Jim Cornette Shoot Interview Part 1 (MUST READ, August 4, 2003
Jim Cornette Shoot Interview Part 1 (MUST READ, August 4, 2003
Sep 21 2003, 03:12 PM
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the anniversary party for my first year on the site. There will be booze... and hookers... and blackjack! No, wait, that was just my trip to Vegas. Anyway, I'll be treating myself this week as much as I'm treating y'all because this IS the best shoot interview of all time.
Before we start, I'd like to give thanks to everyone who's helped me out in this first year.
First, thanks to Damian "The Dames" Gonzalez, Mike the Admin, and my tape pimp himself, Will "Goodhelmet" Helmick, for giving me this opportunity after seeing my work at the old Smarks forum and World Domination Inc.
Second, I'd like to thank Dr. Tom, JHawk, Crucifixio Jones, Jay Spree, Retro Rob, and all the other writers on this site for pimping my stuff while they were putting out their own high quality stuff.
Third, I'd like to thank all the people and sites which have supported TSM and myself in several ways. These include, but are not limited to, Jay "El Cubano" Bower, Tom Zenk, The Scotsman, World Domination Inc., Justin Baisden, Dave Meltzer, Highspots, and Kayfabe Memories.
I almost forgot... let's all welcome Charles "Loss4Words" Williams as he makes his first regular appearance as our new RAW recapper this week, as he made his debut in the middle of last week after sending in a test column to The Dames. While I'm sad to see Patrick Spoon take a sabbatical from writing, it's great that Loss was able to get this opportunity because he's a great guy, hilarious, and has a knowledge of wrestling that towers over my own.
Ok, now that I've reached my ass-kissing quotient for the week, I'll tell you that next week's shoot will be the second Raven shoot, where he covers his career from leaving ECW to the present. While his WCW isn't covered to the degree I wish it was, he has a lot to say about his second ECW and WWE runs in addition to some of his personal problems and the circumstances surrounding him quitting WCW.
As always, you can feel free to Drop me an e-mail, read the archives, buy me stuff, or <!-- Begin Affiliate Code --> buy yourself stuff at Highspots.com.
Jim Cornette Shoot Interview (11-6-2000)
The tape starts out with footage of Cornette’s Midnight Express, in the Bobby Eaton / Dennis Condrey version, beating up on some jobbers at a NWA TV taping. After laying the smack down, Cornette calls out The American Dream, Dusty Rhodes, to the ring and says “Hello, Mr. Dream. You certainly have a nice hat… did you get a free bowl of soup with it?” etc. Dustry then lays out Cornette and both Midnights until Condrey hits Dusty with the ever-present tennis racket, Baby Doll jumps Bobby Eaton, and then the heels proceed to beat down on both Baby Doll and Dusty until the entire face locker room empties. He footage then cuts to Cornette throwing a fireball in Ronnie Garvin’s face, Cornette’s infamous fall from the scaffold at Starrcade 1986, and, finally, a promo about the Rock and Roll Express where Cornette calls Ricky Morton’s father “a drunk alcoholic” while Stan Lane makes the “drinky-drinky” motion in the background until Ricky slaps Cornette across the face.
What is his current capacity in Ohio Valley Wrestling? He supervises the developmental program for Ohio Valley Wrestling, which is one of the WWF’s several developmental territories. (This has drastically changed since the interview. Memphis, Puerto Rico, and Heartland Wrestling Association have all been dropped as developmental territories leaving OVW as the sole survivor.) Cornette came up with the idea for this program several years ago then, upon a chance encounter with Danny Davis, visited OVW and decided to make it a developmental territory as an excuse to move home and escape Connecticut, where the WWF is based. Davis and Ken Wayne had been the first tag team that Cornette ever managed and he had known Davis for years as a result.
Was he a fan as a child? Yes, he started watching wrestling around the age of ten. He watched the Memphis territory, which ran in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. He went to the matches for years, started taking pictures of the matches for himself and, eventually, became good enough at it that the wrestlers would buy copies of the pictures from him. It snowballed from there. He calls himself and Bobby Eaton the “two classic hangers-on of wrestling” because they would do everything from sell programs to being the ring announcer. He always wanted to be a wrestler, as do most people around the business, but he knew that he didn’t have a shot in Hell of pulling it off. He always kept the idea of managing in the back of his mind but never figured he’d get paid for it. He used to cut promos for the fun of it in the car and for some of the guys, which lead to his first big opportunity in the business when Jerry Jarrett heard about Cornette’s promos and decided to use him as a manager. He was so delighted by the news that he didn’t even remember the 400 mile drive home.
His early TV appearances- Before his first appearance, he told a friend of his to watch the Memphis TV that week because something special would happen. As he put it, “I wasn’t even smart yet and I was kayfabing.” As it happens, Louisville is on the bicycle (the tape is sent from TV station to TV station, so it’s shown on delay and, since the Louisville timeslot was 30 minutes shorter than the Memphis timeslot, some material was cut) and Cornette’s bit didn’t make the cut in Louisville. His friend asked him what was supposed to be so special, so he told him “watch next week” and then his friend was pissed that he wasn’t told about it.
His first on-camera promo- It was brutally bad and he wishes he could destroy all copies of it. He didn’t even face the camera for it. He asks the interviewer “Do you have it? And you aren’t going to get it?”, although it ends up on the tape after all. His gimmick was based on Gary Hart’s original gimmick of a rich mama’s boy. When he was pitched the gimmick, he was told “they used to try to shoot Gary Hart, they used to try to stab Gary Hart, he had SO much heat…”, which got him thinking “Oh, this sounds attractive…” The first promo was done on the notion that he wanted to be a manager but not like Jimmy Hart, who managed “common and uncouth” wrestlers but, rather, someone who’d manager the popular wrestlers like Jerry Lawler or Bill Dundee. Interviewer Lance Russell was good enough at his job to ask Cornette questions to get the proper responses, such as leading him with questions about money and supporting himself until Cornette started selling the “spoiled rich mama’s boy” gimmick. It was able to get the fans thinking “Who is this dumb shit and why is he on my TV”, which gave him immediate heat. Dundee himself told Cornette that he was such a natural at it that “If we smarten you up, you’ll destroy your gimmick and lose your heat.”
