Don West wasn't well-known in the wrestling world when he made his debut for Total Nonstop Action on the first weekly pay-per-view in June 2002.
West had spent years on the Shop at Home Network selling sports memorabilia and more before signing on with TNA to become a color commentator. West shared the booth with Mike Tenay and Ed Ferrara for the first TNA PPV, creating a three-man booth that was seen by Jeff Jarrett as being an alternative to WWE.
Reflecting on how TNA came together on his My World podcast, Jarrett explained his reasoning behind picking Tenay, Ferrara, and West.
"The WCW creative, Russo and Ferrara and others in the dying days, the Don West name was tabled. I think there was a conversation or two," said Jarrett. "Fast forward to 'who is going to be the broadcasters?' When you look at [Tenay, Ferrara, West] from the premiere episode, you can easily know where I'm going with Mike Tenay and the NWA lineage and the professor and he's going to tell you who the champion was in 1948 and 1962 and how many title defenses. Mike, great play-by-play guy, I've always been a huge fan of his work. He knows his stuff whether it's AAA, WCW, or historical. When we struck up a friendship in WCW, he would talk about the territory days. He knows his stuff, that goes without saying. When you look at the 'TNA side,' Ed Ferrara has a Hollywood background, tremendous creative mind -- he got bashed on doing the [Jim Ross] parody, but that wasn't his call -- Certainly, he has a comedy and writer mind. He was going to give the yin to the yang to Mike."
Jarrett continued by discussing how he saw Don fitting in with Tenay and Ferrara, "Don, he made a fortune off selling Michael Jordan memorabilia among other things. How did he do it? He's a real sports fan. He can tell you every starting lineup of the Chicago Cubs dating back to the 50s. That's why him and Tenay hit it off from day one. They're both superfans of sports and stats. I wanted something infectious, different, an alternative. You're not going to duplicate [Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler]. I wouldn't even try to compete with those guys. So, let's go different and have a fan in the booth because you'd never think Lawler or Ross were fans. They were authority figures. Don, with his infection, in a three-man booth. That was a main selling point to Don, 'You don't have to carry the load at all. Tenay is comfortable and can carry the show if need be. Ed Ferrara knows how to pick you up and guide you.' Don was just going to be there to be the voice of the fan. That was the vision of that three-man booth."
Ferrara left TNA in August 2002, but West would remain in the announce booth alongside Tenay into 2009 before he took on a larger role in the merchandise department.
Sadly, West recently announced he has been diagnosed with brain lymphoma.
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