Published on May 8th, 2017 | by Bobby Mathews0
15 Years Ago, Jerry and Jeff Jarrett Announced the Opening of TNA
This Week in Pro Wrestling Stories: May 8, 2017
After WWE finally purchased its biggest rival, WCW, in 2001, Jeff Jarrett ran out of professional options after ascending to the WCW main event scene after years of mid-card heel work. When Vince McMahon publicly fired Jarrett in an on-air shoot during Monday Nitro’s final episode on TNT, it was seen as revenge for Jarrett refusing to drop the Intercontinental title to Chyna at the No Mercy pay-per-view in 1999 until McMahon had paid him all of the PPV revenue he had coming (including bonuses).
Chyna always asserted that Jarrett held McMahon up for an extra $300,000, though Jarrett has maintained he just wanted the money he was due, and was concerned Vince wouldn’t pay out since Double J was jjumping (too subtle?) to the competition.
After Jarrett confirmed that McMahon’s wire transfer had gone through, he went out and did the job for Chyna, making her the first woman to hold a men’s singles title in a major professional wrestling company. He left the building immediately following the match and showed up in WCW not long after.
Fast forward to 2001, after getting publicly canned in the most hilarious way possible, Jarrett and his father, Jerry, announced the opening of NWA: TNA as a weekly pay-per-view wrestling show, priced at $9.99 per show, on this date 15 years ago. Using the venerable (if damaged) NWA brand to appeal to traditional wrestling fans and the ‘TNA’ brand to appeal to a newer audience, the company ran its first show on June 19, 2002.
NWA: TNA, started as a vanity promotion for the Jarretts but after essentially running it to the ground, it was purchased by Panda Energy as a vanity promotion for Dixie Carter (Not the one from Designing Women. The other one.), who doubled down. Carter not only ran the promotion into the ground, too–she also used it as a way to con Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan out of an enormous amount of cash. Corgan eventually got his money back and learned his lesson about being a money mark for wrestling promo– wait, he WHAT? OK, FINE WE’LL GET TO THAT IN A MINUTE.
I sat down with former WWE announcer Justin Roberts, whose book, Best Seat in the House, is a great read. Justin’s a smart guy who loves the business, and his enthusiasm (to say nothing of his sincerity) is infectious. We talked bullying, the Daniel Bryan incident, how WWE treats its talent, and whether he’d ever go back to WWE if the opportunity was right. Take a read: A Love Story Gone Wrong: JUSTIN ROBERTS Dishes On WWE Experience.
Wednesday, Joey Finnegan dropped by with the latest edition of Huge Crowd Reactions in Wrestling: Goldberg Takes Down Hollywood. Those pieces are a lot of fun and a look back at some of pro wrestling’s more recent past.
And I got to write an in-depth look at the greatest tag team of all time, the Midnight Express. It’s a retrospective piece that takes you through the original Midnights–Dennis Condrey, Randy Rose and Norvell Austin–all the way through the 1980s, including the infamous Midnights vs. Midnights feud and the final iteration of Beautiful Bobby Eaton and Sweet Stan Lane. (I may have used this piece as an excuse to watch a lot of great tag-team wrestling from the 1980s. Shut up. You would have, too.) Anyway, take a look at Unstoppable: THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS Defined Tag-Team Greatness. (For the record, this story got a retweet/a nod of approval from the great Jim Cornette. I’m going to keep after Corny until I get him to sit down for an interview with me. Mark my words.)
Wednesday, Joey Finnegan will be back with another installment of Huge Crowd Reactions in Wrestling.
Friday, I’ll be a guest on the Tapped Out Wrestling Podcast again. Myron, Nick, and I will be talking tag-team wrestling (specifically the Midnights, and then whoever else comes to mind) and a whole bunch of other stuff. They’re great guys who refer to me as a “wrestling encyclopedia.” The check’s in the mail, guys. To be fair, I’m more like Wikipedia: Fueled by innuendo, conjecture, and apocrypha … and bourbon. Still, it’ll be a fun time, so be sure to listen in.
And then on Saturday, I’ll have a piece on Billy Corgan buying the National Wrestling Alliance. It’s probably going to be more of an opinion piece than a deep dive, since I’m still trying to sort out my thoughts on this one.
That’s a wrap. Don’t forget to follow Pro Wrestling Stories on Twitter, and if you’re interested in leftist political diatribes, dumb jokes, and the very occasional wrestling morsel, I’m around, too: @bob_the_writer_.