“He broke 6,000 guitars, never drew a dime” – Mike Graham “Rise & Fall of WCW” 

On January 11, I attended AEW Dynamite/Rampage at The Forum in Los Angeles with a buddy of mine. There was a huge main event trios ladder match that most of the fans in attendance were anticipating, and I was as well. However, there was also an appearance by a certain someone I was hoping to see that night, someone who was not advertised, Jeff Jarrett. The odds were going to be long for a Jarrett appearance. He had just finished up a tag team program with The Acclaimed, a program he was on the losing end of, so I felt like an appearance wouldn’t be likely, unfortunately. Rampage is a show that is taped after Dynamite and airs on Friday on TNT. As per a lot of these tapings, people leave after Dynamite. We were not leaving; for two reasons.

1. I wanted to get my money’s worth

and

2. What if Jarrett was on Rampage?

Despite my odds for a Jarrett appearance being long, it happened, and not only did I get to see Jarrett, but I got to see him smash Paul Walter Hauser with a guitar! I finally got to see Jarrett smash someone with a guitar live.

As I left the Forum that night, I could not help but reflect on the evening when I realized, everyone needs to appreciate Jeff Jarrett a lot more than most do.

Jeff Jarrett has spent his life in the pro wrestling business, literally. From his grandmother, Christine Jarrett, to his father, Jerry Jarrett, he is also the grandson of Eddie Marlin. Jeff Jarrett was not going to dig ditches or work at a bank. He was born to wrestle. Jarrett would start in the obvious of places, Memphis, Tennessee, with his father’s promotion CWA (Continental Wrestling Association) in 1986. For those who are non-Tennesseans, we would meet Jeff Jarrett when he came to the WWF in 1992 at age 25.

From 1992 to 1999, Jeff Jarrett would become a multi-time WWF Intercontinental champion, a tag team champion with Owen Hart, and a European champion. He would go on to hold up Vince McMahon not once but twice (not really) and somehow get stock options in WWF while being employed at WCW.

Remember that moment when Chyna became the first woman to ever hold the Intercontinental title at WWF No Mercy in 1999? She beat Jeff Jarrett. Twenty-four hours later, Jarrett smashed Buff Bagwell with a guitar on WCW Nitro. He is also the only wrestler to be on two PPVs in two different companies just seven days apart.

Between 92-99, when Jarrett left the WWF twice, he went to WCW, where he would become a member of The Four Horsemen (I guess) and win the United States title. In 1997, while WCW kicked WWF’s ass in the ratings, Jarrett returned to WWF. Why? Because it was a smart move for his career. It is this run where, I believe, Jarrett turned the corner. He ditched the crazy outfits, wore a “Don’t Piss Me Off” shirt, got a hot girl as a valet (Debra), and started smashing people with guitars, anyone, and everyone.

In October 1999, in another shocking move, Jarrett left WWF for WCW, during a time when they are kicking WCW’s ass. Why? Because it was a better move for his career. Jarrett is always an intelligent businessman. It’s this run in WCW where Jarrett, at least on the internet, gets a ton of unnecessary heat. There is a comment on his Cagematch dot net: “My least favorite wrestler of all time. The Heat killer. The man who actually killed WCW. A guaranteed flip the channel every single damn time. The most overrated wrestler of all time.” Could this guy be any further from the truth? Most overrated? Heat killer? I don’t even want whatever drug(s) he’s on.

By October of 1999, Nitro was more than doubled by RAW in TV ratings. The Monday Night War was becoming a slaughter. This is happening with Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Sting, Lex Luger, Goldberg, and all the other stars still on Nitro, who, just two years earlier, beat Raw for 83 straight weeks. So, why would Jarrett be expected to be the man to turn it around?

Or worse, why is Jarrett often blamed for WCW’s lack of success in those 2+ years?

Jarrett won’t comment on the Mike Graham line from the “Rise & Fall of WCW” DVD, but I will. No one was drawing at the end for WCW! Hell, if Jarrett “never drew a dime, ” why did the WWF and WCW keep bringing him back?

Jeff Jarrett would reach the top of the mountain in WCW in April 2000 when he wins the WCW World title. Unfortunately, this is at a time when the title is just a prop, and Jarrett would become a 4-time WCW World Champion in only a couple of months. He was right in the middle of the Vince Russo & Hulk Hogan angle/shoot at WCW Bash at the Beach 2000.

The WCW run ends in 2001 when Vince McMahon buys WCW and fires Jarrett on the final Nitro/Raw simulcast.

In March 2001, WCW was out of business, and with Vince McMahon firing him on national TV, Jarrett makes his boldest move yet. In 2002, along with his father Jerry, start a wrestling company from scratch, Total Nonstop Action (TNA). A feat that not even Vince McMahon could say he ever accomplished.

At a time when a lot of wrestlers not working for WWE had no place to go, Jeff Jarrett created that place. He created a company that is still alive today, despite rumors on the Internet of it closing weekly since 2003.

It was Jeff Jarrett who brought New Japan Pro-Wrestling to American PPV. Jarrett would have several stints in Mexico for AAA, winning their Mega championship twice. In 2018, Jarrett would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and parlay that into an office job. In 2019, he was promoted to the creative team at WWE. He would quietly leave WWE in 2021.

In 2022, he would show up at some GCW shows, smashing people with guitars, and staying relevant. Jarrett returned to WWE in 2022, was the referee for a match at WWE SummerSlam, and also wrestled in Ric Flair’s last match, all in the same weekend. After leaving WWE again, Jarrett shows up in AEW, smashing Darby Allin with a guitar.

In 2022, Jarrett worked for WWE, GCW, AEW, and the NWA. In one calendar year, at the age of 55. Not bad for a guy who broke 6,000 guitars and never drew a dime, eh Mike?

Jeff Jarrett can have a good, even great, match with anyone, plus he can cut a promo. When it comes to behind the curtain, Jarrett can book live events, get PPV deals, start a wrestling company, and have longevity in the business that is rarely seen, 37 years and counting. He has a Cagematch rating of 7.12 and I recommend checking out his top matches here. I would also suggest checking out Jarrett’s current run in AEW, he is arguably the best heel they have, who gets real heat. Whether he is in the ring, behind the curtain, or in the office, Jeff Jarrett can do it all in pro wrestling and for that, he deserves all the accolades, slap nuts.

(Note: if anyone has or can get me a slap nuts foam guitar, please let me know on Twitter @fordcomplains)  

Ford hosts a True Crime podcast titled Ford & Vegas that is available where you get your podcasts.

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