Jim Cornette has discussed how he came to join the World Wrestling Federation in 1993 and openly admits he was never a fan of the company’s style.
In 1993, Cornette was running Smoky Mountain Wrestling when he was asked to make some appearances for the then-WWF. With the promise of promotion for SMW as well as a payday for some of his stars, Cornette soon became the ‘American Spokesman’ for the mighty Yokozuna. What started as a few appearances very quickly turned into a full-time gig for Cornette and he stayed with the company in some form until 2005. A 12-year run with WWE is pretty impressive for a man that has done so much in the last 40 years of pro wrestling.
Speaking exclusively to Inside The Ropes’ own Kenny McIntosh for issue 5 of Inside The Ropes magazine, Cornette first discussed how he came to work for Vince McMahon after spending so many years working for the territories that McMahon helped put out of business:
“Actually, it was a giggle: ‘It’s come to this.’ We had talked to Vince in 1986—me and The Midnight Express. This was when we were Crockett’s NWA World Tag Team Champions. Anyway, we just didn’t see [the WWF as a good career move]. We loved the NWA, we loved living in Charlotte, we had all the people we could work with: The Rock ’N’ Roll Express and Dusty [Rhodes] and Magnum [T.A.]. You know, I never liked the style of the WWF: it was always the big man, slow-moving territory. Vince was already starting to do cartoon stuff then. For a variety of reasons, we didn’t see that we would fit in there. And we were doing great [in JCP]: we were living in Charlotte, we were with our friends, were figured in on top. We knew [JCP booker] Dusty was on our side. We didn’t want to change scenery—so we didn’t go.”
Jim Cornette then revealed the catalyst that did make him eventually make the jump was when Turner Broadcasting bought out Jim Crockett Promotions:
“But, then, after my experience [in WCW] . . . If Turner Broadcasting had not bought Crockett out, if it had remained Crockett, I wouldn’t have [left the company] probably to begin with. If Crockett Promotions had stayed in business, I would probably have been booking Crockett Promotions in the 1990s. But after the experience with Turner-owned WCW and really despising them and then starting my own company, I got a call from Bruce Prichard. His brother Tom was working for me, and I’d known Bruce since the Houston days [in 1983].”
“[Bruce asked] ‘Would you like to make some shots? And we’ll help you promote Smoky Mountain Wrestling—the whole thing.’ I’m, like, ‘Okay.’ With what I was looking at with WCW, the WWF appeared to be the more serious wrestling product—and at least I wasn’t personally mad at them for screwing me personally. So, the enemy of the enemy was my friend: I was going to the WWF!”
As far as Jim Cornette’s dealing with Vince McMahon, they could have got off to a better start if Cornette hadn’t been so honest about the things he may have said about the company over the years:
“I never tanked anything [in the WWF]: I gave everything my best effort. But I took that run to get The Heavenly Bodies booked up there to reward them for the work they were doing for me, to promote Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and to make myself some extra money, so that I could afford Smoky Mountain Wrestling [laughs]. So, it’s not like there was a big come-to-Jesus peace treaty.”
“In fact, one of the first things I said to Vince—and this is f*cking funny—when we got up there to RAW and shook hands for the first time in seven years was, ‘You know, Vince, I appreciate the invitation up here. You know, I’ve not always been complimentary about the company.’ And he got this quizzical look, and was, like, ‘Oh, really?’ And that was when I realised he never watched any other wrestling, never read anything . . . He didn’t know sh*t that was going on anywhere, except the WWF. So, I said, ‘Well, I’ve said a thing or two, but we’re all together now.’”