East Carondelet, Illinois is a small town of less than 500 residents on the Eastern bank of the Mississippi River. It's a sleepy community of a few local businesses and modest homes populated by blue collar workers, and it's located a stone's throw, yet a world away from metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri. With the river to it's west side and undeveloped land to it's north and south, the only road into town crosses a giant railroad yard, so if you try to enter town, as I did, at a certain time, East Carondelet is literally on the wrong side of the tracks, and all there is to do is wait the train out before you can cross into the city limits.
I write a monthly column for Fighting Spirit Magazine, the United Kingdom's largest pro wrestling/MMA magazine, available on newstands across the UK. You can check out more about FSM at fightingspiritmagazine.co.uk, but in the meantime here's an archive of my columns.
Last month, I addressed the annual Spring ritual known as Wrestlemania, which makes the month of April the biggest of the year for fans of wrestling and/or sports entertainment. The month of May, however, brings milestone anniversaries of two more major occurrences in the history of wrestling, one majestic, the other tragic. Incredibly enough, they took place on the only two pay-per-view events in a nearly fifteen year period that I watched live as they happened from home, like a regular fan.
Recently, our erstwhile editor sent me his massive monthly missive proferring a plethora of tantalizing topics for me to expound upon in my borderline mystical way. At the keyboard, indecision gripped me as I struggled with selecting a subject, until the perfect panacea for incurable indecisiveness presented itself--go with the obvious!
The recent announcement of the WWE Network and accompanying move away from Pay-Per-View as a primary revenue stream for the world's biggest wrestling promotion caused a lot of talk, a lot of speculation, and as usual, led to the WWE making a metric shite-ton of money in the stock market and provided an accompanying boot to the nearly-immobile horse that is the rest of the pro wrestling industry.
It's January, the time when every wrestling fan's fancies turn to the Royal Rumble, wrestling guru Pat Patterson's genius twist to the age old concept of the wrestling Battle Royal. The Royal Rumble has become, over it's two-decade plus existence, one of the two or three biggest WWE events of the year, as well as the event that sets the table for Wrestlemania, which is undoubtedly the biggest "sports entertainment" event in the world every year, and one of the biggest pay-per-view attractions of any type.
It's been just over a month since the Earth-shattering news broke around the world that I, Jim Cornette, would be making my first-ever appearance in the United Kingdom in February 2014 when Wrestletalk TV presents the Jim Cornette Experience LIVE. This caused a stir amongst my worldwide fans and Twitter followers (@TheJimCornette for those so inclined), but an absolute uproar from personal friends and associates who know me well. Why? Because, believe it or not, after over 30 years in professional wrestling working for every major company both as a talent and behind the scenes, this trip will be the first time I have EVER appeared live outside the continental United States and Canada--not just in the UK, but ANYWHERE.
My column here in FSM each month is usually dominated by stories of wrestling's past that are not often told these days, even forgotten in some cases by all but a few ardent wrestling historians. The average fan may know the names, or might have heard rumors or stray bits and pieces about those involved, but usually not the complete facts, much less a first-person account. This month, I present to you a story from wrestling history that has never been told anywhere, by anyone, until now.
This past summer marked the 20th anniversary of "Hell freezing over" in pro wrestling for the second time in a year, when I debuted in the World Wrestling Federation (the first frostiness having occurred when Jerry "The King" Lawler made HIS first appearance there in late 1992).
Last month's issue of FSM featured a remarkable article by John Lister on Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling, occasioned by the new WWE DVD release on the historic promotion. Reading it, I was struck by the accuracy and detail put forth by someone who wasn't there at the time, but has obviously done extensive research.
People always say, "You can't go home again", but every time I go to the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte, North Carolina, it feels like I have.