Jim Cornette recently spoke with Wrestling 101 about working with John Cena and Brock Lesnar during their OVW days:
“In OVW here in Louisville between 1999 – 2005 we were the developmental territory for the WWE. A lot of guys came to OVW who weren’t signed by the WWE but became signed by the WWE, because they came here to train and they got good and they ended up getting offered contracts.
John came from California, we got him really early on in his career but you could tell he was a natural, I thought he would actually be this generations version of a Ric Flair. He was a heel then, and he was so cocky, arrogant and good looking – he had the physique and the genetics, he could talk but they decided to go a different direction with him and he got over just as big on the other side.
With Brock I’ll be honest with you, he was getting paid about four or five times more than everyone else in the developmental programme because of who he was. You don’t come across an athletic specimen like that who won the NCAA Heavyweight Championship everyday. However he was not a natural wrestling fan, not a natural wrestling student, he was a bit boring in the ring to be honest because he wasn’t used to being a showman. Also for a world class athlete I didn’t think he was trying five times as hard as his salary.
I paired him up with Shelton Benjamin who was one of the most natural wrestling school students we ever had, picked up things instantly and was exciting, so I made them a tag team. Shelton would do all the work, he would tag Brock and Brock would make a comeback and throw everyone through the roof. When he hit the WWE he became instantly exciting, remember the shooting star press he did at WrestleMania, he would do that for us and I would tell him he was crazy and to save it for the big show at the Louisville Gardens when the WWE agents are there and not in the high school halls. He did it in front of the WWE agents and they signed him directly because of that, the time he did it at WrestleMania is the only time I’ve seen him miss it.”