Kayfabe Commentaries Timeline Series: 1990 WCW as told by Jim Cornette

This was filmed on June 8, 2017

Sean Oliver is the host

It runs at Three hours and ten minutes long

Cornette shows us all of his notes and Midnight Express scrapbook in order to discuss 1990 WCW.

 

JANUARY

“Mean” Mark Callous debuted as part of the Skyscrapers with Danny Spivey. Cornette said Callous came in when he called up Dutch Mantel asking for a tall guy as Dutch put him over for being a good guy who always listen. Cornette also said Terry Funk gave him the Callous name.

 

Cornette said that Bobby Eaton wrestled Ric Flair on the 1/7 edition of “Main Event” because Flair was the booker and wanted a match with Eaton. The first time Flair didnt want to beat Eaton so they did a DQ finish that Herd went mental over it because he thought Eaton did not deserve the match. They had a second match that saw Flair win with the Midnights and Cornette all laid out as he thought that would shut up Herd as Cornette said the matches did good ratings and brings out his books to show us what they drew.

 

The Rock n’ Roll Express made their return. Cornette said they needed some name guys and said later on he will go over the house show numbers when they returned.

 

FEBRUARY

Cornette becomes the new co-host of WCW Championship Wrestling with Jim Ross. He is asked if he’s paid extra for this as Cornette said the only time he got extra pay was when he was part of the booking committee, which got you an extra $300 a week. He said there were booking meetings once a week that Herd ran where Herd would complain and bitch about everything then Cornette said Kevin Sullivan and Flair would go over stuff then Cornette made the formats, which he shows us, but Herd hated live interviews and wanted 30 second pre-taped promos then cut them off as Flair would get pissed they were taking out. Cornette then reads off one of the formats and goes through what would happen on a show when discussing the bullet points. He also says the production vaules were much better in the WWE.

 

Cornette said the Horsemen turned back heel as Flair preferred being heel and it made sense with Arn & Tully returning but Tully’s deal was rescinded when he failed a drug test in the WWF. He then talks about Head of Security Doug Dillinger pulling Sting off of the cage too hard and as a result Sting tore his ACL as Cornette said that they were “fucked” when that happened then they switched Lex Luger to a babyface but Flair promised to switch the belt over to Sting, not Luger, and that is why Luger never got the title. Cornette also said that Luger was a better heel and not ready for the belt at that point.

 

He discusses Norman the Lunatic and how Mike Shaw was doing good stuff up in Canada but the gimmick here was awful as Cornette said Herd wanted kids characters and angles.

 

On Flair wrestling Brian Pillman, Cornette said that Flair wanted to work with Pillman and how it turned out being the highest rated TBS Sunday night show in since 1985 as Cornette shows us all the ratings printouts.

 

Cornette then shows us a letter addressed to Herd from Flair where resigned from the booking committee due to Herd’s interference and not giving control when it was promised. Cornette also said they were snakebitten with injuries and Flair decided he just wanted to go out and be the champ as Herd put together another committee.

 

We go over some financial stuff now as Cornette said that Lane & Eaton were each making $2,250 per week as guys like Rick Steiner and Tom Zenk were getting $3,000. Cornette said Zenk could work but was not a star and Herd paid guys based on how they looked. Cornette was getting $3,200 a week at that time as the Midnight Express were one of the lowest paid teams on the roster despite being workhorses that got ratings on TV. Cornette goes back to what he said in his 1989 Timeline were he wanted to be paid equal to his team but Herd kept upping his offer due to the extra stuff he did so the Midnights went out to prove how good they were each match in the hopes Herd would give the team more money. Cornette also said at the time WCW was killing their business in the Carolinas then shows us how horrible the house numbers were at this time.

 

They talk about Doom as Cornette puts over Teddy Long as being the missing piece of the puzzle with Doom. He also goes off on Danny Spivey for a bit as Cornette said he treated people like shit and bitched about bumping and losing as Cornette tells him “fuck you.”

 

MARCH

On Mike Rotunda’s “Captain Mike” gimmick, Cornette does not know who came up with it but believes it was a Herd idea. Cornette thought Rotunda was a better heel and calls him a good talent but no one found the right gimmick to let him be himself and maybe he was better served as a tag wrestler.

 

Cornette talks about coming up with an angle to get over Pillman where he would get revenge on the Midnight Express and take them all out in one night but Herd nixed it as Cornette believes it was due to the fact the Midnights contract was up at the end of the following month and Herd did not want them in a prominent position if that was the case as they had plans to push Pillman.

 

He said the last minute change of Luger not winning the title happened as Herd never asked Flair if he was dropping the title because back then you told the champion in advance when he was losing the title. Flair told Herd he would drop the belt if he could get out of his contract as he was wanting to go to the WWF. Cornette also thinks Luger did not want the belt because in his mind he would get blamed for all of the shitty house show draws.

