Exclusive Interview – Jimmy Jacobs: “What I’m doing now is kind of what I’ve always been doing”

Last February, when he was part of a media call, Jimmy Jacobs was just scratching the surface of his new responsibilities with and for Impact Wrestling. The same way he gained the respect of the wrestlers backstage in ROH or WWE, Jacobs gained it from Impact locker room by wearing the multiple hats of manager, backstage agent, Creative, all in once. But not the one of the wrestler. He’s been praised for his work backstage with talents on promos, for his ability to envision the business as a whole.

SteelChair Magazine had the opportunity to talk to Jimmy Jacobs. Four months after the media call, he shared with us on his experience with the company, his present and future with it and how he has become so quickly such an essential part of its success.

You’ve spent six months with the company now. Do you still feel as good with Impact Wrestling as you were 4 months ago?

I think I’m in a very good place, I don’t know if I’m still in this bubble right now. Once you go somewhere you’re inside of this. I always do from the inside or keep me outside but I try to keep up. I try to see what the fans are saying and from what I can gather from the outside, these shows are proving that we are making positive steps.  We had Redemption PPV back in April and we had a lot of positive reviews on that. I thought it was a very good show and we keep having some. We lost some guys but I think the additions we got are pretty damn good. We’ve got Pentagon and Fénix, these two are the most in-demand talents in the whole scene. Pentagon and Fénix are huge. I think the feud between Eddie Edwards and Sami Callihan has been awesome. We’ve just got Tessa Blanchard. I think Tessa is a huge upside to her, she’s super talented and she’s a megastar in this business. I think it’s awesome, but that sais, we’ve just signed Killer Kross. I think everything’s going in the right direction. I think the TV shows are good, I hope they are as I help write them up. Slammiversary in a few weeks may be a very good show. So I think positive steps have been made, we’re moving in the right direction and I hope we continue to do so.

It seems like you have become essential in Impact Wrestling. Very recently, Tessa Blanchard was saying that you helped her a lot, many wrestlers have been praising everything you could do for them. What do you think of their words?

I really enjoy working with Impact. I had that time in WWE as a writer, being on the creative team and helping produce the television shows. There were some really fun things in doing that for WWE, but there were also downsides to it as well. I fell like with Impact right now, I get all the upside. I get the chance to help create, I get the chance to help out talents. Having the opportunity to have somebody like me for talents, like Tessa Blanchard who has a lot of potentials and is awesome in the ring. She’s got all the basics covered but right we can take her from being like “okay she’s really talented, has a lot of potentials” to helping her realize that potential. It’s my job to help talents be better than they are and to see them unfold, to see them grow into themselves. 

Matt Sydal is a huge example. Matt Sydal has been one thing his whole career, it’s been great, being a sort of babyface that can have great matches, who doesn’t talk much, being a good wrestler and doing high-flying stuff. That’s been him his whole career and, a few months back, we took a chance on him when we said: “hey I think there’s something more.” We capitalized on what he’s in real life, with him being kind of spiritual and holistic and those sort of things. We thought why not adding that in his character and try something else. There were people even internally who thought that was a bad idea. People want to cheer Matt because he does impressive moves, they’re going to be confused by this new character of his. But over the past month, seeing Matt develop and seeing him during the last tapings session in early June, the promo he cuts that’s going to air in a few weeks and the backstage promos on Brian Cage, it was the best thing I shot from all we got, from anybody. Matt has never been a good talker, he’s never been great with promos, and this guy cuts the best promo I saw that week.

To see that transformation, to see that happen, to see somebody who didn’t even know they had it in themselves and to see that come out because you believe in them, because the group of people here saw something else in him and to see that come to fruition, that’s awesome. That’s great, I love it.

Kongo Kong and yourself came to help him in last week episode in his X-Division title match against Brian Cage. Can you tell us a little more on this “association”?

Did we do it to help Matt? Did Jimmy Jacobs make a deal with Matt Sydal? Did he make a deal with the devil? Or did we do just because we’ve got our eyes set on something that Brian Cage has? Here are the questions that will start to be answered this week of TV and then hopefully play out the satisfying way in two weeks to come. 

You’ve seemed to envision wrestling as a whole, being a wrestler, a manager, a Creative. Has it always been the way you see the business?

When I first starting wrestling at 15 or 16, I was already producing and doing creative stuff, but not in an official capacity. I’ve done it like my whole career. I can remember being young and putting together promos that were sort of complicated. In my early 20s, being a guy people would even look to for that sort of help come up with finishes. I remember being around 22 or 23 and like having all the moving parts and being like “I would always be good at observing what we call the circus”. When you have all the run-ins and all the different elements to it and then taking all the elements, that’s the best way. What I’m doing now is kind of what I’ve always been doing.

