Jeff Jarrett Loses His Mind

When people do interviews about their upcoming projects, it’s a goldmine for quotes to look back on and laugh at.  This interview with Jarrett is no different. 

As you know, Jeff Jarrett and his father Jerry are starting a new promotion called National Wrestling Alliance/Total Nonstop Action.  Their concept is to air weekly pay-per-views at $9.95 apiece.  Hey, I’d love to see them pull it off.  But I just can’t see how it will work.  As Jeff admits here, some tough challenges lie ahead. 

Jeff Jarrett did a recent interview with Alex Marvez for  Read Jeff’s statements and try to keep a straight face.  Enjoy.

“To try and start with the traditional wrestling company, getting on TV and merchandise and touring, you’re looking in the ballpark of $30 million to $50 million. The only way for a company to stay profitable is through pay-per-view.”

If it were that simple, then ECW, WCW, Heroes of Wrestling, WWA, LPWA, and Japanese Hardcore would’ve been profitable.  You can BE on PPV, but people need to BUY your PPV’s or else there will be NO profit. 

When speaking about the growth of PPV, Jeff adds:

“Now, there are over 50 million, and they’re adding between a half- million and million homes per month. That’s staggering.”

Even more staggering is how many people every month buy illegal cable descramblers.  Really, there could be 250 million homes equipped for PPV, and I still don’t think the Jarretts would stand a chance.

Here he is talking about WWE:

“If they’re on for 28 hours a month for free, I don’t think you would sell many pay-per-views.”

And Jeff, if you have 0 hours of TV a month for free, you’re not going to sell many PPV’s either.  Who is he kidding?  In 2000 and 2001, WWF had a couple dozen hours of wrestling a month on TV for free AND there was Nitro!  And guess what?  They set records on PPV with WrestleMania.  If you give people something they want to see, they’ll pay for it.

“The element of a payoff of storylines or the climax of an event is where people buy pay-per-view shows, because wrestling fans are tremendously loyal.”

If every show is a PPV, then what do you build your storyline climax to? 

“We’re offering eight hours of original programming for under $40 a month.  I think that’s a hell of a deal.”

Oh yeah, great deal.  You know, I can watch 16 hours of original programming of WWE a month, for free.  That’s a Hell of a deal.  And I also have Heat if I wanted to watch it, that’s 4 more hours.  And I get to see bigger name stars than you and Brian Christopher.  But who needs that free stuff when I can pay to see NWA every week?  It’s not like the economy is in the doldrums or anything.

“I knew that it was no secret if you’re a student of the business and know history that when (WCW Monday) Nitro went head-up against Raw, in hindsight that was the best thing that could happen.”

If you were a student of the business, you wouldn’t want anything to do with Vince Russo or Ed Ferrara.

“Looking at the supply and demand of the business, we have an overabundance of talent.”

Oh yeah, there are young Chris Benoit’s abound everywhere.  Where is all this great new talent?  This isn’t 1996 and you aren’t Eric Bischoff raiding the world.  You have AJ Styles, Low Ki, and a couple of others.  That is not an overabundance.

“In reality, in any company you can only have four or five top stars and really groom them as stars.”

Do you even have that many stars?  Do you even have one star?  And when you say star, are you including yourself?  You shouldn’t.

“For a traditional company, even if we got TV up and running and got a decent rating, you’d have to get to pay-per-view and hope it gets purchased.”

True, but it’s much easier having TV than not having TV.  So now you have to hope your PPV’s get purchased, without TV. 

“Pay-per-view is what drives the business now.”

True.  And what drives PPV?  TV.  You don’t have TV.

“You can’t expect a family to spend $80 to $90 a month on just wrestling.  But I think you can expect them to spend $40.”

If they’re going to spend $40, they’re going to expect good matches.  You better deliver.

“We outsource everything where we don’t have to bring everybody in house on high salary.”

Paul Heyman didn’t pay anybody high salaries either.  In fact, he barely paid ANY salaries.  Checks were bouncing left and right.  And he had TV AND PPV AND a healthy cult following.

When asked about why they chose the NWA name, Jarrett said:

“It dates back to the (1940s). You can have a Dusty Rhodes or Terry Funk or Harley Race any of the past (NWA) champions.  It’s got true lineage.”

So why is The Wall your top contender?  Do you think Borash or Russo or Ferrara have ANY clue about traditional wrestling history?  You and your father might, but not those guys.  Wrestling to them is car-crash MTV-style skits and cruiserweight matches between Oklahoma and Madusa.

“Why not go to the offices around the country and start promoting guys as true independent contractors?”

Because if you should be so lucky as to create a star (and it certainly wouldn’t be you), one of those offices wanting to book your top guys will be based out of Titan Towers.

“Spider-Man is red hot, but it’s a one-time event.  You have to wait two years for a sequel.  We have a sequel every week.”

Wow, why didn’t I think of something so brilliant?  Earth to Jeff: Less is more.  With Vince Russo, you either had a sequel every commercial break, or no sequel at all.  Spider Man has a billion dollar company behind it, promoting it to death.  What will you have?  Hardcore midgets on the Opie & Anthony show?

