Manager of champions, Jim Cornette, has opened up about the first time he was ever booked to appear in Madison Square Garden and the snowstorm that forced him to miss his spot.
On January 17, 1994 – five days prior to that year’s Royal Rumble where Bret Hart and Lex Luger simultaneously hit the floor at the same time necessitating a double-winner – WWF decided that their Madison Square Garden live event would be be headlined by an unofficial Royal Rumble Match not broadcast on television and seen only by those in attendance.
Booked for this event was Jim Cornette and his Heavenly Bodies who had been a constant in the WWF’s tag team division for several months thanks to a talent trade deal between the Stamford giants and Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling. However, thanks to unexpected weather conditions, things didn’t quite go to plan for Cornette and his talent.
Speaking on a recent edition of his Jim Cornette’s Drive-Thru, the creative genius told the story of the storm that cost him his first appearance in the famous venue and how he planned to get out of travelling to New York City in treacherous conditions:
“The first time that I was ever booked in Madison Square Garden or even went into Madison Square Garden in person was at WrestleMania X when I was managing Yokozuna. But that’s with an asterix, because I was booked for MSG in January of 1994 for the Royal Rumble they were going to do in the Garden as a house show. And so was the Heavenly Bodies because we had been doing the talent deal.
So we were supposed to be there, it was a Monday, they used to run the Garden on Monday and we had worked our towns over the weekend and then they said snow is going to be coming through on Sunday night and Monday morning. I was living out in Morristown and Jimmy Del Ray was staying out in Morristown, Tom had an apartment in Knoxville but it was in West Knoxville and the airport’s down south. The point is, we all decided we’re going to go and get a hotel the night before because this is a flight to New York first thing in the morning. So we’re not going to miss this. First time we’re going to Madison Square Garden, New York, big blah blah blah.”
The theory of Jim Cornette was a sound one, but when the trio woke up the next morning, the flaw in their plan became evident:
“We get there that morning, and the night before it started snowing, and just to go from the hotel across the f***ing highway to the airport was dodgy. And we’re watching out the window as that snow’s coming down and in Knoxville twenty five years ago I think they only had six gates at the airport and they only had one de-icer for the entire airport. So they keep pushing this flight back and I’m watching out the window as they’re de-icing this f***ing plane with this one lone thing that they have, and by the time they get it done and they go over to the next one the f***ing snow’s coming down. I’m saying, ‘This is bulls**t. I’m not going to crash in these mountains.’ And I’m already concocting my story that I’m going to tell because nobody’s seen me at this airport, because I’m not going to get on this f***ing plane.
Tom and Jimmy are like, ‘F**k we gotta go.’ I said ‘You guys go, I will take the heat. I can carry a little bit more of the heat. You guys go if you wanna risk it but I ain’t getting on this f***ing plane.’ And right about the time we’re having this conversation they announce that it’s going to be another 45 minutes or whatever and I said, ‘Look, y’all didn’t see me, I never got here, I’ll call somebody and tell them something. While I can still get home I’m going to leave now’, because Morristown was forty or forty-five miles from the airport in Knoxville and that’s in good weather. So I leave that airport and it takes me two hours, more, to get back and finally I get in the house and its getting real bad and there’s a voicemail from Tom, who called at the airport and said they just cancelled the plane. So I didn’t even have to come up with an excuse. I just called up and said, ‘Hey, we’re snowed in.'”
As it would turn out, Jim Cornette and The Heavenly Bodies didn’t miss too much in the way of action as he was meant to manage Yokozuna – alongside Mr. Fuji – in a bout against ‘The Native American’ Tatanka.
The lost Royal Rumble – as it’s been referred to ever since – shaped up like this:
- Rick Steiner vs. Ludvig Borga ended in a double countout
- Razor Ramon defeated Jeff Jarrett via disqualification
- Yokozuna beat Tatanka
- The Quebecers defeated 123 Kid and Marty Jannetty to capture the WWF Tag Team Championships
- Owen Hart won the Royal Rumble Match
Credit for the interview: Jim Cornette’s Drive-Thru