Kayfabe Commentaries Guest Booker: Re-Booking the InVasion with Jim Cornette

This was filmed in 2009

Sean Oliver is the host

The interview runs at two hours and fifty minutes long

 

Cornette is asked about becoming a “seasoned” booker. He says you never become seasoned but rather you become experienced. He says the job is different from writers, who script the wrestlers and make everything “safe,” as you take talented performers and put them in positions to get over and then manipulate a situation to have them fight each other so you can sell tickets. Cornette says that is the hardest part as anyone can write but not everyone can book and deal with personalities. Cornette says today everyone talks and sounds the same and while he likes Stephanie McMahon as a person she only got the job because she was the bosses daughter and it takes more than a degree in creative writing to book wrestling. Cornette says TBS not knowing what they were doing with WCW and the Territory system going under and having to appease to advertisers and networks caused it to become homogenized.

 

He know talks about fans today believe they have figured out what wrestling is and think its a series of moves and it makes it harder to re-train them. Cornette says there is much less emotion in wrestling today and that went away when everyone was let into the workings of the business. Cornette uses the example of when he was managing in the early 80’s and fans would knowingly attack a heel in front of a cop and not care about being arrested to show how much emotion the fans had back then.

 

Cornette talks about Dusty Rhodes as a booker and how he never micromanaged talent as he booked talent that could go out and draw money. He then added as long as he went out and cut good promos and drew some money he would get left alone and if not, he would not be used. He also said no one can tell performers like Dick Murdoch how to be his character.

 

We go back to the differences between booking and writing as Cornette points out guys today on WWE TV stare into the camera with a deer in headlights look and recite words with the emotion of a “Stepford Wife.” Cornette said booking lets you create a reason why a guy who fans like and another guy who the fans think is a prick fight and let them be themselves as that is what made them interesting in the first place. He then said if a guy isn’t a good talker then you get him a manager.

 

He now talks about “hotshotting” and how any period that followed lead to a huge drought. Cornette also said the hardcore style of wrestling numbed fans and wrestling went from a business were people pretended to hurt each other but fans believed they were and paid to see them to where the wrestlers actually hurt each other and no one believes them and few pay to see as he asks who are the “marks” now.

 

THE INVASION

When asked, Cornette said he did not have a clue who was in charge of creative at this time since he moved to Louisville for OVW in 1999. This leads to a rant against the WWE, mainly against John Laurinaitis, about getting screwed over by the company during his tenure in OVW as he adds they were their own Territory that ran shows and made money. After that he talks about during this time the WWE were putting out ads for writers in trade publications and really wanted to get some comedy writers too as Cornette said he taught guys the philosophy of “funny don’t draw money.” He talks about the writers coming down once a year to OVW see the talent work out and cut promos. The writers never asked Cornette or Danny Davis about the talent then added some of them have never even seen wrestling before. He talks about the writers wanting Matt Morgan to turn heel in OVW then called him up to WWE TV with a stuttering gimmick because they wanted something that looked perfect but you find out has an imperfection as Cornette jokes that is something you take back to the mall for a refund.

 

They finally get to the InVasion itself as Cornette said they did everything wrong with how it went down. He brings up Kevin Dunn and how he was a proponent of wrestlers only being stars if created on their TV and no one cares about anything but WWE and how can you get fans to care about other promotions with that mentality. Cornette then adds how the only thing WCW got right in thirteen years was the angle where Kevin Nash & Scott Hall invaded as fans bought it and they started beating the WWE in the ratings then the same situation falls in Vince’s lap five years later but bigger yet he could not see this and they squandered all sorts of opportunities. Cornette said fans have been waiting for years to see WWE vs. WCW but they turned it into more McMahon family business and in the process burned the fans.

 

On why the top WCW talent was not brought in, Cornette said it was all due to money. He said Turner Broadcasting still had to pay the talents despite WCW losing tons of money and why would these guys take the same amount of money to go on the road and beat yourself up when you could sit at home. Cornette said Vince went to the “dollar store” to get the soon to be expiring contracts and cheap deals from WCW at a time when they spent $30 million putting in a restaurant in Times Square and all that was spent on the XFL yet cough up $5 to bring in the top talent and work out a deal with them.

