I spoke with Jeff Jarrett last week, who was promoting the upcoming New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 9 pay-per-view from the Tokyo Dome on January 4th. You can follow Jarrett on Twitter @RealJeffJarrett, and Global Force Wrestling @GFWWrestling. Below is the full interview.
Wrestling INC: You're different than a lot of second, third generation wrestlers because your father worked behind the scenes as well as in the ring. Did you have more interest in being a wrestler or behind the scenes?
Jeff Jarrett: I'm third generation- my grandmother did everything but wrestle. I fell in love with the athleticism of the wrestlers, and the physicality of it. I loved it from the first match I ever saw. My first true love has always been being in the ring.
Wrestling INC: Had you done much behind the scenes before you and your father started TNA?
Jarrett: Oh gosh yes. My first job in this business was putting up posters in small towns. I'd start on one corner and the other guy that was helping me would meet me across town and I'd get out of the car with 100-150 posters in my hand and put them all across town. The concession stands, I did that. Everything that goes along with it. Then in high school I got to referee. So by the time I stepped into the ring I had several different jobs in the wrestling business and was always really fascinated about how much it takes to put a wrestling show on. Then I got in the business and started doing TV and you see the television side of things, and then I got into the WWF in 1993 and it's a world touring company. All of the mass marketing and sponsorship sales and all the enormous production. I've always been fascinated with the many parts of the business.
Wrestling INC: You still have a stake in TNA, correct?
Jarrett: Yes, correct.
Wrestling INC: Is that awkward at all?
Jarrett: No not at all. The business is business. In June of 2002 we launched TNA Wrestling, and in April of 2014 I launched Global Force Wrestling. So no.
Wrestling INC: When you launched Global Force Wrestling, how different was the mentality behind that in comparisons to TNA?
Jarrett: The world has changed massively in the past 12 years. From entertainment/distribution, I think there's been more of a change in the last 12 years than there were when it was from broadcast to cable television. Now the world is a much smaller place as it pertains to communication. You can direct message someone from halfway across the world, you can Skype someone from 12 time zones away. The Youtube generation don't watch television like 20 or 30 year olds, they watch Vine, Youtube-- very short length of video. The world has really changed in the past ten years.
Wrestling INC: How long before you officially launched GFW did you have the idea for it?
Jarrett: I knew by last December my time in TNA had come to an end. I knew it was time to move on and do something new. I began to put all the pieces together in January and February, and all the pieces are still coming together. I'm very excited, and couldn't be more excited for the wrestling business. It's an exciting time.
Wrestling INC: You guys have been starting partnerships around the world. There has been speculation of GFW becoming a global-NWA type territorial system or it's own promotion. Can you give us any hints on what to expect?
Jarrett: We're going to be an own entity with it's roster and titles and everything that goes with a promotion, but we're not only going to recognize but promote the partners that we've aligned with. In year's past, each individual company acted within their own house and didn't talk about other companies, and certainly didn't help promote. We're going to have a different philosophy. Just last week we used social media to promote talents on a Ring of Honor pay-per-view. New Japan and Global Force are working together, so we're going to recognize these promotions that help New Japan as well and of course have talent exchanges.
Wrestling INC: You've got the partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling for their huge show on January 4 from the Tokyo Dome, how did that come about?
Jarrett: I could probably go back to last April or May they approached me. They knew they wanted to bring their product to the North American market. What better way for New Japan to step on to the North American stage than with their biggest show of the year? We worked through the pay-per-view agreements, we worked through the New Japan and the TV Asai and got our marketing plan together. Of course acquiring Jim Ross to do the play-by-play was enormous. With the Bullet Club, and the spectacle, and Tanahashi vs. Okada, it really is the can't miss show of the year in my opinion.
Wrestling INC: What can fans who have never watched New Japan Pro Wrestling expect from this pay-per-view?
Jarrett: If you're a wrestling fan, you don't want to miss this show. Whatever reason you're attracted to wrestling, whether it's the extreme physical style that New Japan has, whether it's the pageantry, the entrances-- the Dome show will have that. The greatest wrestling announcer of all-time Jim Ross, the wrestlers are going to write the music and he's going to write the lyrics-- Wrestle Kingdom will have that. If you're a wrestling fan, Wrestle Kingdom 9 will have it for you.
Wrestling INC: It's a loaded card with 11 matches announced. Do you think it will be difficult to fit all that in a four hour pay-per-view window?
Jarrett: They are ten matches on the pay-per-view, and I've been a part of many, many three hour shows that have ten matches. Some of those matches are obviously rushed, so I think having four hours is the perfect amount of time. Of course the main event is going to steal the show, the match I'm in I'm honored to be in the ring with future Hall of Famers. AJ Styles is in action, that's where he does his brightest work. From top to bottom, loaded is almost an understatement.
