Mixed martial arts superstar Quinton Rampage Jackson signed a multi-year partnership with Spike TV, Bellator MMA and TNA Impact Wrestling.
The deal, which also includes a four-part reality series and potential movie projects through Paramount, will see Jackson compete in the cages of Bellator and the rings of TNA. This agreement follows a trend started by fellow fighter Muhammed King Mo Lawal, who is splitting his time between the two companies.
Jackson, 34, isn’t wasting any time kicking off his wrestling career as the former UFC light heavyweight champion makes his debut on Impact Wrestling 9 p.m. EST Thursday, June 6 on Spike TV.
“They have the best wrestlers over there at TNA, and I want to go there to show them what I can do,” Jackson said during a press conference, which also featured Spike TV president Kevin Kay, TNA president Dixie Carter and Bellator CEO and chairman Bjorn Rebney.
“I think I’m a natural pro wrestler. People don’t know I used to play around with my old wrestling buddies in high school and college. People don’t know about my love of pro wrestling. I’ve been watching TNA. They got Sting and Hulk Hogan, come on. I need to go over there and learn from the best and put on a great show…”
Carter has high hopes for her newest acquisition to the roster.
“We all know Rampage is a global star, and TNA is a global product,” Carter said. “We are looking for him to make the same impact in our world the way he impacted the MMA world. The question is can he dominate TNA the way he has dominated in MMA. That’s our hope.
“I can tell you he’s very confident that will be the case, and that makes me pretty confident that will happen as well. He is a tremendous talent and has a big personality…We are confident that talent and personality is really the perfect fit for us at Impact.
“I want to be very clear. He is very serious about his deal with TNA. He is committed to being the best at what we do, and I’m excited about that. This is a unique partnership and innovative as 2013 is a big strategic growth year for us. We are in this expansion process on the show and in different things we are getting involved in.
“This relationship works perfect for us. We are going to be supporting and working closely with Spike, with Bellator, with Paramount as we build ‘Rampage’. I’m very, very confident that he is going to have the kind of impact on our show, pun intended, that we all think he can…We are very excited to see him for the first time on our stage. So that will be exciting and interesting as well.”
Carter believes he has a lot of training to do as he prepares to square off against the likes of Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle and Samoa Joe.
“He has a huge commitment that he has made to me and this sport to take it seriously, but I do know when he does come in, it will be in a big way,” Carter said.
Jackson, who is finishing rehab on a knee injury, is confident in his abilities and that he can juggle his schedule successfully.
“I’m going to do it all,” Jackson said. “I’m going to do both. A lot of fans don’t understand this, but sometimes when you have a training camp, I sometimes set aside two months for a fight, and there are 12 months in a year, so with that other time I can do training for pro wrestling on my down time…”
Taking that into account, Carter believes Jackson’s turnaround time can be fairly quick.
“He is going to start right away,” Carter said. “He will be appearing on our show, but his training -- whether it be at OVW [Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville] or [at his training camp] in [Southern] California where he will be set up with a training team -- he will be committed to that. He will be in, I would expect, much sooner than later.”
Jackson, portraying Mr. T’s character BA Baracus, co-starred in the “A-Team” movie, released in June 2010. For the diverse entertainer and as a wrestling fan growing up, being a part of TNA as a performer is a dream come true. He is excited to meet everyone in the locker room, some of whom were his idols as a child.
“I’m from Memphis and used to watch pro wrestling with my dad and older brother,” Jackson said. “We used to go down to Monday night wrestling at the coliseum. I used to wake up on Saturdays [to watch]. My brother used to write to the channel 5 news station to get free tickets. I’ve actually been to some of the shows. In fact, I knew The Undertaker when he was the Master of Pain. Growing up he was one of my favorite pro wrestlers. He had the craziest move that I’m going to try and do in pro wrestling. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do it. Undertaker is a big, scary man. He is tall, and as a kid I used to watch him. Jerry Lawler is from there. I remember Jeff Jarrett when I was a kid, and I’ve always been a big Hulk Hogan fan.”
Jackson added: “I was the Ultimate Warrior two years in a row on Halloween if you can imagine that. I used to bench press my friends when I was a kid. I was bigger than everybody. I can’t wait to go into pro wrestling…”
Quinton Rampage Jackson makes his first appearance on TNA Impact Wrestling 9 p.m. EST Thursday, June 6 on Spike TV. TNA is returning to the 9 p.m. EST timeslot for its two-hour flagship program.• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN, http://twitter.com/#!/smFISHMAN, where I post links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.