While Bryan Alvarez & RD Reynolds continue to joke about writing a TNA version of The Death of WCW — and such a title remains premature — this is the closest thing to an insight into the promotion, albeit a brief period in its history.
The book covers 2002, the year Jerry and Jeff Jarrett tried to capitalise on the gap left by the demise of WCW and ECW but without the benefit of national television. They attempted to so do by updating the territorial model to the modern era, existing solely as a low-priced weekly two-hour pay-per-view. It’s a ludicrous idea in hindsight and seemed unlikely to many at the time, but this does at least show how those involved might have believed it could work.
The strength of the book is that it is written as a contemporary journal. While it’s certainly possible Jarrett may have edited or even redrafted content, it comes across as his honest feelings at the time of each event rather than an attempt to rewrite history.
Some of the stories are spectacular in hindsight, most notably consultant Jay Haussman telling Jarrett that the first few shows were attracting as many as 85,000 buys — and Jarrett believing him. In fact, for reasons that remain best explained by lawyers, Haussman had forged cable company reports and the real figure was closer to 15,000.
Those who don’t care for the creative philosophies of Vince Russo will particularly enjoy the book as it contains not just Jarrett’s growing irritation with Russo’s wackier and more illogical booking ideas, but also memos between the two in which Jarrett tries to explain why the ideas are counterproductive.
The latter sections of the book are heavier going, concentrating on financial backers Health South pulling the plug and the negotiations for Panda Energy (owned by Dixie Carter’s family) to buy out TNA. It’s hardly a gripping read but does illustrate the sheer complexity and frustratingly lengthy timetables of such deals.
If you’ve any interest in TNA, or simply want an insight into the sheer amount of work, conflict and negotiation that goes into starting and running a wrestling promotion, this is certainly worth tracking down.