This was an interesting old find for me recently, something I have on tape somewhere but is much better now it’s digitally curated on the internet. The contradiction that is Jim Cornette was strict on kayfabe not only in his own promotion in the nineties but also in the new millennium as one of the heads of OVW, to the point of not letting heels and faces drive together. However, his origins were as one of the most inside of inside fans and this bleeds over into the fan weeks and cookouts he allowed access to at the same time as his big events.
This camcorder footage was recorded the day after the Superbowl of Wrestling, which was the last big event for the promotion before they stopped running at the end of the year. Lots of wrestling fans who look more like Jim and less like the wrestlers, hence why the wrestlers that get shown stand out more.
Tape starts with Al Snow getting a picture taken by Bill Apter with a fan and talking about two gay guys hitting on him (Apter: “You never complained about it!”). D’Lo Brown and Headbanger Thrasher are in the background, with Thrasher just about holding onto his hair. Apter and Snow play-fight, with Snow declining to have the figure four put on him. Instead, Unabom (Kane) is the victim after some phony bumps. Snow saves his partner by hitting Apter with a stick, with theatrics. Al says he’s the Sandman, but he declines to smoke or drink. He then ponders why Carlos Colon’s surname wasn’t pronounced like the body organ or the punctuation mark. Thrasher boasts to being the only person to have wrestled Sandman when he was sober (“That one time!”).
Corny, at possibly his fattest, turns up in a joke t-shirt tucked into his shorts with a belt and teases someone about dressing far too smartly for this gathering. The conversation is a bit aimless for a moment, then he looks over to Unabom and makes a dental joke, seeing as he was going to the WWF to be Isaac Yankem. Someone brings up real wrestling dentist and nutcase Mike Lano, who Corny says is banned from the cookout, but only based on everyone else saying they don’t want him there and not his own bias. Dave Meltzer’s name is brought up, in happier times between him and Corny.
A cut in the tape to Al talking about the differences in how WCW and the WWF tried to recruit him (WCW – very disorganised, WWF – extremely professional). Someone outside of WCW tried speaking to him on their behalf about how much he’d apparently asked for, which was a conversation that never happened, so left him with a bad taste in his mouth from the offset. The lack of professionalism has him thinking Eric Bischoff couldn’t get a job managing a fast food restaurant. Alternatively, the WWF rolled out the red carpet to him in their recruitment of him, which made him feel very confident in his future with them (although that would take YEARS to be proven true).
Cut to Corny, talking about the costs of being a wrestling promoter. Some people just want to SAY they were a wrestling promoter, regardless of making money. He uses the example of a place like Salt Lake City, where you’d be on a loser from the start because you’d have to fly everyone in. Jimmy Del Ray makes a cameo to say hello while Corny talks about Dennis Coralluzzo, who’d worry about putting on a show he liked first and making money second, when it should be the other way around. He’d also like the guys to make money on his shows, not have them spending money and coming out at a loss. You have to work out what you have first at as little a cost as you can and then build incrementally.
A cut in the tape to him knocking Jim Herd, unsurprisingly, before someone brings over a newsletter including a recent interview with Ron Garvin, who was either knocking Corny or Smoky Wrestling. Corny likes Garvin, so puts it down to his current enemy, Tim Horner, getting in his ear. He hasn’t seen or booked him since the Night of the Legends show they promoted last year, but had spoken to him about a Charlotte show appearance, which he couldn’t make, and all was fine. However, Ronnie hasn’t liked much since the fifties/sixties, so his comments about Smoky being cartoonish and trying to outdo the WWF are questionable.
Buddy Landel shows up and asks Jim to recap his negative thoughts on Tim Horner and counters “A guy puts a dick in his mouth ONE time and he’s a cocksucker!”. This segues into a conversation about Jim Barnett, who Buddy had heard was trying to run Indianapolis of all places (Apter: “He’s behind something!” Jim: “Something’s always behind him!”). A fan asks if Corny has had any more fast food meltdowns or incidents recently, which he jokes not to as Buddy calms him down now (“I’m the valium in his life!”).
Jim brings Budro up to date on the misadventures of annoying super-fan Marty Gorman, who last year Jimmy Del Ray was flicking his cigarette ash onto the cap of to no reaction. Finally, he grabbed a lighter and used that to start a flame and STILL he didn’t notice until he wondered why everyone was running away (as I recall his only response was “That was a nice cap!”).
