PODCAST RECAP AND REVIEW: The Jim Cornette Experience on January 1988, the payoffs, attendance figures, anecdotes, the reason Big Bubba left the NWA, why it was the beginning of the end (Ep. 213)

The Jim Cornette Experience Episode 213

Release Date: January 4, 2018

Recap By: Mark Charles Adams


Top Stories/Moments of interest

  • Jim’s New Year resolutions!
  • Jim’s thoughts on his own thoughts on the state of modern wrestling generally from Episode 212
  • Very detailed look back at business in January 1988


0:00:00 – Intro: Jim opens the show and wishes listeners a happy New Year and promises a look back at January 1988, and introduces co-host Brian Last, before claiming to have forgotten how to podcast after a few weeks off.

00:01:15 – Times Square New Year: Jim immediately jumps straight to asking Brian how they find so many “insane people” to fill Times Square for the annual New Year celebrations. Specifically, he asks because this was both the coldest in a long time with the highest security ever, and people had to be stuck out there for 12 hours with no booze. Brian adds that a lot wear adult diapers too, because they can’t get to bathrooms. Brian says he puts the kid to bed, gets drunk and watches The Honeymooners marathon on TV. Jim says he hated going to New York for MSG shows and he was being paid to do that.

00:06:37 – Ads and updates: Jim shipped everything before Christmas then took three days off and just slept, ate and watched TV, then did the same for New Years Eve. He also admits he took a claw hammer to his DVD replicator after it started “malfunctioning”, but is back up and running now. Jim also mentioned the Drive Thru podcast will be back next week, then he gets the address of the YouTube channel wrong and Brian laughs at him.

00:11:22 – Brian’s holidays: Jim asks Brian about his Christmas and New Year. Brian worked a lot on shows for the network, read, and played video games. He notes he’s reading the Jann Wenner autobiography, a book that was written and then immediately disowned – “so you know it’s good”.  He also watched the yearly Honeymooners marathon on Chanel 37, while Jim says he did his traditional Twilight Zone marathon.  

00:14:00 – 605 and other podcasts adverts.

00:15:25 – New Years resolutions: Jim and Brian discuss resolutions and different New Years, Brian says he’ll do his next resolution for Jewish new year and then they both can’t remember when Chinese New Years is. Jim says he’s getting back to a real diet, though admits while he’s been off on the road, he’s already lost 15 lbs. Brian says that’s probably because he actually pretty active. Jim says his second is to not do events with actual wrestling matches. He pledges to only appear at fan fests and comic con style events.

00:18:40 – Thoughts on the last show: Jim admits, after writing a retrospective for his Fighting Spirit magazine column, he may have been wrong in what he was saying on the last show. Jim says he has finally come to realize it’s over for being able to back-peddle to a type of wrestling he would enjoy and want to be a part of. He admits to wondering why people are even doing it. On ROH, he says he thought he could get people to see it as serious and credible, but no one will see any of it that way anymore. Jim admits his biggest mistake with ROH was trying to win a big audience with hard-hitting MMA influence wrestling, while taking away the smaller guys and the “silly wrestling” that a small audience enjoyed. Ultimately only really chasing away the audience that did exist. Realizing all this, Jim says he can’t be at events and lend it tacit approval and so is getting the wrestling monkey off his back after 30 years with his resolution.

Jim says he needs Brian and the cult as a support group if he backslides.

Brian says to focus on the bits he likes about wrestling, Brian says loves wrestling but doesn’t go to modern shows. Jim says he’ll be doing the same, focusing and enjoying what wrestling was, not what it is now.

00:27:31 – Political update: Jim does his usual political rant touching on the on-going tax reform and media attacks, but focusing most on the deregulation.

00:29:37 – January 1988: Jim opens the 30 year flashback joking it’s when things were done “the right way”, then admits it was the end of the territories and even Crockett’s business was dying off. It wasn’t until The Great American Bash tour of summer 1988 that business rebounded, and by that time, the company was already being sold. Jim says that the Midnights and he made around $7, 000 each that month, which was an all time low since they joined the company in 1985. January 1988 also featured 7 days off because of freak weather conditions. Jim then starts going day by day:

January 1st  –  Annual New Year show at the The Omni, Atlanta.

