Well That Didn’t Work: Jeff Jarrett Shoots On WCW and WWF

Jeff JarrettCraig Wilson

During the 1999s, Jeff Jarrett was a mainstay on wrestling tv. In this latest ‘Well That Didn’t Work‘, which makes a return today, takes a look at Jarrett and one of the strangest promos cut during the Monday Night Wars, when he cut a worked shoot promo on both WCW and WWF…

Jeff Jarrett is an odd one in the history of wrestling. Whilst you can’t argue with his longevity as an in-ring worker, it is difficult to discuss him without the obligatory reference to “He broke 1000 guitars and never drew a dime.”

Throughout the 1990s and into the 00s, Jarrett was a mainstay on wrestling TV with various stints in WCW and WWE before helping set up TNA. Now in 2016, he is still involved in wrestling having set up Global Force Wrestling.

But let’s turn our focus back to 1997, when Jeff Jarrett returned to WCW.

Jeff JarrettIt was Monday Night Raw on October 20, 1997 that Jeff Jarrett made his way out 30 minutes into the show. It came as a surprise to many. After all, during his initial time with the company, Jarrett had screamed second tier wrestler. Wearing suspenders and a garish outfit, he achieved success in the Intercontinental title division but never looked like he would ever achieve more than that. He also committed, what many perceived as, a cardinal sin by walking out on the WWF.

Remarkably he was given another chance and a subsequent run saw him stuck in a feud with Ahmed Johnson but an injury saw him ruled out and he wasn’t seen again.

Soon, Jarrett showed up on WCW TV after signing a one-year contract. He was hopeful of a longer term deal but unimpressed with his showings, and being forwarded on to Jeff’s dad Jerry to discuss contract renewal, Eric Bischoff failed to renew Jarrett’s deal.

Vince and the Jarretts decided to give it another shot and this return on Raw was the first time since Vader and Dustin Runnells that a superstar had moved from WCW to WWF. In an era when both companies were desperate to sign a talent from the other, it was a coup of sorts – regardless of your feelings on JJ.

It was clear off the bat that the gimmick of old was gone. No longer was his entrance accompanied by country music and gone was the flashing suspenders and waving blonde hair.

Instead, he proceeded to cut a shoot interview: first on WCW then, somewhat staggeringly, the WWF…

Jarrett said. “Last week on Monday Nitro Jeff Jarrett was declared everything but dead. Since I refused to accept Eric Bischoff’s offer and re-sign with WCW he did everything within his power to bury me. Being the coward that he is, he even hid behind his computer and announced to the whole world that he had pulled the offer off the table. Well, Eric, the only thing you ever pulled from Jeff Jarrett was opportunity. Since I wasn’t one of your boys, you put a lid on my potential. I was only going to go as far as you wanted me to. There was never, ever any ladder of success for me to climb. I was one of the younger, most talented wrestlers that you had, Eric, but you let me drown in mediocrity just because my stroke wasn’t strong enough. Look who you put me with, an ex-football player who can’t even lock up and his ex-wife; she gives new meaning to the term ‘dumb blonde.'”

Jarrett stared down at Vince at the announce table. “Vince don’t sit over there and snicker and smile and cherish this moment because I left the WWF two years ago for the same reason. Eric Bischoff did it out of either ignorance or inexperience of the wrestling business. What were your excuses? Remember the gold tooth, the country music star? Vince, you had a vision of what you wanted ‘Double’ J Jeff Jarrett to be. Quite honestly in all due respect your vision sucked.”

Jeff Jarrett Roadie“You booked me with a clown (Doink), a drug addict (Roadie), a black man who can’t even speak the English language (Ahmed). Vince, you tried to bury me and kill me off, but you didn’t get the job done. I guess you figured since you didn’t put my dad out of business like you put every other promoter out of business in the ’80s, since you couldn’t do that, you figured the next best thing would be to kill his son off. Well, Vince, not only did I survive, but I walked out on you and how ironic that is that we make a deal and get back together and you pay me a whole lot more money the second go around. You know why, Vince? Because you need Jeff Jarrett. You need me to put people in seats and ratings on the board. You told me to come out here and shoot. That’s exactly what I’m doing, right between your eyes. You can take ‘With My Baby Tonight’ and stick it up your butt because from here on out it’s going to be Jeff Jarrett’s way. If you try to stop me, fine, I’ll gladly pack my bags and walk right out the door again. Vince, I’ve got a question to ask you. Can you afford it? I don’t think so or you wouldn’t have paid me all that money just five days ago.”

