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" The Gravel Pit "
Smokey Mountain Wrestling Fan-week BBQ 1994
Posted by Brandon Truitt on Sep 8, 2002, 20:00
This one was probably going to be posted a few weeks from now, but I'm doing it now since Retro Rob just posted a review of the 1995 SMW BBQ. As a result, the Road Warriors shoot I have half-completed should be in next week's column.
On the subject of the WWE today, I'll be blunt. Between making HHH the top dog of RAW, having Undertaker destroy every heel on Smackdown but Lesnar, and having Chuck propose to Billy (which, coincidentally, is a further waste of the very talented and over but extremely misused Rico Constantino), I'm seriously thinking about stepping away from the product for a while.
They took what will probably be the PPV of the year, Summerslam, and totally pissed it away in a manner of seconds once RAW started two weeks ago. They undid all the buildup that Brock Lesnar had gotten by beating Hogan and Rock by making him the bitch of the Old World Order, Cripple H and Underseller.
As much as I may have bitched about the possibility of a WWE champion Lesnar a few months back (before I had this column), I still think that the WWE should make the best of the situation they've created and continue pushing Brock to the top. My reasons are cheifly that it proved they had their general booking ideas laid out for months in advance and they were going through with them, as well as pushing a new *YOUNG* talent to the top.
As much as I wanted Angle, RVD, Jericho, Benoit, Eddy, Booker, or any other established guy put in a top spot, I'll settle for Brock because he's young, new, and getting over. For those who dispute that, I recommend checking out the quarter hour breakdowns for the past several weeks of WWE TV because Brock's segments have all been gaining viewers in spots that usually don't draw (read as: "not at the top of the hour or in the overrun"). This is the opposite of what happened with HHH and Undertaker, as they took a strong opening quarter hour and flushed it down the toilet by a horrible main event match in the overrun. What's even worse is that the match is supposedly of PPV quality yet it lost 300,000 viewers at one point.
Anyway, enough about that for now and on to one of my favorite shoot tapes.
Smokey Mountain Wrestling Fan-week BBQ 1994
This tape is a hand-held camcorder video taken by a group of fans who ventured out to Tennessee for Smokey Mountain Wrestling’s fan-week BBQ. This is one of my favorite “shoot interviews”, despite the fact that it’s only 2 hours long and the video is shaky at times.
The video starts with the fans talking to the Thrillseekers, better known as Chris Jericho and Lance Storm of the WWE. Since Jericho’s arm is in a sling, I’m guessing this interview took place shortly after the Night of the Legends supercard in 1994, where Jericho and Storm defeated the Heavenly Bodies (Dr. Tom Pritchard and Gigilo Jimmy Del Ray) in a great, extremely bloody match. It was made even more impressive by the fact that Jericho broke his arm while warming up that night, as he failed in his attempt at a Shooting Star Press. There almost wasn’t a match that night because when Storm’s wife took Jericho to the hospital, they wanted to operate on him immediately.
The next thing shown is an approximately 5-minute match between two people who I don’t recognize from SMW (and whose names were garbled when announced), with Brian Hildebrant as the referee. For those who don’t know, Hildebrant was a VERY small but talented wrestler who trained with Dominic DeNucci alongside Shane Douglas and Mick Foley. He was referee Mark Curtis in WCW, before passing away from cancer in 1999. As Mick Foley said in Have a Nice Day, Hildebrant kept the territory afloat almost single handedly for years, as he was a referee, a wrestler, and was involved in the promotion’s merchandising.
The meat of the tape begins here, as the fans go to the barbecue being held by SMW owner and booker Jim Cornette (wearing a shirt proclaiming “If assholes could fly, this place would be an airport”). Other notables from SMW in attendance include Tammy Sytch (Sunny), Chris Candido, Jimmy Del Ray, and Dr. Tom Pritchard.
The first conversation of any note is between Jim Cornette and some fans over the Pro Wrestling Torch’s treatment of Terry Gordy during his Smokey Mountain run. Backstory: Gordy had an overdose on a plane ride between Japan and the US, which resulted in him being clinically dead for a short period of time. Cornette was particularly bitching about the way the Torch handled it because they were claiming he was “the wrestler formerly known as Terry Gordy” instead of just saying Gordy hadn’t recovered from his misfortune the previous year. He then goes on to bitch about the complaints over the controversial Gangstas gimmick. Cornette just gave New Jack and Mustafa the general idea of them being against the Rock And Roll Express and that they were being held down by SMW. He didn’t tell them to bring up slain civil rights leader Medgar Evars or to bring in fried chicken and watermelon to use as props in interviews, they came up with that themselves.