House: $78, 000 – good for about 8,000 people.

The main event was a cage match for a wild card spot in the Bunkhouse Stampede finals. Featuring Bobby Eaton, Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, Nikita Koloff, and Black Bart. Jim says Black Bart didn’t belong in the match and business was down for the traditional New Year’s show. But Dusty won after grabbing and using Jim’s racket on Bobby Eaton to knock him off the cage.

January 2nd  –  Nashville Civic Centre, Nashville, North Carolina.

House: $10, 200.

The Midnight Express were in singles matches. Jim is critical of the decision to repeatedly use the Midnights in singles matches throughout January.

January 3rd – Baltimore.

House: $72, 000 – less than 7, 000 people. Pay Off: $200.

TV Taping with dark matches.

Jim says the Dick Murdoch versus Nikita Koloff main event went to a 20 minute Broadway draw, which everyone thought was going to be a terrible match. So Jim says he told Dick, who seemed so incensed by the challenge that he ended up having one of the best matches of Koloff’s entire career.                                                                                             

January 4th – Off.

Jim believes they may have been snowed in after Baltimore show.

January 5th –  Spartanburg, North Carolina.

House $4,200 – Less than 500 people.

Midnight Express versus Sting and Ron Simmons.

Jim doesn’t know why this match was even made.

January 6th – Atlanta TV taping.

Pay Off: $40.

For some reason, the weekend TV tapings were moved to Wednesday, probably because TBS didn’t want to pay their crews to work weekends. But this left a week night without a better paying house show and ended the weekends of a TV taping and a house show on the same day.

January 7th & January 8th  – Off.

Although Jim notes the 8th was supposed to be a show, it  got cancelled due to snow.

January 9th – Huntington, West Virginia.

House – $20,000. Pay Off: $445.

Cage match main event was Midnights versus Nikita Koloff and Dusty Rhodes.

Brian is shocked at how bad this drew and Jim adds that January and February were so bad money-wise, they attempted to renegotiate their contracts in March. The new contracts were worth $250,000 each, which made them very unpopular when TBS bought the company.

January 10th – Greenville, North Carolina. 2pm afternoon show.

House- $2,800.

The Midnights were originally booked against Ron Garvin and “The Mighty” Wilbur, thankfully Sting replaced Wilbur in a match that ended in a DQ.  Jim says it was a half advertised card made up of the B-team in a “Monday night town” in the snow, and Greenville was a damaged town, though notes this was the all time low for Greenville.

Charlotte, North Carolina. Evening TV taping.

House: Unrecorded. Payoff: $280

Jim says the tradition TV tapings in smaller locations worked, but the move to major arenas without really advertising matches.

January 11th – Off.

Supposed to be in Fayetteville, but stuck in the snow.

Jim says this is he day Jim made it 60 feet from his house, slid his car sideways into a ditch where it stayed. He doesn’t know if the show ultimately ran or not.

January 12th – North Wilksboro, North Carolina spot show.

House: $10,200.

January 13th – Atlanta TV tapings.

January 14th – Off.

Supposed to be Fisherville, Virginia.

January 15th – Richmond, Virginia TV.

House – $55,000 – 5,500 people. Pay Off: $475.

Taping to show 23rd, plus Dark matches.

January 16th – Philadelphia.

Pay Off: $825.

Jim doesn’t have many details, save for knowing Dusty beat Stan in a match and, based on the pay off, it must have been an okay show.

January 17th – Charleston, West Virginia. Afternoon TV taping.

Pay Off: $75.

St Louis. Evening show.

House: Unrecorded. Pay Off: $400.

Jim managed Dick Murdoch against Dusty Rhodes in the main event. Jim says he doesn’t have the house recorded, but it can’t have been anything special given the pay off.                                                         

January 18th – Columbia, SC.

Pay Off: $150.

Managing Dick Murdoch against Sting.

January 19th

Originally supposed to be a travel day for a west coast tour, they were taken off to stay in the Carolinas. Jim notes this is also when Bubba left after he received his payoff for Starrcade 1987, receiving half what the other people in the scaffold match that night received. Jim says Bubba immediately called Vince. Rock and Roll also left around the same time, possibly for the same reason jokes Jim.

January 20th – Georgetown, SC.

