There’s a saying that a wrestler’s character is best when it’s their own personality turned up to 100. But in the case of Jerome Young – better known to wrestling fans as New Jack – it would appear, from his new autobiography New Jack: Memoir of a Pro Wrestling Extremist, out now from McFarland Publishing, that the ratio may actually be closer to 1:1.
That’s because the book is steeped in tales of Young’s violence-filled life, from the time he was five years old and witnessed his father nearly killing his mother, to every extreme moment that he had in the ring – or out of it – during his storied wrestling career. Young almost seems to need the violence in his life, stating in the book, “I’ve long accepted that violence is going to follow me for my entire life – and sometimes I’ve tried to make sure it keeps up.”
Young and co-author Jason Norman do a good job reinforcing that theme throughout the book, chronicling Young’s troubled childhood that led to a life of petty crimes that turned major while in college.
Young honestly and candidly tells about his post-incarceration career as a bounty hunter – including the truth about the four justifiable homicides that were often cited during his ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) career in selling his toughness.
From there, Young delves deep into his pro wrestling career, from training under Ray Candy, wrestling in the deep south in a climate where racism was rampant, and the formation of the Gangstas with his tag team partner, Mustafa Saed.
Young’s stellar ECW run is devoted nearly half of the 200 pages in the book, and for anyone who was a fan of the promotion, this is a must-see behind the scenes look. In addition to going through his various feuds, he also tells road stories involving drugs and “ring rats,” both of which were common at the time and that he had more than his fair share of.
The infamous Mass Transit Incident, during which Young carved up a newbie wrestler leading to a gruesome bloodletting, is also touched on. It’s in talking about that where Young seems to converge with New Jack, when he writes, “I don’t feel bad about anything. I don’t think I ever did.”
A lot of words – none of them kind – are also devoted to Vic Grimes, and the unfortunate stunt that went wrong, nearly leading to Young’s death. In detailing how he planned, and eventually got revenge, it’s almost like Young is confessing to a felony.
Similar stories are regaled about Gypsy Joe and other victims / wrestlers who dared to cross Young on the independent scene after ECW’s bankruptcy. Again, Young seems almost proud of these events, or at the very least is unapologetic, writing “… every time I have gotten into a fight with anybody – every time – it was because they did something to make me do it.”
The book ends on a more positive note, with Young describing his relationship with his wife Jennifer, the woman whom he says is closer to him than anyone ever has been in his life. It’s clear in the closing chapters that Young knows he has more years behind him than what’s to come, and he remarks on his legacy in the wrestling business, comfortable that New Jack will never be forgotten.
The book includes many quotes from wrestling legends across New Jack’s entire career, including Jim Cornette, D-Lo Brown, Ricky Morton, Jerry Lynn, Jeff Jarrett, the Blue Meanie (who also wrote the book’s foreword) and the Sandman. It would have been nice if there were more photos in the book, as they are very scant (or at least they were in my advance review copy). If there is one disappointment in the book, it’s that.
But that doesn’t take away from the overall quality of Memoir of a Pro Wrestling Extremist. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Young’s from his ECW days, or even if you’ve only seen the YouTube clips of his legendary violent moments, this one is a must-read. And even if you’ve never heard of New Jack before, this one is still recommended. Because of how unique the subject matter is, the book is also something that stands apart from the crowd.
- Buy New Jack: Memoir of a Pro Wrestling Extremist on Amazon.ca
- Buy New Jack: Memoir of a Pro Wrestling Extremist on Amazon.com
- New Jack: Memoir of a Pro Wrestling Extremist on McFarland Publishing website
- SlamWrestling Master Book List
PREVIOUS SLAM STORIES ON NEW JACK
- April 1, 2020: Dark Side of the Ring takes “The Life and Crimes of New Jack” to trial
- October 11, 2014: New Jack should never have been asked to remember ECW of 1998 for DVD
- December 9, 2007: New Jack DVD set a bloody good time
- The Beyond the Mat story archive