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News of the Week: Jimmy Jacobs on ‘The Selfie,’ John Cena, and his future
A coming attraction for wrestling fans in 2018 is the reincarnation of Jimmy Jacobs.
The former indie star turned WWE writer has returned to his independent roots, but with a far different perspective on his career and outlook on the business.
“Before, life was a fight,” said the 33-year-old Jacobs. “It was Jimmy Jacobs against the world. I had to fight for everything. Now? It’s Jimmy Jacobs with the world. No s---, I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.”
There is a direct parallel between Jacobs’ confidence and his work in WWE. The artist formerly (and, once again, currently) known as “The Zombie Princess” succeeded on the grandest stage possible, delivering WWE talent and fans with some of the most memorable content over the past two-and-a-half years. His work as a writer in WWE includes “The List of Jericho”, the “Festival of Friendship” with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, and integral segments in a compelling feud between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler in the fall of 2016 that teased Ziggler’s retirement.
“There was a promo segment in Cleveland, Ohio with Miz and Dolph Ziggler, and Dolph said he was going to put his career on the line,” said Jacobs. “Some days your ideas go through and sometimes they don’t, but this was one of those days when my ideas got through and then they worked.”
At that point, Jacobs was still new to the WWE. Despite his intelligence and passion for wrestling, he had yet to earn devout followers of his writing.
“I don’t want to say a lot of people were against me, but a lot of people thought this segment wouldn’t work out,” said Jacobs. “Different people thought the way I had it laid out wasn’t the way to do it.”
A detractor of the segment was none other than the face of WWE: John Cena.
“John Cena was always really great to me,” noted Jacobs. “John saw that I had the passion, so he’d always check in on me. He asked me what I was doing that day in Cleveland, so I told him. He gave me a, ‘Well, we’ll see how that goes.’”
Jacobs laid out the segment, but Cena was unimpressed.
“He was really skeptical, basically saying, ‘I don’t think that’s going to work,’” said Jacobs. “And I’m not knocking John Cena. John was the man. I f------ love John Cena. But with the way I had it laid out, we weren’t leaving on boos directed at the Miz or Dolph ending by saying, ‘I’m going to kick your ass!’ We were leaving on the gravity of Dolph putting his career on the line.
“John said to me, ‘We’re in a yay-boo business. You’ve got to leave them with either cheering Dolph Ziggler or booing The Miz.’ So I said, ‘Well, we’re up in four minutes, so we’ll see.’”
The segment created suspense, delivering just enough apprehension to plant the seed of doubt that Ziggler’s career was coming to an end.
“John watched from ‘Gorilla’,” said Jacobs. “Afterwards, he said, ‘I was skeptical of that, but that was a homerun. I really felt that.’ I was really proud of that.”
The Michigan-bred Jacobs, who is known in the non-wrestling domain of his life as Christopher Scoville, wrestled in the main event this past Sunday in Somerville, Massachusetts for Beyond Wrestling. For those watching his post-match interview, the rebirth of Jacobs—who was solely behind the camera in WWE, but is now ready to re-enlist as an active pro wrestler—was on full display.
Jacobs sat ringside in unforgettable attire, which included his black suede ankle boots, white women’s jeans (“I stopped wearing guys’ pants a long time ago,” he admitted), a black tank top, and a sparkly sports jacket that would make Chris Jericho envious, topped off with a scarf. Fit and trim, Jacobs attributes cutting 30 pounds over the past three months to going vegan and daily sessions of hot yoga, and his ensemble was complete with a fox necklace around his neck in honor of a passage from his favorite book, The Little Prince.
“The Fox shares a bit of wisdom,” said Jacobs. “‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What’s essential is invisible to the eyes.’ That’s the wisdom of the fox, so I keep that around my neck.”
While some may question Jacobs’ apparel, others are still perplexed that he would risk his position in WWE by posting a selfie on Twitter with members of the Bullet Club during their Raw invasion in September. Yet Jacobs is content with his past, confident about his future, and perfectly happy in the present.
“I’m in the best place physically and mentally as I’ve ever been,” said Jacobs. “I’m hot right now coming off WWE and I know that’s going to die down. I’m going to have fun and enjoy myself. Being on the other side and working for WWE, there are benefits and negatives. I can now appreciate the freedom of being an independent wrestler again.
