Exclusive: Jeff Jarrett Talks GFW, Roddy Piper, The Masked Saint, And More

Jeff Jarrett Talks GFW, Roddy Piper, The Masked Saint

For nearly four decades, Jeff Jarrett has been a key figure in the professional wrestling world, following in the footsteps of his legendary father, Jerry Jarrett. Whether his role is a main eventer holding the World Heavyweight Championship or starting another company off the ground, Jarrett is one of the most hands-on personalities in the industry.

In those near 40 years, Jarrett’s career has gone through several changes, successes, failures, and personal difficulties. In fact, he only recently reconciled with his dad after years of issues stemming from the pro wrestling industry. But if there’s one place that Jarrett’s life is in control, it’s when he’s around the business or swinging his trademark guitar in the ring.

“The appeal is real simple, my first love is this business and I love all facets of it,” said Jarrett. “Whether it’s production, marketing, advertising, you know, there’s so much to this business now. Editing, the television side of things, but I was a wrestler first and that’s something I enjoy.”

While Jarrett’s in-ring time has been cut down drastically in recent years, it hasn’t been without purpose. After a messy departure from Total Nonstop Action (TNA) in 2013, Jarrett is successfully building up another wrestling promotion, Global Force Wrestling (GFW). Still in its infancy, the company is already attracting a dedicated fanbase, in part to the company’s fan-friendly environment and ability to feature a global stable of showmen, thanks to the company’s partnerships with companies like Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA), New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), and more.

After co-hosting Wrestle-Kingdom 9 with NJPW earlier this year, GFW embarked on its Grand Slam Tour in the Summer. Hosting shows at several Minor League Baseball stadiums not only gave fans an intimate setting to watch wrestling, it allowed GFW to build what Jarrett calls “brand awareness” while not breaking the bank.

“When you go into a baseball stadium in the summer, it’s a cool vibe to get to watch professional wrestling under the stars. Also, you are dialing into a first class facility, the minor league stadiums nowadays are just incredible, great facilities. You’re also dialing into the DNA of the entertainment side of things in each of these markets. The ball clubs have existing media relations in radio, television, print, digital; so you’re tapping into that as well.”

Jarrett attended the Baseball Winter Meetings earlier this month, which took place in his native Nashville, Tennessee. After meeting with several teams, Jarrett is optimistic about GFW’s future with baseball stadiums going forward. While he doesn’t rule out potentially running a show at a Major League stadium, Jarrett admits the costs of such an event would skyrocket and at this time, GFW prefers being a “bigger fish in a small pond as opposed to a small fish in a big pond.”

“Obviously, I’m ahead of the curve because last year I didn’t start working on the tour until late January – early February,” said Jarrett. “We’ve got a couple dates already on the books and we’re gonna be excited to head into new markets and come back to some of the original ones.”

In recent months, the big talk surrounding GFW has been the possibility of the company landing a television deal in the United States. At the moment, Jarrett says that GFW is in discussions with several countries, including France, Monaco, Singapore, and Vietnam, about television distribution through Boulder Creek International in London.

The important thing in finding a televised home for GFW that will be able to connect Jarrett’s vision for the company to the audience. As every major wrestling organization strives for something different, GFW will be no different.

“What WWE does is better than everybody else, which is Sports Entertainment. Lucha Underground, they’re going for a different audience. Ring of Honor, certainly, is going for a different audience. Global Force, I cannot wait to share with the world what the vision of AMPED will be and it will be going for a different audience.”

A GFW television deal in the states is not a given, but when/if GFW does find a taker, it already has 16, one-hour episodes of its AMPED television show recorded and ready to go. In the meantime, Jarrett can offer talent the one thing he’s strived to always offer wrestlers: a stage to showcase their abilities.

[Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]

“I remember the early days of TNA giving a kid from North Georgia a hell of an opportunity and AJ Styles went on to where his career is at. We can go on with the early days of TNA; Bobby Roode, and Eric Young, and James Storm. I can keep going on and on but giving guys an opportunity, a stage, and a platform. Basically giving them the ball and hoping they can score the touchdown. That’s something that really as a promoter, I’ve relished the opportunity to get to do that.”

The current and future talent of GFW also do not need to worry about Jarrett using his notoriety to put himself over.

During his time with TNA, Jarrett was often criticized for interjecting himself into several of TNA’s top storylines and frequently winning the World Championship. Out of his 11 major World Heavyweight championship, victories in wrestling, six of them came as NWA World Heavyweight champion in TNA.

However, Jarrett’s in-ring involvement will strictly be for marquee value going forward and not in a selfish endeavor to keep himself a top star.

“I didn’t wrestle on any of the Grand Slam Tours and didn’t wrestle at the AMPED tapings, but we partnered up with a promoter in the United Kingdom and we ran our two shows at the end of the October in the United Kindom,” said Jarrett. “As we moved on through the deal, the promoter was pretty blunt about it, that it wasn’t an option for us to do business together if I didn’t wrestle. He felt there is a marquee value so I agreed to that.”

Speaking of marquee value, the late “Rowdy” Roddy Piper will be posthumously featured in a movie called The Masked Saint. The movie is set for release on January 8, 2016. After Piper’s death earlier this year, Ridgerock Entertainment partnered up with GFW to help promote the movie, which turned out to be the final film of Piper’s life.

[Image via TheMaskedSaint.com]

“They treat professional wrestling within the movie with such integrity, such honor, it’s done very, very well Roddy Piper plays an evil wrestling promoter and we all know that it’s not a stretch for Roddy’s acting chops to get that done. He’s a good actor but giving him that role, it’s just magnificent. It’s a great story, it’s based on real-life, true events and culminates – just like in wrestling – in a cage match, a big blow off match. The movie is really good and appeals all ages, all audience; wrestling fan or non-wrestling fan.”

Having met Piper before he became a full-time wrestler in 1986, the movie hit close to home for Jarrett as another legendary peer passed away.

“He came up the hard way and I knew that,” said Jarrett. “I heard stories, he worked all the territories. In California, Portland, Mid-Atlantic; he’d been around the horn. He may not come in as a main eventer, but he always left as a main eventer because he was real and he spoke from the heart. When I got the chance to work with Roddy and work in the same company with him; I worked with him in WCW and then meeting off-and-on, then working together in TNA a couple of times. We remained friends.”

Next month, Jarrett will look to form new friendships, new alliances, and create memories as GFW makes it first trip to the Northeast to host two live events. The first show will be on January 22, 2016 in Poughkeepsie, New York at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. The venue is certainly not rich in history like a Madison Square Garden, but it holds a special sentimental value to Jarrett.

“A few months ago, the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, that I’ve had a long-standing relationship with management there, ironically enough, it’s the first place in 1993 that Double J [Jeff Jarrett] wrestled for the WWF at the first TV tapings that I did in that Mid-Hudson Civic Center.”

Once that show is in the books and Jarrett completes his full circle experience, GFW will make its way to Rahway, New Jersey the next night on January 23, 2016. It will be a co-branded event as Pro Wrestling Syndicate (PWS) will square off against GFW.

Jarrett says that over the past 12-15 months, GFW’s social media has received a ton of questions about when GFW would travel to the Northeast and put on some shows. Now, the Northeast gets two of them and with arguably the most popular Northeast independent promotion meeting GFW.

“Pat Buck and his crew have run shows for many years and I’ve worked with them off-and-on over the years,” said Jarrett. “I actually did a seminar up there for them and we thought this would be a great way to have a co-branded show. The stars of PWS and the stars of GFW are gonna come together for one night and both nights are just gonna be fantastic nights of professional wrestling.”

For audio of this interview, you can listen to it here.

[Image via Global Force Wrestling]