February 19, 2007
I’ve been meaning to write about the various promoters I’ve had both the fortune and misfortune of working for during my career and after reading a recent Jim Cornette interview in Power Slam magazine (A UK Wrestling Magazine) I thought I would jump chronological order a bit and start with Jim Cornette and my Smokey Mountain Wrestling days.
I got the gig in SMW by simply sending Jim Cornette a videotape of my work. This was likely late 1992 early 1993, a point in my career when I was sending out stuff to anyone and everyone. I eventually heard back from Jimmy when I was in Hanover Germany working for Otto Wanz (fall of 1993). We played phone tag for several weeks before finally connecting and agreeing to talk more in depth once I returned home from my tour with CWA.
After further negotiations, which eventually included a reunion with Chris Jericho, Jim Cornette flew Chris Jericho and I down to Knoxville, TN to meet with him, see the SMW product first hand, and negotiate a deal to come in full time (early 1994). I was real excited about working for Jim Cornette as I was a huge Midnight Express fan and SMW had been really taking off at that point, being at one point associated with both WCW and WWF.
Cornette picked us up at the airport himself (Jim doesn’t mind going to the airport as long as he isn’t the one getting on and off the planes.), which I though was very cool and I liked him right away. Cornette is a very easy man to like. He is very down to earth, great to talk to, and one of the funniest men I’ve ever had the pleasure of talk to. I swear if he wasn’t in the wrestling business he could have made a good living as a stand up comedian.
As a promoter he was also very good to work for. I always felt he was being honest with me and no one cares more about the wrestling business than Jim Cornette. He can at times be a bit of a rage-aholic, but that stems from his passion and love for this business, and most JC outbursts are more entertaining than harmful. I learned a lot working for Jim Cornette, the biggest of which being to cater to the individual crowd in front of you each night. Not every crowd is the same and regardless of the style you most like to perform it is wiser to perform the style the crowd most prefers to watch.
When Jericho and I first went to SMW we were both in love with the newer faster paced (Japanese jr. Heavy Weight) style of wrestling, while the Tennessee and Kentucky crowds were accustom to a much plainer slower style. I learned a lot adjusting my style in order to find a blend that both the crowd could follow and we would enjoy performing.
Now the big question, which I will cover for all of the promoters I’ve worked for in my career (as I cover them in future commentaries) does Jim Cornette owe me money? We hear so many stories about getting shafted on paydays and the horrors of getting shafted by small time promoters. With Jim Cornette the answer isn’t perfectly clear. Technically Jimmy does not owe me a dime, but that is not to say I got paid everything I was originally supposed to while working for SMW.
Jericho and I had agreed on a monthly down side contract (quite possibly the first downside contracts in the business as this was before WWE started using them) and were constantly behind in getting paid on those. This wasn’t entirely Jimmy’s fault as SMW lost a huge financial backer shortly after we joined and I think he found himself unexpectedly behind the eight ball financially. When I was wrapping up my time in SMW I was significantly behind in my pay and I cut a deal with Jim that if he could come up with a lump sum reduced amount we would call it even and part on good terms. I did this because I felt Cornette genuinely wanted to make good but was having a really hard time coming up with the money. I figured if I could get the number with in his reach he would make good and he did.
I was glad we parted on good term because I got to work with Jim again in OVW when I was there as a trainer for WWE. Again Jimmy was a lot of fun to work with and I still to this day consider him to be one of the best wrestling minds in the industry today, which brings me back to that interview I mentioned earlier. In the interview JC goes on a bit of an anti WWE rant, which was very accurate and well deserved, but I think also echoes my recent rants on TNA. I want to leave you with a few Jim Cornette quotes from the interview and the idea and hope that perhaps TNA might expand Jim Cornette’s current role within the company to include: Creative Control, Booking Powers, or even just the role of LOGIC POLICE, because Jim Cornette eats, sleeps, and breaths this business and actually understands what it is about.
“Every big money gate, every big rating and every bench mark and record in this business is set by something that people can buy into and take seriously and a conflict they want to see resolved. That’s what it’s all about.” JC
“…the people who are in charge of this business will spend hours and hours discussing the funny shot of the person in the shower or the guy slipping in dog s—t and then put 15 minutes’ thought into the big main event match to sell tickets… I don’t understand it…” JC
Well I don’t understand it either and I would love to see TNA do what ever it takes to get Jim Cornette booking their show. With the talent currently in TNA and Jim Cornette’s knowledge and logic they could have the best wrestling show on television.
In closing I guess I should get back to Jim Cornette the promoter; I would not rank Jim Cornette as the best promoter I ever worked for but I would consider my time working for him as an ABSOLUTE positive! My memories of SMW and OVW are all great ones.