Fighting

PRO WRESTLING: Interview with Global Force Wrestling founder Jeff Jarrett

Wrestle Kingdom 9, featuring New Japan Pro Wrestling and the debuting Global Force Wrestling, is a stacked card filled with some of the best pro wrestlers from around the world.
Wrestle Kingdom 9, featuring New Japan Pro Wrestling and the debuting Global Force Wrestling, is a stacked card filled with some of the best pro wrestlers from around the world. Courtesy Global Force Wrestling

Jeff Jarrett went against the traditional business model in 2002 when he co-founded TNA Impact Wrestling with his father Jerry.

The promotion began on pay-per-view by producing two-hour shows on Wednesday nights in Nashville.

Now the visionary is once again starting from ground level in a unique manner with his new endeavor Global Force Wrestling.

His budding company partnered with New Japan Pro Wrestling to broadcast Wrestle Kingdom 9 from the Tokyo Dome to a national and worldwide audience. The four-hour telecast will air for the first time in the United States live 2 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 4 (4 p.m. in Tokyo) and then in prime-time 7 p.m. EST through PPV providers including Dish, AT&T U-verse, Comcast and Verizon. Fans can also watch via the Flipps app worldwide.

For Jarrett, it’s a monumental step and a new beginning.

“I knew last year around this time that it was time for me and TNA to go our separate ways,” he said. “It was time for a change in my life. So I took the holidays, January and February. I had a bunch of the pieces of the puzzle that I wanted to do. As the business has changed and technology has changed, entertainment and distribution models have changed, I wanted to do something. I didn’t have a grand vision. It was just piecing things together. I knew I wanted to launch a brand. Here we are.”

The Tennessean has embraced technology and social media from the minute the company revealed itself in April. By his side through it all is his wife Karen, who fans may remember on TNA television.

“She is very driven like myself,” Jarrett said. “She knows what she wants and wants to go after it. That’s her personality. Form a wife and supportive role, she has been great. She is my biggest confidence boaster. She is my rock…”

Jarrett spent much of 2014 traveling around the globe to scout wrestlers. He was impressed with what he saw.

“When I was in TNA, I was focused on TNA,” he said. “I knew with this I wanted to get out around the world and look at the independents. I don’t really use that word independent anymore. Indy wrestling has a negative connotation. I’ll say the free agent market. This market has blown me away with the massive amount of talent that has been on TV before or has never been on a national or global platform.

“I think the wrestling business from a talent standpoint is the healthiest it has ever been since 1982 and 1983 when you had 22 territories selling out every night. I believe the talent pool is that big right now. The digital component is enormous in not only wrestling, but all of entertainment. Every day you read a new blog or article on Netflix, Hulu, this program and that program. It’s where everything is heading.”

As the third generation performer was making moves, NJPW wanted to make some its own. They approached him about an idea to bring their product to a new audience in the United States.

“Things started to fall in place,” Jarrett said. “What a better way to make a big splash, the biggest splash, then with their biggest show of the year and the Dome show. The stars aligned. The pay-per-view providers got on board. The product is red hot right now. With Jim Ross coming on board to do play-by-play, everything fell into place. It wasn’t easy. You have cultural differences, legal differences, time differences. It’s been a fun process, up-and-down, but it’s a win for Global Force Wresting and a win for New Japan Pro Wrestling. It certainly is a win for the wrestling fan.”

Jarrett, who is also participating in the stacked Wrestle Kingdom card, is ecstatic for the show.

“I’ve been in this business my entire life,” he said. “My grandmother got into this business in the 1940s, so it’s all I’ve ever known. So I’ve seen a lot of wrestling. When you truly can say that this is going to be a can’t miss show, and I believe that with 100 percent conviction. The product is red hot. You have a Dome show with spectacular entrances. The wrestling is going to be the best wrestling show of 2015. You have Jim Ross calling it for four hours. In my opinion, it’s a wrestling fan’s dream night. It truly is can’t miss.”

Having arguably the greatest pro wrestling broadcaster in history calling the action is a big draw. Ross, a WWE Hall of Famer, brings legitimacy and visibility to the PPV. It was the first time Ross and Jarrett spoke since Jarrett’s controversial exit from WWE in 1999.

