Spike TV, TNA Wrestling and Bellator MMA held a media conference call on Wednesday to announce the signing of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Below is complete coverage from the call:
David Schwartz opens the call by reading a prepared statement. He says a transcript of the call will be available after the call. He hands the call over to Spike TV President Kevin Kay. He says they are joining forces with one of the biggest stars in MMA and a movie star in Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Kay puts over Jackson's success on Spike TV [with UFC] and says he'll be fighting with Bellator and wrestling with TNA Wrestling. Spike will also be producing a 4-part reality series on the endeavor. He'll also be appearing on "Guy's Choice" on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 and they're currently pitching scripts involving him to Paramount Pictures.
Dixie Carter comes on the call and puts over Quinton Jackson. She questions if he can dominate TNA like he dominated MMA and calls him a tremendous talent with a big personality. Carter says his talent and personality is the "perfect fit" for them at Impact. She said he is "very serious" about his commitment to their product. She says 2013 is a big strategic growth year for TNA and this relationship works perfectly for them. TNA will be working close with Spike, Bellator and Paramount as they build Rampage. Carter confirms Jackson will be appearing on this week's episode of Impact Wrestling on Spike TV.
She introduces Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. He says a little over four years ago he was putting the finishing touches on a business plan on a MMA company on how he felt a MMA company should be run. Rebney said he had borrowed every dime he could possibly borrow and it was his partnerships with Kevin Kay and Dixie Carter that has allowed him to be sitting next to Quinton Jackson today. Rebney, like Kay and Carter, put over the 6 million viewers his fight in 2007 drew on the network.
Jackson said in past relationships with past partners, he didn't feel appreciated. He said he has always want to be a pro wrestler and that's why he used to fight the way he did with slams and powerslams. Jackson said he can do this [in regards to pro wrestling] and put over the acting possibilities. He said this new deal has some "so excited" and it's hard to explain the way he even feels right now. Kay, Carter and Rebney agree they are happy to have him.
The line was then opened for questions.
Bjorn Rebney said in terms of when the fights are going to occur and who the competition is going to be, he's re-energized. He said he's one of the most explosive fighter to ever step foot in the cage or in a ring. He'll be sitting down with Jackson, Dixie Carter and Kevin Kay in determining when he's ready for competition. Rebney said they spent months putting all the pieces together in making this deal work. What would he be wanting to do and what would re-energize him. He said if he's excited about it, they have a winner on their hands.
Jackson was asked about Mixed Martial Arts. He said a lot of fans might criticize him for leaving UFC but that's ignorance for not understanding the deal they gave him. Jackson said when other fighters see the deal they gave him, they're going to want to come over. Jackson said when his knees get back to 100%, he'll fight anyone. He said it's no secret that he lost three fights in a row. He said his last fight, against Glover Teixeira, he shouldn't have been fighting and really wanted out of his contract. Jackson said he met Bjorn after the fight. Jackson said Bellator gets fighters sponsors and movies, they don't get mad about it. Rampage said they "bought him a nice car" and he's happy. He's confident the competition is going to come over and Bjorn knows he's rehabbing his knee.
Rampage said in the UFC doesn't care about their fighters and that Bjorn cares more about the long-term. Before, he was talking about retiring but now he's got 4-5 years left. He said Bjorn wants him to get healthy. He isn't running yet but he is lifting and is thinking about going heavyweight. Jackson said he's done a lot in this sport and a lot of fans forget he's the first ever unified champ. He just wants to entertain the fans. Jackson said they have the best wrestlers in TNA and he wants to go show them what he can do. People don't know about his love for pro wrestling. He put over the fact they have Hulk Hogan and Sting.
When asked about Bellator tournaments, Rampage said the reason he chose to go to Bellator (Bellator didn't approach him), because of the tournaments. He said that's what caught his eye and he likes watching them. Jackson said a lot of fighters are fighting not to lose and it makes for a boring fight. He said Bellator has Spike pushing them and it's Spike that made the UFC what it is. He said Bellator is going to be the big show soon because of the tournaments.
Jackson was asked about the free agent process because it sounds like he got a great deal. Jackson said he had "like every show" come at him. He considered boxing but he stepped back and was in no rush. Rampage said he kept his eye on Bellator because he dealt with Spike before and had a good experience. Jackson said a lot of fans don't understand UFC. He said a lot of big name fighters that retired broke. He said it's OK to retire and get a gym but you shouldn't have to get a gym. Jackson wanted a future after he got done fighting and Bellator understands that. Jackson said he could be one of "those old dudes" like Hogan and Sting. He said he's making more money than he was over there.
Could he be ready for season 9 in the fall or are they looking at 2014? Rampage said his knee is getting better and it's actually surprised him how good it's doing.
Regarding Jackson's statement about going heavyweight, he said he has enough time to get in shape and lose weight and do it. Bellator will let him know and they'll give him a couple months to get ready. He said he's a big guy anyway and a lot of small heavyweights do good. He'll fight whoever, he's never been a guy that turns down fights.
Bjorn was asked about King Mo and Jackson in TNA and if he's had other fighters approach him about going over there. He said he has but you have to have a pro wrestling background, the ability and the time to learn all the facets of it. Rebney says he and Dixie have sat down and talked about a lot of different guys but Rampage is completely different. He can't wait to see Mo and Rampage together on Impact. Bjorn said their dynamic is different and it's building up Mo and Jackson and it's not about building up the Bellator brand. He said they do it a different way.
