WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett talked to Mirror Sport about Wrestling Travel, his AAA title run, Rey Mysterio’s WWE return and the NWA’s 70th anniversary show.
The Following was from the Mirror Sport interview with Jeff Jarrett:
Wrestling legend Jeff Jarrett has enjoyed an incredible 2018 – from winning title gold to being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Along the way the veteran performer wowed audiences with his first spoken word tour… and somehow became a Tranmere Rovers fan in the process!
Now ex-WWE Intercontinental Champion’s business Global Force Entertainment has partnered up with British travel company Wrestling Travel .
They are offering fans the experience of a lifetime – tickets and travel packages to New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 13, at the Tokyo Dome on January 4 next year.
Wrestle Kingdom is the biggest event on the NJPW calendar and the biggest wrestling show outside America, which Jarrett appeared in 2015 with Bullet Club.
The alliance comes hot on the heels of Wrestling Travel sponsoring the Starrcast convention at All In in Chicago and Wrestling MediaCon 2018 in Manchester.
Jarrett, 51, from Hendersonville, Tennessee, spoke to Mirror Sport’s Neil Docking about the unique partnership and what he hopes they can bring to the table.
He discussed his AAA Mega Championship run, spoken word tour, his good friend Rey Mysterio returning to WWE and the NWA 70th Anniversary Show.
Mirror Sport spoke with you in July, ahead of your spoken word tour of the UK, titled ‘Ain’t He Great’. You said you were excited and anxious for the tour – how did it go?
It was very good. I’ve always had a good relationship with UK fans, but to be sat on stage talking about my career in that kind of setting, from that kind of perspective, it was different, but Kenny McIntosh of Inside The Ropes, Hooked On Events and the crowd made it easy and fun and I’m looking forward to doing it again.
It must be an usual experience to sit down and reflect not just on your wrestling career, but also your entire life up until this point.
Yes exactly. That was definitely interesting. You could say I’ve done a lot of things in the world of professional wrestling, but that was a first. London, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Cardiff… that entire tour 10 days, 10 appearances, I did the London Comic Con, did some independent shows… it was really a fun tour.
You said it would be ‘no-holds barred’. Were there any questions you found difficult to answer?
Oh no, not at all. Pretty much my entire life has been played out in front of wrestling fans, even the stuff, I guess you could say the legend and lore, which has grown. Certain instances, back to my WWF and Vince McMahon days, wrestling fans like to tell these stories and never let the facts get in the way of a good story! And I’m okay with that.
You’re in the WWE Hall of Fame now – I guess you can say whatever you like!
Well, I don’t know about that. Ha ha. Whether I’m in the Hall of Fame or not I can say whatever I like, it just depends on how it’s interpreted! But no, it was fun. The spoken word tour was a lot of fun and the Hall of Fame… what an amazing 2018 it has been for myself.
You mentioned Kenny McIntosh, he’s a consummate pro. I saw some clips – it looked like you had a lot of fun together.
Oh yeah, he’s good, he’s very good at what he does. He obviously made me feel comfortable going in but we also sort of had an agreement, the Sheffield show in particular which was streamed on Fite.tv , the first time a spoken word tour had been streamed live around the world, Kenny said to me ‘I’m going to come at you with some questions that may or may not make you feel uncomfortable’. But it was good and he knows how to deliver what the audience want and hats off to that guy.
Another video circulating on social media at the time was you wishing Tranmere Rovers good luck for their new season in League Two. How on earth did you become an honorary member of the Super White Army?
Ha ha ha. Well it may just be a perfect segue way into it, but Lee McAteer, of Wrestling Travel, sits on their board. There’s a national connection, he grew up a Tranmere fan, so he opened my eyes to them and there’s nothing like wishing a UK football team good luck. That thing went viral overnight almost, as soon as it was released. It got quite a bit of play I’ll say that.
You’ve teamed up with Wrestling Travel, run by Lee McAteer, an associate director at Tranmere. How did you meet him and what made you want to work with Lee?