Jerry Lawler- He always loved his work and thought he was amazing at promos and psychology. He learned early in his career that he needed to know what to do when and why, so that you can control what people are thinking. Eddie Graham did the same thing. He says that it doesn’t matter if you can do moonsaults because, if you know psychology well enough to get 20,000 people thinking the same thing, you can draw money. (That’s about 75% true in my opinion. Psychology is a tremendously big asset for success but you still need more than basic moves to get over these days, which is a product of the wrestling wars and the influence of guys who’ve worked extensively in Japan and Mexico. This doesn’t necessarily mean highspots, as one of Tajiri’s kicks is capable of generating a lot of interest. Cool moves = money. Psychology = more money. Psychology + some cool moves = BIG money.)
Bill Dundee- Bill Dundee was a bigger influence on his career than Lawler, as Dundee was a master of finishes for matches. Every night, Cornette would write down what his match was, what the finish was, what the house was, and what his payoff was. This worked out for him well in Mid-South, when it helped him keep track of which towns had just seen certain weeks of the territory’s TV show and the Midnights would change their match that night accordingly. Dundee later commented that Cornette probably made more money from Dundee’s finishes than Dundee did himself, since Cornette used them in areas where Dundee hadn’t been yet. When the Midnights went to World Class after their run in Mid-South, they found out that there were few complicated finishes given out because the Von Erichs had trouble remembering them. As a result, there was a near riot when they won their first match in the territory by having Dennis Condrey kick Bobby Eaton when one of the Fantastics tried to pick him up. That drilled into his mind the importance of what the fans are conditioned to go nuts for. “If they pop on the first moonsault, you don’t need to give them three.” They just toned things down a bit and still had great matches.
Memphis- For the first six months in the business, he traveled by himself since he was the only Memphis guy to live in Louisville. After he got tired of all the extra driving he had to do by living so far away from the other towns, he moved to Nashville and rode with “The Angel” Frank Morell, Bobby Eaton, and the duo of Exotic Adrian Street and Miss Linda. (Rico and Jackie Gayda’s current gimmick is based on the Street and Linda pairing, except Street was allowed to beat the living crap out of his opponents instead of just offering them a room key.) He says that Adrian and Linda were great because Adrian had the whole British Cockney thing going and that Linda seemed demure except that Linda was the true boss of the duo and neither seemed to realize it. He learned by riding with the other guys and even started learning before he got into the business. He explains that he started taking pictures before he had a driver’s license so the infamous Mama Cornette would drive him from town to town and sell his pictures. Guys like Bobby Fulton used to ride along with them sometimes. He talks about how Bobby would tell stories of being in other territories such as Stampede and do a great Stu Hart impression, which Corny tries to imitate. (Stu Hart and Jim Barnett are probably the two promoters who everyone does impressions of with Dusty Rhodes being the most imitated modern wrestler by far.) He says that the business today doesn’t have enough of guys riding back from a town after the matches, which is where Cornette said the bulk of the learning was done because they’d critique each others’ matches.
Early guys he managed- He was portrayed as a total screwup so he didn’t manage people for long at first. His first wrestler was Sensational Sherri Martel, as he jokingly says “My mommy bought me a girl.” The second wrestler was Dutch Mantel, which saw Cornette at ringside for the main event match of Mantel vs. Lawler, which was his first time ever at ringside as a manager since he only did promos with Sherri. He ended up costing Mantel the match and was fired as his manager, so he then started managing Crusher Broomfeld (One Man Gang) to get back at him. “I set his career back five years and he’d only been in the business three at the time.” After that, he managed Jesse Barr (Jimmy Jack Funk) then Street and Linda, which got him into his first money-drawing angle.
Working with Adrian Street and Miss Linda- Together with Street and Linda, they worked a long program against Bill Dundee through all the towns. Cornette relates the story of a lumberjack strap match he was involved in where Dundee tried to throw him out of the ring but, because he accidentally threw Cornette into the middle rope, Cornette took a bad bump onto the apron face first. If it was any territory other than Memphis, the edge would have been padded. However, it wasn’t and Cornette ended up with a cut on his cheek that bled profusely and left a scar when it healed. “When I landed on the floor, the first thing I though was ‘I’m conscious!’, then I started seeing this red shit right about here .” It was already a bad night to begin with since the Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane and Steve Kiern), Jerry Lawler, and Terry Taylor were the lumberjacks at ringside and at least one fan had given Kiern an extra belt to whip the heels with. When Taylor came around to try and whip Cornette back into the ring, he reared back to hit him then turned away and left because of all the blood coming from the cut. He had to continue the match for another ten minutes, lose to Dundee, let Adrian “dance around me like a Maypole”, then go to the back and wait three matches for his ride, Jimmy Hart, to get a yellow streak painted along his back before he could go to the hospital.
Jimmy Hart- He liked him a lot but used to be very klutzy. Lawler had broken his jaw at one point then he broke his wrist. He thinks that Hart started “losing his focus” when he went to the WWF in 1985 because there wasn’t much for them to do there. He warns everyone against being Hart’s tag partner, though, and tells the San Diego Chicken story. In Blytheville, Arkansas, he had to tag with Hart against Koko B. Ware that night. He gives a sidestory about the entrance to the locker room at Blytheville being below the bleachers and that Plowboy Frazier had accidentally knocked himself out walking under there one night and “became wedged like a piece of human cholesterol.” He opened the door to the locker room to see Hart sitting on the toilet in the chicken outfit, with the beak on his head, reading a paper. Cornette asked Hart what the Hell was going on, so Hart explained that he’d lost a stipulation match that said he had to wear the suit for a week. When they discussed the match, Hart brought up the fact that the chicken suit was due back at the costume shop the next day to get out of having to most of the bumping that night. When Jimmy tagged into the match, he came into the ring with the suit on, which had wings and chicken feet on it, and kept accidentally hitting Cornette with the wing whenever he reached back to punch Koko. There was no personal rivalry between them because Cornette saw himself too far down the food chain in the territory to really compete with Hart. The only competition was really between Lawler and Dundee because Lawler had discovered Hart and used him a lot so, in turn, Dundee used Cornette a lot whenever he got his way with the booking.
Austin Idol- Nice guy but thinks that Idol just made enough money that he decided he didn’t need to leave the house much. That’s the only explanation he can think of for why Idol worked as seldom as he did considering he didn’t have alcohol or drug problems like other people in the business who’d disappear or act flaky. His look and promo ability used to be enough to get people into the buildings. “If I could just have a tape of Austin, I’d rather use that to sell tickets then let the other guys work.” Idol didn’t like working against stiff people and Cornette relates a story about how Idol was booked against super-stiff Stan Hansen while Lawler was booked against Jesse “The Body” Ventura, “who couldn’t break an egg” with his moves, and how he could see Idol cowering before he went into matches with Hansen.
