The SmarK Rant for the RF Video Shoot Interview with Jim Cornette, Parts 1 & 2
– Greetings, and hopefully everyone had a fruitful and drunken Canada Day. Sadly, work infringed on mine, so I wasted my weekend watching tapes. In this case, the extremely long Jim Cornette shoot interview sold by RF Video and provided by the man, the legend, Ed Koskey. Normally these things are about two hours long and sold on one tape, but due to Cornette’s complete inability to shut up, this one spans two tapes and took the better part of Saturday to watch. Totally worth it, though, and probaby even better than the SMW Fan Week Q&A session with him from 1995 that I’m extremely fond of.
– Note: I’m going to go into this assuming you know most of what I’m talking about, because this isn’t what you’d call an interview that would be interesting for newer fans, ya know? So please don’t write me and ask who the Fantastics are, or why I call Ole Anderson retarded all the time, or who Dennis Condrey is, because I’ll just get upset and say bad things to you. Thank you in advance.
– We start with some classic Cornette clips, before commencing with the interview proper. It’s taped 11-6-2000, at Cornette’s house in Kentucky. What I’m basically doing is covering the highlights, but there’s WAY more stuff than what I’ve got here, because he’ll go off on unrelated tangents at a moment’s notice and I couldn’t even come close to getting everything on paper.
– Cornette begins by talking a bit about his role as head trainer in OVW.
– He started in the business early on, at age 14, taking pictures at ringside in Memphis. The workers were so impressed with his stuff that they began taking him backstage and eventually letting him do some ring announcing, until one day Jerry Jarrett asked him if he’d like to be a manager. He was 20 at that point. His first week of managing was actually cut from TV due to time constraints, but by the second week he was back on, cutting a brutally bad mama’s boy promo. He nervously asks Rob Feinstein if he has that clip or not. Rob replies that he doesn’t. Of course, it turns up later on the tape like magic
– He loves Jerry Lawler’s total mastery of psychology, because he was the guy who really showed that you didn’t have to be a huge muscle-bound freak to win the crowd over Ã¢â‚¬â€œ you just had to know how and when to make your comebacks and what drew money.
– Bill Dundee is a big influence on him as booker, because he used to keep a book of finishes for all the matches at all the towns, and he’d swipe Dundee’s finishes later on when booking stuff for the Midnight Express. Less is more sometimes, like one of the heels going for a slam and the babyfaces dropkicking him over for the pin.
– Talks about the brutal travel schedule in Memphis, going from city to city for no money and just learning the trade.
– The first person he managed was Sherri Martell, and he quickly moved up to Dutch Mantell and Crusher Broomfield (One Man Gang), as well as Jesse Barr and Exotic Adrian Street. His character was basically a total screwup who would cost his guys the match all the time, and he goes off into a story about getting the absolute hell beat out of him in a lumberjack handicap match against Bill Dundee.
– On the subject of Jimmy Hart, he gives his impressions of him, and then goes into a story about teaming with him against Koko B. Ware while Hart was wearing a chicken suit. Funny stuff.
– Most memorable moments in Memphis? Teaming with the original Bruise Brothers (Porkchop Cash and Troy Graham) against the Fabulous Ones & Roughhouse Fargo in a cage match. He tells the backstory of Fargo’s crazy character, and relates a story about his first bladejob, which ended up being done by Fargo with his thumbnail.
– They move to Mid-South came because Bill Watts was losing money and needed some fresh heels and faces. Sidenote: The Watts shoot interview actually has a really funny story about him learning the term “BlowjobsÃ¢â‚¬Â for pretty-boy teams, which then ties into Cornette’s end of things on this tape. Watts & Jerry Jarrett did a talent exchange, with the team that would become the Midnight Express, as well as the Rock n Roll Express, going to Mid-South in exchange for a green Rick Rude and Hacksaw Higgins. Cornette jokes (?) that it’s the only time anyone got the better of Jarrett in a business deal. Cornette then goes into a hilarious impression of Ricky Morton getting beat up to illustrate why the RnR got over so well in Mid-South. He explains further that Watts was mystified at the reaction they got, because all the women in the crowd were the beefy redneck biker types who, according to Cornette, were kept in line by the men with a dagger through their shoulder and attached to the guy’s belt with a chain.
– The Midnight Express had unreal heat in Louisiana just doing the same spots they had been doing in Memphis. The difference was that while they were comedy spots in Memphis, they had never been done in Mid-South before, and thus were fresh and exciting. The lesson, says Cornette, is that it’s not the content, it’s the presentation.
– Starts to explain the formation of the Midnight Express with Condrey & Eaton, but then gets sidetracked and veers off into a hilarious story about a run-in with Ole Anderson’s Georgia promotion around the same time.
