Wrestling Rumblings #63
April 16, 2010
By: Jose Marrero of WrestleView.com
Last week I wrote a column listing personal rules that I felt all members of the wrestling media should govern themselves by. It was a column that I didn't think much of upon submitting as it being a "great" column but it got a tremendous amount of feedback from readers and even writers from various other websites. It's no secret; I love professional wrestling and am always concerned with how the industry is perceived from all stances. I feel wrestling is scrutinized more than any other form of sport or entertainment and it's fans, writers and athletes are always in a position to raise its prestige or lower the bar for everyone else with their behavior. When I wrote last week's column I mentioned not playing favorites, holding those that you enjoy to the same standards of those whose contributions you don't particularly care for. Here is the chance for me to put that rule in practice before you all as I talk about the week that was for Mr. Jim Cornette...you're reading "Wrestling Rumblings."
I have to tell you all I am a tremendous fan of Jim Cornette, I always have been from the moment he first appeared on my TV screen. As I became further entrenched in my passion for wrestling I made it my business to become as educated as possible towards everyone I could in the wrestling business, including Mr. Cornette and found myself becoming a further admirer of his. It's no secret in today's era of wrestling that longevity in wrestling is very hard. Many men and women we admire don't have the runs that we expect them to and are either forced out or moved out of the business on their own. Mr. Cornette has a career in this business that spans nearly 30 years and includes stints as a manager, commentator, promoter and booker. I am by no means kissing up to the man when I say he has probably forgot more about the wrestling industry than I'll ever hope to know. For the most part I will never question his knowledge and opinions on this industry because usually I find myself agreeing with them but I will question his tactics, after all it is not what you do but how you do it that determines how you are perceived by others. Mr. Cornette and I want to state I call him Mr. not because I am scared of him because unlike many in the business I really am not, however I do respect him as someone who has contributed a great deal to an industry that I profoundly love, but with that being said I think it may be time to take a few deep breaths and step aside from this business for a while.
It hasn't been reported on this site and to be quite honest I doubt it would be reported on many other sites but Mr. Cornette actually called my good friend, former boss at DOIwrestling.com and owner of WSU Sean "The Mic" McCaffrey earlier in the week and well pretty much sent him to hell. Why you ask? Well Sean told what was a loose kept secret really for the last few months that Mr. Cornette was working for ROH as executive producer on its HD Net TV show and as a personality for free. This upset Mr. Cornette very much. It should be stated for those who are unaware of the story that Cornette himself verified that the story was in fact true and well to anyone who has followed ROH it shouldn't be that surprising. Money problems have been talked about with that company for months before Mr. Cornette's hire and well why would they all of a sudden have the kind of money that you would expect to hire Jim Cornette? Truth of the matter is many were made aware of this including myself and well those (with the obvious exception of Sean) chose to stay quiet on the matter. I can only speak for myself but I never said anything because I was told in confidence and was only told after I jokingly had guessed it. I never felt it was really anything of note to report and would really be only gossip but that was my opinion of course and there could have been several other reasons why other people who knew this kept quiet on it, needless to say I knew almost the whole time since he has been with ROH and I would imagine that I wasn't the only one.
There are some out there that will counter and say Mr. Cornette came out on Sean because Sean has had personal issues with ROH ever since the ouster of original owner Rob Feinstein and I would be hard pressed to argue against that, however it should be stated again that Sean didn't lie and didn't even exaggerate in this story he simply told the truth about the situation. He actually made Cornette look like a million bucks because he gave Cornette so much credit for contributing so much behind the scenes and basically taking over the duties of other paid employees for free but I guess that displeased Mr. Cornette. Cornette unhappy about the leaks attacked the messenger and that wasn't the professional thing to do. I say it all the time that wrestling media has a bum rap and much of it is deserved as too many people flood the net with their opinions and fabricate stories but this was a 100% true story and all Sean was guilty of was reporting it. Did he have to report it? No he did not as I said before I didn't think it was that big of an issue when I became aware of it and I felt reporting it at the time would do nothing more than to embarrass Jim but again that was my opinion. Fact of the matter is Sean was in his rights to write the story as long as he stuck to the facts which he did and for Cornette to call him yelling and cursing was really a bullying tactic if you ask me. It really upsets me that someone like Mr. Cornette who uses the internet wrestling media to his benefit and has no problem when someone else's business is reported by his friends Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez all of a sudden tees off when the shoe is on the other foot. I have no problem with guys that hate the wrestling media I really don't, what I have a problem with are hypocrites who will turn a blind eye in one situation and then when an identical situation occurs that has something to do with them blast the internet and all of sudden want to see websites burned down to the ground. I find it funny that Cornette in his phone call to Sean was complaining of leaks to the internet and neglects that he has been a source for Dave Meltzer for years before the internet even came into prominence. No one should be allowed to have it both ways not even you Mr. Cornette.
