judge Dredd, which allowed them to unify the USWA Tag-Team and Western States Tag-Team Titles. They later lost the belts to the Barroom Brawlers, only to come back and get them a week later (a common thread, if you hadn't noticed). Two months later, the Brawlers, now known as the Texas Outlaws, retook the belts. Once again Jarrett & Fuller came back quickly and got the belts, for Jarrett's 9th reign with the USWA World Tag-Team Titles. In November '91, they lost the belts to Doug Masters & Bart Sawyer, and later broke up.
Jarrett later teamed up with Jerry "The King" Lawler again, beating Moondogs Spot & Spike to get the Tag-Team Titles in June '92. After a week, Spot came back with Cujo as his partner, and stole the belts. It didn't take long for Jarrett & Lawler to get them back, but a month later, the Moondogs struck again, taking them in August. A week later, Jarrett & Lawler, for the fourth time as a team, became USWA Tag-Team Champion. In October '92, though, Lawler was forced to fight alone, when Jarrett reportedly had 'car trouble'. Lawler was beaten by Moondogs Spot & Spike, ending the title reigns. The feud between Jarrett/Lawler & the Moondogs was later named Feud of the Year by PWI Magazine.
How times have changed, eh? A tag team feud in an organization that was really no bigger than ECW at its prime (original ECW, not current) was honored in such a way. When was the last time any tag team feud came close to that? Edge/Christian vs. Dudleys vs. Hardy Boyz? Maybe. But we are talking abut a feud that really put butts in seats, that sold tickets and lept the USWA afloat.
After this time, Jarrett also had a feud with Brian Christopher. Better known today as “Grand Master Sexy”, Christopher was also son of the king of the USWA, Jerry Laweler. But during their feud, it was Jarrett who got the final dupe and most of the victories. That’s right, Lawler let his own son be used to prop Jarrett up, that is how much potential and upside he saw in Jeff.
Also during this period (and a little earlier), Jarrett was a nine-time holder of the Southern Heavyweight Championship. In one match he had the title was held up, and later he won the rematch. The man this match with would not forget this indignity, as he felt he was being held back in his young career. He would feel this way again in another organization that would lead to his firing, and he would have similar feelings later in the organization he had the most success in, and subsequently walk about twice. That man’s name was Steve Austin. And we’ll get back to him later.
With time moving on, the power of the WWF began to wane as well. With Hulk Hogan leaving the WWF in 1993, the organization was in need of a new direction and fresh blood. They were aware of Jeff Jarrett because of an earlier inter-promotional feud that went nowhere. From Obsessed with Wrestling:
Despite this story going nowhere, the WWF was incredibly impressed with Jarrett and decided they wanted him on the roster. They saw him as a possible future for the organization. From Accelerator3359:
Jarrett continued to climb up the ladder, managing to pin Jerry "The King" Lawler during a Battle Royal to become the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion. Lawler soon came back to regain the belt, something he did many, many times in the USWA. With 1993 running out, Jarrett was given the chance to head out of Memphis to try on the world, as a major trade took place between the USWA and the World Wrestling Federation, who wanted to gain Jarrett's services. They gave up a lot of their lower-ranked talent, including "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Papa Shango, & the Orient Express, to acquire Jarrett's talent.
Did you read that? The WWF literally gave four people just to get Jarrett. If that is not a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is.
J-E-double F J-A-double R-E-double T. Double J, Jeff Jarrett
It was 1993. Jarrett had been wrestling for seven years and had found his way to the grandest stage of them all: the WWF. Although his father may have cursed Vince McMahon’s name for destroying his territory, Jeff was a man of his own and knew that this was one opportunity he could not refuse.
Now, one would think that because Jarrett was such a hot prospect that he would be allowed to continue to do what made him so successful is the USWA. Everyone from Eddie Gilbert to Jerry Lawler saw that Jarrett had the potential to be a great true to life character, a man of southern pride and tradition.
That’s not what Vince McMahon saw. Based on evidence that Vince said he never saw in ECW show before One Night Stand, one can believe that he never saw Jeff Jarrett perform before he showed up in the WWF. Because of that, Vince heard “Southern” and thought “Country Singer”! Jeff Jarrett became “Double J” and was trying to use the WWF to launch his country music career. From the kayfabe friendly Evolution Schematic of Jeff Jarrett (Part 2):
[H]e started to tell the world who he was (“J-E-Double-F, J-A-Double-R-E-Double-T, Double-J, Jeff Jarrett”), and what he wanted to do (Use the WWF as a platform to launch his music career in a specialized music genre…this is sounding more and more normal). But while many people felt a little confused by this, it did give Jeff one key that would stick with him for the rest of his career.
No-one would blink twice when he walked down to ringside with a guitar.
Jeff began his WWF career earning the crowd’s ire, since he was such an asshole about his singing and wrestling talent. Plus his insistence on spelling out his name made people think he was insulting their intelligence.
Yet despite embracing the gimmick and being an important prospect, Jeff Jarrett seemed forgotten about. From Accelerator3359:
[A]lthough his gimmick attracted attention, Jarrett did not move quickly into WWF stardom. He competed in the 1994 Royal Rumble, but was quickly tossed over the top rope by "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Jarrett continued to work on his image for the next few months, building up a small reputation. He entered the '94 King of the Ring Tournament, and made his first impact, surprisingly beating Lex Luger in the qualifying round. Unfortunately, he was defeated at the PPV in the first match by the 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman).
Jarrett's first major pay-per-view match occurred at Summerslam '94, when he faced up against the heavyweight, Mabel (later known as Viscera). After five minutes of battling back and forth, Mabel went for a sit-down splash on Jarrett, but Double J dodged, then made the quick pin, scoring his first WWF PPV victory. Jarrett then went on as a member of the Teamsters at the '94 Survivor Series. Teaming with Owen Hart, Diesel (Kevin Nash), "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels, and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, the Teamsters faced off against the Bad Guys, which consisted of Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, the 1-2-3 Kid (Waltman), and the Headshrinkers, Fatu(Rikishi) & Sionne(the Barbarian). Diesel proved to be a major force, eliminating Fatu, the 1-2-3 Kid, and Sionne. Later, Davey Boy Smith was counted out, making it 5-on-1. However, disputes among the ranks caused the Teamsters to all be counted out, giving the victory to Ramon.
This, though, would be very helpful as Jeff Jarrett would finally have a spotlight put on him… over a year after being recruited by the WWF…
I wasn’t planning on stopping in the middle of a run, but it actually makes a lot more sense this way. Also, I’m quite late and Larry and Stephen are getting ready to lash me with wet noodles.
When we return it’s the WWF, USWA, WCW, WWF, NWA, WWF, and WCW. Will there be time for WWA, and TNA? NO WAY! But we’ll get there eventually.
So tune in next week for guitar to the head part 2 of In Defense of… Jeff Jarrett (Part 2 of 3)!!
Be sure to check out Hidden Highlights in the meantime! Don’t forget to send JT and I your Hidden Highlights for RAW, ECW on SciFi, iMPACT, SmackDown!, Heat, or any other show you saw this week (that includes house shows and indy events, you know)!
Until then, the defense rests!
Know a particular person, event, organization, storyline, etc… in wrestling history that needs a defense? E-mail the One and Only JP at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to hear your case.