 

Cornette then said it should not have been tough to come up with an angle for the InVasion and notes that he was called to do this project on Monday and they are filming it on a Friday.

 

They talk about the first WCW appearance on RAW, which had Booker T vs. Buff Bagwell with Arn Anderson & Scott Hudson on commentary as Cornette said it meant nothing as those guys did not have any history and the commentary team never worked together before.

 

On how he would have handled ECW’s involvement, Cornette said the roster was nothing and a shell of its former self at the time it went under. He thought they should have cherry-picked their talent but involving them with the WCW vs. WWE dynamic would just “muddy the waters.”

 

We get a “Behind the Scenes” portion where he’s asked about Vince Russo, who Cornette says he actually speaks with at this time and they talk about non-wrestling stuff as he no longer has any animosity towards him. That certainly did not last.

 

RE-BOOKING THE INVASION

We get the WCW Championships that were kept during the purchase listed on the screen. Cornette said it wasn’t the talent then said Eric Bischoff did not know how to follow up the nWo angle and speaks about the ineptitude of Turner management.

 

WEEK ONE

Cornette says the fans have to believe the angle in order for it to work. He said during the episode of RAW that took place on the same day as the final Nitro, Vince McMahon comes out during the last half hour and talks about owning wrestling after purchasing WCW. Vince would then talk about squashing Ted Turner and then makes fun of the WCW fans and wrestlers for being Southern. Cornette says that Vince is one of the greatest heels of all-time on TV then he would have him telling the WCW wrestlers they have no future and that he owns them. Vince would then say if the wrestlers went home, they would be in breach, and when appearing they would be beat at every opportunity to the point no one would pay a cent to see them again. After all of that, Eric Bischoff would come down and suck up to Vince by WCW and the talent. Cornette would also have Bischoff ask for a job but as Vince ponders that, a commotion would be happening in the crowd as Ric Flair comes down to the announcers table and takes the mic while there are several “name” WCW wrestlers behind him. Vince would let Flair speak as Flair would tell Vince he might be able to tell them what to do and where do to it but he doesn’t realize how tough it will be to make that happen. Flair would then ask if Vince was willing to risk all of his talent by putting them in with angry WCW wrestlers refusing to back down. Steve Austin would then come down and accuse Vince of using them as pawns in his dick measuring contest with Ted Turner. Austin says they will not let this happen as they have families to provide for and will not put themselves in a position where they would not be able to make money. Cornette says you could make the people believe that Vince would be an executive that made people fight and suffer for his own good, that Eric Bischoff is a weasel only looking out for himself, and WCW wrestlers would stick up for themselves. Things would heat up more then the Undertaker would come out and say he will deal with anyone trying to screw him over and say he does not care since he has no friends and after that the show would go off the air. Cornette that the fans would be talking then the next week you make an announcement that Vince is re-thinking his acquisition of WCW and a decision would be made in a few weeks.

 

WEEK FOUR

Cornette said the decision would be airing RAW on Monday nights with WWE wrestlers and turn Thursdays into Nitro and use WCW wrestlers. He would do this to develop the talent and since they were not competing against each other you did not have to hotshot angles. Vince would also give the talent a chance to switch sides if they did not like what was happening so Cornette said he would have had Chris Benoit speak up and leave.

 

Cornette said he would present both brands as serious promotions and eliminate skits but at the same time he would rehabilitate WCW from the mess it was at the time of purchase. He would also alternate PPV’s each month.

 

The first WCW PPV, Vince would send over William Regal to teach Benoit a lesson. Cornette said he would have offered both men money for getting out of control in the ring where some of their shots would “land.” Cornette said both guys worked this way to begin with and thinks they would agree. Cornette would have the ref call for the bell and things would get out of hand in a way to make the fans think this has really gotten out of hand and get that these two brands hate each other. On Nitro the next night, Cornette would have Arn Anderson bring out Benoit and talk about how this conflict caused the swelling on his face and that Regal broke the “Wrestler’s Code.”