“There is a lot I learned working for WWE and working with Vince McMahon. I don’t agree with everything he does or says, but there is definitely great s--- to take away. And the truth is, I posted that selfie and nobody gave a f---. It took WWE firing me for people to care about that. If you’re going to get fired, running an angle with the hottest group outside of WWE was a good way to do it.”
Jacobs was also asked his thoughts on WWE sending Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, both of whom he was close with during his time in the company, home early from last week’s trip overseas.
“Nothing Vince does is surprising,” said Jacobs. “It’s his sandbox. But the truth is, whatever happened was a misunderstanding. I know those guys, and they’re not the guys who are like, ‘F--- no, we’re not doing that!’ They wouldn’t go into business for themselves in the middle of the ring. Almost nobody f------ does that. Whatever happened was a miscommunication, that’s all.”
In addition to an appearance at Ring of Honor’s Global Wars iPPV in Chicago, Jacobs spent time working as a producer and on-air talent from Impact during their Bound for Glory pay per view and recent television tapings in Ottawa. He has yet to sign with Impact or any company, remaining a highly sought-after free agent.
“Impact was a lot of fun when I was there a couple weeks ago,” said Jacobs. “My future remains to be seen. After being tied to a contract for two-and-a-half years, it’s nice to have a little breathing room. I get to be me and be my own boss, and I’m going to go where it serves me, rewards me, and people like having me around.”
Jacobs paused to think when he was asked for the best wrestler currently active in the world. His answer was not Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, or anyone else from the WWE roster.
“If I’m picking teams, right off the bat, for everybody who knows what the f--- is up in wrestling, it’s Joey Mercury,” said Jacobs. “It’s a crime right now that more people don’t have him on their shows. I don’t know why Impact would have interest in me before him. He was producing and booking shows at the highest level possible, he was a coach in NXT, an on-air talent and produced segments right after. He’s the smartest person I’ve met in wrestling, and I’ve learned the most from him. If I was starting a wrestling company, he’d be my first guy.”
Jacobs is excited that wrestling audiences have a new opportunity to be introduced to the “Zombie Princess”. When given the chance to see him live, Jacobs promised to never disappoint, both on the microphone, where he is immensely talented, and in the ring.
“Whatever happens to my character next, in whatever story, company, or capacity, I just hope that I’m a lift on people’s life and not a load,” said Jacobs. “Hopefully we can do a few good things that people like to see, and I’ll take it as far as I can.”
Jerry Lawler to Appear in Jim Carrey Documentary
Netflix is set to premiere “Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond” this Friday, which examines the life, career, and struggles of famed actor Jim Carrey.
The documentary will also include WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, as the film details the tailspin that Carrey took after playing the role of Andy Kaufman in the 1999 film “Man on the Moon”.
“I was always a Jim Carrey fan, at least until we did the movie together,” said Lawler, who played himself in the film. “This documentary will open your eyes to who Jim Carrey has become. You’ll be shocked at how he is no longer the Jim Carrey we knew from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective or In Living Color.”
Kaufman and Lawler notoriously feuded in the Memphis wrestling scene, and on Late Night with David Letterman, in 1982. Carrey played the role of Kaufman in the movie, and continued the feud with Lawler, while he spent 80 straight days in character as Kaufman.
“Every interview I do, people still ask me about Andy Kaufman,” said Lawler. “It’s amazing to me that it still lives and has legs after all of these years. Young people who weren’t even alive in ‘82 ask me about it, too.
“This documentary is an in-depth look at Jim Carrey, and it’s very interesting to see what went on behind the scenes. He made our lives miserable when we were making that movie, and you’ll see parts where the director is pleading with him to make a movie. He was almost impossible.”
Carrey has transformed from a comedic genius to a man in seclusion. He admits in the Netflix special that, when he played the role of Andy Kaufman in ‘99, he channeled Kaufman to the point where he had trouble separating himself from the character. “Jim and Andy” looks at never-before-seen backstage footage from the film, as well as new interviews and insight from Carrey.
