Jeff Jarrett Interview
Downtown Dave: An obligatory question to begin, how did you decide to become a professional wrestler?
Jeff Jarrett: Just a family business. My grandmother on one side of the family, she used to say she did everything but wrestle. She promoted and everything in between and my grandfather on the other side of the family, he wrestled. Then of course my Dad ran a regional promotion for about 20 years and I grew up around the business. So like father like son, I followed in his footsteps.
Where did the Jarrett/Chyna angle originate from, and do you consider that a groundbreaking angle being that it was the first battle of man and woman that was accepted by the public?
JJ: Well Chyna had been in the WWF a couple of years and they had really defined her character, who she was, what she was all about. When the idea was brought to me, I jumped at it because I knew the timing was right, the wrestling fans are so intelligent and so ‘with’ our product in this day and age that I knew it was going to be cutting edge stuff. For me to hit a 72 year old woman over the head with a guitar, I mean you don’t get the opportunity to do that. People are not going to turn the channel, so one way or another, you saw Moolah get a guitar shot, and the whole Chyna thing, I mean I knew I could have a good match with her, so maybe 10 years ago people would say ‘hell, no I don’t want to get involved with something like that’ Today, the public is so involved and so up to date with what everybody’s doing, I jumped at the opportunity.
Where did ‘Slapnuts’ come from?
JJ: My Grandmother used to call people ‘slappy’ if someone runs their mouth, slaps their gums together – like they act like they know something but know nothing. So I said slappy one night on Nitro and then I said slapnuts, then the very next Nitro, I saw 8 or 10 signs out there and I knew I was onto something.
What are your future goals in WCW?
JJ: The immediate goal is to win the title. Anyone who puts on a pair of wrestling boots from day one, if they tell you that to become the World Champion is not their goal, they’re lying to you. As time goes on, some people realize they may not be able to attain that goal, but that’s always been one of my goals and that’s one I’m working on right now.
Compare the backstage with WCW to when you were with the WWF?
JJ: Dressing rooms are the same. When you’ve been in it 10, 12 years, dressing rooms are dressing rooms. Certainly the working atmospheres are different. The WWF has a distinct vision, they’re pretty cut and dry. WWF, even though they are publicly owned, Vince is ‘the’ boss. WCW is corporately owned, so there’s a lot of chiefs to answer to. Standards & practices, all different corporate levels, so it’s just a different kettle of fish.
Of all the wrestlers you’ve worked with, who would say is the best one as far as in the ring?
JJ: To name one, you really can’t. Everyone has different styles. I could go on and on… most recently, I’ve had some good matches with Scott Hall. A couple of good matches with Benoit. Then if you want to go back with over the years, I’ve had some good matches when I started out with Lawler, Curt Hennig, Shawn Michaels… I couldn’t really name one.
Flipping the coin, who do you think would consider you the best they’ve ever worked with in the ring?
JJ: (pause)You know, I’m not going to put words in people’s mouth on that.
Have you seen Beyond the Mat?
JJ: No, I haven’t seen either of them (also referring to Ready to Rumble). The WCW movie, I have no idea, I’ve just heard talk about it. The WWF documentary – I was around when they were filming a lot of it. I know Barry Blaustein. He put his heart and soul into it. I haven’t seen the finished product but I am just assuming that the time, and the amount of money that they spent on it, it’s gotta be good.
If you were on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” who would your lifeline be?
JJ: Wow. I’ve got a buddy in Nashville who’s IQ is off the charts. I’ve thought about that before. Probably him, he’s a doctor. He knows a lot about a lot of things.
What do outside of wrestling when you get a break in the action?
JJ: I consider working out part of my job, but it’s also a hobby as well. I live on a lake, so I spend a lot of time waterskiing, personal watercraft, anytyhing like that. That would be my main hobby.
Can you tell the Harris Boys apart?
JJ: Without a doubt.
Yeah? Can you give us a hint?