– Back to Dennis Condrey: Watts shuffled the Express together as foils for the Rock N Roll Express, since he saw something Bobby Eaton that could mesh well with Condrey, and the result was Jim finding many run-ins with psycotic ultra-mark fans. The money, however, was unreal, as Cornette’s nightly payouts jumped from $75 or so in Memphis to $1000 a night.
– This leads to a discussion about Watts’ iron grip on kayfabe and working the cameramen as a result, and this further veers off into stories about crazy fans attacking him and the wrestlers, including one night where a lynch mob of about 15 people ganged up on them in the parking lot before they escaped with some other wrestlers. He gets into the real scary shit, like fans with Drano in water pistols, brick throwing, and tire slashing. Cornette attributes his anti-social nature to all the attempted murders he survived in the early 80s.
– Longer story about a fan riot and Watts’ method of dealing with said dumbshit fans. Goes into the semi-famous story about getting a dress put on him in Tulsa against Watts & JYD, and the heat was so insane that Cornette was literally fearing for his life. Jim Ross, however, was merely worried that the crazy fans might dent Bill’s new car with the debris. Great story.
– Okay, back to Condrey, I think. No, wait, first more of Watts and his short temper with stupid people, which naturally leads to them talking about Buddy Landell and his tendancy to do stupid things, like rear-ending Butch Reed while checking his hair in the mirror.
– Talks a bit about promos and the importance of remembering the minutia of which town was getting what show over in Jerkwater Country, USA, population 10.
– Onto the Rock N Roll Express, and their formation in Mid-South as backup pretty boys so that Jarrett could book the Fabulous Ones in A shows and have the Rock N Roll do the B shows. He went back and watched the “revolutionaryÃ¢â‚¬Â music videos they were doing at the time, and came to conclusion that it was incredibly gay. His words. Dennis named the Midnight Express based on a stable he was in years before, which somehow segues into a discussion of Dusty Rhodes and his philosophies on strong heels and how Dusty somehow always looked better as a result.
– He praises the Rock N Roll and all the money they drew against the Midnights, with Watts and elsewhere. Points out that the reason it stayed so fresh was that they’d do a run for a few weeks, then one team would leave and go elsewhere to revive their character, then return and they’d do it again. Obviously that can’t work today, because there’s only one company and they hate everyone else.
– Next, off to the Carolinas, or so Cornette thought. Watts had other ideas, because Fritz Von Erich was in some trouble and wanted a talent exchange with Watts, which meant Cornette had to do the unthinkable and call Jim Crockett to cancel, a truly terrifying experience for someone who didn’t want to piss anyone off at this stage of the game. They went to Texas and got stuck working with the Fantastics basically every night for low payoffs. All the money went to the guys working with the Von Erichs, surprise surprise. The matches had no heat, either, because the fans only bought people getting the rub from the Von Erich boys as stars, and the Von Erichs only pushed their friends. Sidenote: Does any of this sound familiar? Cornette did take the opportunity to milk the open-ended interview slots for all they were worth, leading to the production guys desperately trying to convince Cornette to squeeze his interviews down from 9 minutes to 3. So Cornette developed his hyper-active motormouth act.
– Talks a bit more about the Von Erichs and all the stupid shit they pulled, presumably due to drugs although Cornette doesn’t say that outright, like Kerry lacing his headphones into his boots and nearly breaking his own neck sitting up. Talks about the Von Erich hero worship and how car dealers would just let them take new cars off the lot, no questions asked. He goes to talk about how betrayed the fans felt by all the deaths and shenanigans involved therein, and how it killed Texas until the WWF finally was able to revive it in 1998, many years afterwards. He has bitterness towards Fritz, because he’d book MX v. Fantastics as the last match on the show (because no one could follow them), but it wouldn’t be promoted as the main event, so he’d get the lower payoff. Finally, with the territory dying around him, he got sick of the bullshit and called Dusty Rhodes and WCW in 1985.
– He left for Crockett, but got punished for cancelling those months ago by getting shunted into Ole Anderson’s chickenfeed Georgia territory in the interim. They were booked to NEVER lose, however, under any circumstances. Jim thought it was a bit excessive, leading to stories about dealings with the various levels of stooges that Crockett had and how ugly the politics could get.
– Onto Dusty (with the requisite Dusty impersonation), as Jim relates the Skywalker story, wit Dusty convinced that Bubba Rogers was going to be able to catch Cornette from the scaffold “like the football players do with the cheerleadersÃ¢â‚¬Â. This was, of course, 25 feet in the air, and Cornette was dubious. When it because apparent that it wasn’t humanly possible, Cornette decided to get cute and improvise, with him landing on Bubba and both of them rolling to the left. Of course, Bubba missed the catch completely and Jim tore his knee to pieces, and then he had the further humiliation of trying to explain to Bubba that he really WAS hurt and wasn’t just kidding around. Bubba was only in the business about a year at this point. He goes into the unique experience of having a knee drained and repaired. Icky stuff.