“Garth was breaking every record and tearing the house down.  As great as he is, you probably have to wait six months at least to go back to the same market again.”

That idiot Garth Brooks, boy if he was really smart he’d book himself in the same arena every single Wednesday night.  And he’d make you pay to watch his video or pay to hear his latest single on the radio.

“For radio, we can drop in clips and sound bytes off a Wednesday night show and have them run on the radio for seven days to build an angle.”

Hey, that’ll work!  WCW had 4 hours of cable programming to hype people like Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, and people STILL didn’t buy their shows! 

“The Osbournes are perfect example of that. MTV didn’t advertise it but look at the numbers they’re doing.  Someone told two friends and so on.”

So people will tell 2 friends about NWA, and those 2 friends will come over and watch your PPV at their friends’ houses.  You don’t make a dime off them.  Are you comparing yourself to Ozzy Osbourne?  Do you have 3 decades of chart-topping music and a huge following under your belt?  Do you have Howard Stern talking about your show all the time?  Are you aware that show was Stern’s idea to begin with?

“Why try to put on a show in the West, Midwest or North right out of the gate?  Quite frankly, everyone in the north in the summertime likes to get outside.”

That would explain that record-breaking business WWF and WCW did in those areas in the summer of ’98, huh?  Or what WWF did in the summers of ’99 and ’00? 

By the way Jeff, if you promote out west, leave your Garth Brooks and NASCAR references at home, please.

This one is funny:

“The real success in this business is to develop new characters who have an edge and a real distinct persona.”

What does Jeff Jarrett know about having an edge and a real distinct persona?  I’ve never heard someone so in over his head.  Double J is about 1/100th as big a star as he thinks he is.  He can be a very good worker (though his WWA matches were stinkers) but he has the charisma of a slab of meat.  And slabs of meat know better than to want Vince Russo writing their PPV shows.

“We’re going to have comedy characters, serious characters, brawling characters and plenty of T&A, but doing that in such a way that we think it’s gonna sell buys.”

And how are you going to do that without TV?

“Wrestling fans always like guys like Chuck Norris, Gary Coleman and Ben Stiller.”

And David Arquette too, right?  Just don’t make them your world champions this time.

“I’ve literally got a stack of 50 tapes I’m looking at from the NWA and all the different offices around the country.  Every independent wrestler literally has the opportunity to work here.”

WWE did that once.  It was called “Tough Enough 2.”  They found the cream of the crop, and what they found doesn’t make me comfortable about the types of charismatic, talented indie workers out there.

“I think Vince maybe deep down wants the competition.  Like I said, I don’t think right now we’re even on their radar screen.”

Someone who blew the WCW invasion like that has no concept of how competition can be helpful.  WWE will nab your top stars, of which you have none, faster than you can say, “Curt Hennig.” 

This is what it comes down to.  When asked how many buys they need to turn a profit, Jeff stated:

“The magical number I will tell you is 30,000 to 60,000, but that could change.  We are in this for the long haul, though.”

That is about the range ECW did with all their TV and cult following.  NWA might very well approach that for their 1st show.  But every week? 

“We don’t have to hit a commercial break, so we’re gonna give guys time.”

Did you read that correctly?  Indie guys and Buff Bagwell are going to be given time.  I knew when I watched that Bagwell stinker with Booker T on Raw, that was something I wanted to charge people $10 to see.  When it comes to indie guys, long matches are not what they need.  I can hear the “Boring” and “You F’d Up” chants already.

“I was very vocal and outspoken with Andrew (McManus, WWA owner) about not going on pay-per-view.”

That makes a ton of sense.  You tell McManus not to go on PPV, and then you start a business that does nothing but run PPV’s every week.

“Wrestling isn’t about paying to see stars.”

Well hey, Jeff!  You might have a shot after all!

“But I used to have 24 hours a day to concern myself about the Jeff Jarrett persona.”

Oh my God.  He spent 24 hours a day perfecting the Jeff Jarrett persona, and all he came up with was HonkyTonk Man’s gimmick.  Let’s hope he has better luck with the NWA.

Listen, I don’t mean to trash Jeff or the NWA.  I really hope it’s a success because I’m dying for an alternative to WWE.  And I really do think Jeff is a good performer and very talented. 

But I’m worried.  Worry #1 is that Jeff wants Russo, which shows right off the bat that he comprehends little about the lessons learned from WCW.  Worry #2 is that Borash and Ferrara are involved, as they are essentially Russo graduates.  Worry #3 is that weekly PPVs are going to make it almost impossible to turn a profit.  Worry #4 is that Jeff Jarrett is going to be their top star.  Jeff is an effective mid-card character.  But I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face: Jeff does NOT have main event charisma.  He might look like a star compared to some of the indie guys there in the NWA, but enough of a star to garner 50,000 buys a week?

I wish you luck, Jarretts.  I’d love to see you guys make it.  I just don’t have a good feeling about this, though.  If you do, I’ll print an entire article telling everyone how wrong I was.  Hope you can prove me wrong.