Jackson said the reason why PRIDE was so big in Japan was because they mixed in pro wrestling. He said what Bellator and TNA are doing has proved to work.
Bjorn put over the fighters Bellator has built out and said now there are two players in UFC and Bellator. He said there are going to be situations where talent go to UFC and talent from UFC go to Bellator.
About UFC draining his love for the sport, Rampage said the only thing that he can go into is when he did the movie "The A Team." But he's signed a non-disclosure agreement and he can't talk about it without UFC trying to sue him.
Regarding a timetable when he wants to fight next, he said he feels he'll be good to go in a couple of months. He said he needs three or four months. Rampage said he's got a place in Mexico. He hates nightclubs and he just wants to train in Mexico.
Bjorn said Cheick Kongo has not signed with Bellator despite rumors. Some announcements are going to be coming out soon.
With Impact moving back to 9 PM EDT, do they know when Bellator will be airing live and when the new night will be. Kay said they're still evaluating and Impact was better in its old timeslot.
Dixie was asked if Jackson will be involved in Aces and Eights, we'll have to stay tuned and find out. Dixie said they have three ways in getting talent - from WWE, a free agent or from developmental. Jackson is going to be coming in on Thursday but he's got a lot of training to do. He's got a lot of training to do.
Jackson, when asked if the fans will now embrace him, said he came to UFC as an outsider. People that really know him know he was a very fan-friendly guy until he came to UFC. He said you can't punish all the fans for a few negative people. He's hoping to get to know these fans and he's assuming most are the same.
Jackson said he's going to train for both wrestling and MMA. He said when he's not training for a fight, he'll be training for pro wrestling in his downtime. Rampage said by doing pro wrestling too, he'll look sexier for the ladies.
He compared his relationship with UFC to an old girlfriend. He talked about the highs and lows but said after he did the A Team movie it was like he cheated on them. Here, he doesn't see anyway he could cheat on Bellator. Rampage said he was super happy when he went to UFC and did a lot of favors for them. He said fighting Keith Jardine was a favor and what if he lost, what would happen to his title shot? Jackson said he's tongue kissing right now with Bellator.
Jackson said a lot of people misunderstand because he did a movie he wasn't focused on fighting. He said he's meant to entertain people. He comes from the PRIDE generation where it's entertainment first. He knows realistically he won't win all his fights on Bellator but he's going to entertain.
What's the timeline for Rampage on the wrestling side of things and what have they learned from the Mo experience? Dixie Carter said Mo's injury took him a little longer to comeback than anticipated. She said it worked out for him to go right into the tournament but he's training hard and she's getting good reports right away.
Dixie says he'll start in wrestling right away whether it be where his training is setup in southern California or OVW.
When asked about the big pro wrestling memories, he talked about growing up in Memphis and attending matches. He talked about being an Undertaker fan growing up. He mentioned Jerry Lawler, Jeff Jarrett and said he's always been a Sting and Hogan fan. He dressed as Ultimate Warrior on Halloween. He can't wait to get into the ring. This deal allows for him to be a "big kid" year round.
Is looking forward to coming to Impact, meet the guys and the writers. He said he's a fan and wants to get some pictures for his Instagram.
Jackson said he's talked with Mo and it only made since with both of them having wrestling backgrounds, going to TNA. He said they've actually talked about tagging together in Impact. Jackson said he thought he was going to have to "whip up" on Mo at one point but he can only take him for periods of time. Rampage said if they put them together as a tag team, they may end up best friends.
When asked about a fight with Mo, Rampage said who knows. He's fought friends before.
He was asked if there's a time period to this deal, a specific number of fights and appearances. Rampage says he needs to ask his manager that. He said once everyone sees what happens, they're going to understand why he left UFC.
Jackson said he's talked with Paramount about an MMA movie. He also said he's wrote two movies and he likes them a lot, one of them a "fun MMA movie."
Dixie said she's seen Rampage power bomb and slam people and that he's a gifted athlete. She thinks he's going to be great. Dixie talked about Kurt Angle making the transition. She can't put a time on it but knows he's anxious to get in the ring.
A caller mentioned previous TNA deals with Adam Jones and Bobby Lashley and Dixie said what would be better for MMA is for it to be more entertaining. She said that's what makes this deal make since. She admits the deal with Jones wasn't what she hoped it would be because the Titans shut them down. Carter said Jones bought a ring and was serious about it but they got a lot of exposure. Dixie said Lashley never got the chance to work in a two-sport capacity and Mo and Rampage are the first time they've done this.
Rampage was asked about the pressure coming into Bellator as well as the high standard that TNA has set with pro wrestling. Jackson questioned what's so bad about losing if they entertain the fans? He said it's still fun for him to be able to entertain the fans and he's making a living doing what he loves to do. Jackson said doing pro wrestling is a dream come true and he's not going to let pressure stop him. In a follow-up Jackson was told by a caller it seemed like he was saying losses don't matter but the caller brought up past losses and said they did effect him. Jackson seemed to take offense and put it back to him wanting to entertain the fans.
Jackson said this deal he signed is his pension and he's not going to wait around for a union that may never happen.