Impact Wrestling

Regaining the Stroke: Jeff Jarrett’s Journey Back to Impact Wrestling

The new chapter for Jeff Jarrett and Impact Wrestling starts now, but has he learned enough from the past to make its future great?

On a hot June day inside of the ballpark that houses the Mississippi Braves in Jackson, Mississippi, Jeff Jarrett and his wife, Karen, are meeting and greeting a multitude of wrestling fans and conversing with old friends while preparing for a live event for his Global Force Wrestling brand. Karen dips around to the back end of the merchandise station that is set up with items from the various wrestlers on the card. Product from New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Bullet Club faction is on full display at the booth with fans flocking to the table ready to purchase. Meanwhile, Jarrett continues to meet and greet with attendees, but in the rare occasion that he gets to be to himself, its clear that he’s in deep thought.

How could he let his own creation get away from him? Why would he have to start from scratch to promote the very ideas that were made for the brand that he built and created over a decade earlier? He was no longer the landlord to his own apartment building. He wasn’t even a resident. Jarrett was barely a maintenance man.

The Revolving Door of Impact Wrestling

In early 2014, Jarrett proclaimed that the pro wrestling business would be entering into the infancy of another boom period. The comment sparked a multitude of debates and conversations. At the time, Jarrett was gearing up for his launch of GFW. In the years that have pasted, the organization hasn’t necessarily been a thriving success in the eyes of wrestling fans and industry enthusiasts.

For Jarrett, the founder of Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling, GFW was the rebirth of his vision that he once had for TNA. It’s the correction for mistakes that were made during his tenure at TNA. GFW’s initial focus would be to start an independent company that would feature talents from all over the world and have its championships defended across multiple organizations. The concept is novel and not that much different from 2002 TNA. Yet, today’s wrestling climate is infused with a wide range of independent organizations that bounce talent from one another and still have a huge presence online. Jarrett saw where the industry was heading. He just needed one more chance.

Jarrett had always played one of my favorite characters in wrestling. He was brash, overly demanding, but technically sound in the ring. I became a Jarrett fan during his “Don’t Piss Me Off” era in WWF and later in WCW with his signature “Slap Nuts” phrase. Along with smashing guitars over a few hundred wrestler’s heads, I always thought Jarrett was a unique character. He’d always remind the fans that he was the one with “all the stroke.”

After WCW closed in 2001, I wouldn’t watch wrestling for over four years until I inadvertently landed on a random cable station that was broadcasting a home invasion by a man in a red suit and some huge masked guy. The scene was from an episode of TNA Impact on Spike TV featuring Father James Mitchell and Abyss looking for Christian Cage. From then on out, I was a TNA fan which led me to getting back into WWE and discovering Ring of Honor. Throughout the year, TNA has given me (and most wrestling fans) enough reason to not care altogether, but I will always credit Jeff Jarrett for being one of the most consistent figures in my pro wrestling consumption.

In late 2016, after a humiliating year for TNA that was littered with debt issues, lawsuits, and a loyal-yet-confused fanbase, the company had become acquired by Anthem Media and Entertainment. The first order of business for AME was to put Jarrett right back into the forefront of the company that he had once called his own. Since his return, Jarrett and company have a renewed focus for the brand now simply known as Impact Wrestling. We’ve seen this before. The company has rebooted more than the number of sides on its ring. Seemingly, the 6-sided ring, Jeff Jarrett and Scott D’Amore are the only real remnants of the old TNA. The feeling is somehow different this time around. Maybe the expectations are so low that anything not associated with a certain former TNA President from Texas brings a false sense of improvement. I’m not naive. Impact Wrestling has enough pieces to make a profitable comeback. Jarrett, his team, and all of the talent have to execute, but that’s easier said than done. 

Jeff Jarrett is in a position that he probably never thought he would be in again at this moment. With Anthem’s backing, Impact Wrestling plans to do live tours again. The company must get outside of the Orlando, Florida Impact Zone walls to gain any real, sustainable momentum. Jarrett knows this. All of those small, introspective moments during his GFW live tours and television tapings led him to this very minute. Once again, he’s the man with all the stroke in Impact Wrestling. Jarrett has to make it count this time.

Follow me @WillMarelle on Twitter

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