Pro Wrestling Promoter Jerry Jarrett Dies at 80 — What Was His Cause of Death?

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Feb. 16 2023, Published 10:05 a.m. ET

Jerry Jarrett, a legendary professional wrestler-turned-promoter who co-founded NWA: Total Nonstop Action (now Impact Wrestling) with his WWE Hall of Famer son Jeff Jarrett, has sadly passed away. He was 80 years old.

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What happened? Here's what we know about Jerry Jarrett's cause of death.

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What was Jerry Jarrett's cause of death?

On Feb. 14, 2023, the WWE announced Jerry had passed away. The cause of death hasn't been made public, but the wrestling genius had reportedly been battling esophageal cancer for some time.

Following the news of Jerry's death, many fans and figures from the wrestling world paid tribute on social media.

"I loved Jerry Jarrett. He believed in me," two-time WWE Hall of Famer Sean Waltman (aka X-Pac) penned. "He's responsible for Marty [Jannetty] and I becoming Tag Champs. I was also one of the 1st people he called to help start TNA. I'm very grateful to Jerry and I'm really sad to know I'll never see him again."

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Dave Meltzer tweeted that Jerry was a "genius booker for his time, one of the best ever, [and] drew ratings nobody will ever touch again," while WrestlingInc reporter David Bixenspan added he's "the man behind the best wrestling television of all time."

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Jerry had a significant impact on the wrestling industry — he kickstarted his career in the 1960s, working as a referee. However, with the help of his friend Tojo Yamamoto and veteran wrestler Sailor Moran, Jerry became a professional wrestler and mainly performed for NWA Mid-America.

In 1977, he founded the Memphis, Tenn.–based Continental Wrestling Association; besides booking the promotion, Jerry also occasionally wrestled. Although he formally retired in 1988, he returned to the scene in the mid-'90s and wrestled for the now-defunct United States Wrestling Association.

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Jerry stepped back from promoting for a bit, working as a consultant for World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE). In 2001, he put together proposals for the purchase of WCW; sadly the WWE acquired the company and swiftly eliminated its last viable competitor.

In May 2002, Jerry and his son, Jeff, co-founded NWA: TNA alongside the late Bob Ryder. Since then, the wrestling promotion has been considered the second-largest in the U.S. behind WWE.

Our thoughts are with Jerry's family, friends, and fans during this difficult time.

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