In his 15 years in professional wrestling, Jerry Lynn has garnered the respect of fans and fellow workers alike. In the opinions of many, he is one of the best wrestlers in the world.
He is also a heck of a nice guy.
The man who many feel “made” Rob Van Dam, and who is listed by wrestlers such as Lance Storm as one of their favorite opponents, is now earning a living working for NWA-TNA.
Moving to Nashville over a year ago to join the upstart promotion, he is thrilled that they have survived despite some of the hardships the company has faced.
“Thank God for the financial backers, because if they weren’t there we would have been done a long time ago. Hopefully they will realize that it is not going to happen overnight and they will stick with it. They come to production meetings they seem very enthusiastic, positive and excited. I hope they keep it up, and that we can get a regular TV deal. If we get a regular TV deal a lot more people will find out about us.”
TNA has brought Lynn back to the spotlight after being released from the WWF in 2001. Although he held the defunct Light-Heavyweight Title in the promotion, he was, as many observers feel, misused and treated like an afterthought despite his talent.
“I was told that their creative department couldn’t come up with anything for me. I think that is a bunch of bull, because they can come up with something for everybody. How many guys have you seen where they fail to get over with a gimmick and they keep repackaging them and shoving them down peoples throats? It’s politics there, but that is in any walk in life. Climbing the corporate ladder, construction, music, there is politics everywhere. It is a part of life that you have to deal with.”
That story echoes the story of other extremely talented wrestlers like Raven and D-Lo Brown who, like Lynn, have seemingly been reborn in TNA. For Jerry, it has been a chance to prove himself.
“When TNA started up and they brought me in, I was determined that I would have fun and show the WWE and fans what I can do and that I can talk on the mic. Just because over the years no one gave me the chance doesn’t mean I can’t talk. So I took the opportunity to go, ‘hey look, this is what I can do.’ WWE missed out as far as I am concerned.”
When he looks at the current product, Lynn sees many wrestlers who, in his opinion, are in the same boat he was during his tenure.
“Half the roster isn’t utilized. When you get to that level in that company, it’s not about wrestling. It’s not even called wrestling, you aren’t a wrestler, you’re a ‘sports entertainer’. It’s not about actual wrestling, it’s about creating wacky characters so they can sell merchandise.”
Sports entertainment has its place in wrestling, but according to the former X-Division and Tag champion, there needs to be more.
“Everyone likes wrestling for a reason, whether it’s hardcore, comedy, scientific, etc. A show should have a bit of everything on it for that reason. Variety is important, not all of it just whacked out sports entertainment.”
When discussing Jerry Lynn, what many fans remember most is his classic series of matches in ECW against Rob Van Dam for the Television Title. The “New F’n Show” has watched the WWE career of the “Whole F’n Show” and isn’t surprised with his treatment.
“He wasn’t supposed to get over, he got over on his own. If you aren’t supposed to get over and you do, you get cut off at the knees. It’s just a part of the politics.”
For many wrestlers, World Wrestling Entertainment is the “Holy Grail” of professional wrestling. Young wrestlers dream of someday being on a WrestleMania and many assume that is where the money is to be made. Established stars like Lynn tell a different story.
“I am making the same money, if not more then I would be in the WWE. Everyone thinks that just because WWE is the ‘big time’ that everyone shoots for that you are making great money. Nowadays you aren’t because Vince McMahon has you by the balls. If you don’t have merchandise put out on you and you go out on the road with all your bills, taxes and road expenses, you aren’t making any money at all. Being an independent contractor, I can make my own schedule, go where I want to and have so much more freedom.”
That is part of what makes working for TNA great for many wrestlers. It allows them to take dates with other promotions around the world. As well, the exposure every week makes fans want to see them. So in addition to TNA every week, Lynn can be seen in companies like No Holds Barred in Winnipeg and Major League Wrestling in Florida .
“What is good about TNA is that you can work for anyone else except the WWE. If they have a spot for you, you can’t be doing three week tours and missing Wednesdays, that is understandable.”
What amazes many is his willingness to work with a variety of people. At this stage in his career he could choose to only work other veterans, but instead enjoys working up and coming talent. During the Pro Outlaw Wrestling shows at the Saskatoon Exhibition, he wrestled a pair of incredible matches against Wavell Starr, and recently faced Homicide in Major League Wrestling in a match that has received rave reviews.
“I find it challenging to work different people all the time. To just work the same person over and over again, to me that is just being lazy. A lot of guys want to go do the same match over and over again, that gets boring to me. I like to challenge myself and make it exciting for me as well as the fans. It keeps me on my toes by wrestling different guys.”
One of the guys who has benefited from working Lynn is NWA Champion AJ Styles. When SLAM! spoke to Styles in Calgary earlier this year, he mentioned Lynn as one of the people who put him on the map, saying, “I have learned so much from that man it’s pathetic.”
Lynn’s response to the Styles comment was one of humbleness. “Wow, I guess that is a great compliment. After 15 years, I feel like I only know a drop in the bucket. Every time you go in the ring you learn something new, and I feel like I have a lot of room for improvement. AJ Styles is a very fast learner, a very talented individual and a great guy.”
One of the first angles Lynn was involved with in TNA involved AJ. The two were tag team champions, as well as being involved in a three-way feud with Low-Ki over the X-Division title, culminating in an incredible three-way ladder match. He has difficulty understanding why some complained during the series of matches.
“Every time we went out and wrestled we didn’t do the same thing, we liked to challenge ourselves and do something different every time. I got sick and tired of people saying, week after week when we were wrestling each other, ‘oh no, not AJ and Jerry again!’ Give me a break.”
It is that kind of attitude that irritates wrestlers like Lynn, who work hard to put on exciting matches.
“There are too many people out there who just want to be critics and don’t want to actually enjoy it and have fun with it. It bothers me because they just want something to bitch about. I agree that often times there are too many run-ins and ‘non-finishes’ in a lot of matches, like the recent AJ vs. D-Lo series. But when AJ and I were wrestling, it was all clean finishes. If you like wrestling and watch it, be optimistic and positive about it. Don’t just bitch and whine about it, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.”
Lynn wants to continue wrestling for as long as possible. He wrestles a style that although is exciting, does not take the toll on his body that a more hardcore style does. It is likely that will extend his career.
“That depends on how well my body holds up. As long as I can keep doing it I will. If I really start stinking up the joint I will bow out gracefully. Hopefully I’ll have made enough friends in the business I can be a road agent or something and pass along some of the things I’ve learned.”
Before then, Jerry will continue to do what he does best. He is planning on opening a wrestling school in Nashville in the near future and despite the ups and downs he has faced in his career, the former ECW World Champion is sticking to his guns.
“It gets frustrating at times, but you can’t get rid of me that easily because I enjoy what I do for a living. I’ve done countless other jobs, and this is the first job that I wake up in the morning and I look forward to going to work, so I am not going to quit.”
Jason Clevett considers himself a huge Jerry Lynn fan, even more so after spending time with him in Saskatoon . He orders TNA every week, so should you. Tonight is the special 1 cent show, so you have NO excuse.