Jarrett then turned his ire to some of the bigger names currently on the WWF roster. He claimed Bret was living off of name recognition, tore into Michaels for only being able to wrestle once a week. “He’s proud of that,” Jarrett said. “You call yourself the icon that can still go. Well, how often can you go? It seems all you do lately is run around here, hold up silly little signs, point at your crotch, and give your little hand signals to your boys in Atlanta. Shawn, one day you were the main event, you were WWF Champion. You were the attraction. Now all you are is reduced to hiding behind your infantile attitude.”

In what would prove to be the remarks that caused the most damage, and according to Vince Russo, words that Jarrett added himself, he tore into Stone Cold Steve Austin for his language and called Austin’s “3:16” merchandising both offensive and blasphemous. “You’re ripping off the Bible to put money in your pocket.” When you and I hook up it’s going to be your judgement day.”

Concluding, Jarrett stated: “You wanted the real Jeff Jarrett tonight. Well, you got him. I just hope your investment’s going to be worth all of your headaches.”

It proved not to be…

All in all, this all turned out to be a massive failure. Vince McMahon misjudged the reaction as the fans didn’t care much for Jeff Jarrett or why he left the company in the first place.

This was about taking a competitor from the WCW. No more, no less. But fans wouldn’t take a man they had been constantly told was second tier as anything but that. Vince had booked Jarrett has a joke every time he had had a chance and this shoot interview wasn’t going to make much of a change to that.

Plus, in the end, his remarks did him far more harm than good. His comments about Stone Cold infuriated him to the end that he refused to work with Jarrett. Bear in mind, Stone Cold was mere months from becoming one of the biggest names in wrestling this would have serious, long lasting ramifications.

Two years later, after a run again with the Intercontinental title and having teamed with Owen Hart as tag champions, Jarrett left the company once again, in controversial circumstances, and returned to WCW. He never again returned to the WWE.

You can read all previous ‘Well That Didn’t Work’ pieces here.

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7 thoughts on “Well That Didn’t Work: Jeff Jarrett Shoots On WCW and WWF

  1. Haha this was interesting. How long after he did this shoot did he start the NWA gimmick? I recently started watching the attitude era again starting from Royal Rumble 98 and he came out as Double J but with Jim Cornette, the Rock n Roll Express who were looking old, and finally Barry Windam after Windam betrayed Bradshaw and dyed his hair back to blonde. It was a strange gimmick that didn’t work well and he left it really quickly to become the country singer he was ranting about again. This time with Tennessee Lee.

    Also, in the shoot you speak of, he mentions a football player who can’t lock up and his ex wife the dumb blonde. Did he mean Steve McMichael and Debra? Cause that’s hella ironic if he meant Debra since she became his manager when she came to WWE.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It might have worked better if he hadn’t mentioned Austin, because at that point, Stone Cold was starting to hit the zeigeist level of popularity. Noone ever believed that Jarrett would beat Austin in any sort of a fight. The Double J gimmick really hurt his career, in the senses that even though he ended up as a WCW, NWA, and TNA World Champion, there are those who see him only the guy who wore those ridiculous outfits (thanks, Vince), and held up the WWF just before his match with Chyna for more monry, or he was going to walk away from the company in the possession of the IC belt. (I’ve no doubt he would have shown up on WCW tv soon after wearing the belt)

    I am torn on this because I have an actual personal connection to Jarrett, in that back in 1991, I had the opportunity to interview him while I was in college. He appeared in St. Louis along with several Memphis stars in a joint card with some wrestlers from a local Missouri organization. I was originally trying to interview Bill Dundee, but the little bastard cussed me out and stormed off. Jarrett, all of about 24 years of age at that time, saw what happened and graciously gave me a 45-minute interview at a local Denny’s restaurant, buying me dinner in the process. He was a class act, and I will always see him that way.

    That said, in all honesty, he was and always will be a B-level player in some people’s minds and one cannot blame them for seeing him that way. The problem with the “shoots” was that he wasn’t the right guy to carry the ball in that angle. I don’t really believe it was really his fault, but we seen what the results were.

    Had this been Ric Flair or Sting coming out i the same fashion? You bet your sweet ass this would worked wonders. Because those guys were superstars. Jarrett, however, was not, and never will be. And for him to get caught up in this WCW-WWF nonsense was an infantesimal attempt to stoke the fire between New York and Atlanta. I was not impressed with this when it first happened, and nearly 20 years later, I’m still not.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff Jarrett was brought back to the WWE because he needed a job and a role to play and he thinks he could draw money? Mike Graham’s comments definitely said it all. Jarrett is a good wrestler but nothing special. Especially compared to the Rock, Austin, HHH, Kane, Foley, the Undertakers, DX, the Nation, Owen, and nearly everyone in that roster during that time. The Oddities were more over than him.

    Liked by 1 person

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