We’ve had mutual connections, but I kind of almost want to say it was by fate. He’s an incredible entrepreneur/businessman, wrestling is not in his background, but business is. He comes from a line of business folks, attorneys and business managers and everything that goes with it, and runs an ultra successful travel agency. So mutual friends connected us, we hit it right off and almost immediately, outside of the Tranmere Rovers fun we had, we said ‘how can we do business together?’
We really have meshed or put together my 32-year background in professional wrestling and his lifelong business background. His travel agency is a worldwide situation and I’ve got a long history not just as a wrestler but as a promoter, my family have always been promoters and at the very end of the day, you have to give the fans what they want.
The combination we have put together… the world of wrestling I grow up in, there was German wrestling, and British, and Japanese, and Puerto Rican, and U.S., and Mexican wrestling, with their own fans. It was separate. Now in the digital age, in the age of social media, all of the wrestling audiences are so much more connected. I cannot stress that enough, how much more connected wresting audiences are around the world. So people know about events like NJPW Wrestle Kingdom, or AAA Triplemania, or lately All In. Fans know about these events and with travel getting easier and easier, I saw on the news about the first ever flight from Singapore non-stop to New York City, in 19 hours! The world is so much more connected than it was in the past.
We have put together packages, kicked it off with the biggest show of the year in Japan, a show that has been around for a lot of years, we’re just happy that we’re giving the fans that don’t live in Japan an opportunity and we’ll make it very easy shopping. We’ll get you there, you get to one of the four hubs we have strategically placed and we’ll make sure we do the rest. And that’s hats off to Lee. You get to London, New York, Sydney or San Francisco and then we’ll fly you there, pick you up, buses, transfers, hotels, all that.
Then we’re really creating some really unique experiences, as we get feedback, we really want to customise it for the fans. We’re going to do tours around Tokyo to famous wrestling stops, there’s a couple of Japanese legends we’re going to have meet and greets lined up with, there’s some restaurants owned by former Japanese wrestlers, so it’s going to be an authentic wrestling trip. It’s really a dream, Kōrakuen Hall holds events quite a bit, other wrestling shows outside of Wrestle Kingdom too we’re going to give the opportunity to attend, so it really is a customised wrestling travel trip.
In the modern world, so much wrestling we consume on TV or streaming online, but there is still nothing quite like attending a wrestling show live, especially if it is one of the cathedrals of wrestling like Kōrakuen Hall and experiencing the culture too.
Yes – there’s nothing like experiencing the local culture. I tell even my kids who have never been to London or Manchester or Glasgow, that it’s hard to describe travel and wrestling within the UK. I go to Mexico quite often and wrestling the Lucha Libre style, the pageantry, those experiences you truly have to live. Television or social media doesn’t do it justice. Once you’re there and you watch a show in Japan, surrounded by Japanese wrestling fans, there’s nothing quite like it. Getting in the culture is what’s so unique and if you’re a wrestling fan it’s definitely a bucket list item.
Was your company Global Force Entertainment (GFE) already working in this field? What is its business model?
We work on projects like Starrcast, the four-day convention around All In, was basically a live podcast event, we brought that to Fite. The main thing GFE is doing now is we have partnered with Fite and they do combat sports, boxing, MMA and wrestling, and we are the wrestling arm of it. We market that and bring content to market, WrestleCade here in America is a Thanksgiving tradition, a three-day convention we are going to be bringing to Fite. This Sunday, October 21, GFE we’re bringing the NWA 70th anniversary show, the rematch from All In, Cody Rhodes versus Nick Aldis for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, we are bringing that content to your favourite streaming device, via the Fite app.
So there are lots of exciting opportunities for you and Wrestling Travel given these connections you have.
That’s right. When me and Lee sat down and went over my wrestling career and his day-to-day business shall we say, the travel world, we realised we could mix the two and really have a recipe for a lot of fun and a customised experience for the fan that we’re excited to bring to market.
So with your long-standing relationship with Antonio Pena, the founder of AAA, is working with Wrestling Travel to offer fans trips to AAA’s biggest shows something you’ve discussed?