It seems like you have a kind of third eye when it comes to showing the best of what a wrestler can be, is capable of, what can fit him or her. Is it like a sixth sense or an expression of the way you understand the wrestling business?

Thank you, I appreciate that. I always hadn’t asked me for it even when I first arrived. I was 15 and I wasn’t very athletic, I wasn’t very good in the ring, but I’ve always had a certain aptitude for the psychology of the entertainment, of doing different things and trying different things. When I look back on when I was 17, all the stuff I was doing and trying, the stories I was telling, even at a very young age, I probably shouldn’t even be able to do but I could. In the ring, I wasn’t very good but I’ve always had an aptitude for it. So it’s been really cool to have an opportunity to do that. I have started to do it a little bit before WWE, I was helping out backstage a little bit. I was helping with Ring of Honor, I would be the booker and I would talk about angles, I would give ideas and that sort of stuff. But doing it in an official capacity for WWE was great.

As far as you’re presenting new talents, one of the first things I like to do is to look at the talent and try to find out what’s special and relatable about this guy. What is going to make him unique to the audience, but also connect to the audience.  It’s two sides of a coin, being unique and relatable. Once you figure that out about a character, then you try to take the picture to accentuate those things.

It’s like a magic recipe…

That’s true. When you found the right thing, the “X-factor”, that’s when the vision comes in, when you can look at somebody and say “okay, this is the thing about him”. Someone like Dusty Rhodes was very, very good at that. Since the passing of Dusty, I think NXT is missing that vision. To look at Bayley and say “okay, you’re such a fan, this is how we present you and this is how we get you up, this is how we paint the picture of like this is a girl that’s just super happy and excited to being here and this is how we do.” She hugs because she’s so happy and embraces that. That’s the presentation that will help up her be unique to the fans. That sort of vision, the execution of that concept served her at its finest.

You’re the manager of Kongo Kong on TV and you seem to enjoy that role so much. But do you see yourself wrestling for Impact?

I’ve known Kongo since I was 14 years old, before I even started wrestling. We’re both from the same area. Since we worked with him on national television, international television, from being young kids and now being grown up and doing this together, it’s been awesome. Kongo is so talented. As far as wrestling with Impact goes, I don’t see that happening right now, it’s not especially completely off the table but what I do at the shows, producing the shows, honestly it’s a lot. It’s a lot to the point where even sometimes going on performing as a manager like takes me away from my responsibilities backstage. It’s a hard thing to juggle sometimes.

You’re still wrestling for indie companies and you recently wrestled former Impact World Champion Pentagon Junior. Was it the first time and what was it like? 

That was the first time. I got the chance to wrestle his brother Fénix a couple of months before that. Fénix is a great man, he’s a star. He’s one of those guys you don’t know how good they are until you get in the ring with them. And once you get in the ring with them, you realize that this guy is really good. Pentagon was great, it was an awesome opportunity that was actually on an Impact Twitch show. It’s super cool to work with somebody like that who was so popular before coming to Impact. It makes everything a lot easier when they got with the people of the guy you’re wrestling. I thought we had a fun match.

Aside from Kongo Kong, who are the favourites wrestlers to work with on Impact?

I think we have such a lot of good guys. Austin Aries is awesome, I’ve known him since the independents. To see him now in Impact not only as a performer but as a person and now see how good he is at his job, I almost forgot it because in WWE they sometimes forget to accentuate a guy strength. I was working with him a few weeks ago, we were doing a sit-down interview together and I thought “this guy is incredible. I wish other kids could sit here and like see what I’m seeing about how good this guy is.” For anything you give him on every single level, I think the world is his. I mentioned Tessa Blanchard before, I think she’s going to be a big star. She’s so eager to learn and she’s so coachable, she’s so smart that you can give her something and whatever you give her, she does it and you don’t need to tell her twice. So many people are great to work with for different reasons, some because they’re just so good how they are, some because you see where they can improve and you see them improving.

Do you have a message for people who are afraid to embrace who they are, people who are afraid to paint their nails or dress like a Zombie Princess like you do in the ring?

One thing I’m learning personally is that through all the experience I’ve had in this past year and a half is that I’m not defined by my success, I’m not defined by my career, I’m not defined by even my creativity or my intelligence or how I am as a performer. I think it’s a hard thing to internalize. I don’t have value because I’m creative, I don’t have value because I know how to wrestle, that’s not my value. My value is inherent as a human being and that can’t be taken away. It’s a hard thing to internalize, but the more you do, the more content you feel because what other people see you as, that has no effect on your values as a human being. How other people might see you when you show your authentic self, you have to come to a realization that that has no bearing on who you are as a person. My creativity only has value in that, it’s the tool I could use to hopefully be of service to other people and to make the world a better place. Who you are is brilliant and great, just the way you are and that’s it. You should always be that. 

Follow Jimmy Jacobs on Twitter @jimmyjacobsX. All pics and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling.