The best made plans often go by the wayside. With that being said, my original plan for this week was to delve into and explore the importance of music in professional wrestling, and more specifically, whether or not as many people in this world would be fans of the sport, if music was not such an important part of the spectacle. But, with that being said, I read something this morning while perusing my social media feeds that made me not only change my mind on this week’s topic, but it also left me scratching my head.
Now, we all know that I am a huge fan of old school wrestling. Part of my love for this particular comes from several different factors. The first being the larger than life, almost super human stars that graced my living room week in and week out. Another, is the men and women that would sometimes accompany these stars to the ring. Managers. More often than not you would see managers accompany the heel stars down the aisle for their matches. Sometimes, it was simply to add more fan heat for that particular superstar, other times it was to be a mouthpiece for someone that a company was trying to legitimize with their fan base, but perhaps that star was not the best when presented with a microphone. Or possibly, a manager was placed with a person, or a tag team, or a stable of wrestlers for the sheer purpose of causing trouble and antagonizing the masses. Whatever their reasons for being out at ringside, I was always drawn to, and fascinated by their weekly antics.
Which brings me to another topic that I would like to discuss. One of these managers, is and has been a legend in the business for over thirty years time. From working in such territories as Memphis Wrestling, to running and promoting his own territory for many years at Smoky Mountain, to gracing WWF/WWE rings with the likes of so many great competitors throughout his tenure there. A man, who spent many a week yielding a tennis racquet and portraying a mama’s boy, while coming across as one of the most pompous and entitled human beings in the business, this man would also lead some of the greatest teams to championship gold, including the likes of The Midnight Express, The Fantastics and others, along with the gargantuan Yokozuna and even Mick Foley for a time under his first “face” being Mankind.
James E. Cornette, known affectionately by his fans today as “Corny”, cemented his name in the business as one of the best managers of all time. But he is also a man who is no stranger to controversy and causing an uproar, both in the ring, and more recently outside of it, while taking to the airwaves each week on not one, but two podcasts – The Jim Cornette Experience and Jim Cornette’s Drive Thru. Therein these podcasts ladies and gentlemen lies my thoughts for today. For those of you who have not listened to either, the former of the two podcasts includes many road stories throughout Jim’s 4 decade long career. It also includes his opinions on the business of today, versus the business of yesteryear.
Some may say that Jim is “out of touch” but for me, there are many things and many of his opinions on the business that I agree with. While sometimes far more outspoken and downright harsh in all honesty as they may be, Jim’s opinions and thoughts have come through things that he has gone through
personally. On that note, I would also like to clarify that there are many things that have been said, on which I do not agree, but for the most part I find his opinions valid and enjoyable to hear.
Can James E. go too far? Yes he can. There have been many an occasion when wrestlers both from the independent scene as well as in the “big three” have gone up in arms over some of what has come out of his mouth. For the most part, I believe that Cornette means well, in that he to this day goes to great length to protect the business that he respects, but some of the larger names in today’s business, such as Ronda Rousey, Seth Rollins, Dana Brooke and most recently Lio Rush have taken exception to his very outspoken approach. Some superstars have a valid reason for their exceptions, while others taking the time to argue with the colourfully clothed legend is simply laughable. Enter, Lio Rush.
Lio Rush is arguably one of the most agile and athletic performers of this era. But he too is no stranger to heat. While Jim Cornette can be said to possibly spread heat for the sake of spreading heat, or for the sake of gaining ratings by targeting someone to get a rise from them, Rush on the other hand has been said to generally be arrogant to the point of being disliked. As impressive as he may be, Lio’s stature, is something that I believe has also played a role in making things difficult for him. Throughout his career in ROH, Rush built himself up and eventually received some attention from the WWE and came in and onto the main roster with the ever charismatic (note my sarcasm) Bobby Lashley. As a mouthpiece for “The Almighty” Rush, coupled with his athleticism, truly started to make a name for himself. Unfortunately, much like Jim, Lio’s attitude put a damper on the heights of his career, and this would eventually lead to his being taken off of television and losing his spot as Lashley’s associate.
This brings me to my reading material this morning. Apparently, Mr. Rush has taken exception to some of the recent comments made by the legendary manager, and he took to his social media to blast the racquet swinging former manager. Now, while this could be seen as Lio Rush attempting to remain relevant after his unfortunate recent WWE release (More than likely due to the poor attitude issues mentioned above). If this is what he was trying to do, I suppose you could say that he accomplished his mission, because James E. actually took the time to respond in grand fashion. But let’s be real here. Jim Cornette, has more wrestling knowledge in his pinky toe than Lio Rush has in his entire body. Corny’s little finger has more road stories and match spot memories and miles upon miles of travel time in it than Rush has in his entire lifetime. And most importantly dear reader, according to this writer, and I’m sure millions of others, James E. Cornette, has drawn more money than Lio Rush can ever possibly dream of drawing throughout however long his career continues to last. Don’t get me wrong, I have all the respect in the world for Lio Rush and his athleticism. I have all the respect in the world for what he has accomplished in his career. But for him to come at Jim Cornette about ANYTHING, to me is ridiculous.
Now, again, some may think that Jim’s opinions are outdated, or out of touch, but I feel that he is doing all that he possibly can to ensure that this business stays not only respected but respected. As a promoter, I take great pride in ensuring that the shows presented by my company are enjoyable for the fans in attendance, the roster, and above all else, everything that is presented MAKES SENSE. Jim Cornette goes out of his way to point out, almost weekly that if your stories and your characters make sense, then you will undoubtedly draw a larger fanbase. But if you are out simply to put on a show with no real direction and no vision, the show may work, but it may not continue to work in the long run.
The magic of wrestling is that it’s ultimate purpose is to suspend your disbelief. So, if you have people on your roster that don’t understand that, or that are simply there to “get their spots in,” then your show is not going to be as good as it could be. Match psychology is one of the most important things you can have, and it is also rapidly becoming a lost art in today’s business. While flashy and “cool” moves are great every now and then, if you are constantly using them, whichever moves you are using will slowly lose their allure. They will no longer be seen as special. Jim Cornette continues to push RESPECT for our business and takes no issue with exposing those who blatantly go out of their way to disrespect the art of wrestling. This, folks is why I will forever support and respect him as a person and as a wrestling pioneer.
My hope for Lio is that The Man of The Hour, take a few moments to slow down, and really delve into the territories of yesterday. I strongly feel that if he parked his ego outside the door, and remembered the number one rule while coming up in this business, which is keep your ears open and your mouth closed, then he may actually continue to get somewhere. I hope for his sake that he does, because there’s a strong possibility that his light could shine brighter.
To sum things up, instead of opening his mouth, perhaps Lio should park his pride, and remember to wipe his feet on the apron before stepping through those ropes and saying something that he has no business saying. For Jim? There’s nothing really to say, that he won’t eventually say himself, so until next time, I’m Nicky Martin and this has been the Magnificent Mind.