Jim Cornette has paid tribute to New Jack after the ECW star’s untimely death on the 14th of May at the age of 58.
Cornette signed both New Jack and his partner Mustafa Saeed as The Gangstas to his Smoky Mountain Wrestling promotion in 1994. While there they spent most of their time facing the legendary Rock ‘N’ Roll Express, even trading the SMW Tag Team Titles with one another.
Speaking on his ‘Jim Cornette’s Drive Thru’ podcast, the legendary manager spoke about the late Jerome Young, who competed as New Jack.
“I can’t say I couldn’t believe it because I’m not surprised anymore by anyone in the wrestling business [passing away]. But this came out of nowhere. Sometimes when this happens to people that even I’ve known in the past but I haven’t heard of them or seen anything of them in a while or whatever. But we’ve seen more of New Jack through the Cameos and the Dark Side Of The Ring last year and the stuff he’s been doing. And he apparently wasn’t in bad health, it was just a heart attack. […] It’s not like this had been an illness, it was sudden right so that’s surprising in that part.”
“I gotta be honest with you. […] I didn’t realise he was only a year younger than I was because he was 58. He started in wrestling late and I always think when you first see someone in wrestling, they’re 20 years old. But he looked like New Jack, he looked youthful, he sounded fresh, he had all kinds of oomph. So I just took him as younger when I first saw him.”
Cornette then talked about receiving a message from New Jack just a few short weeks before his passing. Jim Cornette noted that Jack was happy and had settled down in his life:
“This was kind of rotten especially because he was just starting to – he might have ended up having a little third f*cking run. He was starting to do Cameos, they did the TV show about him. I assume as fan fests come back to pre-pandemic stages he would have been even more popular off of that. After we had done those Cameos and talked about some of his and people had bought them for me and everything, he got on the Cult of Cornette Facebook group and he had sent a message not two or three weeks ago to Stacey [Cornette’s wife] just to say ‘Hey, who would have thunk it, I’m married, I’ve got a family, I’ve settled down. I’m happy.”
“Of all the things in our life that has never happened before that would have been one of them. New Jack had never sent us a message saying ‘Hey I’ve settled down, I’ve got a wife and a family, who’d a thunk it?’ And then this two or three weeks later. That’s f*cking strange. I’ve had some messages from Jack in the past but they weren’t that sunny and positive.”
Jim Cornette then spoke about seeing the outpouring of tributes on social media, some of which were of Cornette having an interview interrupted by New Jack some years ago:
“I did have a look at some of the stuff – obviously people were tweeting Smoky Mountain promos and etc. But several people tweeted the clip of – I was doing a Kayfabe Commentaries shoot I don’t know how many years ago and we’re in the middle of the shoot then suddenly there’s a knock on the door and New Jack and Mustafa bust in signing ‘Why can’t we be friends? Why can’t we be friends?’ By the time he got over to me in the chair and hugged me he had forgotten the rest of the words. So he just said ‘I forgot the words to this song.’ At that point, it had been almost 20 years and it tickled me. We sat down and told some stories for 10 or 15 minutes and they went. Well, New Jack and I did, Mustafa never speaks, hello and goodbye or whatever maybe.”
One tribute that did make Jim Cornette emotional was Paul Heyman’s words for New Jack on Talking Smack. Heyman paid tribute to Jack saying the Gangsta was a perfect fit for ECW:
“[…] I kinda got misty at that then what really got me was I saw the clip of the statement that Paul E. [Paul Heyman] made on Talking Smack about him. And Heyman’s just a f*cking oratorial genius, a savant even. Even the sh*t he doesn’t like to say, he can say it, he says it in the right way. In addition to turning into Alfred Hitchcock [Heyman] is starting to get Buddy Wayne’s tongue. Somehow the fat tongue and the fat face gives him more gravitas and more expression and he makes everything work for him, he’s a f*cking genius. But Paul managed to make a statement and make it not be a downer thing but an up thing and actually brought – Paul Heyman actually brought a tear to my eye, on behalf of New Jack.”
“Everybody that was saying anything about Jack said the same thing for good and bad sometimes. And Jack admitted on [Dark Side Of The Ring] that in a lot of cases there was bad. The reason why he got over, he was real, you could believe him.”