Jeff Jarrett has been a wrestling mainstay for nearly 30 years. From his time in WWF and WCW to his reign as "King of the Mountain" in TNA – the promotion he co-founded in 2002 – Double J has long been the man with the stroke, both both inside the ring and behind the scenes. But when he left TNA in early 2014, it seemed that we might have seen the last of Jarrett in the business he was born into.
Turns out, his sabbatical was short-lived: In April 2014, he announced the founding of Global Force Wrestling. Since then, many questions have been asked about the promotion, yet few answers have been given. But on June 12, Global Force officially launched, with a live show at a minor league ballpark in Jackson, Tennessee. Can Jarrett build a true competitor to WWE from those humble beginnings? He's going to try, and with the collective might of several indie promotions behind him, he's got a plan in place – one that draws from wrestling's past, and might actually bring the business into the future.
So I might as well ask the biggest question right off the bat: "What is Global Force Wrestling?"
It is a professional wrestling organization that we'd like to think will be forward-thinking and innovative. We have formed alliances with other promotions around the world so we can share talent and bring in talent. Every wrestler has a story. They've started in some organization. Over the past 15 years, all the organizations have sort of sat on an island. They don't interact at all. We look at it differently. We want other organizations to thrive. We want them to do as well as they can. It's a win-win for wrestling if that's the case. Thirty years ago, it wasn't uncommon for different promotions to share talent. You would load up a big card with wrestlers from other territories. It is a professional wrestling organization, first and foremost.
So would you characterize it as almost an "All Star" organization, with the best from all these different organizations coming together?
I wouldn't necessarily say that. We're going to have our core roster. We'll also have opportunities for wrestlers from around the world to come in and showcase their talents. They could be local stars, they could be regional stars, they could be international stars. We're going to give them an opportunity to get on the global stage. We'll have our core roster though. We'll have different matchups and different looks. As a wrestling fan, that excites me.
It is going to be different from the norm. A lot of people are having trouble understanding our mindset. It's exciting to me though. One big thing is that we're not really going to write stories, although that goes into professional wrestling. Instead, we're going to document stories. Like I said, every wrestler has a story. Why does he want to be in this business? What makes him tick as a human being? What is he competing for? The short answer is that he's competing to get the best bookings, he's competing to get the best matches. Maybe he's competing to sell the most T-shirts. There's a real competition in this business and we want to bring that to the forefront.
So you'll be focusing on competition, rather than storylines or angles?
Yes. Now, that being said, we will have some stories. When people start to see the product, I think they'll start to understand and gravitate towards it more. I can't to start our Grand Slam tour and then head out to Vegas.
Speaking of the Grand Slam tour, with the exception of some tapings in Las Vegas, all of GFW's scheduled shows right now are in baseball stadiums. Why did you choose to go that route?
The biggest factor is that I'm a third-generation performer. I have a lot of experience, and my family has a lot of experience in this business. I know that in 2015, creating brand awareness takes time, patience, money and forethought. But when we come into these towns, we're leveraging the baseball teams and their social media platforms, their advertising platforms, their fans and their season ticket base. We are spreading the word and creating the awareness by having the events there. It's a great opportunity for Global Force to get into these communities and go with a real grassroots, traditional approach. The stadiums and the baseball teams are the center of entertainment in most of these towns that we're going to. It's great to be aligned with them. If you haven't been to a minor league stadium, you ought to go. There's never a bad seat in the house, it's outdoors, it's a great place to watch a professional wrestling show.
Given how much wrestling is on TV now – WWE, TNA, Ring of Honor and Lucha Underground – what is going to set GFW apart from the pack?
The short answer is watch and see. I will say, though, that we want to truly focus on who these athletes are. The Bullet Club is legitimately the hottest faction in all of wrestling, and we'll talk about how they've come up through New Japan and continued to grow in popularity. Karl Anderson has a great story behind him, so does Doc Gallows, he's traveled the world. Chris Mordetzky [formerly Chris Masters] is one of the youngest guys ever signed by the WWE. Quite frankly, he'll probably admit it; he wasn't ready for it at the time. Now he's spent three or four years overseas, and he's ready to step into a Global Force ring and compete. PJ Black [Justin Gabriel], Lei'D Tapa, some wrestlers that maybe people haven't heard of. Guys like Andrew Everett and Chuck Taylor, I could go on and on. All these guys are chomping at the bit to get on this bigger stage.
Will you be a regular character on these shows, like you were in TNA?
No. I'm certainly not going to wrestle for the foreseeable future. I'm not going to say that I'm retired, but 99.9 percent of my time is going to be dedicated to promoting the brand and promoting the athletes of Global Force Wrestling.
Speaking of TNA, what made you leave?
It was just that my time was over in the organization. I just needed to close the door on that chapter in my life and move on. I have nothing but respect for the company and fond memories. The good, the bad and the ugly, the ups and downs, it was a great life experience. There's nothing that I regret, it was just time to move on.
Were there any pitfalls that you encountered in TNA that you will know to avoid in GFW?
You can't just sit back and rest on your laurels. You have to be forward-thinking and ahead of the curve. My biggest goal is going to be thinking – not just short-term, but long-term – about how every wrestling fan can have as much access to this product we're creating. You have to be really business-savvy to figure out how to incorporate the fans into every aspect of your product.
What's your take on the latest round of rumors about TNA, especially now that Ring of Honor has moved to Destination America?
I don't know what the facts are. Like everybody else, I'm waiting to see how it all plays out. There certainly has been a whirlwind of rumors going around. I certainly hope they're not true, because it's not good for the industry. I'm tickled to death for Ring of Honor to get this opportunity and I hope they put the best foot forward and blow the doors off.
You have several television tapings listed throughout the rest of 2015, but as of now, we haven't heard anything about any TV deals. Is the plan to bring GFW to a network, put it online, or something else entirely?
I will release that information when it's time to release it. We're in talks domestically and internationally. The international rights come into play just as much here.
After you signed Chael Sonnen to be your color guy on the broadcasts, there has been a lot of talk about Jim Ross coming on to do play-by-play. Any update?
We have agreed to keep discussions open at this point. Jim is doing a lot in his life. He has his one-man tour, he has other projects going on. I would love to have him join us.
You've been in the business for a long time, and, as you said, you've been through "the good, the bad and the ugly." So I'm wondering, what does success mean to you, especially when it comes to Global Force Wrestling?
It's the same as any business, and you have to think about it this way: Success is defined by whether you're profitable or not. In the short-term though, we want to make strides to make brand awareness. We want to put up compelling content with compelling wrestlers, and that will be a barometer of success. We just want to be a positive influence within the wrestling industry.