Jim Ross and Jim Cornette were recently featured in this week’s Sports Illustrated Extra Mustard Week In Wrestling, talking about the major wrestling highlights in 2016. You can read a few excerpts below:
February, Jim Cornette:
Shane McMahon returns to the WWE: “People would rather have seen Shane McMahon than probably anybody else they could have put in that spot against The Undertaker, and that was part of the problem. Shane made a big splash when he came back because of the nostalgia factor. People still remember when wrestling was good, whatever their frame of reference was— if it’s the ‘Monday Night Wars’ or the ’80’s, and my old saying is, ‘How can they miss you when you haven’t been gone?’
Well, people missed Shane—he had been gone for so long. It’s the same as bringing Goldberg back —WWE made a new star out of him, beating Brock Lesnar that quick, but the problem is that the new stars they make are the old stars that are 50 years old. Is that an indictment of younger talent or an indictment of the system? Is there no professional wrestler they can put in Shane McMahon’s spot that would have meant more in that situation? There’s no younger guy who could get the rub that would mean more than Goldberg in that situation? They’re doing the right thing with the right people, but the problem is that those people aren’t right long-term.”
July, Jim Ross:
The WWE breaks its roster in half with the brand split, which leads to the end of Jerry “The King” Lawler as a color commentator for WWE programming: “If I had to rank the greatest talent I’ve ever worked with—either calling a match for them, working beside them, working in the same company as them—my top two guys would be Bobby Heenan and Jerry Lawler. Reason being is anybody who followed the business knows that Jerry was an amazing in-ring worker. Not good, not average—he was amazing. Bobby Heenan was one of the greatest heels in wrestling of all time. He was the straw that stirred the drink, largely with [Blackjacks] Mulligan and Lanza. There was so much Bobby and Jerry could do from a creative standpoint, from wrestling to managing to commentating. They far out-shadowed anyone else I’ve ever worked with.
I think Lawler’s absence is going to be felt, and he had amazing contributions there. You can’t feel too bad for him because he’s got a great life. He made a lot of money at WWE, and he’s still making money. He can still wrestle every weekend if he wants to, and he’s still keeping busy. I’m going to miss him on TV, don’t get me wrong, but he’s healthy. When Lawler and I were on the set of Jim Carrey’s Man on the Moon, Carrey asked us how much longer Jerry and I were going to work together. At the time, which was 1999, neither Jerry nor I had any intention of not working together. We were locked at the hip and happily so. Jim Carrey said, ‘Remember, television executives, especially here in Hollywood, place more value on youth and looks than they do on experience and talent.’ If that’s true, and I can’t believe that it’s not to some degree, then it was bound to happen—but you hate to see it happen. The good news is Jerry’s financially secure, he has a great business in Memphis, he’s going to the U.K. in 2017 to do some one-man shows, and he’s one of the great promo guys of all time.”
November, Jim Ross:
Bill Goldberg returns to WWE to defeat Brock Lesnar: “The decision to put Goldberg over quickly and suddenly over Brock Lesnar had some elements of surprise weighing heavy in the decision. The audience has spoken about how much they liked Goldberg coming back, and WWE called an audible. They listened and paid attention. Personally, I don’t have a problem with Goldberg beating Lesnar. If Lesnar’s talent-depth is so shallow that he needs to be babysat to the degree that he can never lose, then everybody involved has done a very poor job in presenting Brock Lesnar. Having said that, I do not believe that to be true, which is why that loss presents no issues on his credibility or image. Even though a lot of feedback was negative, I knew that the angle worked. It ceased being Geneva. It wasn’t Switzerland. It wasn’t neutral. There was a bona fide, prominent emotion elicited from the storyline, and that’s what you’re looking for. You can’t have Geneva and be successful in a storyline.