Express and Jim
25th Anniversary Scrapbook
Jim Cornette with Tim Ash
Synopsis: A collection of match results, photographs, souvenirs and other items from one of wrestling's great tag teams.
I really wanted to meet Jim Cornette when I'd heard he was making an appearance at a sportscard show in the west end of Toronto.
Unfortunately for me (not to mention him), Corny was detained by the wonderful folks at Canadian customs and sent back to Louisville (or wherever it is he lives in real life). Our country's strict immigration laws clearly shouldn't apply to hall of fame-caliber wrestling managers.
Anyways, I dragged my son all the way to the sportscard show, and instead of finding Cornette at his scheduled booth, we ended up with (CBW spokesman) Tatanka. Not exactly a fair trade. Still, I took the opportunity to pick this book up, as it wasn't readily available at bookstores at the time.
The Midnight Express and Jim Cornette: 25th Anniversary Scrapbook was tougher to review than, say, Mick Foley's series of bestselling books, mainly because it isn't a biography per se. Instead, it's a very comprehensive collection of The Midnight Express in its various incarnations, and a look at how they've evolved over the years.
Tying the book together is a list of results that encompasses every television taping, every pay-per-view and every house show The Midnights were involved in over the past quarter-decade. That in itself is kind of an interesting feature (just look at how many times they tangled with The Rock 'n' Roll Express, for example).
Beyond that, you've got an incredible collection of match photographs, program covers, newspaper clippings, tournament sheets, magazine covers and candid pictures that truly tell the story, even for someone that hadn't followed their careers all that much.
But the real meat of this scrapbook is the collection of "insider" telegrams, company memos, hand-written DEATH THREATS (~!), court filings, pay stubs and behind-the-scenes stories, of which there are plenty.
For example, I'd always wondered why Cornette and Stan Lane left WCW in the early 1990s yet Bobby Eaton stayed behind. This book explains it. And had you ever heard about the secret contract talks that Cornette, Eaton and Dennis Condrey had in the mid-1980s with Vince McMahon? Me neither.
Oh, and I'm serious when I talk about death threats; this was in an era where people took their sports entert.... er, wrestling, very seriously.
NWA/WCW completists will enjoy reading through a handful of "format sheets" from old Clash of the Champions specials, in which Cornette books the action, segment by segment. On another page, Mid-South booker Bill Watts points out that everyone on his roster needs to have telephone service, so that the front office can get in touch with them. Neat little bonuses you won't find anywhere else.
Rating: Oh Hell Yeah! Fans who weren't familiar with The Midnights probably won't appreciate the historical significance of this, while some wrestling fans simply may not be interested in a statistics-driven book. But if you don't fall into either camp, this is definitely one for you.
I enjoyed it; I only wish Cornette had been let into my country to autograph it!