Kayfabe Commentaries Timeline Series: 1989 WCW as told by Jim Cornette

This was released on May 19th, 2015

The interview was conducted by Sean Oliver

It runs for three hours and thirteen minutes long

Before they start discussing the topic at hand, Cornette shows us all the materials that he brought for the interview: booking sheets, TV formats, contracts, and books among other things.


The first question asked is about the “Bunkhouse Stampede” series, which started on Christmas in 1988 and ran through January of 1989. Cornette said that it was Dusty’s idea and it was great when it started (1986). When asked if the guys liked working the Bunkhouse Battle Royale matches, Cornette said it depended who it was as some guys did not like putting extra clothes in their bags to wear for the match. Cornette won the Manager’s Bunkhouse match on New Years Day 1989 after tossing out J.J. Dillon. He said that only Oliver Humperdink and himself were babyface managers at the time so they decided to give it to him.

On the Midnight Express vs. Midnight Express feud, Cornette starts by saying they were making a lot of money feuding with Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson but they left for the WWF. The Midnight’s and Cornette went back to working with the Fantastics then Cornette went to Dusty and asked him to bring back Dennis Condrey, who just got back into the business and was managed by Paul Heyman, and also bring in Randy Rose. This was back in November of 1988. They devised an angle to have the original MX managed by Heyman attack the current version on TV. Cornette said they were not supposed to “get color” on TBS but Dusty told him he could get a little bit. Cornette tells the story of how he took a wild bump, suprising himself that he was not hurt, then swiped his forehead with the blade but nothing came out. Cornette said afterwards he learned the studio was only 55 degrees so it took a while for the blood to come out but at the time he was clueless about that so he swiped the blade several more times then after that a “waterfall” of blood was pouring down his face. He then turned toward the camera and had the blood all over his white jacket and after that everyone backstage was talking about the blood as Cornette said it helped kickstart the angle. However, Dusty got axed as booker when TBS got mad when Dusty booked the Road Warriors to stab himself in the eye with a spike as he was bleeding all over the place, saying it was too violent, so when Dusty was replaced, the Midnight Express feud was relegated to the bottom of the card.

Still on the Midnight Express feud, Cornette said that the company no longer wanted to pay for the managers to be at the House Shows. Cornette said Heyman and himself were integral to the feud, especially Heyman as Condrey and Rose, who were not as over as the other team. Cornette then proceeds to tell us a great match is like a “hand job.” He said if you are already hard, you can just grab it and go but if not hard, you have to do all sorts of things to get it hard. Cornette then said that Heyman and himself also offered to pay their flights to make the shows but Turner denied their request. He then talks about how Jim Crockett was the interim booker from when Dusty was fired to when they brought in George Scott and how he hated Randy Rose and wanted him to eat the pin in a “Loser Leaves Town” match then have Condrey get a new partner, which Cornette thought was awful because they were the original team. When that happened, Condrey no-showed as he knew he would be in trouble with a new partner and that was the end of that. Cornette then said when George Scott came in he was going to have the current version of the Midnights. Cornette then tells a story about Scott, who said he never heard of them when hired as booker, walked right past Bobby Eaton as he held the door for him one day. He said that when they first met with Scott, he told them he did not know what to do with them as Cornette goes on about how they were one of the top drawing teams of the past few years in the NWA at that point. Cornette said they all thought he either had Alzheimer’s or was the biggest goofball ever due to the way he presented himself.

On the Western States Heritage Title, Cornette said that Dusty loved flying out to Texas and wanted to have a belt for when they toured there but they barely ran in that area as he talks about how no one gave a shit about the belt and it got phased out as a result.

Jim Herd was hired on January 3rd as the Executive Vice President. Before that, Herd was a regional manager for Pizza Hut and a station manager for KPLR-TV in St. Louis. Cornette said that it wasn’t until Turner bought the company when they got involved in backstage politics as before that, they were all making money and just did what they wanted after the show. He said TBS officials brought in top guys in for a meeting to ask about Dusty, under the pretense that it was confidential but it was not as Tully talked badly about Dusty, who found out by those conducting the meeting, so Dusty kicked Tully off of the Crockett’s plane and as a result, Tully & Arn Anderson left for the WWF. Cornette said that Herd was the station director when his station played “Wrestling at the Chase” but his wife was close to someone higher up and he got the job.

