I vividly remember an altercation during an ECW house show at Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, MA. It was intermission, and there was a metal guardrail in the crowded foyer separating the wrestlers from fans buying merchandise.
“I don’t want to see that s***,” New Jack shouted to a fan who, without warning, handed him a VHS tape of his backyard wrestling exploits. New Jack quickly said he was only kidding, took the tape, removed the slipcover, and smashed it over the guardrail.
New Jack teamed with Spike Dudley and Tommy Dreamer and defeated Justin Credible, Jason Knight, and “Rugged” Rod Price in the evening’s main event.
New Jack, real name Jerome Young, passed away last Saturday at age 58 due to a heart attack. His wife, Jennifer Young, confirmed the news on Facebook. New Jack started out working the independent scene in Memphis and Georgia before making a name for himself in Smokey Mountain Wrestling as the loud half of the controversial tag team called The Gangstas.
Along with his tag team partner Mustafa, The Gangatsa moved to ECW in 1995, where their popularity increased. Mustafa was fired from the promotion in August of 1997. Eventually, New Jack soared as a singles star as his trademark balcony dives became a staple of ECW events.
Besides the creative use of household items as weapons holster in a trashcan, “The Original Gangsta” was also great on the microphone. New Jack does not get enough credit for being a great promo as he exuded an intensity and realism derived from personal experience.
“Did you hear about New Jack” my friend texted me. I was confused for a moment until I remember what the message usually means in a wrestling context.
While most wrestlers are remembered for their thrilling matches and great moments, New Jack has a unique resume of all his own.
-Mass Transit Incident: New Jack viciously cut open a young wrestler who lied about his age to get booked on an ECW show and almost bled to death.
-SMW Promo: New Jack’s racially charged promo on Smokey Mountain Wrestling TV and gave OJ Simpson props by saying, “Two less to worry about.”
–Gypsy Joe Incident: In 2003, New Jack beat up a 69-year-old Gypsy Joe with a baseball bat after Joe stiffed him with repeated punches to the nose and wouldn’t sell for him.
–Living Dangerously 2000: New Jack fell 15 feet off a scaffold due to the reluctance of his opponent Vic Grimes. New Jack missed the table, hit his head on the floor, and Grimes landed on Jack’s head mere seconds later. I was there that night in Danbury, Connecticut. Eerily thinking back at it now, fans thought New Jack had died. Rumblings or a riot emerged until the ring announcer threatened to cancel the show if the crowd didn’t calm down.
New Jack worked for upstart promotion XPW after ECW folded in 2001 and also work for TNA (Impact Wrestling). From there, Jack worked the independent scene until last month, 37 days before his passing. New Jack teamed with former ECW rival DeVito and Loc and won a six-man tag team match in Tampa, Florida.
Despite his controversial antics, for better or worse, New Jack perfectly encapsulated what it is to be an unapologetic OG in a world of paper thugs.
For the next 72 hours, PW Tees is selling a New Jack Tribute Micro Brawler figure. Proceeds benefit Jennifer Young. https://bit.ly/2T1bcS6