PODCAST RECAP: Jim Cornette’s Drive-Thru on title belts as props, wrestlers changing gimmicks, referee attire, and if social media existed in the 1980’s

Jim Cornette’s Drive-Thru Episode 86

Release date: February 25, 2019

Recap by: Paul Briody


Top stories/moments of interest:

• Brian Last asks Jim Cornette listener questions about current wrestling and wrestling history with great chemistry between the two.

0:00 – Intro. Brian is sick! It’s a busy time for Cornette’s Collectables at jimcornette.com. C2E2 and Have a Beef with Jim Cornette in Chicago is getting closer – March 23rd.

9:31 – For the match at Clash of the Champions 6 between The Midnights (Bobby, Stan and Jim) and Ric Flair and Barry Windham, who called the spots? In that case, although The Midnights usually called their matches, it was mostly Ric as the most senior pro and he was also booking at the time. Jim isn’t completely satisfied with how “it was shot” and how it “came across on television.”

12:59 – Bruce Prichard has often called a title belt “nothing more than a prop.” does Jim agree? In the purest sense title belts are a prop but you should never portray them as such on TV because it’s supposed to be “a money thing”… main events on big shows should be for the title. Although Prichard may think this way, Vince always had more reverence for the title belt and the company’s champion. It’s common sense really, in storyline the belt should be one of the most important things on the show.

15:26 – If a wrestler has an idea regarding the direction of his character, who should he talk to: the agent, the writer or the higher ups? Jim: “I don’t know these days. Maybe you just oughta keep you f*****’ mouth shut.” In the old days, you’d simply approach the booker and hope he’d listen to you. Drastic changes would only really happen when a wrestler moved to a new territory i.e. Sugar Bear Harris becomes Kamala because “you couldn’t just change your s*** while people were looking at you… to me, that (radically changing wrestler gimmicks overnight) was an exposé.” Makes sense, gives the wrestler time to go on a journey.

20:14 – What does Jim prefer referees to wear: the black and white stripes or the “traditional” blue shirt and black bow tie? Blue shirts/black bow tie was only tradition in the WWF, referees in most places would wear the stripes. Jim’s not really a “stickler” for any form of attire – “if it looks like an official, I can live with it.” Jim mocks some of the referees who “look like they just got off changing oil at the Jiffy Lube” at indy shows today as well as out of shape refs because you rarely see that in other sports – referees usually have a good fitness level.

23:22 – During the Great American Bash tour in July 1986 there was a UWF/JCP show at Reunion Arena in Dallas. Wahoo McDaniel did a local promo in which he said that he was excited to come to Dallas because he’d been “black listed” there in the past but Wahoo wasn’t on the show, can Jim remember why he was black listed? Did this event take place after WCCW withdrew from the NWA? Does Jim remember anything about that night? Per Jim’s Midnight Express Scrapbook: The show took place on July 27 and would be The Midnights’ fourth match in a twenty four hour period. The gate was $95,000 (almost 10,000 people), it was the first time JCP went to Dallas and WCCW was in sharp decline and had indeed withdrew from the NWA. Jim thinks it may well have been the biggest house that JCP drew there. That night The Midnights wrestled The Rock ‘n’ Roll in a twenty minute time limit draw. The crowd was “f*****’ hot” (The Midnights had left WCCW the previous year without really stooging) and were “swinging and swatting” at the hated The Midnights who had to “struggle and fight and swing” just to get back to locker room. Jim talks about Buddy Roberts being backstage that night “visiting some of the boys” and a rumor had circulated in the weeks beforehand that he had died. Roberts looked like he’d “just come off a three or four day” bender and Dennis Condrey said to him “Buddy, I heard you were dead… I see they were right!”

28:47 – Good discussion on The Freebirds centred on “the workhorse of the bunch” Buddy Roberts.

34:40 – What kind of effect would social media have had on wrestling in the 1980’s? Jim: “It would’ve had an incredibly horrible effect because every wrestler in the business would’ve been divorced, their personal lives would’ve been hell, there would’ve been all kinds of s*** going on.” Jim thinks that promoters in the 1980’s wouldn’t have let their wrestlers expose the business like wrestlers do today on Twitter and I’ve got to agree. I can’t imagine Bill Watts giving the ok to holiday photos of heels and babyfaces together being posted and then there’s the possibility of everyone in the crowd having a camera. Jim: “Guys would’ve been going to jail on a regular basis for s*** that they just did for fun on the way back from a f*****’ show.’ Kayfabe would’ve been destroyed, “naked wrestlers on airplanes,” etc.

