Jim Cornette Talks To Sports Illustrated (April 2019)

Jim Cornette Talks About WrestleMania Being Too Long, WWE/NWA Differences

Prior to Saturday night’s NWA Crockett Cup event, Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated spoke with pro wrestling legend Jim Cornette to promote the event. Featured below are some of the highlights from the interview.

On the origins of the Crockett Cup: “There were a variety of reasons why the first Crockett Cup came to pass. At the time, Jim Crockett Promotions was emerging as pretty much the only competitor to Vince McMahon. In third place was the UWF, which was the former Mid-South Wrestling with “Cowboy” Bill Watts. TBS was getting hot–Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair as an NWA world title match was very hot around the country, the Rock ‘N’ Roll [Express] and the Midnight [Express] for the world tag title was hot, and the Road Warriors were hot. Dusty Rhodes was booking at the time, and he came up with a tag team tournament involving all of the other promotions–Florida, Kansas City, the UWF, Portland, All Japan–and it was held in the New Orleans Superdome. That was the home of Mid-South Wrestling, but at the time it was one of the great sports venues in existence in this country. If you were in the Superdome, it was a big deal–and this was a major event that attracted a lot of attention. Obviously, the Road Warriors were a hot tag team at the time, but there were a lot of great teams in the NWA, especially in 1986 and ‘87. The one drawback, unfortunately, was when they fully realized the UWF and its live event business, with the economy in Louisiana and south Texas with the oil situation, [it] was worse than they thought. It drew a six-figure gate, and there were still over 10,000 people over the course of the day, but we had been to the Superdome two years previously with Bill Watts and Junkyard in the Last Stampede and drawn almost 25,000 people. Then this giant mega tournament doesn’t draw but about 13,000 for its two sessions. But it was still a tremendous tournament, and then in ‘87, that was the one that fired on all cylinders. That was the Midnights and the Road Warriors again–and they were always in our way, and that sold out the Baltimore Arena for a night and almost two. It was an artistic success. Dusty loved the big events. Starrcade, the Great American Bash, the Crockett Cup. Vince was doing that with WrestleMania and the Royal Rumble, but the NWA’s style and theme was tied more to the wrestling.”

On the differences between WWE and NWA: “For one thing, and I’m not knocking the WWE guys—because some of them have come through training facilities for which I’ve been responsible for—but there is a WWE style of match. If you are only a WWE fan, and you then watch the Briscoes—with their smash-mouth offense, or one of the younger tag teams with the modern athletic style, or the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express, who are going to bring some passion and emotion as the most popular team in the history of Charlotte, North Carolina—you’re going to see some excitement. I watched WrestleMania. It was 45 minutes of sheer excitement in a seven-hour package.”

On WrestleMania being too long this year: “I think they’re winding down now. The ushers are trying to get everybody filed to the exits.”

Check out the complete Jim Cornette interview at SI.com.

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