Most memorable moment in Memphis- A big one was the last match he had in Memphis, with the Bruise Brothers (Porkchop Cash and Troy Graham) against the Fabulous Ones and Roughhouse Fargo, who was Cornette’s childhood idol. (Roughhouse was Memphis legend Jackie Fargo’s brother, Sonny Fargo, a referee in Mid-Atlantic that would work Memphis during holidays when he’d visit his brother. Roughhouse would do all kinds of weird stuff like going into the first row of seats, eating the people’s hot dogs and then squirting the heels with ketchup bottles, pull the heel manager under the ring then steal his pants, etc.) He was about to leave for Mid-South and figured he’d be back in Memphis soon because he’d fall on his face in an outside territory. Before the match, the guys in the locker room started talking about how they’d have to blade his forehead that night and generally scaring the shit out of him. He was hesitant to blade anyway but said “No, no, NO FUCKING WAY” when he heard that Roughhouse had decided he was going to blade Cornette. When the match finally came around, Roughhouse put Cornette in a headlock and told him to hold still so that he could blade him. Cornette shut his eyes and then Roughhouse ran his thumbnail across Cornette’s forehead. He also relates the story of the Sheepherders (with Jonathan Boyd in place of Bushwhacker Butch at this time) came into the territory and started hearing about what Roughhouse Fargo would do. Boyd’s response was along the lines of “You’re bloody ribbin’, mate! Nobody does that to me! I’m Jonathan fuckin’ Boyd!” Roughhouse made them do all kinds of stuff that night such as stealing Cornette’s shoe then hitting one of the other guys on the ass with it and making them sell it, which drove Boyd nuts but the fans loved it. Roughhouse was a HUGE draw whenever he’d come into the territory as Cornette says that Roughhouse could headline a card with no Dundee or Lawler during Christmas week in Louisville and still draw $20,000 despite being 60 years old and looking like crap.
Going to the Mid-South territory- He starts talking about how Bill Watts’ territory was on its ass before mentioning that he’d given copies of the Watts shoot to all of his students in OVW. He said that business was down there due to repetition and the amount of huge guys there, etc. Memphis was overflowing with talent because Lawler was booking at the time. “Whenever Lawler was booking, all the cards would start out with a 10-man tag match.” Jarrett was trying to get rid of a lot of people at this time, including Cornette, but couldn’t be obvious about getting rid of Cornette because it would upset Jarrett’s mother, Christine Jarrett. To explain that, he says that Christine Jarrett had allowed him to get his start as a ring photographer in the territory then became good friends with his mother. In order to get rid of all this talent, Jarrett contacted Watts about a talent exchange.
The talent exchange- Jarrett invited Watts up to watch a show Memphis in order to do a talent exchange, offering him anyone in the territory but Jerry Lawler. Watts offered Jarrett anyone but Junkyard Dog. “THANK GOD, for the first time in recorded history since the dawn of man, someone got the better end of Jerry Jarrett in a business deal.” Watts got Cornette, Bobby Eaton, Dennis Condrey, Ricky Morton, Robert Gibson, Terry Taylor, and Bill Dundee as a booker in exchange for Rick Rude “in his first year in the business when he couldn’t stick his thumb in his ass”, Hacksaw Higgins, and Masao Ito. That list of talent that Watts got from Memphis took Mid-South from being on its ass in 1983 to the best year in its history in 1984.
Why Mid-South was so successful in 1984- Featuring younger and more athletic guys who were sold to the fans through the use of music videos, which Jarrett started, was a big part of it. The fact that Ricky Morton was one of the best babyfaces in the history of the business helped, as Cornette does an imitation of Morton selling and mouthing “Help me!” to the audience. Morton’s selling was so powerful that “THEY’D COME OVER THE FUCKING RAIL FOR AN ARMBAR!” On more than one occasion, heels would beg Morton to stop selling so they could make it out of the ring alive. Dundee’s zany finishes were also new to the area so stuff like a Blind Man’s Battle Royal, which was a comedy match in Memphis, was sold to the audience by Watts in such a way that they thought someone would die and were driving ambulances to the arena. Cornette and the Midnights didn’t realize there’d be problems because a Tar and Feather Match was a comedy spot in Memphis but, when they did it to Magnum TA, the fans followed them back to the hotel that night, tarred and feathered Bobby Eaton’s car, then poured sugar in the gas tank. “It was a comedy spot to us because we’d seen it twenty million times. The only times they’d seen it in Louisiana was when they were really doing it back in the 30’s, which did not bring back good memories.” It got worse when they were working with Brickhouse Brown and another black guy and were told to take their belts off, start whipping them, and tell them “That’s what your grandfathers got!” “Well, I’m not exactly up on Louisiana history and, once again, we’d been doing this shit in Memphis ever since I’d been watching. JESUS CHRIST, riot, riot, riot, riot, riot.” The moral of the story is that it’s not what you do, it’s how you present it and sell it. Because Watts and Dundee had them acting in a very heelish fashion while trying to dredge up memories of a past that Louisiana would like to forget, they got TONS of heat and people kept trying to attack them, which drew record crowds to the matches. “You can do the same thing in different places and position it differently and it sells a different way.”
Forming the Midnight Express- Watts had come into Memphis looking for talent and had seen Bobby Eaton as babyface, Dennis Condrey as a heel teaming with Norville Austin, and Cornette as the second-string manager behind Jimmy Hart and was able to come up with the idea of putting them all together as a heel tag team. He never spoke to Watts while he was at Memphis looking for talent but Jarrett had him do a bunch of stuff at the matches that night when he hadn’t been doing anything before, which he feels was Jarrett’s way of trying to tell Watts “Take this fucking guy.” A few nights after that, Dennis Condrey came up to Cornette and told him that they were going to Mid-South and that Watts told them they’d make between $50,000 and $100,000 that year. “After I removed the shit from my pants”, he started ignoring it because it sounded like it was never going to happen. He then says that it’s not who or what you use, it’s how you use them, as Watts had seen the three of them in very different roles but was able to put them together as a great team and drew tons of money.
