It’s Day Four of #JeffJarrettWeek, a celebration of all things J-E-Double F J-A-Double R-E-Double T and the seventh installment in our patent-pending Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. We started with A Wrestler You Should Probably Know Better, gave you the finer points of the Double J oeuvre with some Essential Viewing, then marched through Hump Day with a GIF parade. Today, we make our “Amazon.com on steroids” dreams come true with Juice Make Sugar Recommends… before finishing everything off tomorrow with a Difference of Opinion (where JMS HQ erupts in a Exploding Guitar-fueled civil war.)
Some Gave All, Billy Ray Cyrus
To some people, Billy Ray Cyrus embodied all that was wrong with the early 90s. To others, Cyrus represents all that is wrong with country music. In the year 2013, however, most people just think of him as the mostly-pathetic puddle of primordial ooze that spawned Miley Cyrus. While Billy Ray’s career and his hugely success album Some Gave All may be pop culture footnotes today, they’re footnotes that are impossible to ignore.
A young Double J represented those same early 90s excesses: long, bad hair; shallow, bad music; and over-the-top, goofy presentation. As both men aged, they began to insist upon themselves. “Don’t just think of me as the ‘Achy Breaky Heart’/’With my Baby Tonight’ guy! I want to be taken seriously!” Unfortunately, both learned too late that you can’t portray yourself as a cartoon character to make money and then suddenly flip the switch and decide to be a serious, respected artist.
Mike Nichols’ Closer masterfully showcased the carefree excitement of new love, the strong inertia of old love, and the danger of lust. It follows the modern theatre convention (as it is based on a play) of taking a minimal number of characters and putting them in the tightest, hottest possible pressure cooker. The result: short periods of bliss followed by lengthy periods of unhappiness and a world in which the truth is philosophically important, but largely a downer.
There was definitely something of Closer in the Jeff-Kurt-Karen saga, in which Jarrett, still grieving the death of his own wife, snatched away Angle’s in a love triangle that played out both on TNA television and in the dirt sheets. The part that’s really interesting is that none of us outsiders will ever truly know if it was Jarrett playing Clive Owen’s heavy-handed lech Larry and Angle playing Jude Law’s sensitive, easily damaged Dan, or the other way around. Just like the end of Closer, it’s hard to tell if anybody gained any lasting happiness through the episode, or if it was all just an exercise in hurting each other.
God, The Simpsons was a great show in its day. It balanced laugh-out-loud comedy with just enough emotional and philosophical truth to entertain its millions of fans in a light but lasting way.
Unfortunately, the show’s long run (typically a sign of success) resulted in massive overexposure and tremendously waning interest from those who had once been the show’s biggest fans. The show’s 24 years on television are equal parts a testament to its crowd-pleasing popularity and the shameless desire of executives to make money off the established name value. Fans of The Simpsons suddenly find themselves qualifying their love of the show with “only up to 199X” or “only seasons X-X.”
Much like The Simpsons, Jeff Jarrett had a long, sustained run of being incredibly entertaining. He provided fans with both laughs and emotional satisfaction when he was bounced around by top babyfaces. However, in the late years of WCW, he became massively overexposed and went from being fun-annoying to annoying-annoying. As The Simpsons’ empire grew exponentially in the marketing-conscious twenty-first century, Jarrett’s empire of self-indulgence grew with the founding of TNA in 2002. Both did the same thing: take something great and ram it down your throat until you choke on it.
Tony Romo is a pretty good quarterback. Heck, he’s pretty consistently mentioned in the top-class of NFL quarterbacks. He’s the face of a franchise. The only problem: nobody likes him. Not even his own fans like him. Seriously, poll ten Cowboys fans on how they feel about Tony Romo. Eight of them will tell you how desperately the ‘Boys need to give the keys to the car to any other guy, and the other two are so blinded by brand loyalty that they can’t say anything bad about him.
Sounds like TNA, doesn’t it? Most wrestling fans, on a philosophical level, want there to be more than one viable big time wrestling company — it’s good for everyone. But do they want one that revolves around Jeff Jarrett? Heck no! Jarrett is a very, very capable wrestler, just as Romo is a very, very capable quarterback, but he’s not the face of a league. Unlike Tony Romo, however, Jeff Jarrett has (or had) the dangerous power to present himself as Peyton Manning. The result? A franchise guy whose fans mostly hate him.
Steve Buscemi is perhaps the premier actor of his type. He can play a wide range of characters, has decent star power, and brings an earnest, consistent effort to all his roles. He’s been in iconic movies from Reservoir Dogs to The Big Lebowski to Ghost World, and always elevates whatever he’s in to the best of his ability. That said, if you were producing a movie and you wanted it to make money, would you cast Steve Buscemi in the lead? Buscemi is talented, but his warts are too numerous and too noticeable to make him a real leading man.
Much like Buscemi, Jeff Jarrett is a fantastic midcard talent, but not a top tier main eventer. Jarrett has his distinct charms: he’s a great wrestler, a very good promo, and has been featured on TV for two decades, but would you ever mention him in the same breath as The Rock? Steve Austin? The Undertaker? Goldberg? Like Buscemi, Jarrett is absolutely the best third-from-the-top guy you’ll ever see. But the main event? No way. The name Jarrett on the marquis is just about as sexy as Buscemi. They’re great ingredients, but not a ready-to-eat dish.
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is one of the twentieth century’s most polarizing novels. If you want to gain a real (and sometimes upsetting) insight into your so-called friends, ask them how they feel about Atlas Shrugged. To right-wing Libertarian, Tea Party types, it’s the gospel of anti-government, hard-working industry. To social liberals, it’s the gospel of selfishness and Social Darwinism. The debate over its message aside, Atlas Shrugged has spawned decades of fruitful and passionate discussion and is a book that will be remembered for centuries.
Jeff Jarrett has easily been the most polarizing wrestler of the twenty-first century not named John Cena. He doesn’t really care what you think of him, as long as you keep sending the money. He’s happy to play hero to those for whom he is a hero, and happy to play villain to those for whom he’s a villain. Somewhere, deep inside himself, Jarrett knows who he really is and how he really feels about himself, and none of us will ever be privy to that.