Cornette, who will be at Comic Con next month, said Philly was one of the first places that “stopped hating us and started cheering us.”
The next time Jim Cornette comes to Philadelphia will be much different than the first time he visited us.
Cornette, the longtime professional wrestling manager, is now known as a good guy, a wrestling historian of sorts and is well respected for everything he has given to the sport. But when he brought his tag team, the Midnight Express, into the Philadelphia Civic Center in the mid-’80s when they were wrestling for the National Wrestling Alliance, let’s just say we didn’t roll out the welcome wagon.
“We were in to wrestle the Rock and Roll Express, and they had to sneak us out of the back of the building,” Cornette said. “They hated us. But Philadelphia was one of the first places that stopped hating us and started cheering us, even before they were supposed to start cheering us.
“Philadelphia is a spot with, I don’t want to say hardcore fans because now that means fans of wrestlers who set themselves on fire, but diehard fans. The true fans. The fans who love wrestling.”
Fans will get a chance to get up close and personal with Cornette when he comes to Philadelphia as part of the Keystone Comic Con, held Sept. 14 to 16 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Like regular comic cons, wrestling fans will get a chance to meet the man who played huge roles in NWA, World Championship Wrestling, World Wrestling Entertainment, a man who ran his own wrestling company, Smokey Mountain Wrestling, and a man who helped run Ring of Honor, the successful pro wrestling organization that has strong roots in Philadelphia.
Though mostly a dastardly bad guy who was a tennis racket-swinging mama’s boy, Cornette was so good at being bad, fans started to fall in love with him and his tag team.
But like he did when he was a manager, Cornette will give comic con fans a little more than your average autograph and photo op. Those who take part in the Jim Cornette Experience, which is also the name of his popular podcast show, will get it all and they’ll also have the ability to order it the same way Cornette likes it — with extra cheese.
“The biggest thing, I said we have to get everybody cheesesteaks,” Cornette said about his VIP show. “Andy Kaufman got everybody milk and cookies, I’m getting everybody cheesesteaks. People know I love my cheeseburgers with extra cheese.”
For $25, wrestling fans can attend a live Jim Cornette Experience that includes watching the historic Midnight Express winning the NWA tag team championship from Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson at the Philly Civic Center. They’ll also get the chance to take part in a question-and-answer session.
Then there’s the VIP, or the Extra Cheese option. That includes an autographed picture, a personal question-and-answer session and, of course, the Philly Special, or cheesesteak.
“It’s the 30th anniversary of the Midnight Express winning the championships, and the only footage of it is from a fan who taped it from the crowd,” Cornette said. “It all happened so quickly because Tully and Arn were going to the WWF and they had to lose the titles. When it happened, the fans really didn’t expect it.
“I think everybody who will be there has seen the match because it’s a tape trader classic and now it’s up on the YouTube, but we’ll be talking all about it. Friends watching wrestling.”
Cornette doesn’t watch a lot of wrestling these days, and he tries to do even less working.
Unfortunately, his phone continues to ring and retirement isn’t going as planned.
Cornette still does personal appearances like Comic Con, although he does limit it now because he wants to spend time at home.
He also stays busy with his extremely popular podcast, Jim Cornette Talking Sense, where he tackles issues like modern-day professional wrestling and politics, as well as tells stories from the glory days of wrestling.
The business has changed a lot.
“A little while ago, I was at a show, I think it was Global Force Wrestling, and every wrestler in the locker room was on their phone, and one guy was texting a guy who was sitting across the room,” Cornette said. “When we were in (NWA), you’d be in the (bad guy) locker room and you’d have Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, the Midnight Express, the Russians, and in the other one, you’d have Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, the Road Warriors, the Rock and Roll Express. These guys were all great storytellers with huge personalities. They weren’t texting or being quiet. If they had something to say, they wouldn’t be texting each other.”
While wrestlers have changed, so has Cornette, but he hasn’t changed that much.
Sure, he’s now a podcast and YouTube personality, but he hasn’t had to evolve much as a tech guru.
“I don’t have a smartphone and I don’t know much about those kinds of things,” Cornette said. “I have Twitter and I never thought I’d be a podcast or YouTube celebrity, but I have a great Brian Last who handles all of that. I look at podcasts like radio, and I’ve done radio, filling in for morning shows or coming on to talk about wrestling.”
Podcasts play right into Cornette’s strength. His voice is what made him one of the best managers in professional wrestling history. And he’s looking forward to letting the Philly crowd know his thoughts on everything.
“I don’t do these things as much as I used to, I’ve cut back,” Cornette said. “I haven’t been in Philly since I did a meet and greet with Ring of Honor. Those fans love wrestling, and I love talking to wrestling fans.”
For tickets to Cornette’s appearances, click here.
To hear his podcasts, visit here.