More than 30 territories once made up the wrestling business in this country, and few were as colorful and rich in history as Memphis, a promotion that spawned such iconic performers as Sputnik Monroe, Jerry Fargo and Jerry Lawler.
Much credit for the territory’s success, however, goes to Jerry Jarrett, who began his career back in the ‘60s when pro wrestling was an entirely different type of business. But he also was able to persevere through the modern age of wrestling — as a booker, promoter, owner and savvy businessman.
Father of former WCW world champion and TNA co-founder Jeff Jarrett, the Tennessee native has long been regarded as one of the best minds in the wrestling business.
Now at the age of 76, Jarrett is still involved, co-hosting a popular podcast that covers those nostalgic territory days.
With co-host and producer Adam Parsons, son of former wrestler and promoter Rock Parsons, Jarrett is enjoying his journey down memory lane via Jarrett Parsons Wrestling TV, a free network on Roku featuring pro wrestling from the 1950s through the current era.
Jarrett is one of a number of mat luminaries who serve as co-hosts of the show.
In addition to Memphis (Jarrett and Nick Gulas promotions), the network covers nearly every promotion not owned by WWE, including Continental, Portland, the Poffos’ ICW, Pedro Martinez’ IWA, South Atlantic, Detroit, Indianapolis, Hawaii and Vancouver.
Hundreds of hours are uploaded every month, and the project has been a hit thus far, says Adam Parsons, 23, a recent graduate of West Liberty University in West Virginia.
“Jerry’s role is co-host for our ‘Reliving Memphis Wrestling’ show,’ but he is also my father’s business partner and is our director of operations,” says Parsons. “He’s part of the Roku deal, but as host of the Memphis show, he can give us a behind-the-scenes look as the owner and booker (of the Memphis territory).”
Jarrett became involved when Parsons and his dad went to interview the wrestling legend in 2016. After an afternoon together, a partnership was created.
“We filmed him for probably three hours. He took us upstairs to his office and brought up this idea he’s had for years. It’s what he wanted to do in TNA, but they ended up going against him. The idea was to bring in unknown independent talent … it’s pro wrestling meets American Idol. Bring in three judges, talent from around the world, put them in front of the ring and let them wrestle five- or six-minute matches and get judged. You take 20 guys and then you start a national promotion with it.”
The goal, says Jarrett, was to eventually do an “Olympus Star Search” reality show on the channel and possibly a live Memphis wrestling show down the road.
A pilot was filmed last April and was ready to be shopped around to various companies. But their agent, Barry Bloom, had become preoccupied at the time with the launch of AEW in Jacksonville. “Barry laid off of us and went that route because he obviously saw the millions of dollars to be made there.”
“We kept trying to think of a way we could get ‘Olympus Wrestling’ rolling, and that’s when we came up with the idea of creating out own network,” says Parsons. “That (Olympus) hasn’t even come out yet because we’ve had such a good reaction with the old footage. We’re kind of waiting to do it later.”
For his relatively young age, Parsons has an abundance of experience in the wrestling business.
“I have grown up in the business with my dad being a promoter. I started out by carrying guys’ entrance wardrobes to the back at 6 and became a referee at 13. I would have become a wrestler sooner but I played college football for two years and then started wrestling at 20. I was briefly trained at the School of Morton and have had some great mentors like Rip Rogers and Manny Fernandez.”
The Parsons family is headed by patriarch Dave “Rock” Parsons. Longtime promoter of more than 35 years, he began collecting tapes from Dick The Bruiser (William Afflis) and Ed Farhat (aka The Original Sheik) in the late ‘90s and continued his search for wrestling classics with the hopes to someday create his own network showcasing the wrestling from yesteryear.
Over the course of the past year, Rock Parsons realized that with son Michael’s technical abilities and son Adam’s on-screen abilities, he could capitalize on something much larger than his national DVD distribution through the JADAT Sports Library.
By March, Jarrett Parsons Wrestling TV was created, and has since had wrestling fans from all 50 states and six countries tune in to see classic wrestling from the various regional territories.
Jarrett Parsons Wrestling TV is completely free to watch, and has “wrestling from Lou Thesz to New Jack.” In other words, there’s something for everyone.
An average of 80-100 hours are put up each month. “We have 365 new programs total. Roku told us we have put out more new content than any Roku channel that is not news. The news, of course, is on every day.”
The Parsons own about 2,200 hours of footage, so there’s plenty of content to come.
Parsons’ co-hosts on the other territorial shows include veteran stars such as Bill Eadie (aka Masked Superstar), Shane Douglas, Rip Rogers and his dad.
The most popular show on the network is the “Reliving Memphis Wrestling” episodes he does with Jarrett.
“In the beginning it was blowing everything else out of the water,” says Parsons. “It’s been No. 1 every month since March. Continental is probably second or third, but Memphis is way ahead of all the others.”
A lot of that success has to do with Jerry Jarrett.
“It’s amazing (working with Jarrett),” says Parsons. “He is such a soft-spoken guy, but somehow I seem to bring this comedic personality out of him that you really don’t get to see any other time. He can tell some unbelievable stories, and he’s cracking jokes right along with me. It’s a lot of fun hosting with him.”
The Roku channel already has more than 30 separate shows in its library. Some of the shows have included “Highspots Interviews,” “Pro Wrestling Time Machine” and “This is the 70’s: Best of the 1970’s Wrestling.”
JPTV refers to their content as shoot-view, combing matches revolving around one wrestler or promotion, along with a shoot-style hosting that gives fans a recap of not only what was going on in the ring, but also gives fans insight of what each territory was like behind the scenes.
“This network is like an all-you-can-eat buffet,” says Rock Parsons. “It’s all laid out for you to look at whenever you want. There’s no time schedule so fans can binge on whatever they want as long as they want.”
For more information, check out Jarrett Parsons Wrestling TV on Facebook and Twitter and search Jarrett Parsons Wrestling TV on Roku for free wrestling.
County Hall memories
Where it used to happen ... every Friday night ... 8:15 sharp. County Hall, 1000 King Street.
It was a magical time for pro wrestling fans. Many remember the storied structure as their favorite Friday night spot where they faithfully attended the weekly wrestling shows. Others recall attending special musical concerts, sporting events and high school graduations there.
What are your special memories? Share them by emailing me at email@example.com for possible inclusion in a future column.
Reach Mike Mooneyham at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @ByMikeMooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham. His newly released book — “Final Bell” — is now available at https://evepostbooks.com and on Amazon.com.