Was Jeff Jarrett’s appearance on TNA Impact Live handled right?
Wednesday, June 24th, Destination America aired TNA Impact Live. During the episode, a monumental happening took place: Jeff Jarrett, former co-founder and roster member of TNA and current co-founder of Global Force Wrestling (GFW) walked out to the six-sided ring for the first time since his departure from the company in late 2013. He and his wife and GFW co-founder, Karen Jarrett, addressed the TNA audience.
During their emotional speech, they announced that Jarrett would be returning for one night only as an Impact wrestler to compete in a King of the Mountain Match – the match that he created – on Sunday at the thirteenth anniversary of the company.
It promises to be an historic event.
The segment undeniably added to the night of surprises that TNA always shoots for anytime they go live, but certain aspects of the execution left a queer taste in the mouth, and begs to question whether the momentous occasion was carried out in the most effective manner.
Most notable among reasons why this segment read awkwardly was an apparent disregard for certain cardinal rules of showmanship.
The Jarretts’s entrance was unceremonious, to say the least. While any former TNA superstar, let alone a co-founder, would under normal circumstances receive a formal introduction by the ring announcer, entrance music, and a warm round of applause from the fans who recognize and revere said superstar, the Jarretts simply walked to the ring.
Josh Mathews and The Pope were on camera, delivering some segue, when their attention became drawn to some unexpected happening off camera. The viewer, wondering what caught their attention, were left in suspense.
This fashion of reveal played into the unscripted nature that TNA enjoys pushing on nights when they go live, but too much of it detracts from a viewer’s ability to get caught up in what’s happening.
Once Jarrett was revealed by the camera, it was then up to Josh Mathews or The Pope to let the viewers know who it was and why we should care. I knew, probably most people watching knew, but there are likely many who did not, and were confused as to why everyone was so awestruck.
Jeff Jarrett is a man who owns more championships and a more illustrious career than most could ever dream to own, and you would think a proper introduction would be the least he could be granted.
Moving past the lack of introduction, Jarrett went on to tell the audience why he was appearing on TNA. He recounted in frankness a phone call he received from TNA management a week ago, proposing that he return to wrestle a match. The crowd, naturally, popped.
Jarrett continued with, “I just about hung the phone up when they said that.” The crowd went silent.
That isn’t supposed to happen. The fans want to hear that Jarrett would be honoured to come back and wrestle in front of the TNA fans again, because they are dear to his heart, he loves to perform, etc, etc.
To his credit, Jarrett the great promoter that he is, brought up some of the biggest moments and personalities in TNA. He spoke of Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles with the fondness of a father talking about his children.
However, in the end he stated that he needed to ignore the “warm and fuzzy” in his rear view mirror, and think about how such a match would affect his current promotion, his staff and his wife.
Karen Jarrett took over, and by this point both were swallowing back tears.
“Even as I stand here in this ring, I don’t understand why we’re here,” she said, describing her fervent lack of enthusiasm towards the notion of Jeff returning to TNA for even one more match.
But after considering the reality of how the former Heavyweight Champion feels about the unceremonious way in which he left the company, she resigned her objections to allow her husband to do what he feels he must do to regain some amount of closure.
Jarrett himself book-ended the segment himself by stating conclusively that he would compete in the King of the Mountain Match this Sunday at Slammiversary and promised victory. The crowd reacted with warm appreciation.
Alright, so while Jarrett did an alright job of waxing sentimental on his times in TNA, what does this segment ultimately leave with the viewer?
It leaves the distinct impression that the Jarretts don’t really care about TNA at all; that there is no glory in winning King of the Mountain inherently; that by itself, the joy of competing for a former promotion for old times sake is not enough of a reason to commit.
Jeff Jarrett’s heart and soul is in GFW now, that much is clear. But if you are going on television on another promotion’s show, the cordial thing to do is to put over that promotion. If for no other reason, it would placate the fans who paid to come see the event.
On the subject of paying fans, there is one final thing which seemed to land strangely in this “surprise announcement”: Slammiversary is only a few short days away, and they are announcing this match now. It seems like an awfully short time to promote a contest of this magnitude and importance.
Jarrett even stated that TNA management only proposed the match a week before he came out to announce it. You would think that a company who only puts on a couple of Pay-Per-View events every year would put a bit more forethought into the match-card, and take adequate time to build up hype. The match seems to reek of poor planning.
Furthermore, what is the match?
We know it is a King of the Mountain Match, and we know Jeff Jarrett is involved. We also know from history that KotM matches generally have five competitors involved, so who is Jarrett versus? This was not announced on Impact Live, and so viewers were left wondering.
Today via their website, TNA announced the four other combatants would be Bobby Roode, Drew Galloway, Eric Young and Matt Hardy. So, everyone who had nothing better to do.
This speaks more to TNA’s overall poor decisions in booking and hyping the live Pay-Per-View event, making it more of an exhibition show than one with any real effect on current storylines. The Knockouts are competing in a handicapped tag match, the X-Division championship is not slated to appear at all, the tag team title contenders are split into singles matches, and Kurt Angle – although appearing on the poster – is not scheduled to compete.
Jeff Jarrett deserves a proper send-off, celebrating his TNA career and his contributions to the brand. He deserves more than an appearance in a match that has all the makings of a last-minute exhibition contest. Perhaps if they had taken more time and energy, this Sunday’s King of the Mountain might have been an event that people would look forward to seeing. Unfortunately, they simply were not given the chance.