One of the most iconic and notorious hardcore wrestlers Jerome “New Jack” Young has died.
According to PWInsider, Young died of a heart attack this afternoon in his home state of North Carolina.
He was only 58 years old.
When wrestling fans (and fellow wrestlers) hear the name “New Jack”, controversy and intensity aren’t too far behind. Young was one of the most brutal “hardcore” wrestlers of all-time, and wrestled for promotions such as Smokey Mountain Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling, and Impact Wrestling, among many independent promotions across the world.
Young and fellow wrestler Jamal Mustafa (known as “the Gangstas”) were a major hit in wrestling in the 1990’s. after wrestling for many years in the deep south in Smokey Mountain Wrestling, the two headed up northeast to Philadelphia, where ECW was held.
There, under the guidance of Paul Heyman, the two became even bigger stars than ever. Young became a three-time ECW World Tag Team champion. Known for his excessive use of weapons, he would head to the ring with a shopping cart full of weapons ranging from trash cans to barbed wire baseball bats, and even toasters and razor blades. It was this style, however that found him in the middle of one of wrestling’s most infamous incidents.
Dubbed “The Mass Transit incident”, Erich Kulas (October 17, 1979 – May 12, 2002), was a young aspiring wrestler under the name “Mass Transit.” Kulas had lied to Heyman about his age and professional wrestling training, saying he was 21 when he was really 17.. Filling in for Axl Rotten, Kulas teamed with D-Von Dudley to take on Young and Mustafa. Young, offended by Kulas’ disrespect earlier in the evening, beat him with a barrage of weapons, shouting expletives at the crowd during the match. He eventually severed two of Kulas’s arteries; he bled profusely and passed out, and needed to be escorted out of the arena with medical attention.
The incident led to a future ECW pay-per-view (Barely Legal) being temporarily canceled and a lawsuit from Kulas’ family members. Young was put on trial, where he was eventually acquitted of all charges.
Over the next few years, more controversy was caused by Young as a result of his intense wrestling style, including throwing Vic Grimes off a scaffold, assaulting legendary wrestling Gypsy Joe after not being told about the latter’s wrestling style, and stabbing a wrestler in the ring with a makeshift weapon.
In season two of the VICE documentary series Dark Side of the Ring, Young was featured in an episode highlighting his life inside and outside of the ring.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider, concluded his report about Young’s passing with the following:
“There will be a lot written about Jerome Young in the days to come, good and bad, but the reality was this—he loved to perform and he loved to be New Jack in the public eye. He put himself through a lot of physical and mental pain in order to live his life as New Jack and once famously told our own Dave Scherer that he made the decision to do so, that he knew what he was getting into and that he would have no regrets, because it was the decision he chose to make.”
Rest in peace to a true legend of hardcore wrestling.