– Talks about Dusty turning Ray Traylor from a job guy into a Jim’s bodyguard, which Jim wishes he had in Mid-South. Jim talks about trying to get Bubba to break character during promos by cracking him up, but it never worked because Bubba was Bubba Rogers 24/7, and of course Cornette had a story about THAT, too.
– Talks about the Road Warriors and how he liked working with them because it was “safe heatÃ¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the fans always knew the Warriors would win in the end, so the Express could safely beat the hell out of Hawk or Animal without worrying about riots.
– Onto the Magnum TA accident and how Cornette and every heel in the building was lining up to be the guy to take a bump, any bump, off Magnum and sell for him at the Crockett Cup when he came back.
– Discusses Baby Doll and how he got the shit beat out of him by her on a regular basis.
– Onto the Rock n Roll again and the endless matches. A lot of the stuff, like the tip-toe spot or the ref-boxing spot, was just kinda made up on the spot in jerkwater towns and then adapted to bigger matches later on. Jim’s theory: If 100 people laugh at something, 10,000 people will laugh 100 times harder. Jim thinks that the art of adjusting the matches to the crowd instead of going out with the intention of forcing your “work of artÃ¢â‚¬Â down the crowd’s throat is a missing art these days and may explain why wrestling doesn’t sell anymore. Routine is killing the product.
– Back to Rick Rude, as Jim relates a story about Rude working babyface against the Express in his rookie year, as Condrey was trying to explain a spot to him while in a headlock. They ended up making two full circles of the ring because Rude didn’t understand.
– Goes into the rather insane Fargo brothers and how they’d SHOOT each other during arguments, sometimes with blanks, sometimes without. Tells a funny road story with them that sounds suspiciously like one the Vachon brothers told on Wrestling With the Past, a show on the Canadian Comedy network.
– Back to Crockett, as we skip ahead a few years to the Express winning the tag titles in Philly from Arn & Tully and thus cement themselves as babyfaces there forever. Sadly, the Horsemen left for the WWF right after, which was sad for Jim because they were making more money from that feud than anything they’d ever done in their lives. Apparently the loss of Tully didn’t cause many tears in the dressing room.
– Okay, back to the subject of Dennis Condrey. They were headed to a spot show in California in 1986, and Dennis was like “I’ll see you thereÃ¢â‚¬Â, and they never saw him again for another year. Even his wife didn’t know where he was. Jim suspects drug problems, but Dennis to this day hasn’t talked about the disappearance, so he doesn’t know for sure. So Stan Lane came in, and we get onto the Midnights v. Midnights feud, as Jim took going babyface as a personal challenge, just because everyone told him he was nuts to even try. This was the first angle booked by Cornette, and of course everyone else in the office immediately “cut his nuts offÃ¢â‚¬Â and sabotaged it from the start, with goofy DQ finishes and 20-minute draws that killed the heat, until the whole thing ended with a whimper when Condrey left again under mysterious circumstances.
– To the subject of Stan Lane, who was actually not Jim’s first choice for the part. He wanted Dr. Tom Pritchard, but Crockett had just bought Florida and had a bunch of guys with nothing to do. So he talked Cornette into trying Stan Lane for the role, and they meshed into the team that Brian Pillman once described as being like an airtraffic controller, with codewords and hand signals.
– Talks about the Dynamic Dudes and how the crowds HATED them and made some very, uh, descriptive signs that demoralized Shane and Johnny until they finally left the promotion in shame. Jim knew they were in trouble as a team when the Express got the loudest babyface pop he’d ever heard for a heel turn, at Clash IX.
– Onto Paul Heyman briefly, as the real heat didn’t start until the whole NWA deal in 1994. Oh, and Paul’s a liar, a cheat and a crooked con-man. Okay then
– That’s the end of part one, and we move onto some classic footage.
– Early Cornette promos see him managing the Assassins, the Grapplers and the Moondogs. His role was basically Jimmy Hart’s understudy.
– Mid-South stuff sees him managing a heel Wendi Richter, who was feuding with Jim Duggan, which leads to Steve Williams turning heel on Duggan and being managed by Jim. Poor Jim gets shaved by a babyface crew as a result of the heel turn, and it’s the most painful-looking thing you’ll see: The electric razor was dead, so Tommy Rogers ran back to the dressing room and got a can of shaving cream and a disposable razor. It looks as bad as it sounds to see them yanking Jim’s hair out with that thing.
