Memphis Wrestling YouTube Finds: Jim Cornette is a smooth negotiator
Jim Cornette and I are still trying to pin down a date for our Kentucky Fried Rasslin’ interview–JC’s as busy as ever nowadays. Hope to have it within the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, take a look at this Memphis TV clip from September 1982, shortly after Cornette’s debut. Rebuffed by Jerry Lawler a week earlier, Jimmy attempts to negotiate a contract–his first official public offer, mind you–with Bill Dundee. Although not the polished promo master he’d become in just a few short years, Cornette already displays his natural ability in getting over with the spoiled mama’s boy act, which was actually inspired by Gary Hart’s gimmick early in his career. (It didn’t hurt that Cornette was in fact close with his mother, and the two were ringside regulars at Louisville Gardens for years.)
Following this public humilation, the former photographer/would-be manager offered an “incentive” funded by his mother to any wrestler who could injure the King and the Superstar. (The Cornettes were too sophisticated to offer a bounty, hence the term “incentive.”) One wrestler finally had faith in Cornette: the late Sherri Martel, who earned the distinction as the first performer managed by the Louisville Slugger at a September show at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis.
Shortly after, Cornette had a brief stint managing Dutch Mantell, who fired him after his interference resulted in the native of Oil Trough, Texas, being disqualified in a Southern title match with Lawler on October 4, 1982.
From Cornette’s point of view, his first main-event experience was harrowing, as he recalls in the Midnight Express 25th Anniversary Scrapbook, “My second time at ringside, I was in the main event with Jerry Lawler before 5,000 fans. I was scared shitless and almost had a stroke.”