On January 17th, Dusty Rhodes resigned from WCW after being removed from the head booker role. Cornette said it would be awkward for him to go from the head booker to a regular guy in the locker room. Cornette said he loved  Dusty and still thinks that he is a great booker despite repeating finishes and puts him over for making him a shitload of money too.

Ricky Steamboat returned to the company on January 21st after he was revealed as Eddie Gilbert’s surprise partner. Cornette said that he believes this was when Scott became the booker as he had close ties to Steamboat from the Carolinas. Cornette then drops a whole lot of knowledge about the Carolina territory and how Scott took it from a primarily tag team territory to a top one as he brought in all sorts of guys like Ric Flair.


On when Hiro Matsuda bought the contracts of Barry Windham and Ric Flair from J.J. Dillon, Cornette said that J.J. was leaving for the WWF and saw the writing on the wall when Dusty was removed from the head booker position. He puts over Dillon’s book then puts over the accomplishments of Matsuda but how he was not a good promo and wrong for that role as Cornette then said that Scott was 10 years behind the times and starting to bring in guys he worked with over 20 years ago.

Cornette talks about Tony Schiavone leaving for the WWF. He said he wasn’t there for everything but heard that Schiavone was upset over being passed over by Jim Ross for the top commentator position as he had been there for several years. Cornette calls Schiavone a friend then tells a funny story of when he was with the Midnight Express and Arn Anderson as Schiavone as his family pulled up in their station wagon to drop him off so he could head on Crockett’s plane. When the doors opened, Cornette said you heard all of the kids screaming and Tony slammed the door as he got out. Arn then went over to Tony and told him that he had “enough cum in him to shampoo a buffalo.” Cornette then goes back to Tony, saying he was a good announcer but that Ross was just above everyone else and it wasnt a slight on Tony because everyone else saw that. He then said when Tony came back to WCW the following year he was miserable.

Ricky Steamboat defeated Ric Flair for the WCW World Title at the “Chi Town Rumble.” Cornette said they both were the gold standard in terms of ring work. He also said he would order the PPV’s so he could watch them at home as that way he could hear the commentary. Cornette then talks about how every Wednesday was promo day as he then pulls out a script that the camera shows us as he said that he would write down every opponent, city, and spot on the card for that particular match for the promo itself.

The Iron Sheik came back as Cornette said that Scott brought him back as they worked together in the 70’s but Sheik’s star power had faded greatly and could no longer go in the ring as he talks about how people say he is out of touch for instilling old school logic with today’s talent while Scott wanted the same exact people he had on top in 1978 in 1989. He also said that Sheik only wrestled about 10-12 matches and got sent home for the rest of his contract, which was $100,000 for a year. Sheik then came back after the year ended as they forgot to send the notice to cancel his contract so as a result it rolled over as the Sheik got paid for another year but is work was still so bad that they sent him home again until his contract finally ran out.


The “Danger Zone” talk show segment with Paul Dangerously made its debut on March 4th. Cornette said that he was a great talker. Jack Victory was brought in as the bodyguard as Cornette talks about all of the different roles Victory had in wrestling. Cornette said he was a great guy.

On the debut of the Great Muta and if the company missed an opportunity with him, Cornette said yes and no as he was talented and caught on quickly but did not get a lot of heat as a heel because the fans reacted to his cool moves. They were going to turn him face but Cornette said that Gary Hart convinced him to stay heel.

He talks about Don Glass, who was hired from the WWF where he was the assistant under Ed Cohen, who booked the arenas. Cornette said Glass was an idiot and basically a go-fer for Cohen then talks about how he decided, for the first time in history, to book a show in Greensboro, NC on a Wednesday night and it only drew $19,000, the lowest ever for that city. Cornette asked Joe Pedecino why they booked that night and he was told they were saving the weekend shows for the bigger cities as Cornette went through his book and showed him they usually drew six-figures there has Pedecino had no idea. He then said that Glass booked a show in San Antonio on Easter Sunday, in a predominantly Catholic city, that took place in a 15,000 seat arena and ended up drawing 600 people.