 

On RAW, Vince would call out Bischoff and Flair. Cornette said Bischoff would be the GM of WCW while Flair would be the representative of WCW wrestlers. Vince would ask them about this match and then have Flair wrestle on RAW against someone they brought in, which would turn out to be Brock Lesnar. Cornette said that Lesnar would have an agent Flair fired when he was in WCW in Paul Heyman. Cornette would have Vince put over Lesnar’s amateur credentials. In the match, Lesnar would not cooperate so Flair retaliates by punching him in the face. Lesnar takes Flair down after that and destroy his shoulder. Cornette said Lesnar would go back to Developmental after that but they would use him as a legit shooter to put out Flair as Lesnar still needed to learn wrestling and they had a lot of young talent on the main roster. Jim Ross would walk off of the broadcast in disgust as Vince would tell him to go back to WCW and his Southern Wrasslin’ and bring in Michael Cole. Foley would also walk out.

 

At the King of the Ring PPV, Vince would fuck over Terry Funk. Vince would do this for revenge when Funk no-showed the 1993 Survivor Series and put him in a match against Kane, who was the Intercontinental Champion. Funk would win by cinching on a small package the run through the crowd with the Harris Twins while carrying the belt as Kane would get up and look similar to when Wendi Richter after she got screwed over by the Fabulous Moolah.

 

Vince would send Kurt Angle over to the July WCW PPV because he was a real shooter. Angle would issue an open challenge and how he would kick anyone’s ass. Rick Steiner would answer the challenge then lose the match in a hard-fought match. Angle would slap him around after the match but from the crowd, Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko would run in and start stomping away on Rick until Scott Steiner made the save and clears the ring with a board or a bat. Cornette wants to make these incidents appear somewhat legitimate. The next RAW, Vince calls out Bischoff and names him his assistant. Vince would then tell Flair to be the GM with his gimpy shoulder and watch the whole WCW ship shink.

 

For the August PPV, Cornette as The Steiners vs. Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn in a match that ends in a Double DQ. On Nitro, Flair would tease a surprise which is new acquisition that he has personally paid to come to WCW and that’s Cactus Jack.

 

Cornette now talks about not using three people. He did not want Goldberg as he was banged up and questioned his commitment to wrestling and not using Lex Luger or Larry Zbyzsko because in reality, Vince would have never signed them to return.

 

Back to the Sept. WCW PPV, Cornette would book Malenko vs. Funk for the IC Title but Funk would not show up, which pisses Vince off more and would have Vince be on a quest to track Funk down and get back the belt.

 

Cornette talks about taking Jerry Lynn, Nova, Balls Mahoney, and Rob Van Dam from ECW. On the October PPV, Cornette would bring Lesnar back and have him hospitalize Mahoney. Funk would beat Eddie Guerrero by fluke to retain the Intercontinental Title. Cornette talks about how Vince would never use his top guys to send over to Nitro so he has the others snipe at each other weekly.

 

At Survivor Series, Bam Bam Bigelow faces Tazz and the match gets out of hands to the point cops break it up. The Dudley Boyz would beat Animal in a handicap match. Triple H returns and beats Funk for the Intercontinental Title with help from Eric Bischoff.

 

In December, Funk beats someone but after the match the lights go off and return with Undertaker hitting Funk with a tombstone then says “rest in peace.” Sting would beat Chris Jericho in a competitive match that would end similar to Hart vs. HBK at ’97 Survivor Series.

 

Hulk Hogan returns at the Royal Rumble. Austin wins the WWE Title then Rock beats Jeff Jarrett and after that cuts on a promo on Sting. Also, Funk would get revenge on Undertaker by coming out of the ring and branding Taker before taking off then Cornette said he might take that part out because its too funny for a “shoot.” Also, Angle vs. Benoit would have a “broadway.”

