“Are you serious?” I blurted out loud when Jeff Jarrett was announced as the special guest referee for Usos/Street Profits Tag Team Title match at SummerSlam on July 30th.
“What’s wrong?” my wife asked with heartfelt concern. She rolled her eyes and quickly returned to her book after telling her, “It’s a wrestling thing.”
WWE has dipped into the guest referee well for the 9th time in SummerSlam history. Usos and Profits have great matches against each other. However, some complained about another outing between the two teams after the shoulder controversy at Money in the Bank.
After my initial reaction to the announcement, the rational part of my brain took over. A special referee spices things up, and Jeff Jarrett is an out-of-the-box pick. I’m not sure what Jarrett means to fans in 2022, but WWE deserves credit for not going the safe route with the selection.
Some say Jeff Jarrett was a boring wrestler. Many celebrate the Hall of Famer for his accomplishments both in front and behind the camera.
Special referees are a historical staple of “The biggest party of the summer.” Jesse Ventura was the guest official for the inaugural SummerSlam main event pitting The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage) against The Mega Bucks (Ted DiBiase & Andre the Giant).
The big question going into the match was whether Ventura would be fair and impartial. Though, of course, he took the payoff and hesitated to make the three count. Savage forced Ventura’s hand down for the final count.
Ventura would redeem himself 11 years later when he officiated the WWE Title match between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Triple H, and Mankind. This time, he was the sitting Governor of Minnesota, and SummerSlam was held in Minneapolis.
It was a media frenzy as Ventura had a simple platform leading up to the match. The best wrestler would win, and he wouldn’t allow any shenanigans. Ventura kept his word as Mankind pinned Austin to win the title.
Triple H also exhibited his duality as a referee. In 2011 he called John Cena vs. CM Punk right down the middle during the “Summer of Punk” storyline. 2013 was a different story when he helped Randy Orton rob Daniel Bryan of his newly won WWE Championship.
Big Boss Man, Sid Justice, Shawn Micheals, and Shane McMahon also served as special referees at various SummerSlam events.
Jarrett was good in his day and could teach half the roster how to throw a decent punch. While he’s WWE’s Senior Vice President of Live Events, he was also a heel during his entire run in WWE and most of his career. “Double J” hasn’t even appeared on TV since the announcement was made.
Instead, a video package was shown, introducing Jarrett to the uninitiated as if it was the return of a conquering hero rather than a ruthless saboteur. I get it, though. WWE can’t exactly say, “look at the jerk we hired to be the special referee.” It would make them look incompetent.
Then why is Jeff Jarrett the special guest referee?
SummerSlam is in Jarrett’s backyard of Nashville, TN, where his family name had a lot of clout during the territory days. His name might increase ticket sales, but WWE needs to fill 15,000 seats to tie last year’s attendance.
The announcement of Jeff Jarrett didn’t conjure the excitement that past referee appointments have produced. However, his inclusion won’t hurt what is expected to be a great match, but it might not add anything either. Still, judging by the number of blowout matches between the Usos and Street Profits, Jarrett doesn’t need to do anything except count 1-2-3.