JJ: Well Heavy D, because he’s heavy in the gut. And the other is Big Ron, he’s the taller of the two. Personality wise, they’re night and day. It’s funny, there’s actually a lot of guys in wcw that still can’t tell them apart. I tell Ron and Don “How in the hell can people confuse the two of you?” On the phone, when you know them, it’s funny. Two distinct personalities.
What do you think about Mick Foley’s retiring?
JJ: Mick has done things in this business that no one will be able to… well he was cutting edge when cutting edge was hard to be cutting edge, if that makes sense. He’s definitely worked hard. There’s one thing that a lot of people don’t have in this business, and Mick has a work ethic that is hard to compare to. He wanted it when he was wrestling. He really wanted to be successful, and that’s what drove him from day one.
So it was a good idea for him to retire now?
JJ: I don’t want to pass judgement because I don’t know. If he could financially do it, hell yeah, get out. Because I know that’s what he loves to do, but if he’s ready to go, then he needs to go.
How many more years do you see yourself going?
JJ: I re-evaluate every year and I have for the last 5 years. When it’s not fun, and when it’s time to go home, I’m going home.
What are the worst injuries you’ve ever had?
JJ: Lower back, I’ve had back troubles over the years. A lot of us do.
Who would win in a fight between you and me?
JJ: (without hesitation) Me.
If Fred Flintstone knows that the ribs are going to flip his car over, how come he orders them everytime?
JJ: He has an insatiable appetite for tyrannosaurus rex ribs.
What advice do you have for men and women who are interested in joining the wrestling business, be it as a wrestler, writer, or otherwise?
JJ: Evaluate and reevaluate once you get into it. Don’t stick in it year after year if you don’t really want to do it. And before you get into it, get a game plan. Set goals. Don’t flounder around. And be ready to do it not for the money, do it because you love it. That’s probably the most important thing. If you’re doin it for the money, it’s not gonna last.
Obviously, WCW is lacking in the ratings…
What would you do to improve the ratings for WCW?
JJ: You don’t have enough tape on the recorder for my answer.
Give me a couple of ideas. What about bringing Russo back?
JJ: I withhold comment on that. (pause) I got it. Get a vision… whatever that vision may be, and go for it. Don’t change it in midstream. Tweak it a little bit, but get a point where we’re goin… like Vince does it from WrestleMania to WrestleMania. Sure, he changes courses with injuries, fan reaction change, they’ve got to rewrite. For our company, I’d assume, get Starrcade, and find out what match you want to have there, and work backwards. Get a vision, is a main thing. Find out a direction you’re going, from the overall theme, the look, everything, and go with it.
Will you watch WrestleMania this year?
JJ: I’ll probably be on the road, I have no idea. No, I will not buy the pay per view. I’ll hear about it through guys there… they’ll let me know what was good, what was bad.
Any last thoughts for the people, your fans, something you can say to the people who enjoy watching Jeff Jarrett, The Chosen One?
JJ: I hope they appreciate the hard work. With the age of the internet, a lot of people still in this business try to run from it, and I welcome it. In Hollywood, when they make a movie, they get the script, they go through casting it, filming it, editing it, it’s a 2 year process, and then they put it our and it could be a flop. Then what do they do? They lose millions of dollars… down the drain. Same with the TV show, but just on a smaller scale. We rewrite our script every Monday night. I’m thankful that the internet people are there because it’s instant feedback. We do a show on Monday night, and by 10:05, you’ve got a pretty good barometer if your show sucked or if it was good or what they liked or disliked. You can’t take one website, you have to take an overall consensus. As many websites as possible. Not just the wcw website or the wwf website or WrestleLine, if you take everybody’s feedback, 10,000 to 15,000 people can’t all be wrong. I’m glad we can utilize that because not everybody listens, but I damn sure do. If you don’t, you’re runnin’ from criticism. You’ve got to be able to take the instant reviews. No other entertainment can do that. We have the opportunity to re-write our scripts for next Monday, next Wednesday.