– So now he’s wearing a mask to cover the damage, and we’ve got your standard contract-signing angle against the Fantastics. I’m sure you know what happens without me even telling you.
– From Memphis: it’s that first Jim Cornette promo! As bad as Jim promised. He doesn’t even look at the camera.
– Jim gets more cocky and introduces his first charge, Sherri Martell, who still looked old and skanky even in 1982.
– Next up, suave businessman Jim is managing rough redneck Dutch Mantell, and presents him with an autographed picture of the two of them to commemorate their partnership. This was, I remind you, nearly 20 years ago. Does that angle sound familiar? Mantell thanks him, quizzes him to establish what a wuss he is, then tears up the contract and fires him. Cornette throws a hissy fit.
– Clip of Cornette in a handicap match against Bill Dundee, as a DQ is quickly called.
– Clip of Jim hiding behind Lance Russell to avoid a chair-swinging Terry Funk.
– From Georgia: Jim gets his head shoved into a cake.
– Jerry Novaks & The Angel (Jim’s team in Georgia) squash a couple of jobbers. Notable: A very young Nick Patrick, who could pass for Kelso on That 70s Show, complete with flared bell-bottoms.
– From Memphis: Bobby Eaton v. Jimmy Hart & Jim Cornette in a handicap match. Oh, cool, this match. Okay, so Hart & Cornette cheat like nuts to steal the win, but that’s the reason for the inclusion on the tape. See, the stipulation was that Cornette was putting some ridiculous sum of his mother’s money on the line if he lost, like $10,000, and it was in a box at ringside. So of course they win, but the heels have to get theirs, so the plan is that Eaton steals the box and throws it out to the fans, right? Okay, but booker Jerry Lawler didn’t want to have real money in there, so he fills it with shredded paper and puts like $20 in singles on top to make it look authentic. So Eaton loses the match and then gets the money, reaches in and tosses a handful to the fans, and suddenly .WHOOSH! The entire floor section RUSHES the ring in a mad dash for the money, burying the wrestlers in a sea of greedy people and nearly collapsing the ring. Wild stuff.
– From Mid-South: The Midnights blindside Magnum TA and do the ol’ tar & feather job on him, to show that he’s a chicken for not defending the tag titles against them. That’s so awesome, we need a good tarring & feathering on RAW, I think. The fans wanted to KILL Cornette because of that, too.
– Later, the Express brawl with Mr. Wrestling II & Magnum.
– From Texas: Jim hypes a match against Hector Guerrero by relating a story about bad service in a Mexican restaurant where Hector was waiter. Not exactly PC, but funny as hell.
– The Rock N Roll Express v. The Midnight Express. JIP. Gibson gets a headscissors on Eaton, and Ricky ranas him. The heels regroup, but Ricky dropkicks Dennis and he bails. They go after Gibson and double-team him, and Eaton gets two. Condrey gets a butterfly suplex on Morton, and the Express pound him. Eaton gets caught in the face corner and double-dropkicked for two, then heels run in for a DQ and CUT MORTON’S HAIR. Oh, man, the women in the audience sound like they’re on the verge of heart failure.
– Cornette and the Midnights then hold a celebration, complete with birthday cake, after winning the tag titles from Wrestling II & Magnum. Condrey & Eaton leave to throw confetti on the crowd, allowing the RnR to sneak in and, you guessed it, shove Jim into the cake. Bill Watts come out to laugh at Cornette, so Jim goes off on him, his family, his company, and anything else that came to his mind within that two-minute span. Bill, ever the diplomat, decks him and knocks him out cold.
– The next week, the Midnights attack the retired Watts and just destroy him, completely laying him out. Sadly, we don’t get the blowoff with Watts & JYD v. The Midnight Express that drew TONS of money.
– We finish with the bizarre pre-match promo for Starrcade 86 that featured the Road Warriors tossing a pumpkin off a fire escape in Super Slo-MoÃ¢â€žÂ¢ to illustrate the Midnights’ fate. High concept stuff, there.
