#JeffJarrettWeek: Difference of Opinion

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It’s the Final Day of #JeffJarrettWeek, a celebration of all things J-E-Double F J-A-Double R-E-Double T and the sixth installment in our patent-pending Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. We started with A Wrestler You Should Probably Know Better. We’ve given you the finer points of the Double J oeuvre with some Essential Viewing before marching through Hump Day with a GIF parade. Yesterday, we made our “Amazon.com on steroids” dreams come true with “Juice Make Sugar Recommends…“. Today we finish everything off  with a Difference of Opinion (where JMS HQ erupts in a Exploding Guitar-fueled civil war.) 

Dave: So, Nick. I haven’t gotten around to listening quite yet, but I heard that during your appearance on The Wrestling Podcast this week, you were tasked with defending Jeff Jarrett to someone a little less understanding than me.

Nick: Yes, in addition to managing to say “on some level” more (6) than Venture Bros. references (2), I defended Jeff Jarrett to Thomas Holzerman, a nice man who isn’t particularly fond of Jeff. But even he enjoy things Jarrett had done, like the beating up the kids at the dojo as he “learned” MMA.

Dave: That’s what makes Jarrett magical — the ability to pull off those ridiculously unrealistic vignettes in a heelish way.

Nick: It’s a very rare skill, but if you are in on the joke, it’s amazing.

Dave: I think that’s a good way of describing Jarrett: he has an uncommon skill set. That’s what’s made him such a solid contributor for twenty years.

Nick: Yeah, he’s like JBL in that way.

Dave: That’s an apt comparison, because both of them are 75% of a top tier star.

Nick: Is that a function of them being southerns? I think we all know how Vince feels about the south.

Dave: I think it’s a function of being savvy-social climber smart and not knowing-your-limitations smart.

Nick: I meant both being not quite main eventers. Is that because Vince has programmed most people to think Southerns are either bad wrestlers or bad people?

Dave: I think that’s true of Jarrett, but JBL did achieve true main event status, even if it was for a short period at the end of his career. He feuded with John Cena for God’s sake. It doesn’t get much more main event than that.

Nick: But he was the guy that John Cena beat to get in the main event. Isn’t that kind of Jeff Jarrett’s bread and butter? I just get the feeling if someone else was running WWF, Jeff Jarrett would have been champion. I think he’s that good. He may not be Hulk Hogan, but he’s at least Jericho to me.

Dave: There’s a chance. It’s hard to say. I can’t see a world where he would ever be put above Austin or Rock, but I think he would have been a phenomenal opponent for either one of them. I’ll go out on a limb and say Jarrett has been a better heel for longer than Jericho, who was good in his “power suit” run, but prior to that was all over the place as a character. And of course he’s not Hulk Hogan. Jarrett is good at most of the things Hulk Hogan was bad at, but he isn’t five percent the star.

Nick: I think he’s a better guy for TNA, though. Hogan is just big enough to be annoying.

Dave: Any guy who can work a match is better for a wrestling company than even the biggest star who can’t. Fact.

Nick: I think Jarrett actively adds to the mix, though. Even as an authority figure.

Dave: Yeah, as good a laugh as I’ve gotten out of calling him “The Founder” at times, the fact that he started the company gives him a really unique feel as a character in the promotion.

Nick: The fact that he was a legitimate world champion for them makes him feel like an elder statesment. Not a desperate vagabond in a bandana.

Dave: It’s kind of scary to think how much money TNA could have saved just using him in the Hulk Hogan role over the last two years.

Nick: Is there anything Jarrett couldn’t have done that Hulk did? Other than figure out new ways to shoehorn Brother into sentences?

Dave: Well, Hogan did pop a rating for about two weeks. Obviously Jarrett’s daughters aren’t the right age to have done the angle with Bully Ray, but they had to scrap that anyway, so any positive momentum that angle had effectively never happened. And I’m sure a few channel surfers lingered on Impact for a few seconds because they saw Hogan, but the numbers show that those people obviously didn’t stick around and actually start watching Impact on a regular basis.

Nick: And more importantly, is there any other performer out there that could have done with Jarrett did with TNA to begin with? He founded a company and was the flagship worker for it for a few years.

Dave: Well, most wrestlers have huge egos, so I’m sure any number of people could have tried it.

Nick: And succeeded? Isn’t Jarrett’s charm that he doesn’t take himself TOO seriously, but has just enough ego to get himself over doing anything?

