When Jimmy Jacobs returned to in-ring action after sitting on WWE’s creative team for two-and-a-half years, he questioned whether fans would remember him.
“Are they going to care? Are people going to be happy to see me?” Jacobs recalled.
And they were. Fans first saw the rebirth of the Zombie Princess where he made his name — Ring of Honor — when the Young Bucks apologized for costing Jacobs his job. But it was at WrestleCircus in Austin, Texas, where he confronted Sami Callihan, stepping through the curtain and in front of a live crowd for the first time since 2015.
Requests to have Jacobs in independent shows starting coming in as soon as news broke that he was released after posting a photo on social media with the Young Bucks during their “WWE invasion.”
Since returning to active competition, Jacobs said he has learned that his passion for performing — one that wasn’t fully explored as an active wrestler joining WWE’s creative team — still exists.
“It’s good to let that part of myself out again,” Jacobs said. “In WWE, I felt like I couldn’t be myself a lot of times backstage. But that’s on me, [that was the] self-imposed pressure of feeling that I need to conform.”
And now, heading into his appearance Friday for the National Wrasslin’ League (NWL) in Overland Park, Kan., Jacobs can be himself.
“I feel good that I can walk into a show wearing my pointy-tipped shoes and tight women’s jeans, and I can have my nails painted and my hair up in its crazy bird’s nest knot and scarves with a fur-trimmed jacket and jewelry but no shirt on. That’s just me,” Jacobs said. “That’s me when nobody else is in the house.”
FROM WRESTLER TO WRITER
Jacobs said — “with the most humility” — that he has always had an “aptitude” for the creative aspect of the business. Because he’s “not very athletically gifted,” Jacobs said, he always did something a little different to stand out, noting the “Ballad of Lacey,” a love song he wrote in 2006 for his manager during his ROH tenure.
“I worked on my own stuff very heavily for years,” Jacobs said. “There was a certain point where I kind of hit a wall in wrestling … Nobody jumped on the Jimmy Jacobs bandwagon.”
Then one day in July 2014, “with the help of a couple ecstasy pills,” Jacobs said he had an epiphany — that he was “meant to be in creative.”
Once he realized that, the Zombie Princess said the road to WWE opened. Within one year, he became the first independent wrestler to join WWE’s creative team.
Jacobs likened his journey to WWE creative to CM Punk signing with the company in 2005 and Sara del Rey being brought in as a trainer based solely on her work on the independent scene.
“Here’s ‘The Man’ on the indies,” Jacobs said of Punk (Phil Brooks). “There was this question of, ‘Is this going to pay off? Can the king of the indies become the king of WWE?’ ”
To Jacobs, the success of future indy wrestlers in the global conglomerate that is WWE hinged on Punk. As far as del Rey (Sara Amato) is concerned, her success as a trainer “opened the doors for people like Adam Pearce,” a former NWA World champion who has been a WWE producer since 2015.
As far as Jacobs himself, he said there was “self-imposed pressure” to prove he has a mind for wrestling among the Hollywood-type writers that typically make up WWE creative.
“I think it was an experiment, and on some levels it was a success,” Jacobs said. “I had a great rapport with a lot of the guys and they trusted me because of my background. From that level, it was a success.”
Jacobs also said some could have looked at his relationship with the talent as a downside. However, parts of his time with WWE were “definitely rewarding,” such as “having something come from your brain and seeing it through inception and creation.” Among his accomplishments in his nearly three years with WWE, Jacobs is the brainchild behind Chris Jericho’s “list” and worked extensively with Jericho throughout Y2J’s latest WWE run.
The Zombie Princess also said he enjoyed working with friends Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who all “struggled together, crammed eight people into hotel room together.”
So to be together in WWE was “very rewarding” for Jacobs.
The Zombie Princess also joined forces with The Undertaker leading up to Survivor Series in 2016.
“Working with The Undertaker, he’s the man,” Jacobs said.
The plan was for ‘Taker to appear at the end of the show with Team Smackdown! in the ring, and hit two or three lines to close out the show.
“The thing with Smackdown! as opposed to RAW is that RAW has overrun,” Jacobs said. “[They] don’t stop at 11 o’clock exactly… Smackdown! was drop dead at 10 on the dot.”
So Jacobs asked ‘Taker how much time he thought he would need. The Zombie Princess guessed around three-and-a-half minutes. The Deadman said seven.
“So at 9:53, no matter what else was going on, I was going to hit Undertaker’s music,” Jacobs recalled.
With Undertaker’s music cued up and the Deadman making his way to the ring, Jacobs said ‘Taker was “taking more and more time” as the minutes ticked away.
“[Then] ‘Taker says, ‘Rest in peace,’ and we go to black,” Jacobs said. “It was perfect timing … He hit seven minutes on the dot.”
‘NOW IT’S SURVIVAL MODE’
As a wrestler, Jacobs said, “you eat what you kill.” But as a writer, he was Chris Scoville, a salaried employee.
“It didn’t matter whether I took the week off or created the List of Jericho, I got paid… I don’t mind the work, I liked the [idea that the] more I work, the more I get paid… [Having] no financial incentive to do more work didn’t jive with me,” Jacobs said.
But he also missed performing. About six months before he was fired for posting the now-infamous photo with the Young Bucks, Jacobs said, WWE “wasn’t feeling like a good fit anymore.” That photo — and the resulting termination — saved the Zombie Princess from worrying about how to walk away from the company.
“It was a relief that all of a sudden I never had to deal with,” Jacobs said.
Though there was “a little anxiety” about how he would earn money and sadness for not seeing Owens and Zayn nearly as much, the “overall feeling was exhilaration.”
“Now it’s survival mode… The fear of loss, the fear of pain is something that motivates a lot of us,” said Jacobs, who wrestles his first match in Kansas for NWL against Leo Howlett.
Thursday, he was in Minnesota waging war against Air Wolf for F1RST Wrestling, and Saturday he’ll travel to New Jersey for Combat Zone Wrestling to face Jimmy Havoc.
“I do just enjoy going to all these places,” Jacobs said. “I haven’t had a bad experience yet, just wrestling for people I’ve never worked for before… I’ve had all these pleasant experiences.”
The Zombie Princess said his interest in working for NWL was simply that they asked.
“It doesn’t need to be any more complex than that,” Jacobs said. “Life doesn’t need to be anymore complex than that. If you want to do something, you should do it. And you shouldn’t feel beholden to anything or anyone.”
For Jacobs, that also translates to his childhood dream of working for WWE.
“I’m 33 years old, I’m not a kid anymore,” Jacobs said. “I don’t need to be beholden to 13-year-old Jimmy Jacobs. F— him… I’m not saying I’m not working hard. I’m doing my best and having fun doing it.”