Back to Al Snow, telling Luis Martinez stories, including the one time he had a bad stomach and got slammed twice by the Sheik, which loosened him up, and when he got Sheik in the stump puller he accidentally let it go and it ran out of his tights and down Sheik’s back. Another time they were in an arena where you couldn’t hear the ring announcer properly, so Mickey Doyle kept on sending him out repeatedly and he’d just go out and blather on about whatever was on his mind regardless of whether he should be there or not.
Cut to Al using Apter as a practice dummy, putting him in the half nelson, three quarter nelson, full nelson, then dry humping him in the full nelson and saying “Father Nelson!”.
Cut to impression time (Apter: Dusty Rhodes, Antonino Rocca, Bruno Sammartino, Ole Anderson, Pedro Morales, Terry Funk; Snow: Funk and Tracy Smothers; Buddy: Louis Tillet and the Iron Sheik). Buddy’s impression of Dusty is less an impression and more a scathing quotation (“We’re gonna bring you in, give you a big push, you’re gonna make a lot of money…”). Al recalls the Funker annoying Sabu one time by calling him Shampoo, Samu, anything but the proper name.
Buddy talks about driving into Texas from Mexico with Ricky Morton and the Iron Sheik and Sheiky baby had some weed in his pocket. The border guys pulled them in and recognised them, so they were in no danger and signed autographs for them. They got shown the takings of a big drug bust, with vac-sealed cannabis that they cut into and burst out of the packaging. Sheiky started blotting his copybook by asking if they had some he could take with him. Apter says he probably needed to give him some tickets.
Bill says he’s starting to worry about himself, because he’s beginning to understand what Jimmy Snuka is talking about on interviews. Al says he should be more worried when they find him dead in a hotel room with Snuka sat naked beside him. Al and Buddy go for a combined Robert Gibson impression, which is just leaning forward and giving his hand signal with their eyes going in different directions. Robert was complaining to Buddy recently about what he was going to do since Ricky Morton had been fired (“Learn to TALK!”).
Jimmy Valiant is brought up and Budro shakes his head about having to work recently with him in Memphis. Apter goes into his Lou Albano impression, then a brief Freddie Blassie, finally the Grand Wizard, which everyone can do by just doing a nasal, sneering, dragging out of “MAC-MAN!”.
Bill and Al share stories of Al Costello, with Bill copying his rhyming promo style. Al recalls him having a three-page poem written one time for Sam Muchnick at a dinner, who he’d never met, but still recited it, then sang some opera to the confusion of everyone there, prompting Bill to sing an operatic “Tie me kangaroo down, sport!”. Budro copies Nikolai Volkoff singing Tiny Bubbles in response. Someone talks about him stinking out a Maryland show with Brutus Beefcake, corrected to “Zodiac”, as if nobody knew (“Nobody’s watching!”).
The recent Hulk Hogan in the Dungeon of Doom segment prompts an Apter impression: “Where am I?! Who are you?! Is this WCW?!”. They then deconstruct Kevin Sullivan running through the jungle to the Master’s cave with a cameraman in tow (“Well, how would you see him, then?!”, says Al, “You’re asking too much!”). Bill suggests the Dungeon of Doom have an official videographer. Al then talks about possibly teaming the 1-2-3 Kid as the 4-5-6 Young Man.
Corny comes into do his Thunderbolt Patterson impression (“If ONLY I had time!”). Super-fan Masanori Horie is asked if he can do any Japanese impressions, so he softly taps a guy and says “Baba!”, to which the guy goes flying.
A cut in the tape has Al recounting a story where New Jack went off on someone and said “I ain’t no Buddy Landel, cutting a promo! I’ll kill your ass!”, which had Budro thinking “What does he mean by that?!”. Apter tells some disability jokes that you can’t hear properly. Buddy does an impression (?) of Ricky Morton smoking crack and getting paranoid, thinking Shiite Muslims are coming for him and Robert in their hotel room (Robert: “But we’re on the 32nd floor!”, Ricky: “They’ve got suction cups!”).
Penultimate bit is joined in progress, with Corny face down on a picnic table (which I’m surprised didn’t break) with Al straddling him and adjusting his back, which you can hear things popping into place for. Then a neck crack, which you can hear again.
Finally, a back reference to earlier in the tape is paid off as someone sneaks in behind Marty Gorman and lights the bench on fire. Again he’s the last to notice. Firefighter Brian Hildebrand comes to the rescue and puts it out with some Cola. Apter: “Someone told me that guy had a hot ass!”
Melting it down: A funny fifty minutes focusing on some of the funnier guys in wrestling (and Apter), with everyone having fun. Snow really carries it with his sense of humour. Worth a watch, but have the volume way up!