Jeff Jarrett recently did a big interview with Newsday.com. Here are the highlights:
On the TNA schedule: I once worked for both companies – WWE and WCW – and I realized what working over 20 days a month could do to, not just your body, but almost your mental outlook, your life, your family life. You’ve got to be able to balance everything in life. I don’t believe there’s a guy in the company that’s on the road more than 15 days a month, and I certainly know they’re not wrestling more than 15 days a month. […] There comes a time when the body says, “No more.” Or the wife, and family and kids say, “No more.” That’s just as important.
On WWE vs. TNA: I think our roster right now is the best roster in wrestling today. I’ve always said it takes some prime time players, it takes some veterans, it takes some up and comers, and it takes some strictly real young, youthful talent. And I think that’s what we have. From top to bottom, I’m very, very proud of our roster. And I think our growth – It goes without saying – we’re on a network that we are the highest rated show. Our ratings are growing. Spike’s primetime average is, I think, a .9. And we’re doing 1.3’s. I think USA’s primetime average is well into the 2’s, and Vince is above that. So comparatively speaking, on the network we’re on, I think we’ve done very well. Are we bigger or better than them in the ratings? Absolutely not. But we continue to climb that ladder.
We continue to grow in all aspects. Internationally, in several markets, we not only tie WWE, but we beat them. So, from an international standpoint, we’re doing very, very well.
On the recent iMPACT ratings increase: I think if you look at our history – don’t really look at that week-to-week-to-week snapshot – if you look at where we started three years ago at a .7 or a .8, and we’ve grown to a 1.3. And it’s been a steady growth… It went from Saturday nights for one hour, to Thursday nights to one hour, to two hours. There’s momentum being built behind us. The addition of certain key members of the roster – On one side you’ve got probably the greatest conglomeration of a faction, if you want to call it that, the Main Event Mafia. Kurt Angle, every member of the Main Event Mafia has been a world champion and has a storied career. And on the other side you’ve got Mick Foley and myself and 3D. You’ve got A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe who are in the mix and are youthful and young. You’ve got several other young pieces of talent. You’ve got the X Division.
Is he happy with TNA’s progress?: You look at where we’ve come. We’ve gone from a .7, .8 to a 1.3 on Spike. You can look at ECW. They started in the high 2’s, and now they’re in the 1.2, 1.3 range – a tremendous drop. Smackdown you can’t really count because they’ve changed networks. They’ve had their issues, but as a matter of fact, they’ve done extremely well. You look at Raw. They went, over the last three or four years, they went from the 4’s to the 3’s, and now they’re back up there. So it’s an ebb and flow. And they tout themselves as the longest running series. It’s phenomenon that from 1993 to 2009, they’ve been on 17 years. They’ve got a 14-year, 15-year head start on us.
So am I satisfied? Absolutely, I’m very satisfied. Talk to the network heads at Spike TV and ask them. Am I happy? As a businessman, we’ve got to keep growing. We’ve got to keep growing the product internationally, domestically. We’ve got to keep hitting on all cylinders. So I think that’s maybe a two-sided question. I hope I’m articulating myself right.
Is Ring Of Honor competition?: If you’re in the game on national, network television, for us to say it’s not competition, that’s just being blatantly arrogant. The reason we have to pull talent is contractual issues, not, “Oh boy, they’re on television.” Any exposure for your talent is good. But, from a contractual standpoint, the contracts are in place to keep the business in line, and that’s all that is.
On not having any WWF or WCW footage for his DVD’s: I call it the “Bret Hart syndrome.” Bret has literally, probably laid awake many, many nights. His entire career is owned by Vince McMahon. Bret, he worked for WWF for all those years, and then briefly for WCW. But Vince owns it all. So, it’s a little bit frustrating, but that’s the business. Vince is smart businessman, and that’s why he bought the libraries. The way he acquired WCW, it nothing short of sheer genius. I’ll say there’s a personal relationship with the entire McMahon family and Jeff Jarrett. As far as a working relationship – absolutely not. We’re competitors. But a personal relationship? The entire McMahon family was very, very good to me during the passing of my wife, and that’s something I’ll never forget.
On Vince McMahon calling TNA reprehensible: That’s classic Vince being classic Vince. He didn’t get where he’s at by being a dumb ass. But for him to call us reprehensible is laughable. You always want to cross that line. But then, you don’t want to explode it or nuclear bomb it. You just want to step over it, and cross the line. We want the competitors in our organization to cross the line, and try new things and be innovative in the ring. It is professional wrestling.
On hiring Vince Russo, and other criticisms: I’ll tell you this: Without risk, there’s no reward. So if we don’t risk trying anything – if we just sit back and keep ourselves in a little box and just give them a very cookie cutter, a very non-exciting, non-suspenseful – If you just give them a very straightforward product, that’s very, very boring. I’ve seen that. I’ve done that. I’ve been a part of that. It’s not successful and it’s never been successful. Do we bat 1000? Absolutely not. A great hitter in baseball – what do they hit the ball, one out of three times? So you have to try things.