Jerry Winston Jarrett
September 4, 1942
|Occupation||Promoter, professional wrestler|
|Organization||Continental Wrestling Association (1977-1989)|
United States Wrestling Association (1989-1997)
|Children||4; including Jeff Jarrett|
|Relatives||Eddie Marlin (father-in law)|
Karen Jarrett (daughter-in-law)
|The Hawaiian Flash|
|Billed height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Billed weight||227 lb (103 kg)|
|Trained by||Sailor Moran|
Jerry Winston Jarrett (born September 4, 1942) is an American retired professional wrestling promoter and professional wrestler. Along with his long-term business partner Jerry Lawler, Jarrett is a key figure in the history of professional wrestling in the Mid-Southern United States. Described as a "wrestling genius", he was inducted into the National Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame in 2009.
Jarrett founded the Memphis, Tennessee-based Continental Wrestling Association in 1977. In 1989, Jarrett merged his promotion with the Dallas, Texas-based promotion World Class Championship Wrestling, creating the United States Wrestling Association, which Jarrett sold to Lawler in 1997. He made another foray into promoting in 2002 when he co-founded NWA:TNA with his son Jeff Jarrett, selling his controlling interest to Panda Energy International later that year.
Jarrett was born to Christine "Teeny" Jarrett (1923-1998) in Nashville, Tennessee on September 4, 1942. His parents divorced when he was three years old, and to support Jarrett and his sister, Christine began working as a ticket vendor at the Nashville Hippodrome for Nick Gulas and Roy Welch, the promoters of NWA Mid-America. Over time, Christine was given more responsibility by Gulas and Welch, and by the early-1970s she was promoting shows on their behalf in Indiana and Kentucky. At the age of seven, Jarrett began selling programs for Gulas and Welch.
After receiving a hardship driving license at the age of 14, Jarrett began promoting professional wrestling events: renting buildings, advertising shows, constructing the ring, selling tickets, and stocking refreshments. He worked as a promoter until enrolling in Peabody College. Upon graduating in 1963, Jarrett spent four years working for the Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company as a purchasing agent before deciding to pursue a career in professional wrestling. He began working for Welch and Gulas as an office assistant, and became a referee by default after a referee no-showed.
While working as a referee in the 1960s, Jarrett decided to become a professional wrestler. He was trained by his friend Tojo Yamamoto and veteran wrestler Sailor Moran. He wrestled his first match in Hayti, Missouri in 1965. After debuting, Jarrett formed a tag team with Yamamoto. Jarrett spent the first few years of his career performing primarily for NWA Mid-America. Between 1970 and 1976, he won the NWA Mid-America Tag Team Championship once, the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Mid-America version) once, and the NWA Southern Tag Team Championship (Mid-America version) 10 times. Jarrett also performed for Gulas' Southeastern Championship Wrestling promotion, holding the NWA Tennessee Tag Team Championship in 1975.
In 1977, Jarrett founded the Continental Wrestling Association. In addition to booking the promotion, he also occasionally wrestled. Jarrett and Yamamoto became the inaugural CWA World Tag Team Champions in July 1980, losing the championship to Austin Idol and Dutch Mantel the following month. In 1985, Jarrett briefly wrestled under a mask as "The Hawaiian Flash".
In the early-1970s, Jarrett and his mother began promoting professional wrestling shows on behalf of Gulas in the Memphis area. After a dispute with Gulas in 1977, Jarrett opted to break away and found his own promotion, the Continental Wrestling Association (CWA). With the support of Buddy Fuller, Jerry Lawler and Jarrett's mother, Jarrett built the CWA into a successful promotion, staging events each Monday that regularly sold-out the Mid-South Coliseum and airing television shows each Saturday morning on WMC-TV. In 1981, NWA Mid-America folded due to competition from the CWA with Gulas selling his territory to Jarrett.
In 1979, The Freebirds wanted Jarrett to allow them to play Freebird on their entrances. They first tried it in the Mid-South Coliseum along with twirling the house spotlights. So Jarrett became one of the first promoters to use music and videos to promote his roster of wrestlers.
In 1984, Jarrett entered into a talent exchange with Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling promotion. Jarrett and Lawler advised Watts to bring more young performers into his territory to attract a younger generation of fans; especially females since they bring their boyfriends to the shows.
In 1988, Jarrett entered talks with Verne Gagne, owner of the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based American Wrestling Association, about a potential merger. After the talks were abandoned in 1989, Jarrett instead entered into a merger with the Dallas, Texas-based promotion World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) to create the United States Wrestling Association.
The United States Wrestling Association began promoting shows in Tennessee and Texas in 1989, with Jarrett aspiring to take the promotion national. In 1990, WCCW withdrew from the USWA after a revenue dispute, folding shortly thereafter.
In 1992, the USWA began a talent exchange programme with the World Wrestling Federation. By the mid-1990s, attendances at the Mid-South Coliseum had fallen sharply, and in 1995 Jarrett sold his stake in the promotion to Jerry Lawler and Larry Burton.
In 2001, Jarrett put together proposals for an acquisition of WCW, calculating that he could return the company to profitability by aggressively cutting costs. The company's assets were, however, acquired by the WWF after its programming on TBS and TNT was cancelled.
After the sale of World Championship Wrestling to the World Wrestling Federation and the bankruptcy of Extreme Championship Wrestling, the North American professional wrestling industry lacked a viable competitor to the WWF which Jerry and Jeff Jarrett attempted to fill with the formation of NWA:TNA. On May 9, 2002, the Jarretts announced the formation of J Sports and Entertainment (JSE), the parent company of NWA:TNA, a new professional wrestling promotion that began airing weekly pay-per-views on In Demand on June 19, 2002.
In October 2002, JSE sold a 72% controlling interest in NWA:TNA to Panda Energy. Jarrett remained part of the NWA:TNA management team until departing in late-2005 over a dispute about the direction of the company.
Jarrett is married to Eddie Marlin's daughter Deborah, with whom he has four children: sons Jerry Jr., Jeff, and Jason and daughter Jennifer. Jarrett became estranged from Jeff in 2005 after disputes about the running of NWA:TNA; they reconciled in 2015.