Swimming with Piranhas: A preview of the upcoming book V
HOWARD BRODY - Special to SLAM! Wrestling
On September 16th Jim Cornette was released from his position at TNA Wrestling where he not only helped with some of their creativity behind the scenes but had an on-air role as their director of authority.
Although we met in the late '80s, Jimmy and I really only became friends after being formally introduced by the late NWA promoter from New Jersey, Dennis Coralluzzo. That introduction allowed Jimmy and I to do a lot of business together throughout the years, including getting the door opened at the WWF, which ultimately allowed for the revitalization of the NWA.
In this excerpt, I retell the story of how Jimmy and Dennis one night ended up at a most unlikely location, the ECW Arena, invited there by none other than Paul Heyman himself. At the time this took place, it certainly wasn't a secret in the wrestling business that Cornette and Coralluzzo had a disdain for Heyman because of the whole NWA belt trashing incident, and of course the feeling was mutual.
But, as you will read frequently in my upcoming book, Swimming with Piranhas: Surviving the Politics of Professional Wrestling, sometimes wrestling politics make very strange bedfellows.
From Chapter 13: "King of the Carnies"
When Chris Candido called Jim Cornette one night on behalf of Paul, asking him to come to the ECW Arena on their next Saturday night show because they needed a surprise, Jim told Chris he wasn't interested. But when Chris played the "do it for me" card, Jim said he would on one condition, which he believed Paul would never agree to. Because Jim hated how Paul had embarrassed Dennis by trashing the NWA title, the stipulation was that Paul had to shake hands with Dennis at the ECW Arena -- and apologize. He didn't even want a payoff, just the apology. Shockingly, Paul agreed.
Even though Cornette thought ECW did more harm than good to the wrestling business, he went for the one-shot deal because he thought it would benefit Dennis. But he warned Paul not to pull any bullshit.
On the night of the show Heyman instructed Chris to send a limo to Stamford, Connecticut, to pick up Cornette. Jimmy was planning to drive to Philly, so he suspected he was being buttered up for some kind of screwing. Before making his way to the arena, however, the driver took him to Morton's steakhouse, where he met Dennis, and the two had dinner compliments of ECW.
"We ate like we were going to the chair," Jim recalled. "We ate until we couldn't eat anymore. Dennis even grabbed a cigar and put four more into his jacket pocket. The bill was about $600."
When they got to the building, Paul got into the limo with them and just like he promised, he extended his hand to Dennis and apologized, telling him all was forgotten.
"Let bygones be bygones," Paul said. "Let's see if we can work together."
Because Cornette's appearance was supposed to be a surprise, Paul told him to stay in the limo -- someone would come get him when it was time for his spot. Paul told Dennis to stay as well, saying that because of all the bad blood it wasn't wise for him to appear until he was able to tell the boys they had patched things up. Dennis agreed.
So, while James E. Cornette was hustled into the ring in one of the biggest surprises in ECW history, Dennis Coralluzzo was sitting idly in a limo, smoking a cigar courtesy of Paul Heyman.
By the time Cornette finished his promo, he was "knee-deep in garbage." He ran to the limo as fast as he could because, as he put it, the building scared him. Right before he got into the car Paul jammed an envelope in his hand, and as soon as the limo door closed he and Dennis were whisked away. When he opened the envelope inside was $750 -- a little bonus.
Within a day or two, as Dennis got the word out that he'd buried the hatchet with Paul Heyman, Paul began backpedaling, claiming Dennis broke the deal. Dennis didn't know what Paul was talking about because it was Paul who didn't keep his word. Paul never held a meeting with the wrestlers to let them know fences were mended, as he was supposed to.
When Candido called Cornette several weeks later to ask him about working an ECW show in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Jimmy told Chris he would have but added, "Paul didn't give me the one thing I really asked for."
Once again Dennis was screwed by Paul -- and any hope he had of an ECW versus NWA angle to help his attendance were gone ... until 1998.
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Scheduled to be released in just a few weeks, Swimming with Piranhas
is a candid look at professional wrestling from my point of view and covers a 25 year period in which I dealt with both the famous and infamous of a fascinating industry. Although currently advertised as 280 pages, the book is actually 412 pages long. Some of the people I discuss include: Bam Bam Bigelow, Eric Bischoff, Bruiser Brody, King Kong Bundy, Dixie Carter, Jim Crockett Jr., "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Scott Hall, Jimmy Hart, Shinya Hashimoto, Hulk Hogan, Jeff Jarrett, Steve Keirn, The Great Malenko, Sherri Martel, Vince and Linda McMahon, Dusty Rhodes, Jake "the Snake" Roberts, Bob Roop, Tony Rumble, Sabu, Gordon Solie, Kevin Sullivan, Rob Van Dam, Kendall Windham, and many more.
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In Swimming With Piranhas, the former president of the National Wrestling Alliance, Howard Brody gives a first hand account of how he’s been able to survive the world of pro wrestling politics, despite getting a few bloody noses along the way. It covers aspects of the pro wrestling business that have yet to be captured on paper. This book reveals the true war stories as Brody takes the reader into the boardrooms and back offices of the most exciting business in the world: professional wrestling.