 

APRIL

Cornette is now asked about the plans of the Midnight Express joining the Four Horsemen, that were approved by the booking committee but ultimately nixed by Herd, that led to Cornette quitting the committee. Cornette said he kept presenting the TV numbers where it showed the Midnight Express segments getting high ratings and how they never took nights off. Herd wanted to make Cornette an announcer and split up the Midnight Express, with Eaton getting a less money deal and Lane being paid on a per-appearance basis. Cornette wanted to be with the team more than anything and when Flair suggested they join the Horsemen it would benefit the everyone, including the product as the roster was really starting to go down the toilet. Cornette tells us Herd initially approved the angle but when Cornette came back from a vacation in Hawaii, Jim Ross told him Herd has changed his mind and did not think the Midnights should be part of the Horsemen. Cornette said Ross tried to get him to come to the meeting but Cornette said he was done because he’d attack Herd if he went and that was when they learned the booking committee agreed to have there contracts extended for one more year under their current deal as Lane and himself were pissed because they wanted to leave because of how they were treated.

 

MAY

Cornette talks about the company working in some small gym in Boston, MA then two days later going to New Brunswick as Lane apparently cracked and went home then came back as Cornettte said they almost ended up quitting but did not as Eaton had a family and three kids at home.

 

Sid joins the Four Horsemen as Cornette said the thought process behind this was they had high hopes with him and believed the Horsemen could help him out. Cornette said Herd was pushing for this too as Cornette said Sid had a great look and if he understood how to work like a giant and show some vulnerability then he could have been an all-time great because his promos were excellent.

 

Ole Anderson becomes the booker. Cornette said that Herd gave him more freedom then goes over the ratings as they were steadily decreasing. Cornette said at that point he wanted anyone but Herd then said Ole was using old talent to draw in the present day as Cornette talks about how fans get on himself for being behind the times as he said his philosophy in OVW was using logic from the 1980’s with guys born in that era as you can recycle the angles but not the talent.

 

Cornette talks about Robocop coming at the Capital Combat PPV. He said this was planned weeks in advance as they were doing a tie-in with the Robocop 2 film and needed something to do and the deal was that he could not fall down or climb stairs in the suit. So, they made a cage at ringside where he could tear through the bars as Cornette said they put it in his match and they had to get over Robocop and talks about it did not make any sense as Pillman & Zenk were beaten them for months and they faces were at an advantage with him in the cage yet the Midnight Express won the US Tag Titles.

 

When asked about El Gigante, Cornette said he was a nice guy but just not cut out for wrestling despite looking like a star. Cornette said he had never seen wrestling before and not athletic whatsoever then states the fans even felt bad for the guy as he could barely walk to the ring.

 

We get a story of the Road Warriors & Paul Ellering leaving the company. In one of their last matches at a house show in Memphis they were supposed to beat the Midnight’s but they switched the finish because they were leaving and wanted to put over the Midnight’s as a favor. Herd got pissed about this and demanded the Warriors beat them but the Warriors refused and instead they had Ellering pin Cornette, who talks about Herd running off and marginalizing talent while bringing in El Gigante and Junkyard Dog.

 

Paul E. Dangerously returned to the company and bought Mark Callous’ contract from Teddy Long. He thought it was a great idea then talks about WCW not knowing what to do with Callous and how the WWF made him into one of the biggest stars in wrestling history.

 

JUNE

He talks about getting punched in the back of the head by a fan at a show in South Carolina then attacking him with his tennis racket afterwards. Cornette said his nose was bleeding when Pillman accidentally crossfaced him while putting on a sleeper. He got punched then saw the guy, who he said was over six feet tall, did not even budge so he kept beating him until the cops arrived. Cornette said he went backstage and his nose stopped bleeding so he punched it again when no was around then the athletic commissioner, police, and even the Governor’s son (A huge Flair fan) asked if he was okay and how they saw the fan punch him in the nose. Cornette said he was then went home and busted his nose again and went to the hospital and after that the company agreed to beef up security as long as he would not retaliate then later on learned the fan was mentally challenged.

 

Cornette talks about Flair wrestling JYD at the “Clash of the Champions XI” was the second lowest rated Clash at this time. When asked why JYD was brought back for this match, Cornette said it was Ole trying to relive his glory days and it was just a bad match.

 

They talk about Cornette hospitalized for what was believed to be a heart attack but later learned it was due to “acute Pepsi overdose.” Cornette said at the time he was experiencing what he learned was heartburn and drinking a lot of cold beverages as a result, with Pepsi is drink of choice. They were on the road and Cornette said it felt like someone was sitting on his chest so he rushed to the hospital and he was kept overnight. The doctor asked if he was under stress, ate spicy food, and drank a lot of caffeine and when Cornette said yes to all three and was put on Zantac. Cornette said it went away but came back one more time in Smoky Mountain.