Oh gosh yes. And what is really unique is, in the entire country of Mexico, they have wrestling seven nights a week, all over the country. In Mexico City alone they have it on three or four nights. AAA have five big shows a year, the biggest being Triplemania, basically their version of WrestleMania, but they have five big events a year, so those packages are going to be rolling out without question.
That’s another real experience, we can tie in for people all around the world, Mexico has got some beautiful beaches, Cancun, Cozumel and Acapulco, you could visit along with the wrestling experience and the culture. So my relationship with the Pena family is definitely going to be part of what we do with Global Force and Wrestling Travel.
That sounds amazing – if you can tie in a beach holiday with some wrestling, that sounds like you’re living the dream right there!
Ha ha ha, there you go, it checks all the boxes, right?
Talking about AAA, you won the AAA Mega Championship by defeating Rey Wagner and Rey Mysterio Jr. in a three-way match at Verano de Escándalo in Monterrey, Nuevo León in June, That must have been a special experience.
Yeah like I said a bit ago, 2018 has been nothing short of incredible. It went down on one of their big shows, me and Dr Wagner have a long history in Mexico and me and Rey Mysterio go back over 20 years, we met when we worked together and against each other in the 1990s in WCW. So for me to be in that match and win the Mega Championship for the second time was definitely special.
Speaking of Mysterio, he has rejoined WWE and was part of SmackDown 1000 this week. How pleased are you for Rey?
Oh, I couldn’t be happier for him. Rey is such a good guy, a good human being. I think when history looks back, he may end up being the most famous Hispanic wrestler in history. You can’t say enough, the world wide travel that Rey has done and impact he has made, it goes 20 years plus like I said. He broke onto the scene as a young man in WCW and his time spent in WWE winning the world championships… he is just a legendary name. He was in the early days of AAA and now he’s back in WWE, I couldn’t be happier for the guy. A good family guy, a great human being and a fantastic wrestler.
You lost the title to Fénix in a fatal four way at Triplemanía 26 in Mexico City in August, in a match also containing Brian Cage and Rich Swann. I ask this question with all due respect – what’s it like competing with wrestlers who are half your age?
Ha ha. You said it! Here’s what I take a lot of pride in. I train every day, I stay fit and I take a lot of pride in having the ability to go in there with them. It was special in so many ways, we were one of the main events at Triplemania but not only that, the last hour of Triplemania was broadcast live on Televisa, network television in Mexico, like an ITV or BBC, it’s the network in Mexico. So that hour, the ratings were through the roof. So when I tell you it was a big event in Mexico, I’m not quite sure I’m doing it justice. It was a pop culture event bigger than a mega wrestling show.
So to be a part of the B title of that organisation, the champion going into that match, at this stage in my career, going against Fenix – and Rich Swann and Brian Cage no doubt – but Fenix is, I used to be able to say because I met him when he was coming in the door as a young kid, Fenix has arrived and he is I wouldn’t say the next big thing, he is the big thing, and he is setting the scene on fire. For me to be a part of that and knowing I came prepared and carried my weight in the match so to speak, I’m pretty damn proud of it.
Rightly so. Fenix and Swann are such dynamic high flyers and Cage is such a physical presence, a powerhouse too, so if you’re not physically at it, I guess you’re going to be exposed.
I brought the showbiz to that match, ha ha, and I’m damn glad to bring that. That’s something I guess you could say has been right up my alley my entire career, the showbiz part of the match.
You clearly feel you still have a lot more to offer the wrestling world as a performer as well as a businessman?
Let’s not get too far ahead, I know that my in-ring days, my best years are in my rear view mirror, and I have no problem with that. But from time to time, the old Toby Keith song, ‘I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was’, that might be appropriate!
But on Sunday, the NWA 70th anniversary, The Tennessee State Fairground Sports Arena, a building my family has promoted in since it opened in the 70s, for me to put on my promoter’s cap, those kind of things excite me the most. I’m super excited for that and one of Britain’s own, Nick Aldis, is going to be challenging for the NWA title and the history with that title is pretty special for myself and my family, so no, I like to wear the promoter’s hat more than I do the in-ring performer hat now, if I had my choice.
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