Cornette is asked about WCW putting on the Clash of the Champions opposite of WrestleMania 4. He said they drew 5,300 fans in a 70,000 seat arena and how that area was facing tough economic times so no fans came. Cornette said it looked like a “pisshole in a snow bank” on TV as there was no way to hide the amount of empty seats. He then said that Scott did not want to promote the show because it would kill the house show business if people saw them on TV as Cornette talks about how ridiculous that notion is as they had ran these specials for over a year. He said the ratings were shit as it was not promoted, which was insane as WCW was owned by a television company.

After the debacle that took place at Clash of the Champions, George Scott was fired and replaced by a booking committee. At that time, it featured Jim Herd, Jim Barnett (who Cornette credits for inventing “studio” wrestling), Jim Ross, Eddie Gilbert, and Jody Hamilton (Who Cornette said was in charge of the jobbers and the ring crews).

Cornette then talks about how they gave notice after Scott told them he had no plans for them and there contract was expiring in May but Scott got fired before that and Jim Ross asked them if they would reconsider. Cornette talked about how they had arrangements to work a few shows in Memphis for Bill Dundee but told Ross he would go on TV and cut a promo about how they were hurt and needed to heal up so they could perform, allowing them to go away for a few months as they could re-build their image as they were losing a lot of matches at that time. So, Cornette met with Herd for the first time and talked about wanting to be loyal and help the company as they moved forward so Herd offered him $100,000 a year while Stan & Bobby received $75,000, which were significant pay cuts across the board. Cornette told Herd that Stan & Bobby deserved more as Herd kept telling him that he would get more because he could also do color commentary. He left after declining the deal then Herd countered with $125,000 for him and $90,000 for Stan & Bobby. Cornette then told Herd he would take the $100,00 for himself, as that was a lot for a manager,but Stan & Bobby needed to get $150,000. They went back and forth as Cornette said he would offer Stan & Bobby a little more each time but he kept raising Cornette’s amount, when he said he would accept the initial offer as Herd then came back with $150,000 for Cornette, $50,000 more than what he asked for and offered Stan & Bobby $125,000. He asked his team if they wanted that as they said yes, as Bobby also had three kids to support.


The Dynamic Dudes made their debut at the May 6th TV tapings from Center Stage. Cornette said that Jim Ross wanted to re-create the Rock & Roll Express and saw that Skateboards were popular and thought it would work but the gimmick was awful. He also said that Johnny Ace had two left feet and could not even ride a skateboard then talks about how they were the only team Herd liked less than the Midnight Express and that was why they worked a program together.

Cornette talks about Terry Funk returning and how he wanted to show everyone that he could still go in the ring. He even worked with a broken tailbone and even had to fly by kneeling into the seat and hunching over the chair due to the pain but still wrestled. Funk also brought in Eddie Guerrero to a TV taping attempting to get him a job during this time.

He talks about losing the Tag Team Tournament Finals to the Freebirds but the air conditioning in the building was broken and it was over 100 degrees in the building. Cornette talks about this version of the Freebirds as at that time, Terry Gordy was willing to work here but wanted to keep his Japan dates. However, the company wanted a full-time Freebird so they got Garvin. Cornette said that Haynes wanted to re-create the Freebirds of old and that Garvin, who was 5’10 and 210lbs started to take “supplements” and wanted to work like a bad-ass so they both didnt want to sell. Cornette said that Garvin flipped out on him once because he didnt sell a punch enough as Cornette talked all but said he was on steroids and wanted him to be carried to the back after getting punched once as Cornette also brings up how Garvin was  chickenshit heel is whole life. He said Haynes refused to sell the tennis racket because he said they had to get over huge, despite teams like the Road Warriors selling the racket. Cornette goes into his book and how during a Bash Tour at the Boston Garden and how after working a six-man teaming with Dr. Death, the Freebirds beat them, barely selling during the match, then decided to all of a sudden attack them afterwards to get more heat so Dr. Death got fed up and grabbed a chair then whacked Garvin repeatedly for trying to fuck with him. After the match, they went to the locker room as Garvin was all busted up as Eaton yelled at the Freebirds for not just being there to get them over as things were tense and that seeing Eaton, who rarely ever yelled, got the Freebirds to think a bit and they started to sell more for them after that.


