Last week, we talked about some of my favorite IWC Writers From Back in the Day. One thing that most of them had in common was an ability to generate controversy. They really knew how to push peoples’ buttons and keep them coming back week after week to read what they had to say.
As opinionated and controversial as my favorite writers over the years have been, few in the history of the business can say they’ve had the same amount of success with their opinions & commentary as Jim Cornette.
I must admit to some level of bias here. As a Kentuckian without much athletic ability but with an unexplained love of pro wrestling, I can identify a little bit with Cornette. He’s been able to take his passion much further than I have, and I have to admit it’s because he’s a much harder worker. Much smarter, too.
Cornette figured out early on where this whole Internet thing was going. He was one of the first to do shoot interviews, and since he was a wrestling obsessive that kept track of everything he ever did, his interviews were more entertaining than most done at the time. Most wrestlers had a hard time remembering their own stuff, let alone other things going on at the same time. Others had selective memory and mysteriously forgot things. Whether Cornette was telling the gospel truth or not, his stories were consistent.
They were also entertaining…especially when he didn’t like somebody involved. Does the story involve Vince Russo? Jim Herd? Paul Heyman? Hardcore wrestling? Jim’s got plenty of vitriol worked up for any of those topics at any given time, and its always pretty funny stuff. Cornette figured this out too. He knew people loved to hear him get worked up over something. There would more money in being the Cranky Old Man of Wrestling than the Well Gee Golly Everybody’s So Awesome Guy.
And let’s be honest, Cornette plays the Cranky Old Man role so well because it’s him with the volume turned up.
When podcasting replaced shoot interviews as the Internet’s favorite form of entertainment, you knew it wouldn’t be long before Jim Cornette had a podcast. He started out with the old favorites, but eventually worked his way to some new targets. Cornette’s ROH run gave him some material involving the likes of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Colt Cabana & the Young Bucks. Not to mention the idiot office guy. Once Jim got on social media and people figured out if they sent him silly clips he’d go off on tirades about them, the floodgates opened.
The best thing to happen to Cornette’s podcast, by a pretty wide margin, is the emergence of All Elite Wrestling. Not only is it presenting more wrestling for podcast hosts to talk about, but in Cornette’s case, it features a lot of the people that he despises. Kenny? Bucks? Joey Janela? It’s a gold mine for ol’ Jimmy, and he keeps watching the shows so he can complain about them and then people can complain about him. It’s pretty good business.
Of course, he’s got plenty of other things going on too. The business with Sami Callihan, which we found out was a work until it wasn’t. There’s always something going on with Russo. I think he & Kenny Bolin had a falling out, though to be honest I’m never sure whether Bolin’s working or shooting with us.
Then there’s Jordynne Grace.
I am 100% for calling wrestling a “performance art” rather than a “sport”. The insistence upon calling it a sport is really holding wrestling back in my opinion. Discuss with me.
— Trisha Parker (@JordynneGrace) March 17, 2018
Somebody linked Jimmy to this tweet, and our boy got worked up for a couple of reasons. First off, he was irked by her “shoot name” appearing in her profile, which is something of a trend amongst wrestlers now.
I have no problem with wrestlers using their real names on Twitter. Sure, it would definitely have been frowned upon by Bill Watts, but it’s a necessity of the times we live in now.
Back in the old days, wrestlers took their gimmick from territory to territory and nobody thought anything of it. The character of Kamala the Ugandan Giant was created in Memphis. James Harris performed as Kamala in Mid-South, World Class, the WWF, WCW and plenty of other places during his career. Did Jerry Lawler & Jerry Jarrett raise a stink about it? No, they let Harris do his thing and make some money. That’s one example, I can name hundreds more from the 1980s & prior.
Now? If a major promotion creates anything for you, you can’t use it anywhere else without jumping through various legal hoops. We’ve seen WWE keep people from using their stuff, and even places like Impact Wrestling try to keep their intellectual property out of the hands of lowly wrestlers. Lexi Kaufman likely has no desire to leave WWE, but if she did, she wouldn’t be allowed to use the name “Alexa Bliss” anywhere else of importance. It behooves her to get her real name out there in case she moves on to other ventures. I don’t fault any other wrestler for doing the same here in 2019.
