The Jim Cornette Experience Episode 212: Modern Wrestling Thoughts & Ron Fuller
Release Date: December 21, 2017
Recap By: Mark Charles Adams
Top Stories/Moments of interest
- Jim on the Jericho vs. Omega build
- Jim on the state of modern wrestling
- Thoughts on the 10,000 seat arena show plan by Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks
0:00:00 – Intro: Jim welcomes us to the Christmas episode with a big “Ho Ho Ho” then follows up with “And no, I’m not talking about Dixie Carter!”, he then goes on to list what we’ll have on this episode, including viewers mail, thoughts on “Chris Jericho working with a broomstick in Japan” and then more storytime with the Tennessee Stud, Ron Fuller.
Cornette introduces co-host Brian Last, who immediately shows surprise at this “slam” of Dixie Carter. They then discuss the former TNA owner and Jim stalks about how all the boys would pour her wine and suck up to her at the bar of the Double Tree hotel in Orlando. Jim would sneak up to his room and cook burgers on his George Foreman grill as he couldn’t stand it. They then discuss wine and the state of the Bowery in New York, with Jim comparing it to Shively in Louisville.
0:04:20 – Politcal Update: Jim moves from talking about Trump supporters in Shively, to politics in general. Giving updates on Roy Moore losing in the Senate race in Alabama by only 1% and how he doesn’t think Alabama should be proud of this, claiming they still need to be brought into the 20th Century. Jim says Alabama makes Kentucky look like San Francisco, before further blaming Trump voters and further criticising the recent tax legislation.
Brian adds that at the time of recording, Roy Moore still hadn’t conceded the election. They then both discuss the Moores arriving to vote on horseback, before doing impressions of Moore’s wife announcing they couldn’t be anti-Semitic because one of their lawyers “is a Jew.” They discuss Alabama seceding from the Union again and Brian says he wants the Tri-state area, California and New England to secede instead, adding pot would be legal. Jim says he can’t move and that would leave him with “the stupid people.” Brian tells him to get a passport.
Talk then moves to Daniel Shaver, recently killed by a cop in Mesa, Arizona – which was captured on the officer’s bodycam. Jim recently donated money to the victim’s wife. Jim answers a listener’s letter about the matter, detailing the story and response and how she now has top-flight legal representation, saying the police force has a twitter and perhaps listeners might not want them to forget what has happened.
00:17:34 – Cornettes collectibles ad, broken printer and upcoming booking: Jim says he’s got all the orders out except the ones that arrived late, so those will have to be New Years printers. They details how it killed his printer, which he has now shot-put 40 feet off the deck and is in 150 pieces.
Jim says he only has a singular upcoming booking for Lexington Comicon, saying he’s being dodging calls from people who want to book him, but he is working on things including some video and book projects and a graphic novel.
00:22:30 – Health Insurance Update: Jim answers a listener email about the Cornette’s on-going healthcare woes. The listener has cancer and has had ten years of operations and it has cost him lest than $1,500. Jim then cuts a promo on the state of US healthcare and the view of the systems that exist outside of the US.
00:26:03 – Jericho vs. Omega: Jim and Brian discuss the match slated for Wrestle Kingdom 12 at the Tokyo Dome. Brian sent Jim various videos, which Jim has not watched, but he says he has read up on what happened. Jim praises Jericho being so intelligent to see the opportunity, before bashing Omega and saying he’d have watched the videos if anyone but Omega was involved.
Jim says Jericho is pitching the match perfectly, creating the sense in fans he truly hates Omega and needs to beat him. He believes Jericho is only fighting Omega because he is the top name American talent by virtue of there being no bigger talent and the match will do big business regardless.
Cornette discusses his historic love of Japanese wrestling, claiming he used to love getting the tapes in years gone by. He then details how it fell apart for him as promotions splintered, hardcore death matches became a fashion and it was totally dead for him by the time blow-up doll matches happened. He then discusses the amount of money there used to be in working in Japan, noting that was why Stan Hansen never risked working in the US again, it wasn’t worth the financial risk to get hurt. Jim complains about the Americanization of the Japanese project, no longer being treated like a sport.
00:39:11 – Omega and his ilk: Brian asks about Jim’s opinion of the rest of the “Omega’s ilk” meaning the Young Bucks and other young independent wrestlers.
Jim talks about Macaulay Culkin interfering in a Joey Ryan match he saw recently and how it all makes it a sham of everything, drawing only laughs from mainstream audiences, but not money. He also mentions the Lio Rush powerbomb no sell mention a few episodes ago. He talks about the internet fans defending these “spot fests,” saying it’s just fans supporting people not talented enough to do the thing they claim to love the right way.