House: $16,000. Pay Off: $300.

January 21st – Chesterfield, SC.

House: $10,000.  Payoff: $125.

January 22nd – Elberton, Georgia.

House: $11,300.

Jim says these spot shows were basically doing as well as big towns like St Louis and is amazed the company couldn’t see that and make more of it.

January 23rd – Lakeland, Florida.

House: $20,000.

Jim managed two matches on this night, Midnight Express versus Barry Windham and Ron Garvin and Dick Murdoch versus Dusty in a $50,000 bounty match.

January 24th – Nassau Coliseum, NY.

House: $80,000. Pay off: $5, 000.

This was the night of the Bunkhouse stampede pay per view.

Jim complains about the bottom to top US travel on the day of the show, and says it was panned as the worst Crockett show ever. The Midnights were in singles matches, with Bobby versus Nikita for the TV title, and Stan in a match that got cut from the show altogether.

Jim says it was the first time he’d ever been in the coliseum. He believes they had no business being there, describing it as enemy territory, adding people didn’t get or like wrestling, they liked sports entertainment as it was Vince’s town. Jim says this was definitely the beginning of the end, detailing that Vince sabotaged their efforts to get the show on pay-per-view systems to aid the Royal Rumble, which was running the same night.

January 25th – Fayetteville, NC.

House: $5,400

In the town where the 1986 Great American Bash had drawn $101,000, this was yet another sign things were bad.

January 26th – Raleigh, NC.

TV taping. Jim talks again about how people didn’t want to come to see the TV tapings because of what they were getting and how they were advertised.

January 27th – Atlanta.

Pay off: $40.

Another set of TV tapings, this was for the show where Jim got dropkicked my Misty Blue.

January 28th – Off.

Jim believes they were snowed out

January 29th – Pittsburgh Civic Centre, PA.

House: $60,000. Pay off: $650.

January 30th – Greensboro, NC.

House: $105,000 – about 10,000 people. Pay off: $1,100.

TV with dark matches

Even though this was a TV taping, Jim says it drew because of the advertised dark matches, which they were included in.

Jim says, overall, he believes Dusty was getting burned a little bit, people were leaving, the pay-per-view didn’t work out, so booking was off and it showed.

He adds business was down until April and that’s when they entered into real talks to sell the company. It wasn’t until June with the Great American Bash Tour that business took a large upswing but it was almost too little, too late.

Even though Jim knows Jim Crockett Promotions made $21 million dollars in 1986 on wrestling alone, and with more competition, business fell apart in 1987 and early 1988. Mainly, in Jim’s view, because they were focusing on the possibility of syndicated TV revenue for all the territories they had bought up in an effort to replicate the success of the WWF.  They didn’t have the infrastructure or office staff to make this expansion work, and while people often blame Dusty’s booking, he says the purchase of a second plane is as much to blame. In support of Dusty’s booking, he says, look at business in January 1989 just a month or so after Dusty had been fired, which he says made January 1988 look “like WrestleMania season.”

01:25:19 – Show wrap up: They wrap up the show promising to come back next week to detail January 1989 and recount the downfall of the business.

Rating 8/10

There is a lot to like in this one if you enjoy Jim Cornette’s habit of noting down a lot of information over the course of his career, which always seem to loosen a lot of memories, opinions, and anecdotes. I particularly find the house numbers and pay offs of interest, which is why I had tried to give them here in an ordered style you can compare at a glance.

It was also warming to see Jim finally show a little of the self awareness I felt was missing from the last show, even if it wasn’t done as humbly as one might expect. That said, what do I expect? This is Jim Cornette after all! It will be interesting to see how his resolutions pan out across 2018 and how angry he manages to get when they fall apart. Stick around, I’ll keep you posted.


“0:00:00 – Intro”
“00:01:15 – Times Square New Year“
“00:06:37 – Ads and updates“
“00:11:22 – Brian’s holidays“
“00:14:00 – 605 and other podcasts adverts“
“00:15:25 – New Years resolutions“
“00:18:40 – Thoughts on the last show“
“00:27:31 – Political update“
“00:29:37 – January 1988“
“01:25:19 – Show wrap up”

Writer Bio

Mark is an English storyteller, joker, and drunk.

This week he has been coping with Australian Flu.


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