 

JULY

When asked why Sting’s title run was a failure, Cornette said people wanted to see him chase it but at this point in the company, with the incompetence up top, no one was going to succeed. He also talks about Herd wanting Flair to retire and run Luger vs. Sting but Cornette said Luger vs. Sting had bad matches and did not draw. Cornette also said Sting only had five years experience and was not ready, despite how much they wanted him to be and cites Roman Reigns as an example of how you just cannot tell the fans a guy is a star when they are not ready.

 

Big Van Vader made his debut at the Great American Bash. Cornette said this was exactly what they should have done and said he was a true monster heel at the time. He also loved the entrance then talks about Vince McMahon never got Vader in the WWE but at the same time Vader did himself in by complaining and whining.

 

AUGUST

He is asked about The Pearl, who was Ranger Ross under a mask. Cornette said he had no idea how that came about and at this time the Midnight Express were barely around and he was traveling to do some pre-taped promos.

 

Cornette talks about how the Midnight Express dropped the US Titles to the Steiner Brothers, who did not want them because they were meaningless and it just meant more weight to carry in your luggage.

 

SEPTEMBER

The Master Blasters made their debut. Cornette says Kevin Nash’s first partner was in with Brad Armstrong, who Cornette said could have a **** match with a parapalegic, that he got so overwhelmed in the ring and kept screwing up then motioned to Nash about what he was supposed to do then after the match went to the bus station and was never seen again as Cornette said all Ole cared about was guys with good bodies willing to work cheap.

 

OCTOBER

Cornette said he went to the booking committee to pitch ideas for the Midnight Express since there contracts were renewed and talks about since none of them wanted to be there, they could try and get El Gigante over and it was agreed there would be a six-man tag where he would team with the Midnights against El Gigante & The Southern Boys. Cornette said he’d take a slam from Gigante and pinned by one foot at the Clash to put them over. However, they booked this match on house shows for weeks where they ended up having a riot one night where a fan got knocked out by a racket shot after jumping the railing.

 

At Halloween Havoc, Cornette said the Midnights “jerked the curtain” at the show against Ricky Morton & Tommy Rich, replacing an injured Robert Gibson where they lost. Cornette then had to dress up as a confederate soldier to cost the Southern Boys their match against the Master Blasters. Ole wanted them to put a pumpkin over Cornette’s head after the match but Cornette said that was stupid and he wasnt going to have it happen and said he told the Southern Boys to destroy the costume that he was told to take care of by the office.

 

On October 30th, both Cornette and Lane quit WCW after walking out during a TV taping at Center Stage in Atlanta, GA. They showed up and learned they were losing all four TV matches that night and when they complained to Ole, he said go home if you don’t like it as Cornette said that was the nicest thing they said and both guys walked out then looked at Eaton and said they would all be together again some day but did not want him to leave since he had kids. Cornette said Herd called up a week later and he reads a letter stating he would be in breach of contract if not at the advertised dates. Cornette said he called back and was not coming back. Herd did not want him going to the WWF but Cornette said he did not want to go there and said he also told Herd they both wanted to get rid of each other then said Herd’s release said he could go where ever he wanted as Cornette makes fun of him for not even being able to correctly write a release.

 

NOVEMBER

He is asked about Mike Rotunda becoming Michael Wallstreet. Cornette said that Vince McMahon took that and made it much better as IRS but did say Wallstreet was much better than Captain Mike then goes further into Vince taking WCW talent and instantly get them over where WCW could draw “fifty cents of Chinese money” with.

 

DECEMBER

Cornette talks about Larry Zbysko coming into WCW and says the AWA was in dire straits and even heard they stopped paying for talent to come to the TV tapings and heard as long as you got yourself to the building you could get on TV.

 

Ric Flair revealed himself as the Black Scorpion at Starrcade. Cornette said that was not the original plan but they never had anything else to go with then said Herd had Flair cut his hair both to get under the mask and to eventually become a Spartacus character.

 

On the WCW/NJPW working agreement, Cornette said that the WCW product was embarrassing at the time and compares it to Vanessa Del Rio (an old porn star) working with Mother Teresa.”

 

Cornette looked back and said he made a lot of money this year but it was the most miserable time of his life and that Herd destroyed the fan base to where they lost money for years until 1996/1997.

 

Final Thoughts: When it comes to discussing his career and the promotions he was in at the time, Cornette is one of the best. Like he said, his OCD made him keep track of every single thing and he wrote down everything from TV ratings, house show draws, and even every expense he had (Cornette said he did this in order to pay income taxes and how most wrestlers were not doing this). Even though he was gone the final two months, I’d still rather have Cornette on this subject than anyone due to how much information he presented. One of the real highlights was the camera closeups on his notes. Its information that is not easily available.

The year 1990 was certainly not a banner year for WCW and it got even worse the following year. All of the stories about Herd showed just how bad he was in this position and just about everyone else in WCW at that time says the same thing.

Overall, this is a great installment of the Timeline Series and certainly pairs up well with the 1989 Timeline Cornette did, which you can read here

 

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