Jim seems exasperated by Cody Rhodes defending all this because he works with a lot of the same talent. Talk then moves to people thinking there is a resurgence because audiences are bigger than they were 3 years ago, while it’s still a microscopic portion of what it was 30 years ago. Jim talks about how this generation needs to pay respect to his generation for there even being wrestling to be part of, the same way his generation did to that which went before them. He says Omega is the worst of the lot, again mentioning matches with a blow up doll and claiming in the old days, he’d have been brutalized by the real wrestlers and left to die in a ditch. The segment ends with a joke about some of this wrestling being “The Ballet Club” which Jim never intended to be a play on Bullet Club, but Brian address and they decide it needs to be a t-shirt.
00:47:31 – Working away from the WWE: Brian asks Jim how he weighs his issues with the work of these independent stars against the fact they represent progress of people being able to make a living working independents, without needing WWE. He also mentions the Cody/Young Bucks plan to run a 10,000 seat area show at some point in the future. Jim says he has always been behind people being able to make a living outside of WWE and he has no problem with that, especially with an ecosystem existing for merchandise sales – something he admits he does quite well off.
Talk then moves to Bullet Club merch being on sale in Hot Topics nationwide, wondering who it’s really for. Brian wonders if people are buying the design rather than supporting the wrestlers. Jim mentions these “Hot Topic fans” attacking Daniel Cormier on Twitter for blasting a recent Young Bucks match spot that went viral. Jim says it’s a shame this tiny part of the audience is supporting the parody of something that would work if done seriously – claiming ROH could have been that promotion at one point. Jim then talks about how Colt Cabana is probably patient zero for this type of wrestling, because he could both do the work, but would always include the comedy. He then relates a story of a match between Colt and Champion Davey Richards, where they had to stop Colt doing “his folky butt-bump b******t”. Brian wonders what happens when someone serious comes along and tries these same modern marketing tactics.
00:55:55 – Billy Corgan’s NWA: Brian starts talking about how Corgan has been rebuilding the NWA using social media tactics, short form video and matches on big independent shows. Jim says he didn’t like the title being defended and ultimately changed hands on the CZW show, claiming he could have found a better show. He then bashes Chikara in passing, while making a point about how this “folderol” ends up in front of people regardless of if they like it or not, because of social media. Cornette says seeing these small clips does a lot of damage, because it slowly wears people out and shapes their opinions to what wrestling is and can be.
00:58:34 – 10,000 Seat Arena Show: Jim returns to this topic before finishing up. Saying if they can get CM Punk they’ll definitely make it work, or if they can get Bryan Danielson in the correct place they have a shot. But he is explicit they’ll need local TV and radio to make it work, because no one has drawn 10,000 people in the US except Vince McMahon in a long time. Jim says there is probably enough people in the world who want to see them to succeed, so if they place the show in Chicago or New York, they have a shot at getting the travelling fans, like those who attend WrestleMania. He adds that WrestleMania at the Superdome drew less local fans that it used to four times a year with Mid-South, reaffirming it is a niche product.
Jim finishes asking Brian “Do they just have to draw 10, 000 people or do they have to make a profit?” he says he could do that in 4 months if he had unlimited funds and didn’t need to make a profit. He says without territorial television support and access to the really mainstream stars people know, it’ll be tough to do both, and even tougher if they plan to do it a second time, saying that’s why territory wrestling was such a remarkable thing. Jim says they’ll know when they pick the market and announce the card if they need to make a profit. He adds they may well take a loss on the show at the time, knowing they don’t have to show anyone the accounting, because they’ll look so good coming off the perceived success and make the money back later.
Bryan asks if Jim really thinks CM Punk would really be a bigger draw than Danielson. Jim says he does, because he believes most people think in or out of WWE, Danielson will wrestle again regardless. CM Punk, however, could create the urgency of never again promotion. Brian says they could do Punk vs. Bryan and as all independents they could be part of the collective and take a percentage of the show rather than a pay day. Jim says Punk would be Conor McGregor and just take 35% off the top and leave the rest to figure out how to make it work. Brian jokingly agrees with Punk’s business decision and they laugh to finish this segment.
01:05:55 – 605 and other podcast ads.
01:08:20 – Story time with the Tennessee Stud: Jim opens saying there was tremendous feedback to his last appearance talking about his grandfather Roy Welch and they agree to tell more of his stories.
Ron starts off discussing Roy’s brothers, who he also taught to wrestle and would all travel together in the Great depression, when the payoffs could be as low as a nickel a night but higher if there was only four matches on the card, 2 singles and then a tag with the same people. Apparently one night they picked up a hitchhiker to play second heel on the way to a town. They stopped and picked up a guy who was large enough to convince the audience, he was looking for work and agreed to go along. They did not ‘smarten up’ the hitchhiker, but actually had to beat him up a little and stretch him to sell everything – waiting for him to lose his wind and need to tag out. At the end of the night the hitchhiker was shocked at his 50 cent pay off, claiming they were crazy to do it for 50 cents. The hitchhiker got beaten up and abandoned in that town for his trouble too.