– Dusty Rhodes & The Rock N Roll Express v. The Midnight Express & Bubba Rogers. This is a bunkhouse match from the Great American Bash in 1986. Ricky & Bobby slug it out to start, and the faces double-team Eaton. Bobby chickens out and Dennis tries. Dusty takes care of him, so Bubba gives it a go, but the Express holds him back and convinces him to tag out to Bobby. Commercial break, and we return with Dusty in a Bubba bearhug. He elbows out and does some strutting. Morton & Condrey go next, but Ricky gets powder in the eyes and a donnybrook erupts. The Midnights use a chain on Morton and poke him in the eye with some sort of object. Well, you know what your mother always said, it’s all fun and games until Ricky Morton loses an eye. Bobby goes up with a wicked Alabama Jam, but Dennis puts hi head down and Ricky gets the hot tag to Robert. Double-dropkick for Bubba, and it’s a pier-six. Bubba goes up, but Dusty slams him off and piledrives him for the pin. Fun match. ***
– To the interview
– Okay, we’re into 1989 now, as Jim discusses the Steiner brothers and their big stupid dog. Isn’t that Rick? HAW HAW HAW. Ahem. He likes them just fine.
– Onto Ric Flair’s departure, which leads to discussions of the Midnights almost leaving in 1987 for the WWF. It was like going to a bizarro world for Jim, though, as the WWF wasn’t big on managers and was more interested in merchandising possibilities and dolls than in their actual in-ring work. Jim said thanks, but no. However, it came so close to happening that the WWF actually started hinting at it on TV around that time, and Jim Crockett got paranoid about guys leaving and decided to start, GASP, signing people to contracts. What a crazy idea. Jim blames himself for the modern world intruding on Crockett’s promotion.
– Onto Jim Herd, who was a huge asshole who “didn’t know shit from applebutterÃ¢â‚¬Â. Lot of that going around in WCW. He gets to the Express leaving in 1990 and flashes back to 1988 as Crockett knew he his promotion was dying and decided to renegotiate his friends’ contracts WAY up to screw around with Turner. The deal was that the Express would get $225,000 a year, but would only get weekly payments based on the money made at the houses, and the rest was a “balloonÃ¢â‚¬Â payment at the end of the year to make up the difference. Jim’s opinion was that it was a balloon payment because the money would have had to drop out of the sky in a balloon, because Crockett sure as hell didn’t have it. So Turner buys the company and suddenly they’re getting $5000 a week, like it was a real business or something. Turner was understandably pissed at paying wrestlers upwards of $200,000, however, so the goal was to make everyone quit. With guys on the higher end of the star spectrum, the idea was to put them on the road and work them until they dropped or quit, but since the Midnights thrived on that they used a difference method: Pride. They worked the same dates, but got to job to the Samoans and Freebirds 5 nights a week in the opening spot. They still didn’t quit, so WCW tried to cut them down to $75,000 a year using hardball negotiations, until finally Jim talked them up to $112,000. Then, they wanted to split up the team and turn Bobby in a single.
– Jim then moved onto the booking committee for the first time in 1989, but since he had to talk to Jim Herd every week, it was more trouble than it was worth. So Jim desperately wanted out, but WCW renewed their contracts against their wishes and kept them on. This lead to the Pumpkin Story at Halloween Havoc 90, where Jim finally snapped thanks to booker Ole Anderson’s never-ending parade of bullshit, and he and Stan just went home one night and told Bobby to stay and do the best he could for himself.
– He discusses general WCW stupidity, like how they forgot to cancel Iron Sheik’s contract and thus had to pay him another $100,000 when it rolled over without their knowledge.
– Jim just hates contracts in general, basically.
– Onto Bill Watts and his wacky methodology in 1992, which was a big conflict for WCW, because they weren’t big on long-term planning. Although, as Jim notes, it took them another 4 years to make any money at all.
– Swings over to the UWF fiasco and why it didn’t work. This leads to talking about bringing the RnR and Heavenly Bodies into WCW during the “SMW InvasionÃ¢â‚¬Â of 1993. Sidenote from Cornette: Bischoff is a latent homo who spends a little too much hanging around with Kevin Nash to be just friends. His words, not mine. Anyway, Bischoff was messing with Watts when he bleeped out the main part of Cornette’s promo to kick off that invasion, with the goal being to uproot Watts from his job. Cornette got Watts to okay financial aid from WCW to SMW while he was still in power, which WCW then had to honor after Watts quit soon after, thus pissing off Bischoff pretty much to this day.
– Talks about his first conversation with Bischoff backstage at Superbrawl III, which I can’t do justice to here. Funny, funny stuff that makes you realize what a spineless turd Bischoff really is.
– We jump ahead a bit to another Bischoff story, as The Bisch had just fired Ole’s son Bryan Anderson and Ole called Jim looking for work for him in SMW. Jim asked Ole to come in and cut some promos, and they agreed to meet at Ole’s Power Plant in Atlanta and Jim would do the camerawork himself to save money. So Jim flies down to Atlanta, and one of Eric Bischoff’s stooges informs him, and he “unexpectedlyÃ¢â‚¬Â shows up 20 minutes later in his brand new Corvette to have a talk with Ole. Ole jerks him around for a bit, which gives Cornette the chance to slip over and smear a choice booger on the car. Ole Anderson was fired, by Fed-Ex, the next day, as a result. Gotta love that Eric.
