Seemingly any promotion which isn’t WWE gets unfairly dubbed a ‘WWE rip off’ when they sign former performers from the fed. One such promotion is TNA/IMPACT, who over the course of its existence have signed a plethora of former WWE stars, with co-founder Jeff Jarrett himself a former WWE Intercontinental Champion.
Double J was recently discussing the early days of TNA on the My World podcast with Conrad Thompson, and how he and his dad Jerry Jarrett contacted several WWE stars about joining the upstart promotion.
“He was putting out his feelers and I was doing the same,” Jarrett said. “Who’s available, who wants to be a part of this, who believes in it. Who’s out there available, who can we sell tickets with and who are we going to go after.
“Sean [Waltman] has always had a relationship with my father dating back to him being a part of the creative team in 1993-94 and of course Mick [Foley] came to the territory in . He always had an eye for talent and scouted it, you don’t always bat a thousand, but you miss every shot you don’t take and you miss every talent that you never look at. Back to Mick and Sean, my dad had personal relationships with both those guys.”
When TNA launched in 2002, Jarrett signed the likes of ‘Road Dogg’ BG James, and eyed up several other former WWE and WCW talents to join alongside him:
“Road Dogg is this simple, Brian going single and the merchandise sales, he was the Attitude Era in so many ways personified,” Jarrett said. “A mega singles star at the time and one of my best friends. He was a no brainer. Sid, I was in the ring with when his leg broke. He had told me, ‘I’m going to make a comeback.’ He had been a big box office attraction, Sid was going to get back in the game and I was excited about that.
“The mindset of UFC and [Ken Shamrock], Kenny being led can have great matches but I really like Ken as a talent to represent the brand coming out of the gate. Huge box office attraction, huge pay per view box office attraction. So as much as I wanted to put the anchor in the ground about the kind of wrestling we were going to have, Ken checked all the boxes, Ken was up there. Randy [Savage], him and my dad had a unique relationship, I never saw Randy coming and being a part of a start-up [wrestling company].”
A final piece of the puzzle for Jeff would have been the signing of Chyna, who Jarrett memorably feuded with over the WWE Intercontinental Championship in 1999: “Hell yes. I’m going to go back to me being a witness night in and night out on live event after live event and knowing the reaction she got walking to the ring, the aura she presented. Obviously my matches and my storyline with her, but even outside of that. When DX, the New Age Outlaws, X-Pac and Hunter and Chyna. Chyna was box office, so of course I wanted her a part of the roster.”
H/T: Wrestling Inc.