On the latest episode of Chael Sonnen’s podcast, the American Gangster sits down with Jim Cornette to talk wrestling, rasslin, and Russo.
Chael’s first question is if Jim and Vince Russo have made up. Jim says he and Russo “couldn’t warm up if we were cremated together”. Cornette adds that even beyond wrestling, they are polar opposites as people, and everything that Russo says, Cornette “disagrees with to the marrow of my bones, down to my very soul”
Cornette relays Bobby Eaton’s description of how the promoters paid the boys “Take the money from the box office, throw it up in the air, and whatever sticks to the ceiling is the cut the boys get”
Chael says the only people that can keep a secret are gangsters and professional wrestlers. Jim says that’s true, but only for the business, since wrestlers are incapable of keeping secrets and gossip about each other from spreading.
Jim says there were three main forms of communication, “telephone, telegraph, and tell a wrestler”
In talking about what’s real and what isn’t, Cornette drops a Dutch Mantel quote, “We used to pretend to beat each other up, but people believed we were. But now we really beat the hell out of each other and everybody thinks it’s bullshit”
Chael went in for a tryout at the WCW Power Plant, and said it was hard as hell. He also mentions seeing the ring getting taken down and to his shocking discovery, it was “steel, plywood, and about a quarter-inch of a carpet pad” and that no gymnast or circus performer would ever agree to performing on such a surface.
Jim says WWE has a nice, cushioned ring now that they “have an unlimited budget and more money than the federal government”
Cornette see similarities in how modern day mixed martial arts hypes fights with how old timey wrestling built up matches. He’s fine with MMA using those tools since current wrestling has gotten away from them.
Chael has tremendous respect for Mick Foley, but he doesn’t want to see Mick falling off a cage where there’s no padding, or a guy falling off a ladder.
Jim says it’s a huge problem when people try to emulate the Rock’s charisma or Rey Mysterio’s athleticism, but don’t actually have the talent, that beats things to death and kills it for everyone. There will only be one WWE superstar that’s 5’2″ and 140 pounds and that’s Rey Mysterio. He’s the exception to the rule and people that try to be like him but aren’t good enough are the reason for the rule in the first place.
Chael says he loves indie wrestling since “those high flying and acrobatic moves are so far advanced, a lot of them don’t know ’em”. I seriously want to know what indies Chael is watching without at least one dude that exclusively does flippy doos.
Cornette says people just want to see “the brand come through once”, and adds it’s like going to see the Harlem Globetrotters. People don’t care who’s on the Globetrotters today, they want the experience of seeing them. They don’t care who is on WWE’s roster, they just want to see WWE when they pass through town.
Chael offers an option for CM Punk’s first opponent under the premise of just having fun with things. Punk versus Roy Jones Jr. Jim counters that if Brock returns, UFC should get a top boxer for a freakshow fight against Lesnar. Jim says “Punk hasn’t been a competitive wrestler, he’s been an entertainment wrestler.”
Cornette says he has UFC’s biggest PPV fight: CM Punk versus Dana White
Chael says his favorite tag team of all time is Demoltion, and he’s upset that the Bushwackers are going into the Hall of Fame before Demolition. Cornette says that because Bill Eadie was a veteran, Demolition were better in the ring than the Road Warriors, but were seen as the second tier team, same with the Fantastics and the Rock n Roll Express.
Chael and Jim finish off by talking about ways promoters have been held up by wrestlers, the most notable being Ernie Ladd’s method. If the Big Cat didn’t think he was going to get a fair cut after putting butts in seats, he’d make a slow walk around the ring with his suitcase in hand and then exit the building, forcing the promoter to announce that Ernie Ladd would not be wrestling that night. Cornette points out this kind of stuff was easier with 30 territories to bounce around.
I’m honestly surprised that Cornette wasn’t as cranky as I anticipated. I fully expected him to spend at least ten minutes straight complaining about the kind of junk that passes for wrestling these days.