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Jarrett’s arrival in 1994 was given the full backing of a series of vignettes. Filmed in Nashville, we were told of Jarrett’s emerging talents as a country music singer, and how he was using the WWF as a stepping stone to becoming a world famous singer. As logic went, it made far more sense than say Duke Drewse becoming a bin man to the stars or Henry ‘O’ Godwin becoming a farmer for the President. Jarrett was set.
That all being said his 1994 was still quiet enough. Arriving in the middle of the year he would feature in forgettable roles at both Summerslam and Survivor Series. It was unclear what they quite had in mind for him at the time, he popped up in places and got featured regularly enough on television without being offered a full program. That all changed at the beginning of 1995.
Brian Armstrong lived an unremarkable existence in the lower regions of the WCW roster in 1994, knocking about with brothers Scott and Brad with little success. Brian broke away and joined the WWF in late 1994 under the name “The Roadie” – you probably know him as “Road Dogg”. With a foil not only for Jarrett’s matches, but also for his “stage presence”, Jarrett had much more of a focus, and a much more prominent place on the roster.
With a number of important heels from 1994 being de-emphasised, Jarrett was one member of the roster given an improved spot. With a babyface champion, and a derth of heels capable of putting on quality television matches Jarrett was often the guy left to "do the clean job", losing to Bret Hart in Janaury, Diesel in a WWF Championship match in February and The Undertaker in May in a King of the Ring qualification match.
But that was fine, Jarrett was in the right place to be built up and lose to three of the company's biggest babyfaces. It was with Razor Ramon that Jarrett first really got a program to sink his teeth into. Jarrett was lining up a live musical performance on Raw, but Ramon caused some technical issues, seeing to it that it didn't happen.
The Roadie pairing gave Jarrett an extra dimension. Someone to play off during promos, someone to work the occasion match alongside and someone who could give his out of match hijinks some value too. Armstrong played a quiet, almost mute, character early on – which when you consider the talker he would go onto become and, to a degree, the talker he already was, is perhaps surprising. The pairing worked and would be one of the company's most consistent acts in the first half of 1995.
Jarrett faced Razor Ramon in the opening match of the 1995 Royal Rumble. Razor "injured his knee" tumbling to the outside, and lost the match after deciding he was unable to continue. Jarrett grabbed the microphone and goaded Ramon into restarting the match, before winning the match and Razor's Intercontinental Title with a roll up after Razor's knee gave out in the Razor's Edge. It told a fine story, and was a really good illustration of what Jarrett could offer.
The feud would continue with the pair meeting at Wrestlemania in a much more forgettable match that still managed to stand out given the relative quality of the other matches on the card. In this one, with The 123 Kid in Razor's corner, the match ended in a DQ after interference from The Roadie.
We rolled on it to what would've been a tag team match at the first In Your House, but a neck injury to the Kid put pay to that. Instead we got a handicap match, and Roadie's first outing in the ring. He showed some real character early on here, doing the now familiar Road Dogg dancing and "shuffle". Roadie, obviously, eats the pin and we also get the debut of Savio Vega in this one.
It was July where Jarrett's role really picked up steam. The first Raw of the month opened with news of the premiere music video of Jarrett's debut single "With My Baby Tonight". For once, a WWF character had a gimmick that he was actually going to play out on air, something that rarely translated to other characters, even if an IRS-lead live tax audit would've been box office.
The single, to the credit of all involved, looked like the real deal. It represented significant financial investment for the company and one that they actually hoped to recoup through eventual sales of the single. As Jarrett lined up for a match with Shawn Michaels at In Your House two, in a feud that was barely built beyond a brief altercation at the end of one episode of Raw, Jarrett's role in the show was also going to be a live performance of the song.
Now, Jarrett wasn't doing the singing – the fascinating part was who was -> The Roadie. Yep, the WWF had some genuine singing talent on their books. The eventual idea behind the storyline actually called for Roadie to be revealed as the real singer of With My Baby Tonight, which would lead to a face turn.
While we can argue about the broad stroke merits of a musical performance on a wrestling pay per view, Jarrett's performance was stellar. Sure, he was lip-syncing, but that's an act in itself for someone who isn't a performer. As the performance ended Vince McMahon, even with Jarrett as a heel, found it impossible to take a babyface stance on the segment. They canvassed views from the crowd – again, all positive for the heel. Jarrett and The Roadie had nailed it.
What Jarrett vs Shawn Michaels lacked in build, it made up for in execution. A slow start, with both men showboating to fit their persona, the match built very nicely over the course of 20 minutes with Roadie regularly cutting Michaels off to maintain the advantage. In the end Roadie got cocky, blindly tugged at the leg that bouced off the ropes, only turning to find he'd tripped Jarrett. Michaels won with a superkick and won the Intercontinental Title. Michaels might well have been the best wrestler in the world at the time, but Jarrett proved - at the very least - that he could hang.
And then they both walked out.
Of all the walk outs in wrestling this one is harder to explain. There were unsubstantiated rumours at the time that Roadie had failed a drugs test, which doesn't particularly fit a version of the story where both men walked out.
Jeff's father, Jerry, did an interview with the PW Torch citing that his son wasn't happy with the way his character was being portrayed. He said that Jeff didn't like how frequently he lost matches which, again, doesn't make a massive amount of sense. As a heel, in 1995 WWF, he wouldn't have won many big matches – nobody did. Jarrett lost a lot, but that seemingly had as much to do with how much they valued him to be able to have a good match as anything else.
All of that and the fact that both were on the cusp of the biggest promotion of their careers. It's said that there were calls to start the break-up that night on the show, which would've been somewhat premature given how effective the angle was. But it's clear the plan was for Roadie to be revealed as the singer of the song before turning babyface.
As it was? We kind of hit the end of the line for the story. Roadie returned to the WWF the following year, partly running on the real singer of the song, but with Jarrett now in WCW the story didn't really have any legs, nor did it pack any punch 12 months after the event.