Time to take Corino seriously
By BOB KAPUR
-- SLAM! Wrestling
New ECW champ talks about his career
Newly crowned ECW World Heavyweight Champion Steve Corino is looking to
keep his belt for a long, long time.
"My main goal right now is to just hold onto it," he told SLAM! Wrestling
in a phone interview conducted nine days after the November to Remember
pay-per-view where he won the title. "I'm going to defend it against
everyone... C.W. Anderson, The Sandman, Jerry Lynn, good guy, bad guy,
anybody. I've been given the ball to run with, so I don't want to limit
He has already made good on that, having met both Jerry Lynn and the
Sandman in title defenses at the recent TV tapings in Poughkeepsie, New
York. Prior to his match with The Sandman, though, the "Old-School Hero"
seemed a bit reluctant to face the cane-swinging hardcore icon. As when
he first entered ECW, Corino tried to avoid the match, citing an old
appendix injury as the reason. Could this mark a return to his original
"Well, it's different in that I'm not doing the comedic stuff anymore.
Now, I'm playing more of the sneaky guy who does whatever it takes to keep
the belt. If the fans boo me, they boo me. If they cheer me, they cheer
me. All that matters is keeping the title."
Jack Victory (left) celebrates with Steve Corino, the new ECW World Heavyweight Champion.
As for the fans cheering him, he's getting used to it. "It's a big
responsibility. There's a "face" code of conduct that you have to be aware
of. You can't turn to a heel fan and yell 'No, YOU suck!' "
What Corino does like about moving back towards the "anti-hardcore" gimmick
is the fact that he'll have to spill less blood than in most of his recent
matches. During the Poughkeepsie, NY tapings, he went on a post-match rant,
claiming that fans don't respect him unless he sheds buckets of blood. To
some extent, Corino believes that that's true. "I'm a bit
tired of it. It's a shame that many people have this mentality of "What
have you done for me lately?", like I have to bleed in every match. I'm
looked upon as the best bleeder in the business... that's not a reputation
I really want."
It was his bleeding ability that led to jealousy among the other wrestlers
in the locker room, according to some recent Internet reports. Claims were
made that Corino was receiving backstage heat from other wrestlers who felt
pressured into "blading" themselves to keep up with Corino's bloodflow.
Corino dismisses those rumours, however.
"If someone was upset, they would run to me or to Paul (Heyman, owner of
ECW), not to the Internet. Who are these sources (cited in Internet
reports) anyway? Where do they come from? I read in one report that Joey
Styles had heat because of his attitude. Joey is probably one of the most
popular and respected guys in the back. Maybe somebody felt that he
snubbed them, so then they go and print that he's got an attitude. There's
very few legitimate reporters out there; it's more like the tabloids."
Another story that was floating around is that his on-screen split with
Dawn Marie was prompted by legitimate friction between the two backstage.
"Not true," Corino says pointedly. "We were only supposed to be together
for a little while anyway. People think that because an angle isn't
addressed right away, that it must be legitimate. We go way back... she
used to manage me and Simon (Diamond) in the indies. People should do some
research before 'reporting' these things."
Another frequently-mentioned name in such reports is former WCW "Outsider"
Scott Hall, who made his ECW debut at the Poughkeepsie tapings.
Having fought many personal demons in recent years, Hall is reported to be a
disruptive and destructive influence in the locker room. Corino disagrees. "[He] has been
nothing but professional," says Corino. "He knows his reputation, and he
wants to clean himself up. There might have been this preconceived notion
of 'Is he okay?' before, but the boys have really embraced him. Our locker
room has always been very supportive. We've always seen ourselves as the
"Land of Misfits" anyway, so he'll get along great. I think his being here
will be a good step for the promotion."
Good enough to see ECW take over the Number Two spot in the industry (after
the WWF and WCW)?
"It's hard to see (us doing so). Yes, WCW is having problems, but it's
still backed by a multi-billion dollar company. The WWF is a brand name,
Vince (McMahon) can do whatever he wants right now, and WCW's next. I'd
say we're a strong Number Three."
One wrestling promotion who is bucking for that spot is the XPW. Using the
hardcore formula which drove ECW's success, and even some former ECW stars,
the promotion has become very forthcoming about their desire for ECW's
spot, going so far as to have several XPW wrestlers interfere in a recent
"Not to disrespect them, but I don't see them as competition until they're
running weekly shows. Just because you're on TV doesn't make you
competition. Really, I think that Ohio Valley, Memphis, Power Pro are more
of a threat to us, because they've got guys working three or four days a
week. In ECW, (wrestling)'s a full-time job; in the XPW, you still have
to be working another job."
Referring to the pay-per-view incident, Corino feels that XPW had
the right idea. "They kind of shot themselves in the foot. It was
different when we did it (ECW wrestlers invaded two episodes of WWF Raw a
few years ago), because our 'invasion' was part of an angle."
Another difference between the promotions is ECW's commitment to run
monthly pay-per-view events, a recent development, as they traditionally
ran them bi-monthly. "I like (the new schedule), it keeps things fresh.
People don't have the attention spans anymore to keep storylines extended.
Today, the trend is to 'hotshot' angles to keep things moving, not like in
While Corino didn't say who he would be wrestling at the upcoming December
3 PPV event, he does have some of his favourite opponents in mind. "I
would love to wrestle C.W. Anderson again. Jerry Lynn, Justin Credible. I
really would like to wrestle Nova for the title. He and I go a long way
back, in fact I wrestled my ECW debut match against Nova. That would be
pretty cool, to go full circle."
However, most ECW fans would rather see Corino face the company's most
popular star, Rob Van Dam at some point in the future. Van Dam has been
absent from ECW for a couple of months while filming a movie in Thailand.
"I've wrestled him two times, and would love to face him again," says the
champ. "He's an amazing athlete. But I have a feeling he and Rhino aren't
done (feuding yet)."
In the meantime, Corino is anxious to get some of the other under-exposed
stars into the spotlight, possibly into the main events. "We've got some
great new guys. The Rockers Y2K, C.W., Swinger, Simon Diamond, Kid Kash.
With the older guys coming back, guys like Dreamer, Spike (Dudley), and now
Hall, our roster is the strongest it's been in a long time."
Corino is also hoping to eventually fill the locker room with the graduates
of his "Cool School" of wrestling, located in Reading, PA. Besides
training the students, Corino is also the booker and producer of the
school's shows, held every three weeks.
"It's quite a challenge, but I really enjoy it," says Corino. "I've
learned a lot from guys like Tommy Dreamer, Paul, and Dusty (Rhodes). I'm
always giving Paul ideas, and he'll be like 'No, that won't work, because
of this and this and that.' I take that, and bring that back to my own show."
Although being part of the management team does have its appeal, Corino
maintains that he's not ready to hang up the wrestling boots quite so soon.
"I'm 27 years old, and want to stay wrestling for another ten years."
In the meantime, his goal is pretty straightforward: "Getting out there, entertaining
people, having a fun time, and earning the people's respect."
Steve Corino story archive