The SmarK Rant for Dark Side of the Ring S02E03 – “The Life and Crimes of New Jack”
Well this was the obvious choice for tonight’s review.
The introduction video alone is quite the deal, definitely giving you an idea of what you’re getting into with this one.
Jim Cornette and a variety of wrestling personalities introduce us to New Jack and already are establishing his bonafides, as he might have murdered some people or at the very least hurt them extremely badly. But probably murdered.
Jim Cornette tells us about Smoky Mountain and how Jack was going to be the guy to get some heat as they expanded eastward. “OJ had just killed everybody in LA” notes New Jack, explaining the racial tensions at the time. Cornette’s instructions to Jack were “Go out and piss off some white people”, which Jack excelled at. His “Keep up the good work OJ, two less for us to worry about” promo is still head-shaking.
D-Lo Brown introduces himself as the head of security for the Gangstas at the time, since the babyfaces could beat on D-Lo and the Gangstas wouldn’t have to lose any heat. Then they go off on a side story about Mustafa rolling up pencil shavings into a blunt and smoking it, because he was completely nuts in general. Cornette wanted to get them into the tag title scene immediately because they had so much heat, so they recreate the Rodney King beatings with Ricky Morton as the victim this time, to the point where the cops actually hauled him off and escorted them out of town. Jack was proud of the job he had done. And then they had to put up a disclaimer on the screen every time Jack talked because the NAACP were protesting.
So the Gangstas wear out their welcome in SMW and jump to ECW, although they don’t really get into the Gangstas basically getting run out of SMW and Cornette just kind of sums it up as “they left on bad terms”. Sandman talks about meeting them for the first time and immediately being impressed with their swagger. And now they’re in ECW and New Jack fits in perfectly because he can finally do all the crazy shit that he wants.
Jack takes us back to his childhood, when his father stabbed his mother 5 times right in front of him, and then shot her in the leg when she tried to get Jack away from him.
We move onto the Mass Transit incident and meet Tiny the Terrible, who used to work matches with Eric “Mass Transit” Kulas, drawing the attention of Paul Heyman. Kulas claimed to be 21 but was actually 17, and he took the place of Axl Rotten after Axl got injured. Kulas went to New Jack and told him some spots he wanted to do, and this apparently set Jack off and he decided to teach the kid a lesson. So Jim Cornette explains the idea behind “the blade”, and then Jack admits that he “high as fuck” and had been doing drugs all day. So Jack punctured his head with a scalpel and then proceeded to beat the shit out of him while the kid hemorrhaged blood. Sandman’s reaction here (“So THAT’S what pissed New Jack off?”) is some quality dark humor. And then New Jack ended up facing charges of assault and battery. So they take it trial, where lawyers for Jack argued that the kid knew exactly what he was getting into and called Jack some bad names. Jack points out that Paul Heyman’s testimony was 100% working the jury and judge, but it worked. And then Kulas died in 2002. What was Jack’s reaction? “Oh well.” But at least the midget got a job for one night with the WWF, so that’s something.
Next, we talk about Jack and his propensity for jumping off high places while high, which leads to a discussion of Vic Grimes and his run-in with New Jack in 2000. So they were supposed to dive off a balcony together, but Vic chickened out when they got to the top, so Jack pulled him off and they land on the floor, with Grimes cracking Jack’s skull when they hit. And they have a rematch at year later once Jack recovered, which leads to Jack buying a legit stun gun from a pawn shop and tazing Grimes. Jack’s recapping of the tazing: “Jack, I can’t feel my legs.” “That’s OK, you won’t need them. Bombs away!” And then he threw Grimes off a scaffolding and nearly killed him. Oh, that’s our New Jack!
Next up, of course, is Jack talking about facing Gypsy Joe in 2003, who is 70 years old and promotes himself as “impervious to pain”. So Joe won’t sell for New Jack and the fans were yelling bad names at Jack, so he handled the situation badly and beat the shit out of him legitimately. That was pretty awful. This was all a summation of how Jack’s career was going, forced to try to top himself week after week to compete with the hardcore indie promotions and all the crazy people doing crazy shit.
So Jack goes to Florida and works a match with a guy named Hunter Red, who asks to wrestle New Jack and then seems to change his mind before the match, which proved to be a bad idea because Jack was doing coke and drinking vodka. And then the guy tries to shoot on Jack when they get in the ring, so Jack pulls a knife out of his pants and stabs the guy in the ring. Jim Cornette watching this and reacting to it is priceless. “Yeah this isn’t something that does the reputation of wrestling a world of good.” Cornette thinks it might have crossed the line between cooperation and felonious assault. Plus it was right there on video. So Jack gets hauled off by the police and faces aggravated battery charges. The other guy suggested making it an angle and going around the Florida circuit, but Jack got out of jail and then left the state.
All of our talking heads think New Jack got too far into his gimmick and couldn’t escape from it, to the point where no one knows who “Jerome Young” even is. Jack thinks that if they make a movie about his life, it’ll end with him in a wheelchair, snorting coke, saying “Thank you, bitches!” Well that’s probably not far from the truth.
What’s crazy is that this show barely even scratched the surface of all the crazy New Jack stories and incidents that it could have covered. There was 2 or 3 from SMW alone that they could have talked about, plus the stuff from later on like Terri Runnels allegedly dating him and asking him to murder her ex-boyfriend. Even as remarkably candid as he was about the drug use, the episode felt a little bit whitewashed (pardon the expression) because if ever there was an episode of the show that could have dove headfirst into the sleaze it was this one, and they kind of treated it like “Oh, that New Jack, what a kidder, throwing people off balconies and trying to murder them, LOL!” I don’t know, it felt like they were almost giving New Jack too much of the benefit of the doubt here. Because let’s face it, he was a truly awful person for a lot of his life who did a lot of awful things, and this one was mostly just confined to three of those stories in particular and didn’t really go any deeper into things.
Anyway, still a really good episode, but it doesn’t really have much insight if that’s what you’re looking for. Honestly there probably is a movie about his life to be made at some point and they wouldn’t even need to embellish it.
RIP to Jerome Young.