When Billy Corgan, widely-regarded as one of the best musical talents of his generation and known as the front man for the Smashing Pumpkins, purchased the rights to the National Wrestling Alliance, I didn’t know what it could actually be used for. Since Ted Turner bought Jim Crockett Promotions, the major promoter of the NWA name, in 1988 and later changed the name of the organization to World Championship Wrestling, the actual NWA more or less floundered around with a few independent promoters claiming they were a part of the National Wrestling Alliance since that time. It was often disappointing to see small cards with 50 people in attendance attempt to associate themselves with the initials that were once the most powerful in the industry. Even TNA’s use of the title belt didn’t necessarily represent a new age for the organization, but rather a way to get a new project noticed in 2002 before they dropped it in exchange for their own championship roughly five years later.
So, I was skeptical about what could actually be done with anything named NWA as far as a product in 2019. However, I was very happy to see that Corgan and former WWE writer, Dave Lagana had found their own niche in the current crowded wrestling landscape, producing NWA Power, a roughly 45-minute show posted on Youtube that has garnered stellar reviews. The format blends the throwback of the traditional studio show with the modern technology of the internet to present a unique presentation to the audience. With Nick Aldis as heavyweight champion and underrated performers like Eddie Kingston on the roster, a compelling product has made an impact in a relatively short time with an upcoming pay-per-view and another set of tapings next month. If the project gets off the ground on a bigger scale remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a solid start and a lot more than anyone else probably could’ve done with the NWA.
Along with the old school elements that decorate the program, the controversial and legendary manager, Jim Cornette worked as a commentator for the show. Cornette, who made much of his legacy under the JCP banner, is known as one of the most insightful minds of the history of professional wrestling, including an absolutely astonishing memorabilia room in his house with items from several decades.
Unfortunately, the former manager of the Midnight Express has become just as known, if not more well known in recent years for his outrageous podcast sound bytes or profanity-laced tweets than his fast-paced prose in promos or swing the racket at ringside.
His hatred for perennial goof Vince Russo and the nonsensical booking that tanked WCW in 2000 is well-documented. While it’s understandable that most would agree that Russo’s “Judy Bagwell on a pole” match helped bankrupt a multi-million dollar company, Cornette’s boarder-line obsessive hatred of Russo seemed unhealthy in recent years. While that internet feud raged in some form or fashion since the two worked together in the WWF in the late-90s, The Louisville slugger remains a lightening rod online for his divisive opinions on the modern industry.
On the surface, the NWA position appeared to be a perfect fit for him, as it was as old school as a modern product could get and the environment allowed him to fully utilize his legendary verbal skills. However, similar to many of his other recent comments, Cornette put himself amid more controversy when he blurted out a rather tasteless joke that sounded very racist during the Nick Aldis/Trevor Murdoch match during this week’s edition of the NWA Power show.
— "Wholesome" Baby Billy Hawkins (@CeeHawk) November 19, 2019
Part of Jim Cornette’s usual response to these types of incidents is that people are just too sensitive and misinterpret the things he says as too literal. Does Cornette’s misspoken “joke” automatically mean that he’s a hateful racist? No, but he made a reference to fried chicken and Ethiopia, a country in Africa so it’s obvious why this remark would be considered racist. In fact, that’s really the only logical way that particular remark could be interpreted so what exactly did Cornette expect the reaction to be? At best, Cornette made a really dumb reference and an even dumber decision when he thought the statement would somehow be effective in a wrestling show.
The online backlash is only the most recent toward the former manager, as he made an insensitive reference to suicide (something he had done before on Twitter about Kurt Cobain) toward Progress ring announcer, Jim Smallman on social media earlier this month, and the NWA issued an apology for that. The National Wrestling Alliance also posted an apology for Cornette’s Ethiopia comments and announced his resignation from the organization, a story that was picked up by different media news outlets, including TMZ.
This is all just days after he made headlines for his claim that All Elite Wrestling ring announcer Justin Roberts looks like he should be registered to be around kids, implying that Roberts looked like a predator. Cornette brushed it off on his podcast, and while the comment was probably just another jab toward AEW because of Cornette’s hatred for most of the AEW roster, Justin Roberts, who Cornette mentioned he has no animosity toward, didn’t deserve those comments.
The bigger point here is that Jim Cornette, with all the knowledge and insight that he could contribute to the business, has basically made himself unemployable to any major wrestling company. His famous temper saw him depart ROH years ago, his beef with Russo (fairly or unfairly) led to his release in TNA. His stint with MLW earlier this year was brief and he later had criticism toward some of the performers on that roster. Obviously, his most recent comments along with other things he said in the past probably also put him off the list for WWE because it’s a publicly traded company.
Is the entire sports entertainment world wrong or has Jim Cornette at least occasionally taken things too far?
In many ways, it takes effort to get ousted from nearly every major company of the modern era. Some have claimed that Cornette’s rants are all a work to carter to his audience and generate sells through his website, including a graphic novel that sold very well recently. It’s very possible that the “anger old man yelling at the clouds” routine is just a gimmick, but even then, is it worth it?
Jim Cornette has become more well-known for his hatred of almost everything modern than he is for his legendary career. His podcast is fueled by “wait until Cornette vents about this” than the tremendous knowledge he has about the history of the industry. I hate to say it, but I think the “Cornette rants” have finally jumped the shark and tarnished some of his legacy with the continuous controversial comments. I want to make it very clear, I respect everything that Jim Cornette has done in the wrestling industry and still think he’s one of the brightest minds of the sport, but at some point, it needs to be said that things have gone too far. About a year and a half ago, I had a very polite e mail exchange with him when I asked about his collectibles site, and mentioned to him that I met Big Bossman, who he worked with in the 80s, when I was younger after one of the surgeries that I had. Cornette thanked me for telling him and said he always enjoyed remembering him.
So no, this isn’t the typical Cornette rebuttal, but more to point out that the NWA incident is probably the last major platform that he will have and on some level that’s sad. I guess, it’s mostly because he has so much insight to offer to professional wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Joey Ryan either, but if he can make a living with his gimmick, good for him, that’s capitalism. I don’t hold a personal grudge against him, I just choose not to watch most of his matches. Cornette’s disdain for anyone that doesn’t agree with his philosophy about the sport is almost illogical when he takes it to such an extreme level. Again, maybe this is all designed to play to his audience and it brings him a nice income in his later years so he doesn’t have to travel or hustle autographs at card shows like other characters from the 80s.
I know this article might be met with venom from Cornette or his fan base, but that’s honestly not the intention here. However, if Cornette declares I should be boiled in oil then that would put me in decent company with names like Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks etc. Do I think Jim Cornette is a racist? No, but when a remark makes media outlets and overshadows what the NWA has built in the past few months, perhaps even the verbal Mozart should consider what he says before he delivers one of his trademark rants. Granted, Jim Cornette shouldn’t care or be concerned with anything I write in this article, but he also has the knowledge to be a much more influential force than just a renegade podcast on Youtube.
Jim Cornette rightfully said for years that Vince Russo was a clown show so it’s somewhat ironic that Cornette has become a TMZ headline.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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