– Speaking of dumbasses, Cornette suddenly is incapable of being silent any longer, and launches into a LONG tirade against Vince Russo. He talks about Russo couldn’t write or even spell, but ingratiated himself to Vince by stealing ideas from B-Movies that he would watch in his video store. Russo hates JR and did everything in his power to get rid of him, despite the fact that Ross was the only guy in the world who could actually get all of Russo’s bullshit ideas over in a reasonable context and make it sound like it makes sense. JR wouldn’t put up with his bullshit, however, so Russo holds a grudge to this day, explaining the Oklahoma character. Russo decided to write for the internet geeks because they were the only ones who knew who he was and would thus give him the recognition and instant feedback that his tiny self-esteem so desperately craved, because deep down he’s a huge mark who only wanted to see himself on TV being cast in the star role, and Vince McMahon wouldn’t allow him to do that. So McMahon flies to England for a PPV, and Russo flies to Atlanta behind his back to sign a contract, and then doesn’t even have the balls to meet McMahon to his face and tell him that he’s leaving.
– This leads to the whole answering machine thing, as Russo cut ties with his supposed “friendsÃ¢â‚¬Â in the WWF, but left a message on one of their voice mails one day. So that ex-friend is riding in the car with Cornette (Jim wouldn’t say who it was) one day and checks his mail over a cell phone, then offers Vince’s number to Cornette. Jim calls Russo and congratulates him on getting fired from WCW in such spectacular fashion (this was Jan. 2000), then calls again the next day and leaves a very long and very detailed message on his machine, at which point Russo goes crying to the WWF about how Cornette threatened him and his family. Cornette points out that Russo’s kid is indeed a little dipshit, but his beef was with Russo and not his family.
– When asked about “savingÃ¢â‚¬Â WCW, he thinks that it would be like trying to have a sodomy charge reduced to tailgating. Thinks the best idea would be letting it die and then going back to Atlanta 5-10 years from now. Doesn’t think the WWF would be dumb enough to actually buy the company, but would probably just buy the assets and workers. Jim Cornette: Prophet. Cornette thinks Heyman would have been fine if he’d just promoted out of Philly and hadn’t gotten greedy. He learned a lot promoting SMW during a recession, especially since he started in 1991 and thought WCW’s total failure indicated that wrestling had hit rock bottom at that point. Famous last words.
– Onto Tammy & Chris and their sundry problems. He admits that yes, Tammy is a bitch, but unlike Sable she’s at least upfront about it. Talks about developing Tammy from the ground up and then bitches at Heyman for stealing the tapes from him in 1997 for that Tammy show on TNN without paying him.
– Onto SMW and how the Thrillseekers ended up as a massive disappointment, because they just couldn’t sell the babyface act. They just took things too seriously, especially Storm, and watched too much “Japanese shitÃ¢â‚¬Â instead of working out spots to entertain the smaller crowds. Cornette takes all the blame for putting them in that position himself, and thinks both guys work very well in the spots they’re in now.
– Onto the whole Sean Waltman fiasco in 1997, which leads to a rant against the internet in general. Basically a question from Kevin Kelly on Byte This about the nWo Horsemen Parody led to Cornette going off the Clique for about 10 minutes, which Vince heard and asked him to repeat on RAW. So Jim has his stuff carefully written on cuecards so he doesn’t get sued, including the famous quote about Sean puking on himself for Nash’s amusement, but after a couple of weeks the WWF started trying to use him to promote in-house angles and stuff, at which point Jim pulled the plug.
– Shawn & Bret: Cornette wasn’t around for most of it, but he would have done the same thing as Vince did, if only because he doesn’t trust Bischoff.
– Jake Roberts in SMW was a total disaster, as he didn’t draw and no-showed constantly. Talked about working with Jake as a booker for Shotgun Saturday Night, which featured Jake screwing up until he was fired.
– Talks about his temper problems and general involvement with the business. He thinks people who hate the business shouldn’t be involved. Isn’t particularly thrilled with fans being smart to the business (now there’s an understatement), but also knows he’s not the guy in charge anyway. Thinks all the overblown spots are bullshit and that there’s no artistry in a chairshot, and it’s just gonna lead to the top guys getting hurt when they can’t raise the bar any higher. Jim Cornette: Prophet.
– Onto the formation of OVW and the school, as he thinks the WWF is great for supporting him the way they do. He’s happier than he’s ever been.
– Name game:
– Eddie Gilbert. Nice guy, but had personality problems and was paranoid as hell.
