Double J’s new podcast ‘My World’ with Conrad Thompson drops every Tuesday.
The career and legacy of Jeff Jarret is complex and controversial, but when talking to notably well-mannered native of Nashville, Tennessee you sense a real level of comfort and inner peace. It’s a calmness that belies his topsy-turvy run as one of the wrestling industry’s most storied performers.
A child of the territory era, who’d grow-up to run his own national promotion in the 21st century, Jeff Jarrett pulled a Cody before Cody. He also, allegedly, leveraged Vince McMahon for $300,000 for one match in 1999 and still ended up in the WWE Hall of Fame. In the ring, he was a deeply skilled technician, storyteller and multi-time world champion in WCW and Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA), with all sorts of contention attached to those reigns.
As such, every wrestling fan of a certain vintage has an opinion on Jeff Jarrett and you can bet your bottom dollar we can all spell his name. It’s J-E-Double-F J-A-Double-R-E-Double-T!
Realistically, the sheer breadth of Jarrett’s run in the business is unlikely to ever be replicated. The times have probably changed too much. But the man from Music City is desperate to use that knowledge to help people find the confidence and self-belief to attain goals in their own goals in life beyond wrestling.
“I tell young people trying to get into the business to only focus on what you can control. I’ve lost every argument that happens between my ears,” he says. “My only responsibility is what I can control today. You have to focus on the positivity and act on what you can control. That starts with three things: what comes out of your mouth, your thoughts and what you are going to do with your day.
“You have to take life in 24-hour increments. By the time you wake up know your plan and know how you are gonna get better. Know going in, not every day is sunshine. You’re gonna have rainy days, you’re gonna go through storms, but storms pass. Every problem you have in life is an opportunity to grow.”
It’s fascinating hearing Jarrett talk this way, with life lessons and hard-won experience dripping from every word. We hadn’t pegged him for that while following his career and it’s enlightening. As we listen, we’re also thinking of how the words of wisdom could be applied to our own lives. We came for an interview and got a pep talk too. Thanks Jeff and watch out DDP!
Despite his lineage as the son of legendary promotor Jerry Jarrett, his future as a pro wrestling icon wasn’t pre-ordained. His confidence and voice had to be found. It’s something we hear a lot in the community, from young people those with big dreams and the need to forge their own path.
“My grandmother was a promotor my father was a wrestler and a promotor. But I’m one of five siblings and I’m the only one in this business,” he tells us. “I played basketball in high school and was a skinny punk kid with – candidly – not a lot of self-confidence.
“It was the persistence and perseverance and having great mentors around me that I looked-up at. My family installed me with a great work ethic. Talking a good game doesn’t pay the bills and a dream without a plan is useless. Have a dream, break that dream down into goals and make a plan.”
Often when we look up to people we admire, we imagine ourselves in those lofty positions. It can seem unreachable. The magnitude of what it would take to get there can feel too great. Jarrett, as a man who clearly got the absolute most out of his talent through hard work and meeting opportunity head on, says it’s all about finding the time to truly focus on those goals.
“A lot of times that plan starts by sitting still and focusing,” he says. “Say to yourself ‘listen I’m going to stop and disconnect for 20-30 minutes’ and say ‘OK I want to accomplish this dream, but I need to break it down into a goals and break that down into a plan and make a daily habit.’ How are you going to focus on getting better? If you don’t sit still and figure it out, your dreams never come true. Never.”
Now retired from in-ring competition (although we wouldn’t rule out a few more guitar swings) and enshrined in the HoF, Jarrett is still focused on getting better. His next challenge is the world of podcasting, joining the wrestling ‘Podfather’ Conrad Thompson for the weekly My World with Jeff Jarrett audio show.
“I’ve told wrestling stories my whole career, whether they’ve been in car rides, dressing rooms, long plane rides, but this format is different,” he says. “The way we consume entertainment is changing, so the challenge is making sure the podcast is entertaining.”
“At this stage of my career, I have quite a few examples of what not to do because I’ve had quite a lot of failures in my life. But if I can say something a listener might carry along with them for the day week, month or life…” he says trailing off rhetorically. “You can read a book and get 20 years of knowledge, but if you listen to the podcast, you may take a nugget.”
It’s a theme we return to many times throughout the interview, especially when we ask Jarrett about how he would define success. These days, for Jeff, it’s less about the single-minded goal of wrestling and business achievement and more on helping others make those positive steps.
After giving a shoutout to the “loyal” UK wrestling fans, he adds: “If you asked me my definition of success as a 20-year-old, the answer would be different. A 20-year-old Double J had the dreams of world championships and main eventing Madison Square Garden. If you ask me today, the answer is how can I help someone else. My job is to get up every day and help others and I know God will take care of me. I get up every day and ask myself how I can make someone else’s day better.”
Our 15-minute chat with Jeff is over and we feel reinvigorated and motivated. Suddenly we’re seeing the Hall of Famer in a new light. One might go as far as to bust out his old catchphrase. Ain’t he great?
My World with Jeff Jarrett debuts on May 4 with new episodes every Tuesday on all the major podcasting apps. Head to realjeffjarrett.com for all the details.
Interview: Dom Smith / Words: Chris Smith