Professional Wrestling is best likened to a very physical form of dance, where participants put their lives in each other’s hands nightly.* Outcomes may be predetermined, but injuries are very real, and wrestlers maintain faith in each other every night that they’ll leave the arena unharmed.
Then there’s Jerome Young, better known as “New Jack.”**
A self-professed ex-bounty hunter with allegedly five justifiable homicides under his belt, New Jack was more of a psychotic thug than a wrestler. His “matches” usually featured victims getting bludgeoned with various weapons Jack would carry to the ring in a trash can. From computer keyboards to guitars filled with jock itch powder, New Jack never found an object he couldn’t swing at someone while Dr. Dre and Ice Cube’s “Natural Born Killaz” boomed in the background.
When New Jack got even the slightest bit irritated, the wrestling match stopped and the full-scale assault began. Here are four reasons why you should be grateful you’ve never crossed paths with New Jack.
THE MASS TRANSIT INCIDENT
It’s November 23, 1996, and ECW promoter Paul Heyman is nervous. One of his scheduled talents, Axl Rotten, can’t make the show that night due to travel issues. Rotten was supposed to tag with D-Von Dudley against New Jack and Mustafa Saed, who were known as “The Gangstas.”
Heyman’s worries start to ease up when a 23-year-old guy named Erich Kulas approached him about taking Rotten’s spot in the match. Kulas apparently trained under Killer Kowalski and he had ring gear with him. It looked like Ralph Kramden’s uniform, but Kulas even had a gimmick name: “Mass Transit.” Heyman took the kid up on his offer and sent him to the locker room.
The subject of Kulas bleeding came up while the foursome laid out their match. Kulas hadn’t bladed*** before, so he asked New Jack if he’d do it for him. Jack, already irritated by the punk kid’s ideas for the match, agreed.
As the match concluded, New Jack pulled a surgical scalpel from his trunks and began digging into Kulas’s forehead. The cut severed two arteries, and Kulas passed out from blood loss.
New Jack was charged with assault and battery three years later. The jury found him “Not Guilty” on all counts, which Jack promptly put on his T-shirts for sale at shows. The Kulas family tried to sue Jack, Paul Heyman, and ECW, but that didn’t go far when it got out Erich Kulas was 17 at the time of the incident, lied about his training, and provided a fake ID to Heyman on the night in question.
Giliberto “Gypsy Joe” Melendez was a badass in his prime, capable of dishing out as much punishment as he could take. Time took its toll on Gypsy Joe and, when he was 69, New Jack took his toll on Gypsy Joe as well.
According to New Jack, when he saw his opponent’s physical condition, he told the promoter, “I can make this a comedy match or a hardcore match. I don’t do good comedy matches.” Joe agreed to a hardcore match, even taunting New Jack by offering to teach him how to wrestle.
During the bout, Gypsy Joe refused to sell**** for New Jack and head-butted Jack several times hard on the nose. Jack retaliated by attacking the elderly man with a chain, a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, and several other weapons in front of a small crowd.
Video of the beating is here, but it’s not for the faint of heart. The racial slurs hurled at New Jack by the small crowd probably didn’t help Gypsy Joe either.
I ONLY STABBED HIM NINE TIMES
We’re now in Florida, and New Jack’s opponent for the night is William “Hunter” Lane. There’s two stories as to how the men laid out their match for the night. Lane says New Jack was indifferent, telling him, “Do whatever you want, man.” Jack doesn’t dispute this, but adds in another point: he told Lane to refrain from punching him in his bad eye.
Once the bell rings, Lane punches New Jack hard in the face. Very near Jack’s bad eye.
New Jack responded by pulling a shank from his trunks and stabbing Lane nine times.
Later headlines would read “Wrestler Stabs Opponent 14 Times In Florida Match.” New Jack was arrested over the incident, but Lane dropped all charges on the condition New Jack train him.
It’s a whole lot more interesting when you hear New Jack describe the incident himself.
AND THEN THERE WAS THE ATTEMPTED MURDER
All of the previous stories could’ve lead to someone’s death, but on one occasion, New Jack actually attempted to kill someone in the ring.
That someone was a wrestler named Vic Grimes, who was the guy that gave New Jack his “bad eye” a couple years earlier. When the duo met up for a scaffold match in a promotion called XPW, Jack decided he’d take Grimes’ life as payback for blinding him in one eye.
Now the scaffold match was set in a ring filled with tables ready to break the fall of whichever man fell off the scaffold. New Jack grabbed Grimes and threw him as hard as he could towards a ring post. Jack hoped Grimes would strike his head on the metal ring post and either snap his neck or suffer a severe brain injury.
Fortunately, neither happened. But it wasn’t for New Jack’s lack of effort.
Jerome Young has since laid down his staple gun. He’s retired from wrestling, which means no one should worry about getting shanked with an eight-inch blade during a match again. His violent history and disregard for human life should make all of us glad we don’t know Jack and never will.
And to close, Mr. Young, if you’re reading this, please don’t kill me.
*I’ve put up with enough shit about rigged caucuses and rigged impeachment proceedings this week so you get pro wrestling stories today.
**For the sake of brevity I’m using working names unless otherwise relevant.
***This is a technique where wrestlers will hide a small piece of razor blade with which to cut their foreheads during a match. When the crowd is distracted, the wrestler retrieves the blade and cuts himself.
****”Sell,” in this context, means acting as though you’ve been hurt by a strike or a hold. If you refuse to “sell’ for your opponent, you’re making him or her look weak.