Apparently the workers of the time would often fight in the car between towns, Ron tells a story where Roy would kick the guys fighting out of the car and let them fight in the grass. Roy said “When you watch two people fight you can usually tell when they’d like to quit” when Roy spotted this point, he would just yell “TIME!” as if emulating a ref or a ring bell and they’d usually stop and sheepishly get back in the car. Ron goes on to tell a story when Roy actually won such a fight without every leaving the car and smashed twelve plates in the process.
Ron goes on to tell stories of old timers Roy would find something to do in the business even if they were too old to work, including Tex Riley and Charlie Car. Ron says it was these guys who were still around when he was young who taught him and his brothers a lot. Jim chips in saying there was a time like this when the business took care of people at the beginning and the end of their careers, something that is gone now.
Talk turns to top guy in the various Welch and Fuller territories. Ron lists off names and different territories, which some names later coming to prominence later with different names or gimmicks, such as Sputnik Monroe or Chief Jay Strongbow.
Ron moves to talking about specific towns and territories that his family and friends would run for his dad. Ron claims some of the shows for these towns drew huge audiences, saying they had an attendance of 40,000 in Mobile, Alabama in 1959. Jim talks about them acquiring the Memphis territory, which was run by Roy’s brother Buddy. It then got local TV, which started Lance Russell’s run on commentary and had Sputnik Monroe as the top star. Jim says they never drew a bigger attendance than during a baseball stadium show headlined by Monroe and Wicks for a Cadillac. At the show, fans broke down the fence to get in. Ron says he was 12 when the ballpark show took place and was there. Ron adds the best part of the show was after the main event when Monroe busted both of Wicks’ eyes open hardway. Ron says the park was full, 5,000 at ringside and at least 15,000 standing in the field. Wicks had won, made it to the Cadillac, but not out of the stadium before fans rushed the car. Fuller claims they lifted the car up and carried it out of the stadium.
Jim asks what happened with the Memphis acquisition. Ron says the promotion, then run by Les Woolf was failing. In 1954 Roy had set up and run Gulf Coast Wrestling, selling that in 1959 and buying Memphis. Ron adds, the audience was small and critical, but came to most shows, apparently one of Roy’s first acts was to throw the negative fans out of the building, telling them never to come back. He then began rebuilding the territory.
Ron goes on to talk about how Roy set up most of the athletic commissions in states they ran promotions, as much to protect themselves and their business as the workers. Later having to battle various people who would try and use the commissions to break his monopoly.
Ron next moves to talking about his own time in Memphis as a heel in the ’70s, the first time he’d worked as a top-level heel. Never working TV matches, but always selling out the shows. Jim asks him who taught him to work, knowing his father taught him how to shoot. Ron says it was a wrestler known as Corsica Gene, but notes he learned a lot from Jimmy Valentine. Jim adds he has heard this from a lot of wrestlers of Ron’s generation.
Jim asks Ron about the favorite shows he later promoted, both in match quality, but also in terms of business. Ron talks about a show at the Knoxville Coliseum which had an unbelievable card feature many stars of the time and later. Jim says it has never been bested at around 6,000 in attendance. Ron says they could have done 15,000 if the building had held that many as there were reportedly more outside than in the building. Ron claims he’d had booked Thomspon Boling Arena if he’d known, but it hadn’t been built yet.
00:01:55:59 – Show wrap up.
It’s really interesting to hear Jim go so deep on his opinions on modern independent wrestling here. I sometimes think he’s more aware of where he sits in the scheme of things, but then he’ll go on a rant like this and it seems to lack that self-awareness I credit him with. His views on generational differences may seem harsh to some, but they’ll definitely provoke conversation. Regardless of whether you see him as out of touch, too hardline, or the oracle of a smarter way of doing things, the first half of this show is more than likely worth a listen.
“0:00:00 – Intro”
“00:04:20 – Politcal Update”
“00:17:34 – Cornettes collectibles ad, broken printer and upcoming booking” “00:22:30 – Health Insurance Update”
“00:26:03 – Jericho v Omega”
“00:39:11 – Omega and his ilk”
“00:47:31 – Working away from the WWE”
“00:55:55 – Billy Corgan’s NWA”
“00:58:34 – 10, 000 Seat Arena Show”
“01:05:55 – 605 and other podcast ads”
“01:08:20 – Story time with the Tennessee Stud”
“00:01:55:59 – Show wrap up”
Mark is an English storyteller, joker, and drunk.
This week he has been mostly going back and forth to hospital to keep an eye on his friend Eddy.