– Scott Hall. Doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself, which then leads into a tirade about Kevin Nash. Relates a conversation Nash had with Gerald Brischo where he was bitching about being the lowest-paid WWF champion ever. Brisco’s reply: “that’s because you’re the lowest-drawing WWF champion ever.Ã¢â‚¬Â
– HHH. Victim of the bad crowd mentality. He’s blossomed into a leader and great worker.
– Roddy Piper. Big fan of his promos.
– Terry Funk. Big fan, period.
– They discuss various ribs, like Mr. Fuji removing the engines from guys’ cars, or the Midnights dumping a bag of ants down his shirt in the car one night.
– They try to find a closer to the interview, but Cornette of course can’t shut up. He discusses the perils of moving south to north and tells a story about freaking Dennis Knight out by showing him a set of keys to a house in Connetticut.
– Thinks wrestling should be toned down drastically because of the injuries. He thinks that the best philosophy is not to ask the boys to do stupid shit that he wouldn’t.
– FINALLY they wrap it up, but we move to Cornette’s wrestling room, which is INSANELY overloaded with memorabilia, magazines and tapes. Oh, and New Jack’s mugshots. He then relates the whole story of who they walked out on him and jumped to ECW, and how New Jack ended up calling him at the WWF looking for a job later on.
– Okay, more classic footage to end, as Cornette cuts a promo in Mid-South.
– He goes off on Bill Watts in another one.
– Clips of another Midnights v. Rock n Roll match, which ends when Jim runs in, dressed as a woman, for a DQ.
– Mid-South tag title match: The Rock n Roll Express v. The Midnight Express. No DQ, no time limit. Eaton and Gibson start and Eaton cradles for two. Morton works a headlock on both Express guys in turn, and Gibson continues that. Morton cleans house and they double-team Condrey for two. Eaton comes in, but Gibson evades a double-team. Dropkick on Eaton gets two, and Morton cleans house. The Midnights regroup and we rejoin things after a break. Morton, not surprisingly, is taking a beating when we return. Eaton powerslams him and Condrey drops a knee for two. He deliberately tosses Morton over the top to emphasize the no-DQ stip. Morton sneaks around and makes the hot tag to Robert, but Cornette pulls the top rope down and takes him out. He crawls back in, but collides with Ricky. Condrey goes up and nails Morton, taking him out of the match. Gibson puts a bloodied Eaton in a sleeper, but Cornette sneaks in and sprays ether on a rag, then chokes Gibson out and puts Eaton on top for the pin and the titles at 8:50. Good stuff, great finish for the time, albeit an outdated one these days. ***
– Post-match, Cornette cuts a hilarious promo where he claims to have been disinfecting Bobby’s cut at the time.
– The Rock N Roll Express & Hacksaw Duggan v. The Midnight Express & Ernie Ladd. For those who’ve never seen Ladd, picture the Big Show if he was black and 100 pounds lighter. Morton starts with Eaton, and quickly gets control, pissing Cornette off. Condrey comes in and gets triple-teamed in the wrong corner, sending the fans into hysterics. The heels regroup. Ladd comes in and just DESTROYS Morton, as Ricky goes into sympathetic babyface overdrive, making Jeff Hardy look like Attilla the Hun. Ricky actually fights back and uses his speed to regain the advantage, hitting a bodypress for two. Hey, there’s a big guy selling for a little guy, SOMEONE CALL HHH AND PUT A STOP TO THIS. Morton puts his head down and gets squished by Ladd with a legdrop and bodyslam. It’s such an awesome visual just to see Morton getting slammed from that high up due to the size difference and Morton’s selling of it. Morton escapes and tags Duggan, who tosses Eaton around in turn and hits a huge lariat. Condrey comes in and gets pounded, only to succumb to the POWER OF CHEATING~! The Express take turns covering him until Duggan finally pushes both of them off and DEMANDS the Big Cat. He actually gets a backdrop and rams his head into Condrey’s, then drops an elbow. But Ladd goes for the trusty international object and lowblows Duggan to turn the tide. Eaton slugs away, but Duggan comes back and Gibson comes in with a dropkick for two. Morton, however, screws up as usual and gets tossed over the top to become face-in-peril. Eaton just nails him square in the face with a chair and Ricky’s pretty face is a mess of blood. The Midnights pound on him relentlessly and do some quadruple-teaming (counting Cornette), and stomping on his face at every chance. Ladd’s legdrop is just scary to see. Ricky finally fights back, but Eaton cuts him off and keeps drawing in as the crowd is getting more and more pissed off. Condrey gets two on Morton, and they collide for the double-KO. False tag to Duggan, and the whole arena is literally on the verge of a riot, so they smartly go home FAST as Morton sprays Eaton in the face with Jim’s spray can and gets the pin at 19:18 to calm things down. Fans appear to settle down a bit, to the Midnights do a heel beatdown the Rock N Roll Express, just to be jerks. Awesome match with tons of great selling and psychology and fun stuff like that. ****
– Clips of The Midnight Express v. JYD & Jim Duggan, as Cornette does a bad-looking powder job on JYD and Hercules runs in to KO Duggan with a loaded glove for the Express win.
