Jim Cornette was the guest on Talk Is Jericho this week. During the interview, Jim shared a little-known story about the time he and the Midnight Express were pursued by the WWF in 1986:
“We’re working in Charlotte, and we’re the tag team champions there. That year we made close to 200 grand apiece. It’s the first year of the Rock N’ Roll (Express) rivalry in Crockett Promotions. Everything is hot and selling out. Ernie Ladd calls us one day. ‘I’m working for Vince McMahon up in New York now. I’m a talent scout. Have I ever steered you wrong? Have I ever lied to you? You can make more money up here than you’ve ever dreamed of.’ That’s what the Big Cat said. ‘Well, Ernie, certainly if you say so, we’d like to discuss this.’
“They’d bought a ticket for each of us to fly up on our one day off that month when we used to work every day of the month but one. Our one day off, we’re going to fly to New York. We don’t want it out. We want this to be a secret meeting. So Vince has agreed to have us driven from the airport to a hotel and he’ll meet us in the room and we’ll have a private meeting there. So we’re getting on the plane and there’s Tully Blanchard’s best friend that works for US Air and sees us on the jetway. Flight to New York, ‘Oh what are you guys doing?’ ‘Oh, we’re just taking a little, uh…’ No family with us, he knows we’re only off for the one day.
“Anyway, we get up there and Vince comes and meets us. To be honest, the majority of the conversation was not what we expected to hear. Being in the wrestling business, (what we expected) was ‘Who would our opponents be? What kind of angles? Would we get a run with the belts? What kind of starting money might we have? What kind of money do you think we might make? How are your plans to use us?’ He talked about opportunity, which now that I’ve gotten more used to Vince, I know that wasn’t just us. He spent so much time talking about these brand new dolls they were going to do. They didn’t call them action figures then. They were dolls. ‘They’re going to look just like you, pal. And we’re going to make these molds, it’s going to be incredible.’
“Basically, at the end of the meeting, we say ‘Well, we’ll get back to you, sir.’ We’re thinking ‘What the f**k?’ Number one, why would anybody want to buy anything of us? We’re heels. They should want to tear up our pictures and throw them in our faces. Since we didn’t hear anything about ‘Ok, you’re going to have a run with so-and-so, the Rockers or the Bulldogs,’ or ‘You’re going to get the belts, you’re going to do this,’ or ‘You’re money is something like this,’ just ‘Opportunity.’ Well, opportunity? We’re living in Charlotte, we’re working with all our best friends, we’re making a couple hundred grand apiece, thirty years ago. We won’t rock the boat.
“It’s probably the best decision for everybody, but then later on when we heard Iron Sheik got a check for, like, 80 grand for ‘Dolls,’ we’re like ‘Wait a minute, what the f**k?’”
The conversation also centered a lot on Cornette’s impression of various future WWE headliners who spent time in OVW and much more. To listen to the entire episode, check out Talk Is Jericho.
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