Last weekend it was announced that former ECW wrestler Jerome Young, better known as New Jack, passed away at the age of 58 from a reported heart attack.
Sadly, the death of New Jack is just another example of a professional wrestler leaving us prematurely.
As a performer, New Jack was scarily intense, unbelievably charismatic, and never afraid to be controversial.
During the duration of his lengthy wrestling career, the North Carolina native worked in esteemed organisations like Smoky Mountain Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action (TNA), but will be most remembered for his time in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), during the 90’s and early 00’s.
It was in the extreme Philadelphia promotion were New Jack won the ECW World Tag Team Titles on three occasions. Twice with his partner Mustafa Saed, as the Gangstas.
The team, and New Jack in particular, were right at home in the chaotic ECW promotion during the 90’s. His weapon-based offence, heated promos and out of control antics made New Jack a swift fan favourite.
All these elements resulted in New Jack becoming one of the most violent and on the pulse wrestlers of his time.
He took the anger from his upbringing and cultural frustrations in America and fuelled those feelings into his character. Jerome Young was New Jack and separating the man from the character was often an impossible task to accomplish.
Sometimes, this would spark New Jack to produce a real moment of controversy.
Most of these moments, are completely bombastic and if they weren’t almost folklore in the wrestling industry at this stage, you wouldn’t believe half of them.
So, to celebrate the life of New Jack, let’s look at just some of the craziest stories from his time in the wrestling business.
Mass Transit Incident
This is one of, if not the most famous New Jack story, but it would be criminal to not mention it for those uninitiated with the ECW Original.
Let’s jump back to 1996.
The Gangstas were scheduled to face D-Von Dudley and Axel Rotten at an ECW show. However, Rotten couldn’t attend due to a last-minute family emergency, leaving Dudley without a partner.
A rookie wrestler named Erich Kulas, who was wrestling on the card, convinced ECW Owner Paul Heyman to let him be Axel Rotten’s replacement. What Heyman didn’t know was, Kulas lied about his age, telling the company he was 21, when in fact he was only 17.
His inexperienced showed, as Kulas, who was wrestling under the name Mass Transit, approached New Jack backstage to talk about the match.
Now, for those that may be unaware. Wrestling is built on respect for the veterans, and for an inspiring wrestler to approach an experienced pro with ideas can be seen as disrespectful. Kulas asked if he could get some offence in, and even put New Jack through a table.
This made New Jack irate, and he would seek revenge as soon as the match started.
The Gangstas isolated Kulas, pummelling him with a variety of hardcore wrestling objects. New Jack would legitimately cut the teenager on the forehead with a surgeon scalpel. Severing two arteries, and causing Kulas to pass out from the pain.
The boys father tried confronting New Jack after the incident, thankfully without success.
Ultimately, New Jack was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He was later sued by the Kulas family.
New Jack vs Vic Grimes
Another high-profiled New Jack incident was down to his personal hatred towards fellow ECW wrestler, Vic Grimes.
Grimes and New Jack had a match at ECW’s Living Dangerously PPV in 2000.
The pair agreed on finishing the match with a tandem jump from a balcony, onto a table. When it came time to perform the dangerous stunt, Grimes wanted to back out in the last second, but New Jack wasn’t having that on PPV.
So, he dragged Vic Grimes down with him. Causing Grimes to have no control over his fall, and landing on New Jack’s head.
New Jack suffered serious injuries, including a broken leg and a crack skull. Which led to him suffering loss of sight, headaches, and insomnia for the rest of his life, according to the man himself.
Miraculously, New Jack returned to the ring when his injuries healed and was scheduled to face Grimes again in another promotion, in a scaffold match.
New Jack was out for revenge. He solely blames Grimes for the previous incident between them and was annoyed his peer never called him during his recovery process.
So, on top of the scaffold structure, New Jack pulled out a stun gun and tasered his opponent without his consent. He would then throw Grimes off the structure, almost killing him.
Other wrestlers at the event said Grimes was about a foot away from hitting the concrete floor around the ring. In interviews, New Jack would admit he was aiming for the concrete but didn’t throw his adversary hard enough.
Listening to him talk so candidly about the alleged attempted murder, is terrifying.
The Gypsy Joe Beat-down
As you may have gathered by now, most of these stories will not be for the squeamish.
Our latest altercation takes place at an independent wrestling show in 2003.
New Jack was booked to wrestle a man by the name of Gypsy Joe in a hardcore match. Just an extra nugget of information to keep in mind, Gypsy Joe was in his 70’s at this stage.
For some unbeknownst reason, Gypsy Joe wouldn’t cooperate with New Jack, and continuously headbutted him in the nose.
Of course, this angered New Jack, who began attacking his opponent with chains, barbed wired baseball bats and whatever else he could get his hands on.
The limited crowd in attendance were shocked at this all-out assault. With many leaving the venue in sickening disgust, or throwing racial slurs at New Jack, further exasperating him.
You know it’s bad, when even New Jack admitted he may have gone too far.
Stabbing Hunter Red
Shortly after in 2004, the rage of New Jack took over again when a similar incident occurred.
A gentleman by the name of Hunter Red, requested a match with New Jack at an event. As he believed it would help make him famous, and oh boy didn’t it just.
Other backstage personnel at the event said Hunter was agitated before the match.
Once in the ring, Hunter Red started to punch Jack in the nose, landing some significant blows in the process. As we know, New Jack doesn’t play that game.
In return, he pulled out a metal blade from his trousers, and stabbed his opponent multiple times in the head. With the man himself claiming he did it nine times.
Obviously, he was arrested and was looking at a substantial prison sentence.
Oddly enough, Hunter Red visited him in jail and said he would drop all charges. If New Jack would agree to go into business with him, by taking their real-life feud on the road as a wrestling storyline.
New Jack agreed, but as soon as the charges were dropped, he fled to Florida and cut off all communication with Hunter Red.
He Terrified WWE
As you can imagine from the stories above, getting New Jack into the walls of WWE was seemingly an impossible task.
Again, the word controversial and New Jack go hand in hand.
The prospect of him in World Wrestling Entertainment and the headaches that would’ve come with it, would keep the WWE legal team up at night.
For example, he talked before about his copious drug use before most of his matches. Probably stoking the flames in most of the situations mentioned in this article.
In the eyes of WWE, New Jack would’ve garnered bad publicity and possible lawsuits.
Say what you will about the outlandish world of ECW. But many of that promotions most extreme stars eventually made their way to WWE.
RVD, The Dudley Boyz, Sabu, Tazz, Raven, Sandman and Tommy Dreamer are just some of the names that worked under Vince McMahon, with varying degrees of success.
Jack was rumoured to be entering the fold in 2005, inserting himself in a feud between John Cena and Carlito, but nothing ever came of it. You could say the same about the two ECW One Night Stand shows WWE ran back in 2005 and 2006.
Ultimately, the idea of New Jack working in the family friendly environment of WWE, just never seemed right to begin with.
We understand most of these stories may not shine the best light on New Jack. But really that was almost part of his charm.
This insane, no-nonsense rebel taking no crap from anybody.
Did he cross the line on occasion? Sure.
But listen to the people that knew him well, and they’ll all paint a different picture of the man. Away from wrestling he was known as a generous, hilarious, and lively character.