If that was Mr. Cornette's only transgression I might have not written this column and let someone else stick his feet to the fire as Mr. Cornette surely wouldn't be the first person to love the internet one minute and hate it the next but then there is the well publicized issues that have now resulted in lawyers getting involved between Mr. Cornette and Vince Russo. I've made no secret in the past that Vince Russo was one of the very first mainstream wrestling personalities that I ever had any type of contact with in the wrestling business and that even though it has been years since our last correspondence I personally consider him a friend to me. With that being said I have also made no secret that I have not been a fan of anything that I have seen in TNA wrestling for the past few years and with as much spin as can be put on things Russo is as much to blame for any of the calamity that is TNA wrestling, so while I will never publicly call for any wrestling personality to be fired (these are people with families and well I don't want anyone trying to wish me unable to support my family) I can't necessarily fault many of my colleagues and wrestling fans that do. TNA's product has not improved and has not shown much signs of improving in my opinion and sooner or later I do feel someone has to be held accountable for its failures. So when Mr. Cornette says he would love to see Vince Russo out of the wrestling business entirely that doesn't offend me at all, it is his opinion and quite honestly a popular opinion from many and he is entitled to it. Inflicting bodily harm and death however is a whole different story entirely.
It is the opinion of this writer that Mr. Cornette has some serious anger issues and while it may be coming to the forefront now it has been rearing its head for over 20 years now. There are many fans who will give Mr. Cornette a pass on Vince Russo because well he is Vince Russo and the hip thing to do is pick on Vince Russo but what about Cornette's interactions in the past with Paul Heyman? It's been no secret throughout the years of the animosity Mr. Cornette has had towards Heyman and I never really understood it. Both men came up similarly in the wrestling business as they were both photographers as teenagers for wrestling promotions and would both go on to become great managers and bookers and promoters. It always felt like a professional jealousy in my opinion because I always felt that as great as Mr. Cornette was Paul Heyman always seemed to one up him. I enjoyed Paul more as a manager and when Paul seemed to really outdo Mr. Cornette there he sort of transitioned into creative while Paul got to be the top manager in a promotion in a way that at that time Mr. Cornette had not experienced. Mr. Cornette would leave WCW and help usher in Smokey Mountain Wrestling. I wasn't that big of a fan of SMW but at the time of its inception it was the darling of the wrestling underground as tape traders and insiders kept clamoring about the angles being run in this promotion. Of course Heyman would eventually go onto book and then own Extreme Championship Wrestling and again he and Heyman would be rivals as Heyman would go onto top Cornette as an owner and a booker also. I recognize I am going to get emails from fans who would disagree with that statement and I want to clarify that this statement is not an opinion as other statements I make are but a fact. I say this because I never saw SMW on PPV or on national TV and I never heard of anyone wanting to resurrect SMW as a promotion or even as an angle but the latter cannot be said for ECW whether you enjoyed the original ECW or hated it no one should deny its success and it was more successful than SMW. After a great stint in WWE as a manager and then a less than memorable stint on the creative team in which he would be ousted in favor of future nemesis Vince Russo Mr. Cornette would find himself in OVW and would help book brilliant TV. It is the opinion of this writer that Mr. Cornette couldn't really see that the business was changing and that times were changing and that's when his anger started getting the better of him and he would have several outbursts some of which involved physical assaults on talent which resulted in his dismissal and who replaced him? Paul Heyman who although he had what could be argued less talent to work with in OVW during his time there unlike Mr. Cornette produced some of the most brilliant television in that promotions history only for that company to realize that his talents were wasted there and bring him back to write TV for the new ECW.
Throughout the years Cornette would take cheap shots and make his intense dislike of Heyman known although he couldn't really blister Heyman the way he would later on Vince Russo because well Heyman in the eyes of many was in fact a creative genius and to cheap shot him over and over again would just make Cornette look jealous. Enter Vince Russo, another New York guy like Heyman who some would even say was a bit inspired by Heyman. Everyone is going to have their opinion on the guy but the truth of the matter is that initial WWE run was successful and while I am not going to give him as much credit as he would give himself I am going to give him some because well the fact of the matter is things did not change until Russo was given more power in WWE and that has to count for something. Even if Vince McMahon was an editor for Vince Russo and I have no reason to believe that he wasn't Russo was still the one feeding ideas that were able to be edited and helped usher in the era of WWF Attitude. Even the biggest Russo detractors can name talent that would go onto prominence and last in memory under his watch I can't think of a single talent who would become bigger than what they were or get a break in the Jim Cornette WWF. Of course when Russo was successful in WWE Cornette was already beginning to hate him just as he hated Paul Heyman for years (see a pattern here) and just like Heyman there really wasn't much he could say cause well Russo was having more success on the national stage at the time then he was whether or not he agreed with the booking philosophies or not.
Russo of course would head onto WCW and fail miserably in his attempts to save that promotion and that would be when the first real venom of Mr. Cornette would spew, almost as if he was waiting for him to fail the whole time, almost as if he was waiting for someone, anyone who he perceived as having taken his spot to fail so he could stand up and say "I told you so". At the time he would make many personal comments towards Russo and most attributed it to Cornette just having anger towards the Oklahoma character that Ed Ferrara would play under Russo's watch but it was obviously more as I truly believe that WWE has done just as many offensive things to Jim Ross over the years and I have yet to see Mr. Cornette attack that with the ferocity that he has attacked Russo with. It's in the opinion of this writer that its sour grapes, bitterness and honestly pure jealousy for a man who has received opportunities that Mr. Cornette felt should have gone to him.