Cornette confirms that the Ding Dongs were a Jim Herd idea. He said that the idea of this gimmick was that the WWF had all the kids as fans so they thought this would attract some. Cornette even said Herd once said if he had a 6’5 one-legged guy he would have his “Long John Silver” as Herd wanted to turn wrestlers into movie characters.

On Lex Luger turning heel at “Clash of the Champions VII,” Cornette said that Luger was a tremendous athlete and a nice guy but never a wrestling fan growing up and had no idea he was insulting people in wrestling when he was there as he always made money and was the focus so he did not know better. Cornette said that Luger was not a natural worker and had a hard time feeling out wrestling but was a solid heel.


He is asked about the “Great American Bash” PPV but first talks about the tour and how it was making no money as he lists off the meager house show draws. Cornette said that the PPV was heavily promoted and sold out Baltimore. He talks about his Tuxedo Match against Paul E. Dangerously and the night before he tore cartledge in his knee in a house show match. He iced the knee the rest of the night but it was stiff when he got up in the morning. They both wanted the match to be a grudge instead of comedy then talks about how he was the most experienced worker of the two and how that was a bad thing. He gathered up a Percocet, Vicodin, and an anti-inflammatory then decided to walk down the aisle and not limp, which was painful, then said he wanted Dangerously to hit his knee as hard as he can because his brace would absorb most of the it but Dangerously hit the wrong leg as Cornette says you can see him tell Dangerously to hit the other leg.


Cornette is asked about Ricky Steamboat leaving for foot surgery. He talks about Ricky’s wife Bonnie and how she was vocal behind the scenes and how she once did not allow him to attend a Smoky Mountain Show because she had something to do with him. Cornette then goes on about how no one wanted to see Steamboat the family man and that he looked lame in comparison to Flair, who was cool and fucking all of the women.

Ric Flair became the booker at his request as Cornette said that Flair had enough and went in after the disaster that was the “Great American Bash” tour. Cornette names off the ratings for the shows, which were bad, and said Flair was promised full control. Flair then called Cornette at that time that he wanted him on his committee but first he had to take care of something, which was getting rid of Eddie Gilbert. Flair did not like Gilbert’s Memphis-style of booking and that Gilbert once changed a finish to put himself over Ron Simmons in Memphis which pissed Flair off so Cornette was going to replace Gilbert’s spot. Cornette then pulls out some of his booking notes, shooting formats, and announcer’s notes, and even the list of job guys as Cornette said he always wanted to use Louie Spicolli as Bobby Eaton’s younger brother as they looked alike. Flair also wanted a lot of interviews but Herd did not want that as Sam Mushnick in St. Louis did not use them much and would change the shows as Cornette said that Flair would keep the original notes Cornette wrote. He said Herd was dividing the guys as he put word out that Jim Ross changed the scripts, which he did after being told to by Herd himself and that caused a lot of problems.


When asked about the angle in which Funk put a plastic bag over Flair’s head, Cornette said that it got over as Funk was convincing in his role. Cornette said that it brought in complaints but TBS was not prepared for calls from wrestling fans actually calling and believing that Funk was trying to kill Flair and the corporate guys took the complaints seriously.

About Paul E. Dangerously got fired, Cornette said that back then you were told in your promos to get yourself over so Dangerously cut a promo appealing to the “sheet readers” as Flair was next to Cornette backstage and said “fuck this guy” and Flair told him he was done. Dangerously thought he meant done for the night but Flair told him he was fucking done for good. Cornette said that Dangerously’s rendition was incorrect as Flair slammed the door after yelling at Heyman then a little bit after that, Dangerously tossed the garbage can while Flair was behind a closed door.


On October 6th, TBS Executive Vice President Bob Levi and Vice President of Programming Jeff Carr sent out a memo that said there would not be anymore violence on their shows, due to the plastic bag angle and mugging of Scott Steiner. Cornette reads some of the new guidelines at that time. He then talks about the awful tension at the booking meetings and how no one got along and nothing got accomplished as Herd suggested stuff that would hurt the product and wanted to change what Flair wanted to do.

