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Inside the Jeff Jarrett-GFW-Anthem Sports situation

Jeff Jarrett

Yesterday, Global Force Wrestling announced that Jeff Jarrett, who was running the wrestling end of GFW and is part owner of the company, was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the company to deal with personal issues.

According to those close to the situation, the personal issues aspect of the story is legitimate and the public story is accurate.

It was clear that the decision was not something he knew about in advance because he sent out a tweet that morning talking about going back into the office to start a day of work. He was scheduled to host a party for the company staff at his home that day, which ended up being canceled.

However, others in the company were aware of the decision for at least a week.

There were a long list of reasons involved that date back several months including a screaming match with Bob Ryder at a television taping. Although issues between the two were settled quickly, it was said the situation was very bad when it happened. Another was Reby Hardy's admission of receiving unprofessional drunk text messages revolving around her going public on the Broken Hardy intellectual property conflict. The messages had gotten around to some in the company.

It appears the breaking point had to do with Jarrett's behavior at this year's TripleMania. Jarrett was said to be not in shape for wrestling and stumbled down the ring steps (although, he wasn’t the only person on the show who had trouble with the steps), doing little wrestling in his match. Ed Nordholm, Executive Vice President of Anthem Sports & Entertainment, was on the trip and made the call to remove Jarrett. 

A Potential Sale

Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday that with Anthem losing significant money, sources close to the situation say Anthem is ready to pull out of running a wrestling company and is ready to sell. Sources in the company denied that, but that type of story is also always going to be denied until it happens for the obvious morale reasons, and also because even those at the top would not be in the loop on a sale.

As noted in the Observer Newsletter last week, the company's inability to get a new U.S. television deal is hurting them because it’s clear the company can’t grow financially while on Pop TV and their current situation doesn’t appear to have any other way to make money. After testing the waters with three house shows in the Northeast (one of which was canceled and neither of the others drew well), no future house shows are on the schedule, nor is anything past the television tapings in November after Bound for Glory.

The creative has improved under Jarrett, particularly the quality of the show stemming from the last television tapings. Most of the damage was done prior to his return, but the new storylines haven’t led to any kind of a ratings increase. In the big picture, that’s a moot point with GFW having signed with Pop for another year, ensuring they have television. However, they aren’t going to be able to make any serious money off it. So, from a business standpoint, things will remain tough.

WWE's interest

Barrasso noted the value in selling to WWE, which would acquire a tape library that could be used for the WWE Network and other projects since it contains footage from WWE main roster talent like A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode. When Dixie Carter was in talks with WWE in the past (denied to those in the company at the time), it was about selling the tape library as WWE had no interest in anything outside that.

An added wrinkle is that the intellectual property the company claims ownership to includes the Broken Hardy gimmick, which would remove any obstacles of the Hardys using the gimmick in WWE. It isn’t clear who else would be interested in buying their assets, although, musician and former TNA creative member Billy Corgan was interested in taking over the company in 2016. 

Because all the paperwork on the GFW merger with Impact Wrestling hadn’t been completed, any sale talks would be regarding the Impact Wrestling name and not the GFW name. However, the feeling is that, for the time being, it makes no sense to do another public rebranding so the GFW name will continue to be used on television.

Who's In Charge?

The creative side of the company for the time being will be in the hands of John Gaburick (who was in charge under Carter), Scott D’Amore, and Sonjay Dutt. Gaburick being involved is interesting since there was a lot of heat and criticism from when he was in charge in the past. All the key people on the creative end were either brought in specifically by Jarrett (i.e, Dutch Mantell and Jim Cornette) or those who are longtime friends of his.

Jarrett had been on television doing a feud with American Top Team head Dan Lambert, although when Alberto Rodriguez (El Patron) was suspended, the pre-taped television wasn’t changed when it hit air. Jarrett was also scheduled for a package that was put together before he was let go with he and Jeremy Borash commenting on the recent Sexy Star situation from TripleMania.

If the Lambert angle even lasts past Bound for Glory, it can be easily transferred to Cornette as the GFW authority figure since that’s also been pushed on television. However, that could change depending on what happens with Cornette and Mantell. One company source said the decisions regarding both men were up in the air, and in the case of Cornette, there was at least a feeling of downplaying or not having an authority figure going forward. If authority figure angles are done away with, that changes a lot of the creative direction.

Similarly, the future of Karen Jarrett and Bruce Prichard are up to the new creative team. To complicate matters, Karen was working in the office and whether that continues is also up in the air.

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For more on this situation, including the plans for Jarrett, Alberto El Patron, and Rey Mysterio, check out this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Wrestling Observer Live, and Wrestling Observer Radio.