James E. Cornette, or Jim for short, has been a mainstay in the wrestling business since 1982. He worked all the major territories as the manager for different iterations of the Midnight Express. He enjoyed stints as a creative force, announcer, and manager in the National Wrestling Alliance, World Championship Wrestling, and World Wrestling Federation. He eventually started his own promotion, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, a fan favorite that the overwhelming majority of wrestling fans continue to enjoy despite the promotion going under in 1995. He would later serve as booker for Ohio Valley Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Cornette still makes sporadic appearances on independent shows throughout the globe, but he’s settled into his main role as a podcast commentator these past couple of years.
The main vehicle for Jim Cornette’s expression has been MLW Radio. That network of podcasts, owned and operated by Court Bauer, puts out a variety of wrestling themed podcasts. Cornette has two shows on MLW Radio; The Jim Cornette Experience and Jim Cornette’s Drive-Thru. Both shows are centered on the opinions of Cornette. He offers up his takes on wrestling new and old as well as political and social commentary. By all accounts the shows have been quite successful at MLW Radio and have helped to keep Cornette tangentially involved in the pro wrestling lexicon even as his live appearances have dwindled.
It would be awfully hard for someone to deny the legacy of James E. Cornette within the world of wrestling. There are those who would take him to task for his time in ROH and TNA, but his stints with those promotions are viewed as the exceptions in an otherwise stellar career. Both on screen and behind the scenes Cornette managed to build himself a reputation as being one of the best in the business. He displayed a keen eye for getting himself, and his charges over with the fans while at the same time exhibiting a business acumen that did him well within the world of pro wrestling.
This article is not about James E. Cornette the wrestling personality, but Jim Cornette the man. A man who through his words and actions has proven himself to be racist, misogynist, and homophobic. After a career spent with nothing but universal praise being tossed at his feet it appears as if Cornette feels he is free of criticism just as his legion of fans treat him as if he is beyond reproach. For those who have a brain and exercise it regularly neither of the above is true about Cornette. His comments about Muslims and female wrestling fans, as well as his thinly disguised gay bashing in the form of homophobic jokes have revealed the true Cornette, and he is far from beyond reproach.
It feels odd to type, but the obvious crack in Cornette’s armor is his belief that he can bash the present day wrestling product without being bothered to watch said product. Don’t misread me, I’m not conflating the watching of wrestling with Islamophobia or misogyny. However, the amount of hubris that is shown when someone uses a base of ignorance to exert superiority over anything, well, that speaks volumes. That’s the start point for Cornette, and from willful ignorance in the form of ghost criticism he lets the world know that the basic tenets of critical discussion and critical thinking need not apply to James E. Cornette.
What comes next is what happens when Cornette takes the above Hubris and applies it to matters that extend beyond wrestling.
— Jim Cornette (@TheJimCornette) December 2, 2015
Cornette uses wrestling to bring some of that homophobic humor he’s become so well known for to the table. It’s clear that to Cornette it is but a joke, but his joke is homophobic and manages to bash gays with very little effort. It’s amazing to me how easily Cornette slides into the role of despicable human being. In less than one hundred and forty characters he took a rather outlandish bit of wrestling (Joey Ryan using his penis to win a test of strength) and turned it into an opportunity to fly his true colors.
Or did he? The problem with Cornette is that he is perhaps the ultimate carny. In a business where just about every participant has some carny in them Cornette has made a career out of being extremely carny. His recent feud with the Young Bucks is an example of him saying outlandish things simply for the sake of driving up interest in himself. The Bucks don’t actually matter to Cornette, their antics don’t matter to him; all that matters is that by constantly tweeting at them and referencing them Cornette keeps himself in the public eye. It’s James E. Cornette being the carny that he is and trying to make money, which is, after all, the number one goal in any professional endeavor.
Unfortunately, by brazenly using homophobia and gay bashing to generate interest in himself Cornette comes across even scummier than if he were a strictly homophobic individual. He’s created a grey area; maybe he’s just homophobic, maybe he isn’t homophobic at all and is just trying to remain relevant, or perhaps he’s using his homophobia to attain said relevancy? That such a question need be asked speaks volumes about the type of person Jim Cornette is and the culture he has created around himself.
If only Cornette’s awfulness had ended there. Nope, he was just getting started. He was building up steam to release a rant about Muslims. Because when I think of political commentary I think of James E. Cornette. Okay, I don’t, but Cornette certainly sees himself as a political pundit of sorts. He takes the approach of being a straight shooter. What that’s code for is being a man who isn’t afraid to take a group of people and paint them with the broadest of strokes. During Cornette’s rant he painted the entire Muslim religion as one of terrorists, and that by letting them into our country we were inviting our own demise. Strong words from the man who takes pride in articulating his thoughts on “ring rats” at every turn.
Cornette’s hate fueled rant against the Muslim community, and religion, led to the departure of his longtime co-host Alice Radley as well as other personalities on the MLW Radio network leaving so as to not have themselves associated with such hate. MLW Radio itself issued a halfhearted statement that preached freedom of speech right alongside freedom of religion. The great thing about freedom of speech is that it means Cornette is entitled to spew his hateful rhetoric, just as it means that MLW Radio is free to tell him, “Not on our airwaves!” That’s not what Court Bauer’s company did though, they allowed the hate monger to live to hate another day, because it’s his right to hate, make homophobic jokes, and show a complete disregard for the female gender.
As I write this Cornette himself has issued a non-apology on the Muslim matter. He falls back on the usual trope; it’s all in the name of comedy. The response to the rant being widely divided is also brought up as a defense hidden within his so called apology. To this I say; of course the response has been widely divided, there are a lot of hateful miscreants who agreed with every word of hate uttered by Cornette. In the end it is clear as day that Cornette accomplished what he wanted, people took notice of him once again. Hate is good for that, and hate under the guide of comedy directed towards an easy target is a tactic Cornette appears all too comfortable using.
When it comes to the history of professional wrestling I’m not about to tell anyone that Jim Cornette doesn’t matter. He was important for a very long time, and his thoughts on wrestling of the past are still viable and of merit. Unfortunately the bloom is off the rose when it comes to Cornette. He’s been exposed for exactly what he is; a carny racist, misogynist, homophobe, and Islamophobe who will do whatever it takes to remain relevant. As wrestling fans we need to stop letting that take place. We know who James E. Cornette is and we know what he’s all about. No knowledge of wrestling from the olden days is worth such unmitigated hate. Ride off into the sunset Mr. Cornette, and please, take all your vile hate with you.