Remember that scene in the Matrix where they plug into Keanu Reeves' head and upload and download everything? That's how I felt watching the Jim Cornette 1997 WWE Timeline DVD yesterday while the remnants of Hurricane Irene swirled over and past New York City.
The latest installment of Kayfabe Commentaries' Timeline series, which takes a subject that worked WWE over the course of a specific year and asks them for insight and memories of different stories, angles, problems, matches and PPVs that took place over that calendar year, may be the best yet.
Pushed to a 2 DVD set thanks to Cornette's lengthy responses on each subject, this may be far and away the best of the series to date. Armed with Cornette's day to day ledgers, his incredible recall and a detailed remembrance of everything good and bad about pro wrestling, we are given insight into everything from the Montreal Screwjob, to the rise of Steve Austin to the Kliq farewell in Madison Square Garden to the changes in the business during the Monday Night Wars.
Cornette, never one to shy away from an opinion, gives you a clear idea of what it was like working with Vince McMahon and the frustrations that went sitting around in McMahon's house while waiting to work, being the one to learn Brian Pillman was found dead while calling Pillman's hotel to figure out why he hadn't arrived at the PPV, exploding at WWE producers in a TV meeting after not getting a real answer as to why their brand new American babyface the Patriot is going to be booked to be destroyed in Canada during the Canada vs. U.S. angle, and the beginnings of Cornette's issues with people like Vince Russo and Kevin Dunn. Cornette even admits to traveling with Russo to TV Tapings and what he thought of Russo when he first met him - and it's not a negative opinion.
There are some things that Cornette doesn't exactly nail perfectly right - he underplays the importance of the Internet and how much fans really knew going into things like the Hall and Nash WWF departure (I was there and everyone at Madison Square Garden knew those guys were leaving - and I mean, even the 10 year old kids behind me in the second row) but you'll likely never get a more detailed rundown of the events leading into the Montreal Screwjob, where Cornette pretty much admits that the idea came from a comment he made suggesting they just put Ken Shamrock in the ring with Bret and get the belt off of him, and if Hart doesn't want to do business, doublecross him. Cornette then explains why everyone was pretty much wrong leading into the situation and how Hart exposed the business more than anyone else in its aftermath.
Another highlight is Cornette, hardly a Paul Heyman fan, recounting ECW's invasions of WWF and his lone appearance at an ECW Arena show, which is a pretty funny story in and of itself.
Cornette also recites the legitimate numbers that different events, including PPVs, drew -paid and comped, and notes the rent on different venues. You will never, ever see as detailed an analysis or discussion on WWE business as you will hear. Cornette breaks down the creation of the Hell in A Cell, his original name for the match and the two different gimmick matches he merged to create the idea.
Cornette has a number of targets that he nails during the course of the DVD, retelling the Kevin Dunn "Bucky Beaver" story, his thoughts on Triple H, what a pain in the rear Shawn Michaels was during that period of time and others (let's face it, Cornette is never going to NOT tell you what he thinks, nor be subdued about it), but it's not just a DVD where Cornette is looking to burn his enemies but a look at a time period where WWF was trying to rebuild and where they were trying to grab onto anything and everything that could help them do that.
Cornette breaks down what he himself was personally involved in and where those ideas came from. He breaks down his rise in the creative side of WWE and his departure, as well as the involvement of others, including McMahon, Bruce Prichard and Russo.
At times, Cornette comes off like the lone voice of wrestling reason trying to stand against a tidal wave of sports-entertainment nonsense and we've all seen how that tide has gone since he left WWE.
Absolutely incredible, almost too detailed DVD set and well worth the price.
You can order Timeline WWE 1997 at www.kayfabecommentaries.com.