Wrestling News Podcast Feature: Who Is Jerry Jarrett?

We are working on getting Jerry Jarrett for an upcoming episode of the Wrestling News Blog Podcast. For those unfamiliar with Jarrett, below is some information on his background history in professional wrestling.

Jerry Jarrett is the father of WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett and former co-owner of what was known as the Memphis Wrestling territory. Jarrett is a key figure in the history of professional wrestling in the Mid-Southern United States. Described as a “wrestling genius”, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame in 2009.

Jarrett founded the Memphis, Tennessee-based Continental Wrestling Association in 1977. In 1989, Jarrett merged his promotion with the Dallas, Texas-based promotion World Class Championship Wrestling, creating the United States Wrestling Association, which Jarrett sold to Lawler in 1997. He made another foray into promoting in 2002 when he co-founded NWA:TNA with his son Jeff Jarrett, selling his controlling interest to Panda Energy International later that year.

Jerry Jarrett was exposed to the wrestling business at a very early age. His mother worked as a ticket vendor, and Jarrett began selling programs for a promotion owned by Roy Welch and Nick Gulas at the age of seven. After receiving his driving license at fourteen, he became a wrestling promoter, renting buildings, advertising shows, constructing the ring, selling tickets, and stocking refreshments. He worked as a promoter until he left Nashville to attend college. Upon graduating, Jarrett worked for Welch and Gulas as an office assistant and became a referee by default after a referee no-showed. He soon returned to promoting, working his way up from local promotions to regional, then national promotions.

While working as a referee, Jarrett decided to become a wrestler and was trained by his friend and future tag team partner Tojo Yamamoto and veteran wrestler Sailor Moran. He wrestled his first match in Haiti in 1965.

Jarrett became a successful wrestler in the South, particularly in his home state of Tennessee, forming tag teams with Jackie Fargo and Tojo Yamamoto.

After a dispute with Gulas in 1977, Jarrett opted to break away and found his own promotion, the Continental Wrestling Association (CWA). With the support of Buddy Fuller, Jerry Lawler and his mother, Jarrett built the CWA into a successful promotion, staging events each Monday that regularly sold-out the Mid-South Coliseum and airing television shows each Saturday morning on WMC-TV. In 1981, NWA Mid-America folded due to competition from the CWA with Gulas selling his territory to Jarrett.

In 1979, The Freebirds wanted Jarrett to allow them to play Freebird on their entrances. They first tried it in the Mid-South Coliseum along with twirling the house spotlights. So Jerry Jarrett became one of the first promoters to use music and videos to promote his roster of wrestlers.

In 1984, Jarrett entered into a talent exchange with Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling promotion. Jarrett and Lawler advised Watts to bring more young performers into his territory to attract a younger generation of fans; especially females since they bring their boyfriends to the shows.

In 1988, Jarrett entered talks with Verne Gagne, owner of the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based American Wrestling Association, about a potential merger. After the talks were abandoned in 1989, Jarrett instead entered into a merger with the Dallas, Texas-based promotion World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) to create the United States Wrestling Association.

The United States Wrestling Association began promoting shows in Tennessee and Texas in 1989, with Jarrett aspiring to take the promotion national. In 1990, WCCW withdrew from the USWA after a revenue dispute, folding shortly thereafter.

In 1992, the USWA began a talent exchange program with the World Wrestling Federation. By the mid-1990s, attendances at the Mid-South Coliseum had fallen sharply, and in 1995 Jarrett sold his stake in the promotion to Jerry Lawler and Larry Burton.

After stepping back from promoting, Jarrett worked as a consultant for both World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the WWF.

In 2001, Jarrett put together proposals for acquisition of WCW, calculating that he could return the company to profitability by aggressively cutting costs. The company’s assets were, however, acquired by the WWF after its programming n TBS and TNT was canceled.

After the sale of World Championship Wrestling to the World Wrestling Federation and the bankruptcy of Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), the North American professional wrestling industry lacked a viable competitor to the WWF which Jerry and Jeff Jarrett attempted to fill with the formation of NWA:TNA. On May 9, 2002, the Jarretts announced the formation of J Sports and Entertainment (JSE), the parent company of NWA:TNA, a new professional wrestling promotion that began airing weekly pay-per-views on In Demand on June 19, 2002.

In October 2002, JSE sold a 72% controlling interest in NWA:TNA to Panda Energy. Jarrett remained part of the NWA:TNA management team until departing in late-2005 over a dispute about the direction of the company.

Jerry Jarrett now hosts the podcast Booking Memphis along with Sean Reedy.

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