Cornette then goes on to bitch about how in a hair match involving Chris Candido, they had to refund a lot of money because the electric clippers they bought especially for the occasion broke. One of the fans suggest that they should have brought in Sid to do the job for them. If I have to explain why this is funny, you probably shouldn’t be reading this rant BUT, to clue you in, I’ll just say that Sid’s misadventure with a pair of scissors and Arn Anderson took him from a planned WCW title win at Starrcade 93 to being unemployed.
Cornette then moves on to his assessment of ECW’s talent search… He claims that Paul Hayman would drive around New York City with a police scanner checking for the code meaning “jumper”. He would then drive to the location and go up to the jumper. If the guy comes down without jumping, he’ll hire him. If the guy jumps, Paul will catch him and hire him. He then cuts a funny ass promo using a prop provided by a fan… a button that says “Fuck Florida”. He moves on to talk about how Walt Disney is frozen but will be thawed out the next week so he could cuss out Eric Bischoff. (Sidenote- At this time, WCW was filming their TV shows 3 months at a time at Disney in Florida). He then talks about how since WCW has killed off the wrestling business, they’re trying to kill off the theme parks next. WCW chief of security Doug Dillinger would then go to all the strip clubs in the country bringing the women who work in the WCW office with him, which would result in all the men running out of the clubs screaming.
Around this time, Sunny starts walking her pet cat on a leash. (Sidenote- This cat was the story pet of Boo Bradley (Balls Mahoney) in his Smokey Mountain run) Jimmy Del Ray then asks about the cat being on a leash and wonders “Isn’t it illegal to have pussy on a leash?”
The fans then start cutting promos just for the hell of it.
The next conversation involves the Canadian Bruiser, Cornette, and Jimmy Del Ray, who talks about the Gangstas among other things. Apparently Ricky Morton pointed to some guys in the front row before a match and told New Jack that they were Klan members. Cornette joked that there were probably a few guys in the balcony saying “SHIT! They blew our cover!” when that happened. They then discuss a promo where Bruiser attempted to break a bottle over his head… and kept failing. The next day, Bruiser had to wear a hat because of all the lumps on his head. Cornette then talks about how a fan started showing his ass, first metaphorically then physically, when Terry Funk was performing. Cornette went over to straighten him out, got told to go fuck himself, then beat the shit out of the fan with his racket.
They move on to more stories of dumbass fans. One of them cussed out Cornette and the Bodies, and Cornette busted him wide open with the tennis racket, which started a small riot. Later that same night, a fan kicked Cornette in the legs (he has bad knees, so that pissed him off immediately) and wanted to fight, so Cornette beats the shit out of him with the racket. Since he knows the cops will get involved, he hits his OWN leg with the racket to insure that the damage to his leg is seen as “severe enough” by the cops. The workers, who have no clue what’s going on decide that Cornette truly is nuts when they walk in on that with no explanation. Cornette gets a sweetheart in the trial, where he gets fined $100 and ordered to apologize to the fan at the house show at a high school. Cornette then goes out and cusses out the whole town at the show and, coincidentally enough, the free publicity from the trial made the house go up $400, which more than paid Cornette’s fine.
Someone then mentions no-standing zones… which causes Cornette to start a rant about the stupidity of the definition of “no standing” in New York City. After Wrestlemania X, Cornette and the Bodies were staying at a hotel in New York City and Cornette had parked in a line of cars. The next morning, Cornette walks out to see that his car is gone and starts freaking out until the desk clerk tells him that it had been towed, not stolen. Cornette looks for the “no parking” sign where his car was, but only sees “no standing” signs instead, which he relays to the clerk. The clerk then says that it means the same thing, which causes Cornette to start in on a rant about how it doesn’t mean that anywhere else and that he apparently needs an “English to dipshit” dictionary when travelling in New York City with “a glossary of terms used in New York so that a person from civilization can figure out what the fuck it means”. As a rib, the Bodies got a toy tow truck and got Vince McMahon to present it to Cornette that night at the TV tapings.
He then goes off on a random rant about how there’s a security gate around the Hampton Inn at the Newark airport and other travel problems, such as overpriced rooms in areas like Boston before moving on to a GREAT story about the Airliner Inn in Chicago.
Airliner Inn story: When Jim Crockett Promotions had a private plane in the mid-80’s, they flew from town to town. In this particular case, everyone had made reservations around O’Hare Airport but they instead flew into the smaller Midway Airport and landed at about 3 AM after a show in Philadelphia. Dick Murdoch then says he and Dusty Rhodes had stayed at a place down the road, the Airliner Inn. Murdoch went down to the hotel and got them to shuttle all 17 people from the plane to the hotel. Once they drove up, Cornette knew it wasn’t looking good when the hotel declared its rooms soundproofed. Cornette, Murdoch, and the Midnight Express (Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton at this point) were the last four to arrive, so they went to talk to a clerk who “looked like he was in Dawn of the Dead” about rooms. He then said that they had four rooms… a regular one, one without a heater, one that doesn’t lock from the outside, and one with no TV. Eaton got the regular one, Lane got the one with the broken lock, Cornette got the one with no heater, and Murdoch got the one with no TV. When Murdoch got his room, the desk clerk told him that he needed sheets, so he called for one of the hotel workers to get them. The worker who brought the sheets had two fingers… NOT on one hand… two fingers altogether and “looks like the shock therapy coils had just been detached.”