Working in Georgia- In the summer of 1983 when Georgia was trying to expand into Ohio, they took some of Jarrett’s extra talent to use while the A-list guys were on tour since the only venue in the state that Georgia booker Ole Anderson cared about was The Omni in Atlanta. He said that it was poorly done because the Georgia show from TBS was pulled off of the syndicated stations and, instead, “us putzes showed up from Channel 3 in Chattanooga.” Cornette was managing “The Bounty Hunter” Jerry Novak, “The Angel” Frank Morell, “King” Carl Fergie, and Norman Frederick Charles III of the Royal Kangaroos. He talks about how Morell used to like saying “You ever see $50 of ham and eggs?” to people who complained about their payoffs in order to show them that they could have the bare necessities off of their payday. Cornette also talks about how Charles had gotten booked by Bill Dundee, who hadn’t seen him in years. When Norman walked in, the conversation went like this- “Norman, is that you?” “Hey, Bill, how are you?” “Norman, what the fuck happened to you?!?” As Cornette put it, Charles looked like he was 100 despite being the same age as Dundee. Fergie was the cousin of Jerry Lawler and the Honkytonk Man. Their run there lasted only about two months. He was impressed at first because they had a minimum guarantee of $65 a night, which beat Memphis, but the houses sucked because the fans wanted the real Georgia wrestlers instead.
The Falcon’s Rest- When he was in Georgia, he was living at a hotel called the Falcon’s Rest. Also living there was Homer O’Dell, who was “famous for many things in the wrestling business, not many of which actually happened in the ring”, such as shooting an automatic rifle at submarines in a lake. When Cornette came into the territory, people started telling him that O’Dell was pissed at him because O’Dell used to manage The Angel but that Cornette was doing it instead. He didn’t realize they were ribbing him and was scared shitless thinking about O’Dell in a Nazi war helmet, as O’Dell had a lot of that stuff and “it was a shoot with him” and not just a collectable thing. He made a big point of not being seen so that O’Dell couldn’t find him for the next few weeks until, one day, O’Dell knocked on his door. Cornette about had a heart attack until he realized O’Dell was only there to borrow some salt to cook his stew. “He wasn’t mad at me… he didn’t know who the fuck I was.” Also, while they were there, some of the boys caught a live rodent of some kind (Cornette can’t remember if it was a squirrel or a mink), put it in a trash can, and leaned it on Dennis Condrey’s door. When he opened the door, the can tipped over and the rodent got out and it took him three hours to get it out of his closet.
Mid-South at the beginning of their run- Besides the Shreveport Boys Club, where the TV tapings were, their first matches were at the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans “where job guys were getting stabbed.” He’d thought he’d had problems with the fans in Memphis but “these fuckers had knives and were boozed up and meant business and believed everything that happened.” They hadn’t even started an angle yet but they had to have a police escort to the ring. When they got their paychecks and saw $900 for a full week of working the first match, they figured it was Watts being nice to them starting out. The amounts never dropped below that level and, between $1600 payouts for working a program with Magnum TA and Mr. Wrestling II and Watts’ talk of them doing a Superdome show, it started to hit Cornette that he really was a part of the business. “You had to adapt quickly when A. you had the smartest sonofabitch in the wrestling business over you at all points telling you what he wanted you to do and B. people trying to KILL you if they could get you alone or without witnesses who were carrying guns." Either you learned what to do fast or you’d piss off either Watts or the fans and, if given a choice, Cornette would rather piss off the fans. “When we did interviews at the studio, he had the CAMERAS scared to break kayfabe!” Despite the fact that the interviews were all done in the same room and that the faces and heels were in there, Watts didn’t want the faces and the heels talking in front of the cameramen under the philosophy of “Are they smart to THE business or are they smart to MY business?” Watts laid the smack down on his territory and, thanks to Grizzly Smith, Watts always knew whatever was going on that could help or hurt his business.
Crazy fans- One night in Houma, LA, Cornette was supposed to be at ringside in a straitjacket for a Midnight Express vs. Rock and Roll Express match. When he saw the rowdy crowd in the arena, he told Grizzly that he wasn’t going out there and, if he got fired over it, so be it. Grizzly then offered to protect Cornette during the match, which was good enough because the fans loved Grizzly to begin with and, besides that, he’s HUGE. That was the only time he ever felt safe in Houma. “Dr. Death and Hercules AS A TAG TEAM could not whip these people.” One night, he and Dennis Condrey actually made it out of Houma without a fight, which was amazing, except that a car full of fans tried to attack them outside the arena. “One of them chucks a full, unopened beer can at Dennis, who catches it, barred his arm, and puts his foot on the guy’s head. It was particularly effective against this individual but his twelve friends didn’t fuckin’ like it at all. About the time I was saying to myself ‘All I’ve got is a FUCKING TENNIS RACKET… I’m gonna die with this tennis racket in my hand’”, the Rock and Roll Express pulled their car up quickly so that Condrey and Cornette could get in and escape.
Even more crazy fans- One night in Little Rock, AR, he came back from the ring and noticed vomit all up and down his leg. He wondered if either someone had puked into a bag and saved it for the occasion or if they could do it on cue. The fans in Lake Charles, LA, since security was so tight, would bring in water guns full of Drano and try to spray it in the eyes of the heels. The Freebirds used to have their tires cut by the fans whenever they went to Lake Charles, so they started going to the police station and getting driven over until the fans started cutting the tires off of the cop cars too. On nights when the cops brought police dogs, the fans would find other ways of getting at the heels such as putting superglue in the car locks, putting lipstick all over the headlights, and chasing the cars on the Interstate. Dennis Condrey solved that last problem by pulling out a huge automatic pistol when the cars were along both sides of his van and were about to close in on them, which got them to break pursuit VERY quickly. “I was actually a calm, reasonable, rational person before I started working in Louisiana. Ted Dibiase said he worked there for a year once and his hair started falling out.”
Tulsa, OK- The fans from Hell. Every time they went to Tulsa, Cornette seriously considered quitting. It was quite a contrast from Oklahoma City, where they’d work a morning show before going to Tulsa that night and which had the nicest arena in the whole territory and clean-cut fans. The fans in Tulsa tended to be of the redneck variety, even moreso than other Mid-South cities, and tended to be drunk off their asses and looking for a fight. Without fail, there was a riot whenever the Midnight Express wrestled there, whether it be against Magnum TA and Mr. Wrestling II, the Rock and Roll Express, Bill Watts and Stagger Lee (Junkyard Dog under a mask), etc. The show before their match with Watts and JYD, there had been a HUGE riot because one moron had tried to get in the ring and got his face split open by a Condrey kick. “Nature Boy” Buddy Landell would come halfway to the ring to help them fight their way back to the dressing room each week. Buddy had the guy in a front facelock with his legs spread, so Cornette kicked a field goal on the guy and sprained his leg in the process. Right before they got back to the locker room, someone jumped from the archway of the general admission seating to try and get the Midnights. Buddy punched the guy while he was still in midair but slipped on spilled beer and they both took flat back bumps. The police already had the guy who had started the whole thing pulled aside in the back and he was passed out, so Cornette started “kicking the FUCK OUT OF HIM, I don’t give a fuck if he’s unconscious.” The only cop who hadn’t been involved in the riot pulled Cornette off of him, then Dennis went behind the cop’s back and started beating up on the guy even more with Cornette’s belt wrapped around his fist. Cornette thought was hilarious because it was a spot right out of one of their matches. Another night, the cops pulled the guys who started the fight into the back and Watts stood on their heads. Fortunately for them, he was only in tennis shoes because Watts later said “SHIT, I should of worn my cowboy boots!” Watts then picked the guy up, told Grizzly to hold him against the wall, then punched him and let the cops take him away. Watts was able to get away with this because “he was God in Tulsa.”