But then there’s the business where the idea of wrestling being a pseudo-sport gets cast aside for…
I gotta side with the oldsters on this one. Performance Art goes into the bin of lame shit that people shouldn’t be saying with a straight face along with “sports entertainment” & “WWE Universe”. (A little secret: I use the “WWE Universe” term a lot in my writing. I’m rolling my eyes every time I use it. Not sure if it comes across that way or not, but trust me, I am.)
You guys & gals are pro wrestlers. Nothing wrong with it. Why hide from it? Hell, Roman Reigns was throwing out the term “Performance Fighter” the other day. Roman, I expected better of you. You know darn well that Afa & Sika would have beaten the ass of anybody calling what they did a performance. I know you have to be the corporate spokesperson since Seth Rollins failed that test with flying colors, but tread lightly on this front.
I go about 50/50 with Cornette takes these days.
Here’s some of my thoughts on Cornette’s greatest hits: I don’t like Joey Ryan flipping people with his dick. Chuck Taylor’s invisible grenade worked in the CHIKARA environment, probably wouldn’t anywhere else. I haven’t seen a lot of David Starr’s work, but I liked his promo on Sinclair Broadcasting. I always thought Sami Callihan was a touch overrated. The Young Bucks superkicking a kid sounded lame, as did Kenny Omega wrestling an eight year old & a blowup doll, but enough time’s passed for me to judge them based off of other stuff. Vince Russo had a few good ideas and a million bad ones. I liked Joey Janela until he got into a really lame fight with Enzo Amore.
Finally, I think Jordynne Grace is pretty cute in a “she would pick me up and toss me over the top rope” kind of way. Cornette disagrees, which is fine. If there’s one thing several years of making lists of attractive women proved to me, its that the subject engenders a ton of disagreement, hatred, and just complete nonsense from Internet commenters.
It’s not the fact that ol’ JC doesn’t like Jordynne’s look that bugs me. Like it or not, wrestling is a cosmetic business, and people are going to comment on how the wrestlers look & how it affects their believability or drawing power or whatever. It’s the term he used that..well…
Now, now, that's "butterface" to you…..
— Jim Cornette (@TheJimCornette) August 19, 2019
That’s the best that Corny can come up with? A joke that I thought was funny the first time I heard it, when I was about twelve years old? It ceased being funny after that, then it became one of those words that triggers me after reading it way too many times back when I used to read 411 comments. I mean, when you’re dipping into that pool to get some smack talk, you’re pretty much bankrupt of ideas.
His justification later on was that he was going back to his promos about Sunshine in World Class, which were over a decade before Grace was born. He also quoted an Andy Kaufman promo in a later tweet to another wrestling reporter, which I guess was also supposed to be hilarious.
Cornette sure was proud of that line though. He thought it was the height of hilarity. You could hear the pride oozing out of his voice as he talked about his vicious takedown of that cosplay wrestler. His Cult of Cornette followers sure loved it too. They do seem to fall in line with whatever comes out of his mouth.
Seems to be a trend these days, doesn’t it?
I can’t help but think of another guy that was something of a celebrity during the 1980s. His popularity ebbed & flowed over the years, but he found out that he could get attention by expressing outrageous opinions. Even better, people would fall in line with his crazy statements and look up to him as something of a role model. It didn’t matter how silly he got, people would just keep on defending him no matter what! Women were certainly an easy target for his diatribes, as were certain minorities. And all those takedowns? The most epic of all time, no doubt about it. Every one was solid gold, Jerry.
He could call people names & act like a complete jackass, and it wouldn’t matter to his followers because by god that’s how things used to be back in the day, when America was great instead of the weak, pussified place it is now. People who complain don’t get it. And boy, do their followers get mad at you whenever you dare say something mean about their leader.
For somebody that despises Donald Trump, Jim Cornette sure uses a lot of the same playbook.