– Another classic angle that hasn’t been stolen recently, as Ricky Morton demonstrates the effectiveness of the straitjacket that Jim Cornette has to wear in an upcoming match. He straps it on Robert Gibson to show that it’s unbreakable, and of course the Midnights run in and just absolutely kick the shit out of them, with Gibson tied up in the jacket of course, until the audience is ready to kill them. Now THAT’S an awesome angle.
– The RnR & Midnights cut dueling promos to hype an upcoming scaffold match.
– Scaffold match, Mid-South tag titles: The Midnight Express v. The Rock N Roll Express. I believe this was also loser-leaves town. Usual scaffold match, as they crawl around on the scaffold and do some weak brawling. Ricky ends up a bloody mess. Bobby and Robert duel under the scaffold, and Ricky kicks as Dennis until he drops, giving the RnR the win and tag titles. This was pretty much blow-for-blow what they did at Starrcade 87.
– Down to World Class we go, as Cornette calls out the Fantastics in his first promo.
– Another one, same topic, including some choice insults towards Texas in general.
– Another one, same topic, as Cornette wonders why anyone would be stupid enough to keep coming back after getting beat all those times.
– Another one, as Cornette runs down Mike Von Erich & Brian Adidas (aka the Von Erich B-Team) and introduces Crippler Rip Oliver as a third man for a run at the six-man titles.
– Another one, same topic.
– Another promo about the Fantastics.
– Jim has a confrontation with Sunshine in a beta-version of what would become the Baby Doll feud in the NWA.
– Onto Crockett, as Cornette introduces himself to Tony Schiavone on TBS for the first time and immediately gets the entire crowd annoyed at him.
– The next week, another promo sets the stage for Big Bubba Rogers.
– Jimmy does his Jimmy Garvin impression, complete with goofy wig, hand gestures, and gag poster of “PreciousÃ¢â‚¬Â. Real funny stuff, as even Eaton is having trouble keeping his eternal frown.
– From 1987: Cornette introduces the world to Sweet Stan Lane.
– US tag team title: The Midnight Express v. The Fantastics. From the first Clash. Sorry, was there some PPV going on? I forgot. Huge brawl to start, and I mean A HUGE BRAWL. Rogers goes after Lane in the ring and Fultonpounds Eaton with a chair. Lane rams Rogers ito a chair to retaliate,and even Cornette hits the faces with chairs. Even a table gets used,albeit not broken. Finally they get ito the ring and the Fantasticsdouble-team the Express to death. The Express hits the Double Goozle onRogers to take control. The action is literally non-stop here.Cornette holds up the table and Rogers gets whipped into it, selling itlike he’s been shot. Great looking spot. Eaton powerslams him and hitsa Randy Savage elbow. More double-teams from the Express, including a Demolition Decapitation. I wonder if that was to show up the WWF?Standing enzuigiri from Stan. Rogers gets slammed on the table outside the ring…but it’s not set up. And there’s a chair underneath it.OUCH! Eaton bulldogs him on the table. DOUBLE-OUCH! I think his neck might be broken, but this is the NWA, and WE WRESTLE, so he’s stillgame. Rogers blades, just because it wouldn’t be right otherwise.False tag to Fulton, so Cornette tags advantage and whacks Rogers withthe racket. Fulton tosses Randy Anderson over the tag rope, and theyhits the Rocket Launcher on Eaton, just in time for Tommy Young to come in and count the pin. Hey, who do you think was booking this show?The Express gets the titles back on the Dusty Finish, but it only knocks 1/4* off. ****3/4
The Bottom Line:
The whole set totals about 8 hours, and it’s an absolute must-see if you’re a Cornette mark like I am, or even a fan of the older-school stuff and a history buff. Cornette has TONS of stories about the road and the NWA and Bill Watts and goes into HUGE amounts of detail on everything, most of which I’ve only scratched the surface of here. For a good companion piece, pick up the 1994 Fanweek interview with him, which fills in other holes he missed here about the old days.
All this stuff is available at www.rfvideo.com, and is well worth your time and money. There’s tons of other shoot interviews available, and a lot of them are pretty damn interesting, too.
If the demand is there, I’ll do the Dusty Rhodes one next.