 

At the February PPV, Dusty cuts a promo on Hogan. Sting beats Edge then cuts a promo on The Rock as Cornette wants the top guys to start going at each other because this has been going on for months.

 

On RAW, Vince would finally snap and proposes a promotional showdown at WrestleMania and whichever sides wins the majority of the matches will get their contracts renewed. Cornette talks about mixing in “working and shooting” so people believe this might be real and at the time business should be hot. Cornette would also invest in Developmental to stock up for the future.

 

WRESTLEMANIA 18

For this, Cornette wants a five hour long show.

Undisputed Championship: Austin vs. Foley. Cornette said Foley would lose and go off into retirement. He does want many stipulation matches on the card because that means you are “gimmicking gimmicks.”

Undertaker would beat Funk, who would go off into retirement.

Sting would beat Rock, who Cornette says would be fine losing so he can go off to Hollywood

Hogan, with Jimmy Hart in his corner, would defeat Dusty Rhodes as Cornette would be in his corner. Hogan would win by DQ as Cornette said no way Hogan would agree to lose nor would Dusty get pinned.

Flair would beat Vince then get five minutes with Bischoff.

Road Warriors defeat The Dudleys as Cornette said there feud would continue afterwards.

Benoit would beat Angle in an Ironman match. Benoit would also have Arn by his side.

Triple H would defeat Booker T to unify the Intercontinental and United States Titles.

Edge & Christian defeat Nova & Jerry Lynn in a Ladder Match.

The Steiners will beat Big Show & Kane.

Jericho would beat Lance Storm

Dustin Rhodes & Jeff Jarrett beat the Hardy Boyz

Guerrero & Saturn & Malenko defeat Chavo Guerrero & Rey Mysterio & Chris Candido

Lesnar beats Bam Bam Bigelow

Kevin Nash defeats Rhyno. Cornette said he was going to have Hall & Nash vs. HBK & Triple H but Hall quit and HBK was retired at this point.

RVD wins a 14-Man Battle Royal that includes: Steve Blackman, D’Lo Brown, Al Snow, Val Venis, Bull Buchanan, Justin Credible, Regal, Bill DeMott, Balls Mahoney, ¬†Diamond Dallas Page, Chris Kanyon, Ron Harris, and Don Harris

It ends with an 8-8 tie. The next night on RAW Vince comes out and gloats and says WCW is finished because they did not win the majority. However, Flair comes off and tells Vince that he beat him last night then beat Bischoff and that gives WCW the win and they are staying. Cornette said that after a year, this would have hopefully rehabbed WCW and got a hot product. He also talked about how the top matches at WrestleMania featured older stars that would ride off into the sunset as the undercard on the show would get a chance to rise and replace the older main eventers as Cornette said you dont want to turn out like the AWA and have the same people on top until your company dies.

 

Cornette talks about how he had only three nights to think of what he did and it wasn’t hard to come up something as he said the problem was the WWE refusing to present another promotion at their level, comparing it to when Crockett bought the UWF but that was on a smaller level. Cornette also talks about how the guys that could draw were sitting at home and since a few years later several guys were getting paid a million dollars a year anyway they might as well have done it here.

 

Final Thoughts: I liked hearing Cornette talk about booking at the beginning and how you had to create a smidgen of doubt to make this whole InVasion storyline work. As far as what he had happen, I did not mind using the older talents at the top of the WrestleMania card with the idea they would be phased out as Cornette said he wanted to create some matches that had never taken place before with guys who could ride off in the sunset afterwards into retirement.

The thing with this interview and the one Vince Russo did on the same subject is that the way the WWE handled the InVasion storyline was so pathetic that anyone could have made it more interesting with the WWE vs. WCW instead of using it as a backdrop for more McMahon Family drama, which is what happened. Anyone with focus could have done a storyline that would have been compelling.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to Cornette explaining his ideas and stories to make this work and recommend the interview. Fans of Cornette would enjoy it and those who are afraid he might rant a lot do not worry as he only had a few smaller rants here but seemed to enjoy participating in this project.

You can purchase this on DVD here.