Jim Cornette

Name: Jim Cornette
Year Inducted: 2012

 Jim Cornette


 Jim Cornette

Jim Cornette

“Cowboy” Bill Watts knew Jim Cornette had the potential to make it big in wrestling because Watts just wanted to kick the daylights out of him. It was 1984 and Cornette was not yet 23 years old when Watts agreed to import him to his Mid-South promotion from Jerry Jarrett’s Tennessee territory. As the Cowboy recalled: “Here’s a kid that Jarrett wants me to take off his hands. I’m watching this kid and my hands are clenching because I want to slap him, just watching him out there in the ring. I think, ‘My gosh, and you want to give me this kid?’ I want to slap him. I know he’ll draw money if I want to slap him just sitting here watching!”


Nearly 30 years later, the only slaps Cornette should be getting are backslaps as he enters the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in the Colleague category. Born September 17, 1961, Cornette has been one of the most important and controversial characters in the business since he first made a mark taking pictures at ringside as a teenager in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. “I loved the matches more than a sick man loves penicillin; I was in the Louisville Gardens to see wrestling for the next eight years,” he quipped. Jarrett got him to drop the camera and step in front of the microphone when he was barely out of his teens. His first managerial duty was Sherri Martel, before he moved on to Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton, a talented heel duo that needed a mouthpiece. Cornette’s career as the tennis racket-wielding manager of the Midnight Express was begun. “I really think he was a natural because he was a serious student of wrestling,” said Tennessee star Dutch Mantell. “And he studied wrestling like most people study map books. … Even talking to him today, he’s got thousands and thousands and thousands of hours on of footage on DVD that’s transferred from VHS.” 

Cornette talks with a rapid-fire delivery and it’s no wonder; it’s a mouthful for him just to recite his biography. Lane replaced Condrey in 1987 but the Midnight Express never missed a beat as one of the world’s best teams. Cornettewas a color commentator and booker for World Championship Wrestling before spinning off his own promotion, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, an old-style territorial promotion that ran in the Kentucky-Tennessee-Virginia area from 1991 to 1995 and launched the careers of stars such as Kane and Sunny. With WWE, he was a talent scout, manager, and part-owner of its Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental territory. Three hectic years in TNA Wrestling followed before he moved to an executive producer position with Ring of Honor. Throughout his association with wrestling, he’s been passionate about treating wrestling as a sport and not an endless series of nonsense skits. “People who know me know that I don’t view pro wrestling as a job, or a hobby, but a way of life. Our sport is a unique American art form,” he said. Cornette lives near Louisville with his wife Stacey.

- Steve Johnson



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