Jeff Jarrett Talks Launching New Podcast, AEW's Success, Recruiting Young Talent in TNA

WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett officially launched his new podcast, My World with Jeff Jarrett, on Tuesday with AdFreeShows' Conrad Thompson. The former WWE and TNA star sat down with ComicBook last week to discuss the show, as well as his thoughts on aspects of the current pro wrestling business. He began by describing how Thompson convinced him to launch the show, saying, "He's been after me a couple of years to do this. Me and Bruce Prichard go back t30 years. Bruce worked for me in 2017, right when Something to Wrestle With was really just really hitting its stride or cranking up. We had conversations then about it, but candidly... I've had a, through COVID and through the pandemic, having a time like we all did, a little bit more time on ourselves, just because of the restrictions, but to give podcasting a different viewpoint, so to speak, and look at it from a perspective that, with Hulu and Netflix, it's on demand. Everything's on demand."

He later went on to say he was inspired to give the show a try after seeing Michael Jordan take part in the hit The Last Dance documentary series last year.

"I've never really been a guy that has reflected," he said. "I was raised in this business, you're only as good as your last match. ...But watching The Last Dance, I'm a huge Michael Jordan fan, I was always been a documentary fan to really look into things, but watching that format and them handing Michael the laptop and you could tell he... That conjured [emotions] I could relate to. Like 'oh, wow, okay, they made him watch this part or that part and just the different things.' The thing that resonated, look, again, I'm a basketball junkie. I love that. I love that run of the '90s and everything that goes with that, but the form of entertainment and the real raw emotion that came out of it, it was compelling."

You can listen to the first episode of My World with Jeff Jarrett here. Check out the full interview with Jarrett below!

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(Photo: Impact Wrestling)

Are there any topics you're really looking forward to covering on the show?

That's something that I told Conrad and Conrad said, "No, you're wrong." But I really think, and he's in charge of topics, because what I may think, "Man, I really want to share this story," it may not resonate. I know through my wrestling career when you produce yourself singularly, nothing good comes out of it. You got to have a collective group. As far as topic, that's Conrad domain, but there are stories about... Everybody knows my WWF stories and WWE stories and WCW stories and TNA stories, but man, there's just the story behind the story, and I told Conrad the other day, "I've come up with a new phrase; the story behind the story behind that story." It, in a lot of ways, can be compelling, because the light bulb goes off and you go, "Oh, that's why that happened. That made sense. Oh, okay, the guy's grandfather, hypothetically speaking, got sick and was in the hospital and he couldn't be there." And so all of a sudden, in our business, pulling one domino out can really start a domino chain of things, that things don't appear what they appear on surface. That's something that I'm interested to tell those parts of the story.

I noticed you've got the [NWA Heavyweight Championship belt] behind you. Have you had a chance to see what the NWA has been doing lately with Power?

Bits and pieces. FITE used to be called Flipps, and that's a streaming service that was just acquired by Triller. And again, that's sort of dovetailing back into on-demand entertainment. Looking at, not so much the social media, the TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, but really the YouTube and FITE on demand, and the way we, specifically males, 18 to 35, maybe 18 to 49, how we consume our content has radically changed and the pandemic just completely escalated that. So back to your question on how the NWA, I believe the abilities and the opportunities for an NWA or for other promotions to capture an audience are there. The NWA, with their studio show, Georgia Broadcasting, there's really a unique vibe to that, that when you watch it you know right off, okay, that's not WWE or AEW, that's different.

Back when Global Force Wrestling was up and running you guys had Cody Rhodes pop up and win the NEX*GEN Championship in late 2016. Could you tell back then he was going to do something big after leaving WWE?

Yes, the short answer is absolutely.... Me and Dusty [Rhodes, Cody's father] used to have conversations about Cody. The acting bug and his amateur [background], to fast forward, when he came on board for that short period, he's got a charisma like his father, and I've worked with Dustin [Rhodes, Cody's brother] back in the late '80s. Dustin took his character of Goldust and that could have been... It goes without saying, that wasn't the easiest character, but you talk about taking a character and making it your own? Dustin has a unique ability that Cody doesn't, but Cody has the ability, like his father.

You talk about the acorn not falling from the oak tree, he's got a magnetic charisma about him. He looks the part and he's obviously a great athlete, but the one thing that, fast forward a couple of years, when I saw Cody and Nick Aldis in Nashville in the NWA 70th Anniversary, knowing obviously the box office numbers and the live event are sold out in the sports arena and the pay-per-view numbers, but when I saw the work that he had been away from the machine and gotten Stardust behind him, just all that with it. So your question was, "Did you know he had it?" In the, we'll call it the Global Force days, yes. I knew, Next*Gen champion, he had a different aura about him... but on AEW when you see him and he's one of the few, in my opinion, that really is connecting with his audience, and that is what sets him apart.

Between WCW and TNA you're very familiar with working for WWE's competition. What do you think AEW is doing right in terms of establishing themselves as the alternative wrestling product?

Consistency, and look, obviously I'm the outside looking in. Again, that's a part of the podcast that I'll get to tell story behind the story, behind the story that resonates. Not knowing behind the scenes, but it goes without saying, a guy like Darby [Allin], there's some consistency with them over the last year-and-a-half that, more than anything, when Bruce Prichard on Something to Wrestle told my story and I got to do a little remixed version of it here recently, just to get into the [podcast] family, so to speak, and promote and talk about [the show], but I did 12 vignettes as the Double J character before I ever wrestled. Literally, a quarter, 13 weeks, that's patience, before I ever appeared on TV, I think there's something that's to be said to that today. If you throw everything out on the table and do your seven or eight moves in a match and do all this kind of stuff and then your act's over, again, going back to Cody, his storytelling with his promos, on a week-to-week basis, candidly, can be must-see TV, because it's a story.

...As far as Dynamite, really looking at it on a segment-by-segment basis, the value that you can give a character, but it just doesn't happen in one week. It's never going to, especially this day and age, when, like I said, the on demand, we can watch The Last Dance, we can watch Lucha Libre from 1999, we can watch WrestleMania III, we can watch New Japan... As a wrestling fan, we can watch all of this stuff, so you better have some patience developing characters. There's a couple of talent that it appears they're going to have patience with.

Looking back at the early TNA days, you guys found young talent that wound up defining the wrestling business for the next two decades. When it came to recruiting for young talent, what qualities were you looking for?

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That's a good question. The thing is, and A.J. [Styles] and [Samoa] Joe are really good examples, but Bobby Roode is another one, there was a time when people may or may not remember Chris Harris, but James Storm and Chris Harris, as a tag team, clicked. James Storm and Bobby Roode as Beer Money clicked. Eric Young, with a slightly twist of comedy injected in this character, in my opinion clicked. But it's something that, as an executive producer, that I have spent an enormous amount of time. How is this talent, going back to Cody, how is it going to connect with the audience? And A.J., even today, I'll take couple of digs at him, he's no longer the boy next door. He's been around 20 years, which just blows my mind that we're talking about that, ... but he has always had that connectability of the, "Aw, shucks." That boy next door that you can relate to that made you just want to see him win.

... [Those] TNA years, looking at the stars that we were crafting and building and all that, it was a special time for me, but that is something that I took a lot of pride in, in knowing, how's this going to connect? And when I say the audience, I also give it a little caveat, it's that TNA audience. Toby, a buddy of mine, Toby Keith, but he was on our first show, but he told me, he just said, "Know your audience and earn them one at a time." That's something that also, that I think sometimes is missed in promoting. Who's your audience? You just can't go, "It's a professional wrestling audience." Who is your audience?