I'm sure some of you reading this, maybe even Mr. Cornette himself if he is given this column to read would take offense to that but let me ask you this; what has Vince Russo done personally to Jim Cornette to warrant wishing death upon him? I've heard Mr. Cornette mention on multiple occasions that he wanted to physically assault Russo and now we are hearing of his fantasizing about killing the guy in his dreams. Let me remind everyone that during the duration of Vince Russo's career in wrestling I have yet to see him say one negative thing towards Mr. Cornette. Many would argue that he is afraid of Mr. Cornette I don't believe that to be the case what I do see is Vince Russo being the bigger man but no one will give him credit for that because they are not fans of his booking style. Forget the man's booking style for a minute have you ever heard anyone outside of maybe Hulk Hogan who has a pretty shady relationship himself with most people ever make a negative comment towards Vince Russo the person? Sure creatively in my opinion right now he stinks and I am not a fan of his recent work but as a person there are very few people in the wrestling business that I have liked as a person more than Vince Russo. He was as helpful as can be to me and we had many correspondences that didn't involve wrestling and it wasn't like I was speaking to a celebrity but a normal person and well you don't get that much with people in wrestling. I have heard many people over the years say many less savory things about Mr. Cornette though almost all involving him either being very outdated and stuck in another generation or him just having anger issues. One person could be wrong, two people could be exaggerating but when a handful of people who are of decent character mention these things they can't all be wrong can they?
In Mr. Cornette's defense I heard a podcast he did where he mentions the letter being his way of "blowing off steam" and how anyone who really knew him would've understood it. I myself have been guilty in the past of saying things in the heat of anger that would ultimately get me in trouble and even cost me opportunities later on, so I can understand that mode of thinking. I can also understand that I am now 28 years old and probably haven't said anything as serious as what Cornette has said in his email and for that matter over internet airwaves since I was 20 years old and well Mr. Cornette is nearly 50. The "blowing off steam" excuse is sort of a sign of immaturity to me. Sure it is somewhat OK to be angry and to even have violent thoughts towards people but I do believe that in 2010 in an era of terrorism and wrestlers killing themselves and others that people need to be more careful with what comes out of their mouth or is put on their keyboards. How often to do we see catastrophes occur and then we hear of a comment or a letter that no one took seriously? I'm sorry but with all the times that Mr. Cornette has mentioned wanting to physically assault Vince Russo I am shocked it took this long for someone to take some sort of legal precautionary action towards him.
Let me just add that Mr. Cornette stood working side by side with Vince Russo for 3 years without incident. At one point while working in TNA he even stated that they have friendly conversations but just have different wrestling philosophies which he strongly disagrees with. Throughout the tenure there it would seem all he did was undermining Russo and outwardly make fun of him which to me creates a very tense work environment. I am not saying that Mr. Cornette was not the smarter of the two when it came to certain things that would arise in there 3 years of working there but there is a right way and a wrong way to handle things. When you attempt to split what is supposed to be a united front into factions for your own benefit that really benefits no one hence why Mr. Cornette would ultimately be dismissed. Instead of giving Vince Russo enough rope to hang himself he insisted on being the guy who would hang him and ultimately found himself the one on TNA's firing line.
In closing I want to say I am a fan of James E. Cornette, and I love what he has been doing with Ring of Honor when it comes to their HD Net program and I do believe there is a place for him in the wrestling business provided he calm down and look around him a bit more. Things are not what they used to be and what was funny and acceptable 20 to 25 years ago will get you locked up right now. Stop doing interviews on TNA, it is apparent through their ratings and buy rates that what is going on over there isn't working out to their satisfaction. You're ranting on the promotion just shows everyone that you really wish you could still be there employed and are angry about not having a job and just project that anger towards someone who will not fight back. If you really feel Vince Russo has wronged you I say the best revenge is by being successful, make ROH a company worthy of being the true number 2 company in the United States. Bickering, making physical threats and well just plain being a crybaby isn't going to help anyone least of all yourself. I've met you a handful of times and I can honestly say I enjoyed our encounters and would love to have time with you to pick your brain when it comes to wrestling but if I can be so bold as to offer a little bit of advice there are men who cry about it and there are men who do something about it. If you really feel Vince Russo is wrong and TNA is doomed so something about it that doesn't involve threatening people, boost ROH or start and boost something else, don't embarrass yourself and the industry by behaving in the way in which you have. I hope that as the weeks go on you go back and listen and read some of the stuff you have put out and see how the arrows you are slinging are not helping your cause and in fact rally and help your cause. I'll be watching.
I guess it's time to give all the readers out there something to do right? Well this weekend is TNA's Lockdown I don't have high hopes for this PPV but if you have nothing else to do why not? This Monday for those that are in the Tri State Area Monday Night Raw will be at the IZOD Center in New Jersey with guest hosts from the movie McGruber. I haven't decided yet if I will attend that show but if I do expect to hear more from me about it. Of course anyone who wants to email me can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org
and well that's it for this week, next week I will try to do better and until then I am out.