Pro wrestling lost a true legend of the industry yesterday with the death of Jerry Jarrett.
Conrad Thompson mentioned Jarrett had been battling esophageal cancer during a recording with Jarrett’s son, AEW star Jeff Jarrett, that was released earlier today.
Along with his mother Christine, Jerry Jarrett put Memphis wrestling on the map as one of the true catalysts for making the territory so hot in the 1970s and 1980s. Along the way, he was responsible for making a number of stars in the business such as Jackie Fargo, Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee, Dutch Mantell, and his own son Jeff. In addition, talent such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin credited Jarrett for helping them build the proper foundation to get their careers off the ground.
Jarrett’s career spanned decades as both a wrestler and promoter. In 1969, he made his in-ring debut for NWA Mid-America, where he went on to become a 10-time NWA Southern Tag Team Champion. Jarrett initially retired from in-ring competition in 1988 ahead of promoting United States Wrestling Association, but competed in a handful of matches for USWA until his final bout in 1995.
In 2002, after years of consulting work with both World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation, Jerry and son Jeff co-founded the promotion that became Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling, now known as Impact Wrestling. Jarrett parted ways with TNA in 2005 after a dispute over the company’s direction — this led to a falling out between Jerry and Jeff until their reconciliation a decade later, after agreeing to never talk about wrestling.
In 2018, Jarrett was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.
Jarrett was 80 years old, and his contributions are being remembered by friends and colleagues whose lives he impacted over the years.
“I’m hearing reports of my friend and long-time booker/promoter Jerry Jarrett died this morning in TN,” tweeted Mantell. “I last saw him last year when we did the VICE show THE TERRITORIES in Atlanta. Very creative booker. Condolences to Jeff/Deborah and the Jarrett family.”
“Sad news of a great guy who has passed away. Condolences go out to the Jerry Jarrett Family,” wrote The Honky Tonk Man, adding that Jarrett gave him a break in wrestling that he’ll never forget.
“Godspeed, Jerry Jarrett. My heart goes out to his family and friends. What a legacy,” said former NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Adam Pearce.
“Such sad news on Jerry Jarrett – will always be in my heart – one of the greatest promoters that gave way to some of my most fondest professional moments – he will be missed”
Below are some other reaction from the wrestling world.