38:50 – Any good stories about Sandy Scott? “The good Scott brother” was from Ontario, Canada, brother and tag team partner of George (50’s/60’s) and was successful in Calgary and later in the Carolinas, which was where Sandy stayed after the Scotts had a big falling out. They worked and got over throughout the US. After his in-ring career ended he did a lot of work for Jim Crockett in the office, running certain towns and liaising with arenas etc., sharing an office with Gene Anderson. When Jim was setting up SMW, Sandy was a partner from the start, accompanying Jim at meetings with Rick Rubin and various TV stations where he would often know the executives from his time at JCP. Jim: “Sandy was instrumental from the start.” Jim thought about using Tommy Young as an agent early on as he helped Brian Hildebrand with his refereeing until Brian was polished, Young called Jim and said “Corny, I don’t think you need me anymore!”

47:19 – In 1989 it was rumored that Bill Watts was in the running for the job of WCW booker. How different would it be if he’d got the job? Well he’d still be working under Jim Herd so it wouldn’t have made much difference! Watts instead of Herd is a “whole different story.” When Watts came in in ‘93 it was more of a money-saving position, for example not wanting to pay Brian Pillman $250,000 a year because he wasn’t drawing that much. Watts tried to bring in a more solid structure but was hampered by previous regimes.

52:16 – Jim has recently talked about The Midnights’ pay in the Jim Herd-era, where their expenses covered or did that come out of their salaries? They paid for their plane tickets but had to pay for their own hotels, food and ground travel. Commentators (as well as eventually being paid more than some on-air talent) would get their ground travel and hotel covered, so Jim got a better deal as an announcer than as a wrestling manager. It was the same deal for talent in the WWF (without the announcer absurdity). Jim can understand those rules (covering expenses) for smaller wrestling companies but organisations as big as the WWE the employee/independent contractor is ridiculous, especially when executives are getting multiple stock options. I’d be tempted to add ‘morally wrong’ or something but Jim opts for the much more direct “bulls***.”

59:24 – Can Jim analyse The Freebirds’ run in Memphis, particularly their TV pinfall victory over Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee (pinning Dundee)? Before the match Gordy introduced Hayes and Lawler and Dundee had to stand the “like jobbers.” Can Jim offer any insight? The run lasted three months before they moved on to Mid South. Jim watched the entire run. Their match against Lawler and Dundee took place during the week or so that Lawler had a perm and the victory against Lawler and Dundee was meant to be a shocking introduction to the territory. They stayed on top for a few weeks before moving down the card to face Jimmy Valiant and Steve Regal and then onto the underneath card, being replaced higher up the card by The Blond Bombers (Wayne Ferris and Larry Latham w/ manager Danny Davis). Jim: “I have to think… either Hayes and Gordy, being young teenage punks, and they would admit this themselves, ran their mouths and said some s*** that got them some heat or they liked the matches but The Blond Bombers were a better heel, blonde tag team for a southern territory with a manager that could f*****’ interfere and they were established because they’d had the program with Lawler and Dundee and actually they drew better at that point in time because ‘The Fabulous Freebirds’ was a brand new thing.” A young Hulk Hogan, wrestling as Terry Boulder, was also there around that time.

1:09:38 – An emailer read that in a recent interview that Carl Oulette claims he was originally scheduled to beat Bob Backlund for the WWF title in Canada then drop it to Diesel or Bret in the US a few weeks later. Jim was in the company at the time, is there any truth to this? What are Jim’s thoughts on Oulette’s work? Jim hasn’t seen his recent work that everybody’s been “going insane” over but he was always a “physical freak” in that he was very agile for a big guy. As for the title story, Jim thinks he may well have been told he was getting the belt in order to persuade him “to do a job in Montreal.” As with a lot of the political activity at the time The Clique was involved. Jim: “Insufferable… the biggest pain in my a** that I’ve ever had.”

1:13:25 – Outro. They’ve done it again!

Plugs: Twitter: @TheJimCornette, @GreatBrianLast #CornyDriveThru; CornyDriveThru@gmail.com; JimCornette.com; tinyurl.com/officialcornyyoutube; 605pod.com; kfrpod.com; the law offices of Stephen P. New: newlawoffice.com, Arcadian Vanguard Podcasting Network.

Rating: 7.3

Time stamps:

9:31 – Midnights vs Flair & Windham, Clash 6
12:59 – Bruce Pritchard and title belts
15:26 – Wrestlers’ gimmick ideas
20:14 – Referee attire
23:22 – Great American Bash tour 1986
28:47 – Freebirds
34:40 – Social media in the 1980’s
38:50 – Sandy Scott
47:19 – Bill Watts, WCW, 1989
52:16 – Midnights’ pay part 2
59:24 – Freebirds in Memphis
1:09:38 – Carl Oulette/The Clique

About Paul:

I’m just a guy from England who watches wrestling and listens to podcasts!

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