Jim Ross on Jesse Ventura, Jim Cornette

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July 03, 2012

Jim Ross spent some time in the announce booth with Jim Cornette.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, WCW would occasionally team manager extraordinaire Jim Cornette and me on a variety of broadcasts. Cornette, without question, was one of the most talented antagonist broadcasters that I ever worked with and certainly was as headstrong and convicted in his fundamental beliefs of the pro wrestling business as anyone with whom I ever teamed.

Cornette was similar to Paul Heyman inasmuch as both were lifelong fans who sort of backed into the biz by starting out as ringside photographers before losing their cameras and becoming managers. While Heyman grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y. watching the WWWF, Cornette grew up in Louisville and cut his teeth on “Memphis Wrestling.”

The “Louisville Lip” is best known as the incomparable manager of The Midnight Express and ranks with Bobby Heenan as one of the greatest, wrestling managers of all time. Cornette was always well prepared and was very glib much like one of his role models, Jerry Lawler, specifically when The King was a villain broadcaster in his early WWE days.

Even though Corny was naturally funny and entertaining, he liked his wrestling to be taken seriously and was never the first man in the humor line. I can recall a WCW Halloween Havoc PPV when the theme was, duh, Halloween and I dressed as a gangster and J.C.went as, befittingly, a Confederate Army officer. The costumes were rentals and the perturbed Kentucky native made sure that by the time that the night was over that his attire would never be worn by anyone again. During an in-ring skirmish the “Kentucky Colonel” got most of his uniform significantly torn in an act of defiance. So, Turner Broadcasting bought a tattered and torn Rebel uniform perfect for a “Gone with the Wind” party.

Jim Cornette had impeccable timing and a fascinating understanding of the business — specifically, the old school applications of the genre that few of his peers could rival. Cornette’s skill set was a great motivator for me, because if one wasn’t on top of their game, Cornette would make you look like “Ned in the First Reader.”Cornette knew how to verbally frame a wrestling villain and how to position the heroes in a manner that was both believable and memorable.

I’m grateful that J.C. and I came along when we did on the national scene at TBS, because in today’s marketplace we would seen as “too southern" to be a broadcast duo.

Cornette is known within the business for his combative personality and the occasional rant. None of it was an act as Jim Cornette is as passionate as anyone that I’ve ever met within the wrestling business. I’ve kidded him that when he "went off" that he could only be described as being like Eb, from the old "Green Acres" TV program, on crack. J.C. reminds me of the current Joe Walsh hit “Analog Man” where Joe sings, “I’m an analog man in a digital world.”

When I talk about announce talents and in-ring talents being at their greatest when they were natural extensions of themselves, Jim Cornette is a perfect example.

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