Stan Lane then went to his room and kicked the door in “to make sure there wasn’t a crack deal going on” before he entered. Cornette goes to his room and talks about how the carpet was nasty, the TV was black and white, etc. etc. etc. Then he tries to make a phone call and can’t get a dial tone… which seems strange until he looks at the phone and notices there’s no dialing mechanism and that it’s a “phone shell”, which freaks him out. He then hears a girl screaming and starts freaking out… until he turns on the TV and realizes that it’s a Tarzan movie. He then goes to the White Castle next door, where Paul Jones quietly pulls him aside and tells him “I wouldn’t eat here, Jim… I think the meat’s gone bad.” Cornette then says “Paul, you’re from North Carolina… ever eaten at a White Castle before? They’re SUPPOSED to taste like that.” At that point, he goes back to his room with his food and is about to eat when the phone rings and it freaks out Cornette because he’s half expecting to hear a voice that says “It’s time!”. He picks it up and says hello cautiously and hears “Corny?!?” to which he says “BOBBY?!? They got you too?!?!?” It turns out that the phone is on a switchboard and was pretty half assed. Cornette didn’t know about it because he “wasn’t used to frequenting these establishments, but Bobby used to work for Nick Gulas…”
Eaton then tells Cornette that there’s three beds in his room and none of them match, and that one of them was broken down against the wall. Cornette then explains Eaton’s problems with hotels, as he’d been rented a room before where a black couple was going at it in his bed when he opened the door, so he started knocking on his OWN door before opening it because he was afraid of getting shot. Cornette then convinced Eaton to put the broken down bed in front of the door because Eaton sleepwalks and “Bobby, if you sleepwalk down that hall, we’ll probably never see you again.”
The next morning, no one had gotten any sleep except Murdoch, who was in a wonderful mood and had slept like a baby. When asked how he could sleep, he said that one time he and Dusty had gone to sleep in a hotel and had woken up covered in 4 inches of snow, so that place was nothing terribly bad.
From there they randomly end up talking about Outback Jack and start making jokes about him. “After Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid got done with him, there’s no telling WHERE the fuck he is now.” They then segue into a fan who hangs out with Jimmy Del Ray who’s willing to pick up the tab for him at times. Cornette wonders “At midnight, does she turn into a pizza?” They then start taking about Brian Hildebrant, as Jimmy Del Ray used to be his roommate and couldn’t stand it. Apparently he goes to the bathroom more than any person known to man and isn’t quiet when he does it… and Brian’s dad would come over with his 80+ year old girlfriend. “Brian’s dad sent him a care package… four tins of coffee and 87 rolls of toilet paper.” They then start talking about how “Newark is SUCH a fucked up city” and other wild rants.
Cornette’s next rant is on tape sellers, such as Rob Feinstein, who sells copies of his TV for about the same price as he sells originals for. He cursed out “Feinslime” at one show and told him that if he sells copies of his shows when he’s across the room, he’ll reach across the table and choke him to death.
More fan promos.
Candido starts talking about Sabu and how he loves to work with him.
At this point, a fan named Marty starts making an ass out of himself between talking to Cornette and hitting on Sunny. While Marty is making an ass out of himself, Jimmy Del Rey puts a lit cigarette on Marty’s hat. People start making as many cigarette and fire joke to Marty as they can, and he doesn’t know why they’re making them. The best one is probably “Marty, can you do an impression of Michael Jackson?” Eventually, Del Ray gets a lighter and sets the entire hat on fire.
Fans then start posing with the Smokey Mountain Wrestling tag titles. The best of these is a Sgt. Slaughter lookalike who sticks his chin out while Cornette chants “Gulf war! Gulf war!” He later has a mock fight with another fan and puts the Cobra Clutch on him.
This tape has a lot of slow spots, but when it gets going at about the 50 minute point, it REALLY gets going. Jim Cornette is probably the funniest guy on shoot interviews of ALL TIME, as represented by this tape, the two-tape shoot interview set taken in late 2000 – early 2001, and several other Fan Week BBQ tapes and interviews.
This tape is worth getting for the Airliner Motel story alone, although fan Marty Gorman getting his head set on fire is usually the big selling point. Highly recommended.