Ole Anderson returned to the company. Cornette said that Ole could still cut a promo and contribute so he was brought back.

He said that the bit were he was in the hotel room with Woman was his mother’s favorite angle.

Cornette talks about the Thunderdome match. He said they thought the match would look cool but when they got there, the special effects were set up terribly as Muta was trying to blow out the fire with his mist as Tommy Young went over to put it out and it came off terrible. On Bruno Sammartino as the special referee, Cornette said that having him brought into Philly would draw a good house.


On the “I Quit” match between Flair and Funk, Cornette said Funk was not happy about quitting and said how he was told about the match before he agreed to it as Cornette said Herd wanted to make Funk a color commentator.

He talks about the angle when he tricked the Dynamic Dudes after they were feuding with the Midnight Express, culminating in a match at “Clash of the Champions IX.” Cornette said that it was his idea for the finish but then said he underestimated the sympathy the Midnight Express got from the fans for being booked like shit and how the fans loathed the Dynamic Dudes.

Flair wanted to defend the title against Bobby Eaton as Flair thought he was the best wrestler and did not want to even beat him as it ended in a DQ. Cornette said the rating for the match was the best in a year but Herd was pissed that Flair did not beat Eaton. So, Flair booked a rematch then Cornette booked a finish in which he and Stan tried to interfere but it backfired as Flair beat them all up with the racket and that rating topped the show that featured their initial match.

Cornette talks about Tully & Arn coming back to WCW for $250,000 a year but when Tully failed a drug test, Herd found out and rescinded the offer as he said it looked bad. Cornette suggested all sorts of things such as Tully going to rehab then come back as they could say TBS helped him out but Herd said no then cut Arn’s deal for $150,000 a year because he was less valuable by himself and Arn already gave notice to the WWF had to take the deal for $100,000 less than was promised to him.


On the Round-Robin Tournament for “Starrcade,” Cornette said that it was problematic choosing who would be in there and who would job and they all struggled to come up with finishes.

Cactus Jack made his debut. Cornette said that Continental was closing and Jack came over to a show. Cornette and Sullivan liked him and brought him in and said the more he dropped the elbow from the apron the more crazy the fans got and it caught on so he got a chance to get in full-time. However, most guys at the time saw nothing in him.

Cornette talks about how he fought Shane Douglas but before that in a match the crowd was yelling “Johnny sucks dick” at Johnny Ace as fans draped a bedsheet over the balcony that read “Johnny sucks Shane’s dick.” He then said that he came up with the idea that he would accidentally sign a contract to wrestle Shane. Cornette said he likes Shane but at the time he was young and told him in the airport he was not going to sell any of the “Memphis stuff” as Cornette said that while he was a Jr. member of the booking committee, Shane was a Jr. member of the talent roster and did not realize he was doing him a favor as this was a chance to get him over. After the match, Herd said that a wrestler should not sell for a manager after Shane called and complained so Herd ordered them to re-tape the match in a different city with Stan Lane wrestling on his behalf as they baited-and-switched the fans.

Flair resigned from the booking committee as Cornette tells us Flair sent a memo to everyone about how he had Herd changing his ideas and was not promised full control as promised and would go back to being a wrestler full-time.

Final Thoughts: I thought this was good but nowhere near as wonderful as his 1997 WWE Timeline. Cornette enjoyed himself and was in good spirits here. And for those wondering, there were no mentions of Russo or politics as he stayed on the topic at hand.

There were some entertaining stories and you got a good picture of what it was like to work on the booking team. However, the major angles were not discussed all that much, and Cornette himself was away from the company for several weeks when he was between contracts. The Midnights also did not work near the top of the card at the time either so he does not have much to say about being directly involved in the key feuds either.

Cornette loves wrestling and that shows here. As far as the WCW Timeline installments are concerned, this is probably the best one. I do recommend this as it is entertaining but again, do not expect it to be as great as his 1997 WWE Timeline.

You can purchase this On Demand for $20.99 or the DVD, which is a Two DVD set for $25 by clicking on the link below.