“There is a lot of interaction between Carrey and me when we were filming the movie,” said Lawler. “He and I did not get along at all, and Carrey even said that Universal didn’t want his backstage footage to surface because they didn’t want everyone to think Carrey was this ‘a--hole,’ which is what he was during the making of that movie.”
Lawler is grateful for the chance to set the record straight on his interactions with both Kaufman and Carrey. Wrestling is often misinterpreted by those who are not familiar with it, and Lawler recalled a scene from the “Man on the Moon” movie when he wrestled Kaufman.
“The match actually took place in Memphis, but we filmed it for the movie in Los Angeles,” said Lawler. “The studio hired 3,000 extras to sit in the crowd to make it look like a sold-out Mid-South Coliseum. I looked up and about half of those people were wearing straw hats and bib overalls.
“I went to the director, Milos Forman, and said, ‘I’ve been wrestling in Memphis for 20 years and I’ve never seen people dressed in bib overalls and straw hats to the wrestling shows.’ It was funny, because the next thing you heard was a production assistant shout, ‘Lose the straw hats.’”
The Netflix premiere of “Jim and Andy” debuts this Friday, November 15.
In other news…
• Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles are set to clash this Sunday in one of the more highly-anticipated matches in the history of the Survivor Series. The match is compelling for a number of reasons, and one that particularly stands out is the contrast in styles.
Lesnar is the toughest man in wrestling. The former UFC heavyweight champion brings authenticity to his work unlike any other man in the business.
Styles has worked all over the world and can fly, work the mat, and even, when necessary, ground and pound. For all his ability, Styles will have one monumental task in his encounter with Lesnar: make the audience believe he has a shot at defeating the “Beast Incarnate”.
Styles will never become the biggest man in a fight against Lesnar. But how good, how adept, is he going to be at becoming the guy with the biggest fight in him? If Styles can accomplish that, then we are in store for a great match.
Styles will need to sell the story that he cannot stop Lesnar from climbing on top of him but that he is, in a realistic manner, doing everything he can to get Lesnar off of him.
• A fatal flaw with the current set-up of the Survivor Series is there are no direct consequences or meaning to the stakes between Raw and SmackDown.
Why can’t the number 30 spot for January’s Royal Rumble be at stake in the 5-on-5 elimination match? If Raw wins, then GM Kurt Angle could use that spot for someone on his roster. If SmackDown wins the match, then GM Daniel Bryan would have the same right.
The 5-on-5 match should be full of memorable moments, including the chance for Triple H to face off against brother-in-law Shane McMahon, as well as Kurt Angle to lock up with John Cena, but a bigger moment could take place during the battle between the Shield and the New Day.
Roman Reigns is a made man in WWE. A loss won’t hurt him, but a pinfall victory over Reigns would be a monumental victory—and stepping stone into the world title picture—for Big E.
• Colt Cabana has just released his new children’s novel, Wrestling Dreams, which, fittingly, follows the path of a main character chasing his ambitions.
“It’s always wild to say to a child you can be whatever you want to be, whether that’s a firefighter, astronaut, or pro wrestler, but it’s true,” said Cabana. “That’s the morale of the story. I wanted to be a pro wrestler, and I became one.”
One of Cabana’s closet childhood friends is now a dentist, and his wife, Erica Weisz, is a children’s illustrator and author. Cabana and Weisz collaborate on the project to produce a very unique, and highly entertaining, book that is perfect for children who want to read about wrestling with their parents.
“Part of my job in wrestling that I really love is interacting with children,” said Cabana. “I was a camp counselor for almost ten years, I worked in schools, and being around children is exuberating. This is another chance to connect with them, and this process was creatively fun. I’ve been storytelling for almost 20 years as a wrestler, so the idea of storytelling and producing matches was similar to storytelling and producing the children’s book.”
The talented Cabana, who is currently voicing the soundtrack to Ring of Honor programming with his color commentary, often makes his biggest contributions to pro wrestling in a supporting cast-esque role. He interviewed CM Punk on his “Art of Wrestling” podcast, which set the business aflame, and also is a founding father of Pro Wrestling Tees.
“I’ve been on teams my whole life, and I always saw the importance in being a team player,” said Cabana. “I just try to lead by example. Wrestling is art as it is sport. It’s a collaboration to work together to put out a show, not just fighting for the number one spot on the show.”