The bad riot in Tulsa- Because one of the people who got the shit kicked out of him was a Highway Patrolman’s son, Internal Affairs got involved and the Tulsa PD was no longer allowed to work security at the matches. They ended up with the county sheriff’s department deputies, which was bad enough. It got worse when the next show was at the Tulsa Fairgrounds instead of the city arena, as it was a big rodeo barn with absolutely no seating pattern. Watts drove to the match in his Rolls Royce and pulled it into the archway of the door that night. Before the Midnight’s match, someone had tried to clobber Nikolai Volkoff with a chair on the way to the ring and missed, breaking the chair over a deputy’s head. The stipulation of the Midnight Express vs. Junkyard Dog and Watts match that night was that, when the Midnights lost, Cornette would get put in his mother’s pink dress. Things went downhill when Watts decided he was going to put on a clinic for the boys in the back of how to sell for the Midnight Express, which scared the Midnights shitless because you DON’T put that kind of a beating on the hometown hero. There was so much heat that night that “If we’d won, they wouldn’t have been able to get us out of there with a helicopter.” It was so bad that guys were jumping into the ring while Watts was making his comeback just so they could help out. Watts beat up the Midnights, stripped Cornette down and put the dress on him. At that point, Cornette was wearing a pink dress, dress shoes, and carrying a tennis racket when he sees four deputies who look at him and say “RUN!” He starts running back to the dressing room and he’s losing cops as he goes along because the fans are tripping them. Eventually, he started windmilling the tennis racket and ran as fast as he could. Once he broke free of the crowd, Jim Ross was trying to stop him from getting near Watts’ Rolls Royce because the crowd had started throwing beer bottles at him. Cornette just kept running and all kinds of stuff landed on the car. As far as Cornette’s concerned, the two shows that day did $194,000 in business and, since those were 1984 dollars, Watts could have afforded another few Rolls Royces after that kind of business.
Living in Louisiana- “This was not the garden spot of America.” He couldn’t go out in public for a year because he was afraid of getting attacked. Considering that someone had tried to jump Condrey in a 7-11 in daylight, Cornette knew they had absolutely no problems going after him. “Going out in New Orleans was instant death” because the cops had fixed the security so well that the fans couldn’t get to you at the buildings anymore and people would take any opportunity to get at you in the city as a result. Alexandria, LA, was particularly backwards because it was in the middle of the state at a time when there were no north-south Interstates.
Long stretches on the road- They did 4000 miles a week for 137 straight days with two shows on every Sunday. Around the time they hit 137, they started asking Watts for time off because their cars were breaking down, etc. He gave them every big show off but still sent them to little towns like Loranger and Houma in LA, so that was his way of discouraging days off. He says it pisses him off to no end when wrestlers today piss and moan about having to drive instead of flying. “*blows raspberry* My asshole bleeds… Would you LIKE to see a bleeding asshole?”
Was Watts hard on him as a manager? He thinks he was the only guy Watts wasn’t hard on and it was probably because Watts knew he was always listening and trying to do better.
What was the worst he’s seen Watts do to somebody? He would generally abuse Buddy Landell and fine the rest of the boys but not do anything too bad. He’d mostly abuse the fans because, if he put enough heat on a heel for them to get attacked, he’d go out there and protect them. He says Watts is probably the only person to do that, although he also realizes that few people could get that much heat on heels to begin with. He puts over Watts’ abilities as a commentator and talks up how Jim Ross learned under him and is the best commentator in wrestling today as a result.
Buddy Landell and Watts- One night at TV, Watts started yelling at the wrestlers for not laying their kicks in. To show them how to do it right, he sees Buddy’s new Halliburton suitcase and starts kicking it. On the third kick, Buddy bent over and screams “Please, Bill, use my head instead, please!” The reason he’d pick on Buddy was that he “had trouble conforming to rules and regulations” and had a habit of doing stupid stuff, such as rear-ending Butch Reed on the way to a show because he was looking at a girl while driving. “Buddy and Butch won’t be here tonight, they had an accident.” Thinking they were riding together, the locker room asked what happened and were told “They run into each other!” Watts kept Buddy around as a challenge because, if he could fix Buddy, he could fix ANYONE.
Did he take part in booking Mid-South? No, Watts and Dundee took care of all of that. Cornette’s only involvement was keeping track of the finishes in his journals and, whenever they were in a town, remembering which week of TV was airing with which finish so that they would be in synch with what the fans were expecting. (The tape was on a bicycle, like the Memphis TV, and it took 5-6 weeks for it to reach the outlying cities in the territory) He was still green in the business at the time so he just started picking up things by watching Dennis Condrey lead the matches every night in the ring. In order for Watts to get his guys to sell the shows correctly, he’d lay out format sheets with who was facing who and the stipulations that they needed to sell. He told them “You’re not household names” and made them cut an interview about themselves, their opponent, and the stipulation for each match. Cornette admits that having someone tape their fists or wear a coal miner’s glove seemed so stupid but it was those kind of things that really sold it to the audience.
The series of matches with the Rock and Roll Express- The Rock and Rolls were put together as the imitation Fabulous Ones to run on the B-level shows so that they had a team with that gimmick in each town they were running that night. Cornette jokingly refers to the Rock and Rolls as “Fabs Lite” and says that the Rock and Rolls got over so much by looking younger and less rough than the bearded badass Fabs did. While the Rock and Rolls didn’t catch on well in Memphis because of the Fabs, they did GREAT in any territory where the Fabs hadn’t been. It helped that Ricky Morton was one of the best sellers of all time and that the formula with Ricky getting all of the heat then Robert Gibson taking the hot tag was great as well. He says he doesn’t think that the Fabs would have gotten over in Mid-South because they were too much like the fans, as “the Cajun girls would come up to you and say ‘You gonna fuck me or what?’" and that the guys all carried knives. The screams of the women during the Rock and Roll matches were so loud that they’d have to scream at each other to call spots in the match.
