Thursday, January 12, 2012

Selections from Jeff Jarrett: King of the Mountain Disc #1

This is one of easily hundreds of DVDs I've had sitting around I've meant to get to but "Patience is a Virtua" (no that's not a misspelling -- just remembrance of a stupid marketing campaign for one of the Virtua Fighter games my brother was obnoxiously counting down the days to that I ripped mercilessly). I've never been the biggest Jarrett fan so this is an opportunity to reevaluate a lot of his post-Memphis/WWF/WCW work.

Right off the bat I'm glad there's some documentary stuff to pad the 11+ hour run-time. I'd assumed it was just stock match after match. They interviewed a ton of different people for this and it builds up Jeff's backstory good enough that you actually start (in some of your cases begrudgingly) building some sort of respect for his career. Out of all the discs I guess I'd say I'm most interested in this first one as I've seen everything else at least once off of the other three and there's a couple things from the earlier years that'll be new to me. Here's a few selected matches off of it:

2002: Jeff Jarrett and the first ever TNA Pay-Per-View - NA
2002: Jeff Jarrett vs. Scott Hall - 4
2002: Jeff Jarrett vs. Ron Killings - 5

First segment is an edited version of the "gauntlet battle royal" (Royal Rumble rules basically) that was the finale to their first-ever PPV. Jarrett was the first entrant was I was surprised how effective he was playing some sort of de jure "bad ass" tossing guys like Bagwell, LeRoux (who took a hell of a bump on his elimination), Smiley, etc. out. There was also highlights shown of another event where Ken Shamrock was taking on Japanese journeyman Takao Omori and Jarrett came down to ringside and raised hell including trying to singlehandedly take on a couple guys from the Tennessee Titans team who swarmed on him like like divas on diet pills.

The match vs. Hall I've seen dubbed a "Challenge" match, not sure on the specifics, but it was basically a wild brawl with little regard to rules, there was also a stretcher they used repeatedly, but not the typical type, this one was pea green and looked like a prop from the set of M*A*S*H. Jarrett didn't come off looking particularly good, as a wrestler you're supposed to subconsciously perform, leaving no distinction between you and your persona. The problem with Jarrett to someone who watches closely like me is he's often the opposite, in that, you can see him consciously thinking and internalizing and "working". He has a handful of bad tendencies but they fade in and out, sometimes in the span of the same match, so it's interesting to see his varying performances. I didn't like his selling during the bulk of this as he was constantly being a pinball, which is fine to set a pace, but when he was constantly popping back up for another shot it made Hall's offense come off as weak. Hall, while pudgy, and slower, when it was finally his turn to eat some offense, made Jarrett's stuff look far superior by contrast, actually taking time to emote lending his sells more gravity. The brawl backstage felt more chaotic than the sterile crowd brawls that would become a staple in Jarrett's Orlando work. There was run-ins by somewhere around nine people so that killed this dead. I won't keep a running tally but it's a safe assumption almost every match on this set either has interference, a crowd ball, a "fuck finish", or in many cases multiple if not all of these things.

Next match I liked much better. It was for the NWA championship and had a back-and-forth tempo where both guys would take turns at the lead. Lots of punching, Jarrett looked better here, as some of Killings' offense is borderline preposterous but Jeff was trying to take it and make it look effective. Since punching was the main course both guys did a pretty good job of reeling from shots, although, felt like "Truth" didn't really change up the way he was eating punches by the end of the match where he should have been hurt more and more over time. Yes, this had a crowd brawl too, highlighted by Ron coming off of a balcony onto Jarrett through a table. Finish was also overbooked but not a mess like the last bout, here we just got a goof in a white get-up (billed as Mr. Wrestling III) who stood around the ring with a guitar (poorly milking it) before finally deciding to smash it on Killings. The masked man? Russo with a grey beard.

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