Jim Ross On How Jim Cornette’s Extreme Fear Of Flying Affected His WWE Tenure, Relationship With Kevin Dunn
Photo: VICE TV
Jim Ross spent a good deal of his career alongside the ever-controversial Jim Cornette and it so happened that ‘The Lousiville Lip’ was the topic of discussion on the latest episode of Grilling JR.
Ross and host Conrad Thompson combed over the career of Cornette—part of that obviously including his time spent in WWE. Ross happens to make note that Cornette’s concern with flying certainly played some factors in Cornette having some rocky relationships with management.
“He despised the airplanes,” Ross began. “He has and still does a bonafide fear of flying. A lot of people do and he’s not the only guy in the wrestling business that didn’t like flying, but he detested it. It made him nauseous, it made him sick, physically ill.”
Ross talked about the one time on a lengthy Continental Airlines flight to Seattle, he and Cornette were paired together first-class beside one another and Cornette had to take medication to zonk himself out.
“He had to take them in a certain time limit interval so he did. So the time we got on our plane and seated, buckled in to our first class bulk head seats, he was already gone.
“All works out real well,” JR later adds. “We finally take off, and I’m gonna tell you that we’re somewhere in the midwest, maybe Minnesota, the Dakota, we had a couple hours left on the flight and he wakes up, wanting to know are we almost there?” Ross explained, noting that Cornette happened to see that they still had a ways to go before hitting Emerald City. “So he said, ‘You gotta talk to me. You just gotta talk to me.’ I said, ‘What do you want me to say?’ ‘I don’t care. Just talk to me.’ So I talk to him about, what am I talking about? Football? He don’t know anything about football. Talk about the booking? Oh, we gotta Kayfabe, we can’t talk about the booking. So finally, I just started singing to him. He said, ‘Just sing to me.’ ‘Okay.’”
JR’s artist of choice? Neil Young.
“So I sang to him, I told him stories. It’s like telling a kid a bedtime story. So we finally got to Seattle and then to make matters worse, he demanded to drive. He’s coming off this fog.”
JR then talks about Cornette dealing with legit Mounties digging through his stuff at checkpoints and Jim legit shooting on the officers with insults. JR told Conrad he had to tell the Mounties that Cornette was trying to stay “in character” as he threatened to kill a “motherfucker.” Cornette is still in his medicated fog. Later on, Cornette began yelling obscenities at people crossing the street. It was quite the experience for JR.
“He’s pissed off about the traffic laws, he’s pissed off about the people walking by him and they didn’t let us make our turn and then I didn’t see him again for like 24 hours. I think he went to sleep. Just hibernated.”
“When you talk about the travel, driving, those 2,000 plus miles a week. If you’re a main event guy in Mid South back in that era and you’re working all the big clubs that would generally equate to about a 2,000 plus miles a week drive. So you’re a road warrior—not Hawk and Animal—you’re a legit road warrior and so I think travel was always an issue there. He didn’t like to get out of his comfort zone and who does?”
Ross later rolls this topic back around when he talks about Cornette and Vince Russo both disliking one another, but makes a point to talk about a key moment in Cornette’s WWE tenure in where he flipped out on Kevin Dunn, all but cementing his trajectory with the company.
“They were diametrically opposed in philosophy,” JR said regarding Cornette and Russo. “It doesn’t mean one guy is always right and one guy is always wrong, it just means they were very, very different and they were both very strong personalities and they were both very headstrong and so they were never going to get along. Kevin Dunn basically liked the entertainment side of the presentation of wrestling, maybe even more than he liked wrestling, what you’ll find that out a lot in that company especially.“
It was in a production meeting where JR says Kevin Dunn suggested something mundane and it caused Cornette to fly off the handle. It caused Vince McMahon concern and Ross had to pull Cornette aside and talk to him.
“He had an outburst and again, you gotta remember he’s been on three airplanes in the last 24 hours and if you don’t have a fear of flying you probably won’t relate to that. After that moment, they were never on the same page,” Ross said referring to Cornette and management. “When you get on the wrong side of the right-hand guy, other than becoming left-handed, you’re screwed. Cause there’s no net. There’s nobody to bail you out, but again, I look back at the real story and where we basically discount the fact that the guy has [such] a fear of flying it makes him physically ill and he doesn’t heal in 24 hours. He’d get off the road in WWE and you wouldn’t hear from him in for a day or two. Cause he was sleeping, chilling, thawing out decompressing, whatever the word you want to use so he had issues there.”
(Transcription credit should go to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone)
Listen to the full conversation on Cornette below and stay tuned into WrestleZone for an exclusive interview with Conrad Thompson releasing next week!