The music videos to promote teams- When he did a show in the past year and showed the old Memphis music videos to his young wrestlers, he had a revelation. “All these music videos that everyone used to watch and say were revolutionary… they’re GAY AS SHIT now!”
The Midnight Express name- When Watts talked to Dennis Condrey about bringing him, Eaton, and Cornette to Mid-South, he asked him if he had a name for a team. Condrey mentioned that he, Norville Austin, and Randy Rose had been called the Midnight Express in Continental (the Alabama territory). Watts loved it and picked up on it. Cornette found out later that Watts did most of the initial talking to Condrey because Condrey was the one Watts knew and that Eaton and Cornette never said anything for different reasons. Eaton’s reason being that he’s just shy and Cornette’s reason being that he was scared shitless of Watts. When Watts started asking Condrey about Eaton and Cornette, Condrey talked both up tremendously, which Cornette feels was Condrey looking for a job more than being confident in Cornette’s ability to talk at that point.
Meeting Dusty Rhodes- They met him at a Superdome show where they faced him and Sonny King. It was a horrible match but Cornette shifts the blame onto King saying that Dusty would do the right thing. Dusty saw money in them because he loved heels and guys who were good heels that drew heat meant that he could wrestle them and draw money. Cornette points out that Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, and Ric Flair all got good pushes in Mid-Atlantic because the more heat they had made the babyfaces that much more over and that Dusty was always the top babyface. Dusty made them an offer to come work for him in Mid-Atlantic but he’ll get into that later.
Scaffold matches with the Rock and Roll Express- Watts thought the Midnights would be out of heat by the time their last show came around considering all the things that he’d had done to them from making them wear diapers to putting Cornette in a pink dress. They actually left with even MORE heat because Cornette was annoying , all three of them were smaller than a lot of the fans, and they kept coming back no matter what. That drew more money than the series against Watts and JYD over time because they were doing $30,000 at a football field in Bogalusa, LA (a small town north of New Orleans on the Mississippi border). They’d done previous record business when they beat the Rock and Rolls in a loser-leaves-town match that sent them back to Memphis for three months, got built up until they came back, then drew even more money when they lost the scaffold match series to leave town. Cornette points out that they couldn’t have kept up that heat forever with just them against the Rock and Rolls so one team or the other had to leave every so often. Going back to the series against JYD and Watts, Cornette says they broke the box office records for every venue they ran except the Superdome, which fell $3000 short of the record JYD vs. Michael Hayes match based on the feud where the Freebirds “blinded” JYD. They drew “$1.2 million for 14 shows in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma”, which gets more impressive when you realize the number of sellout shows and the fact that they were beating mainstream performers like Kenny Rogers at the box office for the same venues.
Leaving town- They found out six weeks before they were supposed to leave town, so they called up Jim Crockett to set up a start date. Unfortunately for them, Watts decided to do a talent exchange with Fritz Von Erich and sent them to World Class so he could bring them back to Mid-South easily for big shows. While World Class drew, it wasn’t Mid-Atlantic, which was the big time for the NWA at that point. Cornette points out that the Midnight Express was one of the few pieces of talent that both Ric Flair and Dusty had recommended to Crockett, instead of someone just being one of Dusty’s guys or Flair’s guys. Cornette joked about being in the business for a year and having to call up Jim Crockett to cancel without causing a promoting war over the reason why they couldn’t make it. “I’ve been in the business for a year and a half and I’m having to call JIMMY CROCKETT to tell him we can’t make our start date. He employs Ric Flair for God’s sake.” The phone call sounded like this: “Bill kinda wants us to go to Dallas and work for Fritz.” “Well, it’s not the first time that Watts has fucked me.” “He didn’t mean it PERSONALLY….”
World Class- Their first night, they worked against the Fantastics. They also worked against them their last night, six months later. They only got four matches against any Von Erichs and it was only at house shows because Gino Hernandez, Chris Adams, and One Man Gang were feuding with them. The other problem was that Fritz Von Erich had decided that only his sons were drawing and, as a result, they got the biggest payoffs and the people who worked with them like the Freebirds got the next biggest payoffs. The Midnights made $1000 a week, which Cornette considers a paid vacation considering they didn’t travel far and got to spend a few nights off each week. It wasn’t as fun as it should have been because “you’d be in the Sportatorium on Friday night and it wouldn’t be a long trip but then the rat would jump off of the rafters and land on your lap…”, which happened to him one night and, when it did, he broadjumped the One Man Gang. The only good thing about the whole situation was that they were given free-reign to take as much time as possible on their interviews and say almost whatever they wanted. Cornette took that as a challenge and started cutting 10 minute promos covering everything from the Midnight Express’s matches at every spot show in Texas to what Rip Oliver would also be doing in addition to his own angle against Sunshine. After a few weeks, the production crew came up to him and said “We’ve got a bet in the truck that you can’t keep it under six”, which he didn’t on most occasions. Fritz Von Erich came up to him once and asked him how he was able to pull it off every week. He says that his TBS interviews are the same things as his World Class interviews, only sped up a bit.
The Von Erichs- They weren’t bad people but you could tell they were all screwed up on something. The spot shows did great business but he found it strange that written directions were given to the shows… until he found out that, if the Von Erichs went someplace and couldn’t find the show, they’d just go home. They’d do a bunch of goofy shit like Kerry Von Erich accidentally lacing his headphones into his boots and nearly breaking his neck when he sat up. Chris Von Erich was probably the worst because he was only thirteen but you could tell he was zonked out of his mind. They’d be on a Southwest Airlines plane and it was obvious that Chris wouldn’t have been able to tell you where he was. “None of them were surgeons to begin with” but all the tragedies in that family, due to what they were, on killed the town for years. Cornette discusses how much bigger the Von Erichs were in Dallas than the Cowboys or anything else and that, because Cornette was associated with them, he was allowed to do stuff like go to the largest radio station in town, get on the air, and choose the playlist for the rest of the night. He says the Von Erichs would be told “Sure, you can borrow this Masseratti” and be bailed out of any situation no matter what they did until it got to be too much over the course of three years. It killed the business there for years as it was the hottest territory in wrestling when he was there in 1985 but it had considerably cooled off in 1987 when he came back working for Jim Crockett. For years after that, no one could draw there until the WWF started drawing in the late 90s, which Cornette attributes to either people coming back to the business after all the old wounds caused by the Von Erichs healed or a new generation of fans appearing.