“We are somewhat, from a business perspective, cut from the same mold,” Jarrett said. “October 16, 1999 was a bad day at the office for Jim Ross. It was a business situation. Jim, personally, never had any issues. That’s what we know about this business. You take things from a business perspective. When we got on the phone and submitted the deal on the pay-per-view, it was a good and healthy hour-long conversation.

“It’s like we picked up right where we left off back in 1999. We put all our focuses and energies toward doing this event and promoting it. We said, ‘Let’s go immerse ourselves in the hottest wrestling product in the world.” So that’s what I’ve done. That is what Jim has done.”

GFW’s office is made up of those who have experience in the business and worked with Jarrett in TNA.

“[Vice president of marketing] Mike Weber has a wealth of a pay-per-view experience, 30 years,” Jarrett said. “Chris Thomas has been out in LA. He is doing his own deal. He left TNA several years ago, but Chris knows an element about wrestling publicity that I wanted to get him on board. It’s been a healthy relationship. [Vice president of international relations] Scott D'Amore has been instrumental in this relationship. Kevin Sullivan and his [KevinSullyTV] team is top notch. The videos have been top-notch and have organically grown. It has consumed us, everyone who is involved with Global Force. It’s consumed us more than we probably thought it would, but that’s a good thing. We are really excited.”

Although there are former TNA staff members on his roster, Jarrett calls any Internet talk that he had done anything to negatively affect his former company’s well being “total BS.”

“I couldn’t be happier for those guys because I want Ring of Honor to succeed, and I want TNA to succeed. I want AAA, New Japan and the list goes on and on,” Jarrett said. “The business needs to be healthy. For the business to be healthy, we all need to be healthy.”

NJPW is in a boom period, generating significant buzz with the Bullet Club. Current and former members include familiar names like the Young Bucks, AJ Styles, Doc Gallows and Prince Devitt, who was an original leader with Karl Anderson. Jarrett formed an onscreen alliance with the eclectic group.

“When New Japan and Global Force were in the final stages of a relationship that we were going to have,” he said. “Those Bullet Club guys came to me asking me to be a part of it. I was honored. It goes without saying. It’s the hottest faction. They do what they want, where they want, when they want. You know my history with AJ Styles. He is at the very top of his game. You talk about turning a fresh leaf over. I’m very excited about that. The faction has strategically grown... When they say it’s real, it’s real. It sort of has taken on a life of its own. We will dominate the Dome show.”

Jarrett remains optimistic about GFW’s future moving forward. Given his track record and lineage, he has a lot going for him. Every facet of pro wrestling runs through his veins.

“My grandmother was a promoter. My father was a promoter,” Jarrett said. “The opportunity that I saw and am seeing and going to seize in 2015 is exciting because technology is fantastic. The Global brand, we’ve aligned ourselves with top talent and top promotions around the world. To see it all come together, it is pretty exciting. I know fans don’t have a lot of patience. I know it’s not in my DNA. I’ve seen promotions rush things to market and not be strategic about it. The first impression is the lasting impression. So we are taking methodical, strategic steps and not doing anything just to get it to market. I’m really excited about 2015 and the things we have planned.”

Ultimately, the shrewd businessman sees GFW as a separate entity.

“That’s what we are working on,” Jarrett said. “The entertainment model is completely different nowadays. The legal side of things, you have to have the sponsorship side, talent side, the venue side and the infrastructure side. It’s putting it all together with the distribution models and financing. There are a lot of pieces of the puzzle. It just takes time. That’s what I’m dialed into. To put all the components together at the right time and then you step out of that global stage. The Global Force Wrestling brand rolled out in April. I know what it takes to create brand awareness. New Japan has created tremendous brand awareness. That is part of the entire roll-out.”

- Global Force Wrestling presents New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 on pay-per-view for the first time live in the United States 2 a.m. EST on Jan. 4, (4 p.m. in Tokyo).

The four-hour telecast also will also air in primetime in the United States at 7 p.m. EST on your pay-per-view providers, including Dish, AT&T U-verse, Comcast and Verizon. Fans can also watch via the Flipps app worldwide. Visit Flipps.com or download the app now.

Jim Ross will call the action with Matt Striker.

For information, videos and everything GFW, visit http://globalforcewrestling.com.

- Follow Jeff Jarrett on Twitter @RealJeffJarrett. Follow GFW @GFWWrestling.

- Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN and like my Facebook page at

www.Facebook.com/ScottFishmanWrestling.

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