Dave: He has an unapologetic combination of self-confidence, desire to succeed, and shamelessness. And as much as he promoted the heck out of himself, he also worked to get a lot of other wrestlers over. Which I don’t think, say, a Triple H would have done. Look at Styles, Daniels, and Storm. All of them were guys Jarrett identified very early on and began to groom as faces of the company. That’s actual vision.

Nick: He also, for obvious reasons, seems to have confidence in himself as a worker. Which helps.

Dave: Oh, definitely. Jeff Jarrett believes he could get over any screwy finish. Twenty-seven ref bumps, a guitar shot, several low blows right in front of the ref, interference from a non-wrestler who can’t throw a worked punch… He is not lacking for confidence in his abilities. And as you say (and we both said in A Wrestler You Should Probably Know and Essential Viewing) it’s his willingness to take on any idea that has made him so special over the last twenty years.

Nick: Including *actually* stealing guy’s wives, you mean?

Dave: Given what a quality character Kurt Angle has turned out to be, I’m not sure if “steal” is the right word. Although an Angle apologist might argue he was driven mad by the evil Jeff Jarrett. …But I would say that’s being a mark and thinking TV storylines are real.

Nick: Was that the single dumbest thing anyone has ever done? Because, it feels like it.

Dave: Professionally, yes. Personally, none of us can judge it.

Nick: Oh, obviously. They seem genuinely happy, which is nice. But it blew up TNA.

Dave: Yeah, it opened the door for Hogan and Bischoff to bring in The Nasty Boys and Jimmy Hart and Val Venis. It was Jarrett thinking about himself, and not the other people who relied on him. Which is unprofessional, but the guy had lost his wife of forever and was probably feeling pretty lost. I think the fans just rolled their eyes and said “It’s Jarrett,” but it was Dixie Carter who really lost confidence in him after that. Because of her weird kind-of-too-personal-seeming devotion to big stars who jump to TNA like Sting and Angle.

Nick: And Hogan. I know I ask this question a lot, but how much better shape would TNA and Jeff Jarrett’s career be in if that didn’t happen?

Dave: As for the direction of TNA, I dunno. That’s such a big question because if he hadn’t run off with Karen Angle we might never have had Hogan and Bischoff. So, I’m going to chalk that one up as “completely unpredictable, but I think it’s safe to say Jarrett would still be a big part of TNA’s weekly TV if that hadn’t happened. I don’t think he’d be a main event, title-winning star, but I think he’d be a guy in the top of the midcard/lower main event helping elevate guys. Which is where he’s at his best.

Nick: Is he the best ever at that?

Dave:. I don’t know if he’s the best ever. You mentioned Chris Jericho earlier, and he’s in the conversation as well. But I will say that if I was starting some kind of fantasy wrestling federation, I would want Jeff Jarrett as my Intercontinental Champion.

Nick: He, for all the reasons we’ve discussed, seems like the perfect jobber to the stars. Which, yeah, is the IC champ in a nutshell. Was he helped or hurt by having Jerry as his father?

Dave: Yeah, definitely. He’s a great jobber to the stars and he can actually elevate midcard guys by approximating a main event-level match with them. And having Jerry as his father definitely helped. He got exposure early in his career by being featured on TV from a very young age, and the connections between his dad and Lawler helped him get on WWF TV when they had their deal with the USWA. I mean, he wasn’t Mike Graham or Greg Gagne either, he actually had a big star look and could cut a good promo.

So he helped himself shine in the spotlight, but make no mistake, he was originally put in the spotlight because of whose son he was.

Nick: So, you’re saying he’s better than Erik Watts?

Dave: He’s not only better than Erik Watts, he’s better than both members of Tekno Team 2000 combined and amplified to the hundredth power.

Nick: Listen, Dave. You can badmouth Erik Watts all you want, but talking shit about Chad Fortune is a bridge too far. I think it’s time to wrap this Jeff Jarrett Lovefest up.

Dave: I don’t mean to take away from his career playing American Football in Germany, I’m just saying he was not the best wrestler of the early Attitude Era.

Nick: Wow. I’m not even sure where to go after that. So, I guess, Jeff Jarrett: Overrated by us, Underrated by them, or properly rated by everyone?

Dave: I think his abilities are underrated and his warts, while legitimate, are overstated. So yeah, I’d call him underrated.

Nick: That works for me. Just keep him away from your fiancee, I guess.

Dave: Yeah, too pretty.