The Shiek and Ohio- He relates a story similar to the Von Erichs in Ohio, as Jerry Jarrett wanted to start running Ohio but, when he went to Cincinnati to get TV time, the station manager popped in a tape of The Shiek’s wrestling show and told him that’s why he doesn’t want wrestling on his station. It was when The Sheik’s show was REALLY bad as he had a snake in his hand and was trying to use it on his opponent. “It was a defanged snake, I think. The snake may have been DEAD for Christ’s sake, and he was blading the guy on camera.” There was no wrestling on TV in Michigan and Ohio for a long time after that then, when TBS was shown in the area, Georgia Championship Wrestling became a favorite in the area and they were able to tour the area and draw big. “All the people who’d watched The Shiek and Bobo Brazil had Alzheimer’s” by that point and a new generation of fans had emerged. “You can kill territories but you can’t kill them for good. You can just hurt them for a long time.”
Coming to Crockett- One of the last straws with World Class was when there was a HUGE show at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, which Cornette worked sick and the Midnights had a great match with the Fantastics. They thought with the kind of house that the promotion drew, they’d be getting $5000 easy. They got $500 instead. Soon after that, the bookers decided to start putting the Midnights vs. the Fantastics in the final slot of the night because they were the best matches yet still paying the Von Erichs the main event money for having the first match on the card and going back to the bar in Dallas before the show was over. They finally stopped realized “We don’t want to work with the Von Erichs, we want to be in the Carolinas!” and gave notice. They ended up working in Georgia temporarily because Crockett now owned the Georgia territory, having bought it from Vince McMahon, and Crockett wanted to build them up separately before bringing them in to face the Rock and Roll Express. While they were in Atlanta, Dusty had a meeting where he told the Georgia talent “I lub de Midnight Express. De gonna be my next tag team champions ob da world. Nobody goes obba da Midnight Express. De Midnight Express goes obba ebery night.” They would even go over in the battle royals at spot shows, which was typically a match where a face won to get a good reaction from the crowd. One night, Dick Slater decided he didn’t want to lose to the Midnight Express and wanted to go a thirty minute broadway. The Midnights were like “Couldn’t we just lose instead?” They were told they couldn’t lose and that they had to do it. After a few nights of that, Cornette was elected by Condrey to tell Jim Crockett about the situation. Cornette found out that Crockett already knew but somehow word got back to Slater that Cornette had stooged him out to Crockett. Cornette wasn’t happy because Slater “used to beat up NFL players in bars in Tampa, Florida, for fun.” When Slater confronted him about it, Cornette told him the truth, which was that he had called but that someone had beaten him to it. Slater accepted it and left him alone.
Dusty as a booker- He liked him a lot and had no problems with him. The one thing that he’ll get on Dusty about, which Dusty himself will admit, was that Dusty was a good booker but his favorite talent was himself. Cornette said that that the best bookers in the business have the primary talent of getting themselves over but it has the secondary function of getting OTHER people over after that, so it pays off. Dusty took care of them, though. He talked about the Starrcade 86 meeting they had before the show in which they were given the finish of both Bobby and Dennis being thrown off the scaffold by the Road Warriors then Cornette would be thrown off after the match. Dusty pitched Cornette’s fall as him being caught “like the guys catch the cheerleaders at the football games” by his bodyguard, Big Bubba Rogers (Big Bossman). Once they realized that wasn’t going to work, Cornette and Bubba improvised Bubba grabbing Cornette on the way down then rolling to the side to break part of the fall, which they’d gotten from seeing a program on skydiving. In execution, “Bobby fell like this *woosh*. Dennis fell like this *woosh*. I fell like this *THUMP*.” Bubba “lost me in the lights” and, the next thing he knew, he was seeing stars on the mat because he’d gone through Bubba’s arms, screwed up his leg, and hit his head on Bubba’s knee. “It was a good thing I’d gotten hit on the head because it knocked me temporarily senseless and acted as a natural anesthetic because I thought I was gonna see a bone coming out of my leg.” After that, he was speaking in falsetto and Bubba could barely hear him saying “Carry me, carry me.” Bubba thought he was selling, so Cornette said “I’m shootin’, I’m shootin’”, which Bubba thought was “I’m shittin’, I’m shittin’” because he was green. Cornette finally said “Bubba… CARRYMYGODDAMNASSNOW!” He put on one of Sam Houston’s knee sleeves on it and went to bed that night. When he got up, his knee was severely swelled and it hurt to move even if he didn’t use that leg. He went to the doctor, who drained the knee. He stared out trying to drain it with a hypodermic needle and, after removing three syringes full of blood, finally just drained the rest into a bedpan. The doctor gave him the option of getting his knee scoped and rehabbing it or just getting the nerve endings shaved off so that he wouldn’t be screaming in pain. Cornette took the latter option since he wasn’t going to be doing much in the ring. When he got out of surgery, he was told that he’d screwed up the cartalidge, the meniscus, and his ligaments in the fall so he’d hit the trifecta on that knee injury. “I was like the poster boy for knee problems.” Whenever his guys hurt their knees, he insists that they take longer off than the doctor recommends and is willing to do whatever it took to help out.
Ric Flair- They met him at the Superdome shows. He was a good guy to everyone if he knew them or not. He was living his gimmick as champion, as he was always in a suit at the shows. “He wore nicer clothes in the gym than most guys did in the towns.” Flair, along with Stan Lane, had inexhaustable energy supply and an unbelievably low pulse rate. “If the doctor didn’t know better, he’d swear they were corpses.” Flair was capable of blowing up guys like Magnum TA and Brian Pillman, who was fifteen years younger and had recently been in the NFL. At about 45 minutes into a match, Flair would say “Let’s kick it in!” while his opponent would say “Let’s kick it in? I just threw it up!” Flair also used to do double-shots in which he’d wrestle once in Mid-Atlantic against Magnum TA then fly down to Florida to do an hour broadway against Barry Windham and not even feel it the next day.
Big Bubba Rogers- He was jobbing under his real name, Ray Traylor, when he took a slingshot suplex off the ropes from Tully Blanchard. When people realized that such a big guy was taking a bump like that for “The Wombat”, as Arn Anderson referred to Tully, they realized they had something special. Dusty took him off of TV for several weeks in order to make him seem bigger than life when they introduced him as Cornette’s bodyguard. Cornette mentions that Bubba’s later gimmick as the Big Bossman was based off of his job as a prison guard, which he had as a day job when he first got into the wrestling business. Because Bubba had such an imposing look, fans stopped trying to jump the ropes to get at Cornette. He tells a story about the angle where Bubba was introduced, as Dusty broke a chair over Bubba’s head and Bubba’s response was to just straighten his hat and start taking his tie off. It got him over in one night as a monster. Everyone later realized that one of Crockett’s employees had forgotten to gimmick the chair beforehand so it was pure luck that it happened like that. He calls Bubba a natural worker in that he knew what to do immediately even if he didn’t know why. A big part of the Bubba gimmick was that he’d never speak so Cornette would screw with him before live promos by quickly telling him stuff like “Baby Doll shops in the Junior Moose department.” Bubba would start laughing, so he grew a beard to cover up his reactions. Bubba took his “sell no pain” gimmick to the extreme and no-sold a car door slamming on his hand until he got into the building, at which point he broke down in pain.
