Google Jeff Jarrett and you’ll find lots of them. There’s the Cleveland chef who whips up delicacies, the Kansas City lawyer who can help with that stack of speeding tickets you’ve accrued, and the Hawaiian Jeff Jarrett who ran for U.S. Senate in 2010.
Yeah, but are they King of the Mountain? We think not.
We talked to the professional wrestling veteran and founder of TNA Wrestling shortly before he made his way to Delaware for a gig at the State Fair.
Q You just celebrated your 25th anniversary in wrestling. Where do you see yourself going from here?
A I have to sort of reevaluate myself every year. I took a few years ago off with some personal situations, then got into a series with Kurt Angle. I put him right up there with not only my favorite matches but some of the best.
I feel good, my body feels good, but I take it as it comes.
Q You’re a founder of TNA as well as a wrestler. What’s harder: Being behind the scenes or in the ring?
A What comes with more headaches? You’d think in the ring, but out of the ring. My family’s been in business for more than 70 years — whether producing, marketing, working of the TV side of it. There are a lot of ups and owns in and out of ring, but it’s my life’s work, it’s my passion, and when I get on the road truly it is the best part of the business from the time the doors open to close. There are a lot of headaches, like being away from home, but my time at a TNA live event, it’s the best part of my job. It’s the essence of what the business is. You can watch it every week on TV, but there’s nothing like being there live and hearing the fans cheer, hearing them boo.
Q What’s the rush of getting a negative reaction?
A People cuss me out, and that’s even better. They’re passionate. The worst reaction you can get is the sound of silence.
I’ve been in the business my whole life, and there really is a yin/yang — there is no evil without good, and vice versa.
Q Does TNA Wrestling appear at fairs often? What’s that atmosphere like opposed to being in an arena?
A Last year we probably did five to 10 of them. We do about 100 shows a year, and during the summer, like any touring act, we do from time to time do state fairs.
Wrestling and fairs goes back many, many, many years ago. Wrestling originated out of the fair business.
Page 2 of 2 - Our business has been built on the fact that we are not only the best wrestling product, but the most fan interactive. It goes hand in hand with the fair situation. People come out whether it’s like a date night, an outing with family. They get out there later in the afternoon, hit the midway and then get to watching some wrestling.
Q How is seeing wrestling live different than watching it on TV?
A You’re actually going to see how physical the business is, how physically tough it is. What you see on TV, you can take that multiplied by 1,000.
When you see it live, at every show the doors open an hour before bell and you get to come in and see Don West at the merchandise stand. Then after the show we give everyone an opportunity to get up in the ring and get photos taken with stars. When we say fan interactive, we really pride ourselves on that and take it to another level.
Q One of your signature moves is the guitar shot. Who was the most satisfying to lay that on?
A I’ve done it to so many people, like the late, great Gary Coleman, Beetlejuice from “The Howard Stern Show,” a 72-year-old woman, Chyna, Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle several times. Each situation’s different. The latest one is most satisfying, because that’s freshest in my mind.