Wrestling INC: You're wrestling on the card, and you've worked all over. How different is it working on a New Japan show where it's a much more physical style?
Jarrett: It's no secret that I'm no spring chicken, so I've seen my fair share of styles. From Puerto Rico, to German, the the UK fanbase, to different parts of the U.S., every area of the world has their own fanbase so to speak. I've always enjoyed it. New Japan is a physical, hard-hitting style but the rivalries have deep storylines that go back months, if not years. That shows how good of a product they've put out for years.
Wrestling INC: When did the idea to have Jim Ross come aboard the pay-per-view happen?
Jarrett: From the first time that the Dome show was going to be a possibility, you wanna get the best of the best of the best. The Global Force/ New Japan deal had to come together, and we did the contract signing at the G1 Climax Finals. We went over there to finalize the deal. After you do that you gotta go to your pay-per-view providers, and everything that needed to be lined up to do that. Then we had to get English speaking announcers and go after the best. It was a domino effect.
Wrestling INC: Jim Ross said he hadn't spoke to you since you left WWE. What were the initial talks like?
Jarrett: When I knew the time was right I reached out to his agent, who is fantastic. I've known him for years and years. He took the idea to Jim and they went back and forth, and then we went back and forth and got really close to a deal, then agreed on a deal. I like Jim, we're cut from the same mold. We've been in the business back in the territory days. His first job was with Bill Watts, and Watts and my father were peers. Obviously the contract situation went down in 1999 in the WWF, I went my way and he went his way and our paths hadn't crossed in 15 years. We're really excited to get down to business.
Wrestling INC: Were you surprised about the backlash about you wanting to get paid up front for losing the Intercontinental title to Chyna when your contract had expired?
Jarrett: No, I wasn't surprised at all because people didn't know the real story. They thought I had a gun to their head, like "I'm not doing this." Vine McMahon had a real easy decision that night. He didn't have to pay me. He could have made Chyna or anyone that he deemed to be the Intercontinental champion that night. He knows he could have shuffled paper with me for years and I wouldn't have got a penny. That's how business works, it was a business decision on both parts. Two sides came to the table and said "do we have a deal or not?" I can't make him write a check, and he couldn't make me walk to the ring and wrestle.
Wrestling INC: Have you had any contact with them since you left?
Jarrett: Oh gosh yes. Vince's father and my father go back 50 years. Vince is a third generation promoter and I'm a third generation promoter. We both understand the business. He's the greatest marketer of professional wrestling that's ever lived.
Wrestling INC: Is it true that there was an offer was made to Mike Tenay to call the PPV with Jim Ross, but TNA turned it down?
Jarrett: No comment.
Wrestling INC: Jim Ross also mentioned wanting to call a card with CM Punk, have you spoken to Punk about that?
Jarrett: No, I haven't spoken with him, but who wouldn't want that? That's a dream team, but that's not a reality. It's very obvious where his focus is. Hats off to the guy. I respect for people that follow their heart and their passion. It's a win-win for the UFC fan and for Dana White and for him whether he wins or loses.
Wrestling INC: You all have been putting out a lot of promotional videos. Wearing your promoter hat, what are some of the problems you see with what's being offered today?
Jarrett: Putting on my promoter hat, the foremost thing that I look at is the bottom line, and WWE's speaks for itself. John Cena and the PG era are very successful. I guess you could say that's defending the product. I'll echo Jim Ross' thoughts-- there's a focus group every night, and if you have an empty seat, that is the part of the answer to your focus group. There's all kinds of challenges that are going on. I think wrestling is very healthy. You have WWE, which is very successful, you have AAA in Mexico bringing Lucha Underground to the U.S., Global Force Wrestling is going to be launching in 2015 and help facilitating bringing New Japan Pro Wrestling to the U.S.-- overall wrestling is very healthy. Monday night is wrestling night in America, Raw has been on for 21 years. When you're putting on a 3 hour show every Monday, that's very challenging.
Wrestling INC: Do you see a place for Jim Ross in Global Force Wrestling in 2015?
Jarrett: Stay tuned, my friends.
Wrestling INC: Why do you think in today's environment that it's so hard to get a good TV deal, with wrestling being a proven ratings generator?
Jarrett: Cable television is based off of two revenue streams. One is the subscriber, and there's a lot of cord cutting going on. People going into their 20's and 30's aren't buying cable anymore. They're going online. Then the other revenue stream is ad revenue. If there's less viewers per program, it's less cable ad revenue. With both of them going down, they're all changing. The world is changing. It's all going online. It's a financial issue.