Matches with the Road Warriors- When they faced them in Chicago, LOD got excited and beat the shit out of them because it was their gimmick home town and there was 15,000 fans. It didn’t help that “in those days, that music [Iron Man] was the equvilalent of the Undertaker’s entrance” because you’d heard the opening chords then think “Oh shit…”. He has no problems with them, though, and they love him to death for taking that scaffold bump. They used to pick on Stan Lane a lot for refusing to take a scaffold bump even though Cornette had taken one. Paul Ellering loved working with him because it gave him something to do, as 90% of the time babyface managers are sitting there with their thumbs up their asses. The absolute best thing about working with them was that the fans wouldn’t jump you when you were getting heat on them because they were pretty sure the Road Warriors would win in the end.
Magnum TA’s car accident- Magnum and Dusty passed them on the way back from the show that night. “Crockett’s parking lot looked like a Porsche dealership.” He figures the reason that Magnum crashed after dropping Dusty off was that it was a winding road. It was a HUGE news story in the area because of the celebrity of the wrestlers in the area and Magnum was on top of the babyface food chain at that point. Dusty was good friends with him and that was why he was brought in at Crockett Cup 1987 to make a special appearance, walking only a few months after they weren’t sure if he’d even live. All the heels wanted to take bumps off of him that night. He’d only been in the business about four years at the time of the accident and was practically a rookie despite being close to the top of the business. If not for the accident, he would have been a champion and would certainly have gotten over better than Sting or Lex Luger. “You would have gotten over better than Luger. Lex would probably tell you the same thing.” He starts telling stories of the days when management wanted to push Ric Flair out of the company. “OK, Flair vs. Sting drew. Flair vs. Luger drew. But Sting vs. Luger died. What’s wrong with this picture? It don’t have any Flair! He could draw with a broom! He could have drawn with a lamp!”
Baby Doll- She dislocated his jaw with a slap in St. Louis. She still blames him for breaking her teeth at a Great American Bash. He says it was her fault because she football tackled him from behind with no warning and, while he was trying to protect his fall, his elbow came back and hit her in the mouth. He also tells the story of how, one time, they were doing a spot at a show where she was supposed to wait until he turned around then give him a worked punch. Instead, she punched him in the back of the head, HARD, before he could turn around. “I watched the replay on TV and it looked like the Kennedy assassination.” He gives Dusty a lot of credit for taking a manager with three years of experience “and a huge moose of a woman” and turning it into an angle that drew big at the Great American Bash in 1986. While Dusty referred to Baby Doll as “my Marilyn Monroe”, Cornette feels that the “Hollywood cinematographers must have taken a little weight off of Marilyn” then. Cornette also observes that, when she came back to work with Larry Zybyzko “and started looking dangerously close to attractive”, she wasn’t over anymore. When she was working with Larry, the guys would look at her and then say “waitaminnit… we’re looking at Baby Doll in a way other than nature intended.”
Keeping things fresh with the Rock and Roll Express- They’d just randomly call old Tennessee spots. All six of them (Morton, Gibson, Eaton, Cornette, and both Stan Lane and Dennis Condrey) had worked Memphis for a good amount of time in their careers and, as a result, had worked with each other extensively and knew a lot of the same regional spots. They’d also invent spots at house shows then use them in front of bigger crowds. In particular, he came up with the referee boxing spot at house show in Tennessee then got to use it at Wrestlewar 90 and, again, at Unforgiven 98. People don’t do that anymore because people script out the matches too much these days. He compares it to Lucha six-man matches, which work until one guy forgets what he’s supposed to do and it all falls apart. “The five most dreaded words in some locker rooms these days are ‘Call it in the ring.’” (I think part of the problem is the WWE road agents having to pre-approve matches. If good workers were allowed to call more things in the ring, such as playing heel if the crowd hates them when they were supposed to be a face, some of the matches on RAW wouldn’t be so painfully bad.)
Parallels to Magnum TA’s accident- He starts telling the story of Whitey Caldwell, whose memory he honored at his Night of the Legends show in 1994. Whitey had been wrestling against Ron Wright for years, with Whitey as the babyface and Wright as the heel. Whitey was such a pure babyface that he didn’t even let people sell pictures of him because his fans were poor and he didn’t want to take advantage of them. The only one he ever sold was where the proceeds from it went to help a sick girl. After Whitey died in a car accident, Wright turned face the next week in his memory. The same thing happened to Nikita Koloff after Magnum’s accident, as the man who had been Magnum’s arch-enemy had turned face after his career ended. (I think there’s an ancient Vulcan proverb to cover this… “Only Nixon could go to China.”) He honored Whitey at the show because people still remembered him over twenty years after the accident and still put flowers on his grave. They brought in his wife, his children, and his grandchildren for the ceremony and the fans still gave him a HUGE ovation twenty years after his death.
Rick Rude early in his career- When they first went to Mid-South, the Midnights faced the Rick Rude and his partner, who were a babyface team. Dennis Condrey locked up with Rude and they started walking around, bounced Rude off the ropes, locked up again, then Rude tagged out. He found out later that Condrey had tried to tell Rude to run the ropes, jump over Dennis, who would be laid out on the ground, punch Bobby Eaton, and lock up again but was so green he couldn’t get it. He finally got so frustrated that he told him to tag out.
Little things that made his day as a fan working in the business- He worked the LWPA show once where “Crippler” Ray Stevens went to hang out with promoter Wally Karbo. Stevens lived in Charlotte at the time, where Cornette also lived, so they ended up on the same flight together, which was diverted to Atlanta. They rented a car together to drive back to Charlotte, which was a treat for him because he got to spend four hours with one of the best workers in history who was pretty damn colorful as well. One of the things Cornette mentions on Stevens’ resume is that “he used to be brothers with Don Fargo” before making the observation that you can only really say that about someone who’s worked in wrestling. He then goes into a Stevens story about riding with Fargo in which Stevens got pissed at Fargo and told him
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