Cabana has watched with amazement as the Bullet Club, with Nick and Matt Jackson of the Young Bucks particularly resonating with fans, has reached a whole new orbit of popularity in a wrestling universe not directly aligned with industry-leader WWE.
“It’s mind-blowing, it’s out of control,” said Cabana. “I’ve never seen anything like this since I’ve been in wrestling. I think it’s phenomenal and those guys deserve the world, especially the Young Bucks. Their story is so amazing, just being shunned by everyone, including Ring of Honor, for so long, and they paved their own path and still haven’t stopped.”
For those in the Chicago area looking to share their thanks for all of Cabana’s contributions to the business, he is performing a comedy act on Thanksgiving eve at North Bar.
“I do a comedy show the night before Thanksgiving every year with Marty DeRosa in Chicago on November 22 at North Bar,” said Cabana. “We do a show where we watch bad wrestling and do commentary for it. There is a lot of improv and prizes, and if you’re a wrestling nerd like me looking for something to do, this is something to do.”
• Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard returns this Friday at noon ET with a new podcast, and co-host Conrad Thompson noted that the show will detail every aspect of Survivor Series 2002.
Survivor Series ‘02 included a loaded card and featured the WWE return of Scott Steiner.
“We’ll cover the weeks leading up to it when we heard that Scott Steiner was in negotiations,” said Thompson. “We’ll also cover the rumor and innuendo regarding Steiner’s comments about Triple H.”
A highlight of the show promises to be Prichard’s impression of Jamie Noble, as well as a breakdown of Vince McMahon’s WWE in 2002, which had just acquired many former WCW stars and reintroduced the WCW belt as the World Heavyweight Championship.
“The WCW world title was defended in a new, more modern format of War Games in the Elimination Chamber,” said Thompson. “There were stars from WCW like Booker T and Chris Jericho, and people thought there was the next big guy in Rob Van Dam. This was also the crowning moment of Shawn Michaels’ 2002 return, and he did it in some interesting tights, so this is going to be a very fun show.”
Another integral part of the pay per view, which took place at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York, saw the Dudleys reunite.
“We’ll spend a little bit of time on Three Minute Warning, and their match was when D-Von, who’d been on SmackDown, made a big return to the biggest pop of his career,” said Thompson. “I’m looking forward to talking about Trish Stratus and Victoria, who were both fitness models before they got in the business.”
Houston has served as one of Vince McMahon’s major markets, and Thompson and Prichard will be at the Houston House of Blues this Sunday for a live show to discuss the Survivor Series and WWE’s history in the city.
“A lot of big shows happened in Houston, including Royal Rumble‘89, No Way Out ‘98, and the biggest of which was WrestleMania 17, as well as Bad Blood ‘03, No Mercy ‘05, and then Bruce’s last pay per view in Vengeance: Night of Champions ‘07,” said Thompson. “We’ll cover the history of McMahon acquiring Paul Boesch’s territory, all the major WWE stories that were taped in Houston, and the parts we cannot do on the podcast, like smoking weed with a McMahon, and our special guest is World Series champion Josh Reddick from the Houston Astros. We’re looking forward to it, and tickets are still available at boxofgimmicks.com.”
• Stat of the Week: The ten competitors in the traditional 5-on-5 Survivor Series elimination match—Triple H, Kurt Angle, Shane McMahon, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Randy Orton, Shinsuke Nakamura, and John Cena—have combined for 64 world championships and one Olympic gold medal.
• Al Snow’s weekly advice column, Inside Al’s Head, examined Chris Jericho’s decision to sign with New Japan Pro Wrestling, beginning with the announcement he will face Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in the Tokyo Dome on January 4.
“There is mystique with having the match at the Tokyo Dome,” said Snow. “Professional wrestling is held in a very much higher regard in Japan than it is in the United States and the rest of the world. And whether win, lose, or draw for Omega, this does nothing more than continue to enhance his mystique. He’s on a run right now, and this helps keep him at high noon.”
Snow, who just returned from an affiliate school of his Al Snow Wrestling Academy in Santiago, Chile, which is one of his six affiliates worldwide, also noted that the match is a can’t-lose proposition for Jericho.
Tweet of the Week
Will WWE go all in on Big E this Sunday?