This week on Ringside Review we’ll be going a bit left field for this week. We’ll be looking at a DVD produced by “Kayfabe Commentary” as part of their “Guest Booker” series. Jim Cornette is the guest, rebooking the infamous “Invasion” angle which graced WWF programming in 2001. To those of you who don’t know, “Kayfabe Commentary” is a company which specialises in premium shoot interviews. For their “Guest Booker” series, they invite renowned bookers and invite them to give an insight as to how they would have gone about doing something in a fantasy scenario (such as Raven booking Hall and Nash if they ended up in ECW as opposed to WCW), or, such as in this case, rebook an angle that should have been much more successful than it ultimately was.
For those of you who don’t know, a little background into Jim Cornette might be a wise place to start. Cornette started as a ringside photographer and evolved into a heel manager. Cornette is perhaps most famous for managing the Midnight Express in the NWA in the 80s before leaving the NWA and WCW to form his own promotion, Smokey Mountain Wrestling. After Smokey Mountain went bust, he went to the WWF, working as a manager for guys like Vader, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog. Cornette also spent years in OVW, where he was in charge while guys like Batista, John Cena and Randy Orton started out before going to the main roster. He also worked at TNA before being fired because he didn’t fully support Vince Russo’s creative vision in 2009. Cornette is now a producer of Ring Of Honor. He learnt the business from guys in the south like Bill Watts, Dusty Rhodes and Jerry Jarrett. Point being, Cornette has been around and has worked creatively at pretty much every major promotion North America has seen (with the exception of ECW).
This DVD really is a must watch. Simply put, Cornette talking is entertaining enough, but he is someone I could literally listen to talk about wrestling all day. He’s excessively blunt and doesn’t shy away from giving his opinions on people, however negative and profanity laden they may be. If your squeamish about people using bad language, then this is not the DVD for you. While this is a DVD where he rebooks the “Invasion”, there are elements of shoot interview in here where he does go on tangents and stories. But again, given how funny some of them are it really doesn’t detract from the material whatsoever. In the DVD he gives his opinions on a wide range of figures including (but not limited to): John Lauranitis, Vince Russo, The McMahons and Paul Heyman.
Onto his version of the “Invasion.” Do I think this would’ve been a better alternative to what we saw? Absolutely. Is it a perfect concept? No, but then again, I don’t think anything would’ve been. Given that he claims he only had 4 days to come up with it and get it on paper it’s quite an achievement, and I’m sure Cornette would have tweaked a few things if he’d had time to reconsider elements of it. Cornette’s “Invasion” really is epic in scale. It would’ve spanned from the final Nitro to Wrestlemania X8 and would’ve encorporated some enormous matches and feuds. His projected 16 match, 5 hour Wrestlemania X8 would’ve been something special to watch as well.
One thing that would’ve been interesting to note is that Cornette would’ve made the decision to pick up the big names that were absent. Guys like Sting, Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff and Kevin Nash all would’ve been part of the angle, with Ric Flair especially having a prominent role in the promotion, becoming the GM of Nitro (which would have stood alongside Raw as one of two weekly programmes put out by the WWF). Raw would become a more serious show to create the illusion that times were becoming tense, and Nitro would be kept to “rehab” WCW and make the guys credible again after years of mismanagement and company suicide that had been endemic in the promotion. The only three guys that wouldn’t’ve been taken across would’ve been Goldberg, Lex Luger and Larry Zybyszko. Zybyszko and Luger wouldn’t’ve been brought in because Vince has heat with them. Goldberg would not have been taken on because he would’ve been on a small fortune and there are doubts to his true dedication to the business. Sounds fair. Also, ECW would’ve had absolutely nothing to do with the Invasion and would’ve been left well alone in Cornette’s vision. Heyman would still be appearing with Brock Lesnar, who’d appear a couple of times (one of his appearances is the explanation as to why Flair becomes GM in storyline). RVD, Balls Mahoney, Jerry Lynn and Nova are all kept on though, with Nova and Jerry Lynn being put together to form a high spot tag team akin to the Hardy Boyz.
Given that I try to keep my reviews spoiler free and create more of recommendation, this is really as much as I can go into. I would really recommend that you find a way to watch this. Cornette has a reputation as being a guy who knows exactly what he’s doing and to have a vision for the business. These qualities shine through on this DVD, and his version of this angle should be seen in it’s entirety to fully appreciate how epic and special this angle should have been, even if you disagree with some of Cornette’s vision for his take on the Invasion.
It should have been the culmination of years of struggle between the two major promotions, and the finale should have been a must see event in wrestling history. Not a three month angle where the main event has precisely one WCW wrestler in the main event. As for Cornette’s decision to have his vision span to the next wrestlemania? I can’t think of a more fitting event to have this happen than the pinnacle event of the wrestling year. Also, it potentially would’ve been a way to top the standards set the year before with the tremendous Wrestlemania X-Seven, which is still in my opinion the greatest Wrestlemania in history.
This wraps up another edition of Ringside Review for another week. Unfortunately, due to the fact my life is about to get severely hectic with the Edinburgh Fringe coming up, it might be a few weeks before I’ve got the time to get the next article up. There’s no chance of one next week, but I may potentially be able to write again by the 16th/23rd. Failing that I’ll definitely be back just before the end of the month for another review on the 30th. But until then, Ta Ta For Now!
Feel free to follow me @MichaelBrown_91