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TWO OUT OF THREE FALLS  
Everybody's Favorite Mama's Boy 

July 30, 2002

by Mark Coale  
Odessa Steps Magazine
/OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Has there ever been a wrestling character more notorious who has never (to my knowledge) made an appearance in a wrestling ring or on a TV show than "Mama Cornette?" In recent memory, we have "Mrs.Foley," whose baby boy is Cactus Jack, and Tazz's friend Joey Numbers, but neither had the importance to the character to which they were connected than Mama Cornette. As most people know, Thelma Cornette passed away recently. Reports say that she helped facilitate her son's wrestling passion by taking him to the matches. I never met Mama Cornette and only met Jim one (backstage at a spot show in northern Maryland for one of the local indy promotions), so I don't have any great personal insight. As a tribute to Mrs. Cornette, I present for your consideration some of my favorite memories involving her son, who, as most people know, has been my favorite "charcter" in wrestling since I started watching as a little kid.

My favorite angle of all-time, to this day, remains the sneak attack on Jim, Bobby and Stan by Paul Heyman, Randy Rose and the prodigal son Dennis Condrey on a Saturday afternoon on TBS.  Cornette bled like a stuck pig and his wardrobe (how convenient he was wearing a white jacket) was covered in a crimson mask. I can still hear Jim Ross screaming, "They don't even work here."

The Midnight Express and Cornette show up in Mid-South and begin a feud with Mr. Wrestling II and a young Magnum TA. To kick off their feud, the Express tar and feather Magnum.

Cornette, too big for his britches, picks a fight with Cowboy Bill Watts, who then goes to the junkyard and recruits Stagger Lee to be his partner. The match-up sets attendance and box office figures all across the region.

Still in Mid-South, Cornette brandishes what he perports to be one of "Mama Cornette's" dresses. Of course, James E. ends up eventually wearing it.

In Mid-South, we see the classic "birthday cake" sketch. Not surprisingly, I have seen Jim Cornette get his face put in that cake in Oklahoma, Dallas, Atlanta and Knoxville.

I learn to appreciate Cornette's skill at getting over lesser performers when he not only makes Rip Oliver seem credible in World Class, but managed to get great face heat for Cowboy Scott Casey and Sunshine during the infamous "green jacket" feud.

During his stay in Dallas, I see for the first time another Cornette staple: the strait-jacket angle. This time, it's the Fantastics who fall for the trap and Tommy Rogers gets waffled upside the head with a chair while stuck in the jacket. Onto the NWA, where I got to see the Cornette and the Midnights live for the first time. SO, I have a boatload of memories from this time period.

An infamous bit of Jim Cornette commentary. "When we're done with Rocky King, we're going to read him Roots backwards, so it has a happy ending."

The Express wrestle at Starrcade for the first time, against, of all people, Jimmy Valiant and "Miss Atlanta Lively," (Ron Garvin in drag).

The Midnights win the NWA Tag Titles on the first prime time "Superstars on the Superstation" from the R-n-R Express. My favorite moment: David Crockett screaming "Whip him. Whip him like a dog" when Robert Gibson brandishes Cornette's belt at the manager.

The horrible feud with Baby Doll. I had to see Baby Doll pin Cornette in a 6-man match at the 1986 Great American Bash in Philadelphia.

Cornette takes a header off the scaffold while being chased by the Road Warriors.

In something that would mean something only to people in Pennsylvania, Cornette did a great localized promo when the NWA ran in King of Prussia. "Who is the King of Prussia and why does he have an enclave here in the United States?"

In a move I still regret to this day, I opt not to go to an NWA show in the Philadelphia Civic Center in1987. I miss getting to see the Midnight Express win the NWA titles from the Four Horsemen in the last match for Tully and Arn before they jump to the WWF.

Jumping ahead to Smokey Mountain, my favorite Jim Cornette moment comes when the mystery partner of the R-n-R Express is hiding beneath a sheet. James E. whips off the sheet to reveal Arn Anderson and nearly has a coronary.

A close second is when Cornette, healing from injuries at the hands of probably Bob Armstrong, recooperates in bed, surrounded by stuffed animals and copies of the Observer.

Also from this period, we started getting the great Jim Cornette shoot tapes, from SMW fan week. They are great pieces of history and humor, the wrestling version of Citizen Kane. Or at least My Dinner with Andre. Like "The Dairy Queen" story or sending the funeral arrangement to the WCW offices.

I struggled to think of good WWF memories and couldn't really think of any? Managing Yokozuna? The New Midnight Express? Maybe the best thing he did were those RAW commentaries where he buried Eric Bischoff and the N.W.O.

How many times has Hell frozen over in wrestling? Surely one time was when Cornette showed up in ECW and waffled all of Heyman's boys with racquet shots.

And now, we have OVW, where ironically, Cornette works with Danny Davis. Davis, you may or may not know, was one of the first people Cornette managed, way back in Memphis, when he and Ken Wayne wrestled under hoods as the Galaxians, Alpha and Beta. There you have it, one man's memories (all off the top of his head) of his favorite performer.  Rest in Peace, Mama Cornette. Your legacy gave us the greatest manager and best interviews in the history of his profession.

E-MAIL MARK   
BROWSE THE 2/3 FALLS ARCHIVE

Mark Coale has the same kind of acidic foreboding in his stomach about this that he used to get when taking comp exams in grad school. I hope the results turn out better this time.

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