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Jim Cornette no fan of today's pro wrestling

Jim Cornette

Jim Cornette Photo Credit: Handout

Jim Cornette decrees the wrestling business is no more, then a few minutes later rattles off all the stuff he's doing in the wrestling business.

In Cornette's mind, there's zero contradiction. To him, there are two different wrestling businesses: a corporate one he so happily extricated himself from, and a litany of projects he's immersed himself in to relive and retain the era he holds so dear.

"I eliminated stress by eliminating people that I don't enjoy working with," the legendary tennis racket-swinging manager of the Midnight Express said.

Now years removed from working behind the scenes with the likes of WWE and TNA Wrestling, Cornette has settled into events such as the tribute dinner being held for him Saturday night in Wilmington, North Carolina, following the Masters of the Ring Entertainment Pro Wrestling Fan Expo.

He'll take a break from the book he's penning on the history of Louisville wrestling -- which is doubling as a revisiting of his adolescence when he used to bring notebooks to the Louisville Gardens to chronicle his observations.

"The Stomper and Bob Armstrong had a bloodbath and this woman fainted right next to me," Cornette said when asked about one of his recent notebook finds.

And that is where Cornette seems to part ways most passionately with the pro wrestling that dominates primetime today. It's safe to say that Stomper and Armstrong didn't have former screenwriters and soap opera scribes dictating their creative direction, which more or less resembles the life of today's WWE Superstar.

To Cornette, 53, the combination of homogenized content and fans too exposed to the inner workings has built a wall blocking any hope of replicating the passionate atmosphere his generation created.

"You'd have to induce mass amnesia on the last 25 years on the United States," Cornette said. "We've purposely taken all the tools we used to use out of our toolbox.

"The age line is basically the people who never experienced [what we did] that don't understand why we love it so much, and we can't figure out how they can put up with what's going on today. It's gotten to be a generational thing."

But in the very same conversation in which he essentially waved the white flag of surrender, he remembered a meeting he had at a recent wrestling legends fan event in Spartanburg, South Carolina, that buoys the hope of bridging the gap.

"One family was three generations, the grandmother and grandfather used to come every week in the '60s, and then their kids went in their '70s and '80s, and then their kids who never got a chance to go," Cornette said. "And they were saying, 'This is the Boogie Woogie Man,' and Handsome Jimmy [Valiant] is shaking their hands. It's cool. At this point, nobody wants to see us beat each other up. They're all happy we're still breathing and they want to meet us and talk to us."

He called his years working in the south for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling as the greatest of the career. He noted the hotel employee in Spartanburg so entrenched in the heyday that he remembered Cornette as if he had been on TV the previous week.

Far from being bitter, the interactions seem to fuel Cornette's motivation to call it like he sees it, even if his penchant for debate draws naysayers.

"If they want to knock me knocking [expletive], make the [expletive] better," Cornette said of the business he's left.

And hasn't left at all.

For more about the tribute, visit

New York Sports