James Cornfield: Lee Best destroyed the wrestling business.
Stubbing out the tail end of a cigar, the owner, promoter, booker and sole proprietor of Pro Wrestling Assault sits comfortably in an oversized leather chair, a glass of whiskey neatly sitting half-finished on the antique wooden end table next to him. It’s a much higher class venue than we’ve previously seen James Cornfield in for one of these promos– instead of some shitbag RV, or the backdrop of a Fairfield Inn, he appears to be in an office. Like, a real office with real office furniture, and books lining a bookcase on the wall.
Even the antiques look new, somehow… it would appear that Mr. Cornfield has come into some money as of late, or at least wants to appear that he has. It’s always up for debate in the Carnival of Cornfield, and anything can be an illusion.
Cornfield’s hands are folded into his lap, as he looks intently into the camera. The training wheels are officially off, and with the departure of Ivy English, he’s run out of excuses. March to Glory is his ultimate test… a failure on the part of GenoSyde is a failure of an invasion, after the shortcomings of the HOW Tag Team Championship tournament. He looks focused. Grizzled. Like a man who is finally back in his groove.
Because he has to be.
James Cornfield: I have been preaching those words since the day I stepped one hot foot into H O Dubya, but I think it’s time for me to be a little more specific. Lee Best promotes an explicitly violent three thing circus filled with literal deathmatches, bloodbath “entertainment”, and sexual acts and calls it “pro wrestling”. And since he’s spawned copycat promotion after copycat promotion, sticking to the same script but using a different color website, he has essentially squatted over the traditions of professional wrestling and dropped a hot turd on all of it. On all of us. People might say I’m behind the times, or I’m out of touch… I hear what y’all say about me on the internet machine, but maybe it hits just a little closer to home for ol’ Jimmy Cornfield.
He loudly clears his throat, hacking phlegm breaking up in his throat.
James Cornfield: Because Lee Best also destroyed my wrestling business.
Behind his long out of style horn-rimmed glasses, there is a fire in the eyes of the owner of Pro Wrestling: Assault. Yes, this is a wrestling promo to sell tickets to a wrestling match, but it’s very clear that this is something very real, and very personal. The emotion in his face isn’t something that you can put on just to advertise a show, even for a sleazy salesman wrestling promoter.
James Cornfield: Fourteen years ago, Las Vegas Valley Wrestling was a hot, up and coming wrestling promotion that was destined to become a household name. We had the talent. We had the venues. We had a deal on local television, loyal sponsors, and a product that was respected in the industry and by the fans. Heck, I was negotiating a deal to get our product into national syndication… bringing LVVW to homes across the country. I had a four bedroom house, a mortgage that got paid on time, and not a single wrestler alive will tell you that I shorted him on a payday.
A dour expression comes over his face, his eyes glazed over with the malaise of bad memories. You can practically see the clouds roll in overhead, as his words take on a bitter, sour quality.
James Cornfied: And then Lee Best got bored.
The promoter rolls his eyes halfway, looking at the floor for a moment before turning them back up toward the camera. His hands awkwardly play with one another, as he revisits the most humiliating and uncomfortable time in his life. For weeks, it’s been more than speculated that Jimmy had old business with the owner of High Octane Wrestling, but the details had never been made clear.
Not until tonight.
James Cornfield: Maybe it was a powerplay to take over Shockwave Sports Entertainment. Maybe it was a quick cash grab, since the first iteration of High Octane Wrestling burned to the ground and stuck ol’ One Eye back at the blackjack tables, begging for someone to buy him back in. Either way, to Lee Best, Golden Phoenix Wrestling was never anything more than a vanity project. To me? It was the death of my life’s work. He signed away my talent, and half of ‘em never even showed up on TV. Split the venues by booking same day shows, and killing my gates. But more than anything that Lee Best did in his brief, unsuccessful stint in the state of Nevada… he poisoned the well.
The promoter shakes his head.
James Cornfield: He turned professional wrestling into a dirty word. The athletic commission… the sponsors… the venues… they saw the vile garbage that Lee Best was promoting on his television show, and it tainted the whole damned territory. I went from running full venues on the strip to running outlaw shows in parking lots. One mortgage became two, and last I hear Fanny Mae had moved into the master of my four bedroom home. Lee Best destroyed my livelihood, he destroyed my dream, and he destroyed the business that I love. That’s why I came to High Octane Wrestling. Not to win tag titles, or win some big contest to see what company he’s gonna bleed dry and poach from next. I came here to destroy his livelihood. To destroy his dreams. To destroy the only thing in the world that he truly loves.
For the first time, his expression seems to change.
Eyebrows rising, the slightest hint of a grin comes over the face of James Cornfield, as he stops looking into the past and peers suddenly into the future.
James Cornfield: We’re going to destroy High Octane Wrestling.
The words leave his lips as though he’s been waiting to say them for months.
And he has. From the day that James Cornfield stepped in the door, he’s been biding his time and waiting for his opportunity to strike. First it was the LSD Championship, but even Michael Oliver Best wouldn’t book John Sektor and the LSD Title against a man who wasn’t signed to a HOW contract. But the HOTv Championship was a network championship… a network that Cornfield himself had signed a deal with just weeks ago.
It wasn’t exactly a coincidence.
James Cornfield: And it’s fitting that it all begins with Jeffrey James Roberts, isn’t it? Lee Best’s dubious little weekend release prospect, the absolute epitome of everything that he’s done to the wrestling industry. The High Octane Television Champion isn’t a wrestler. He’s hardly even an athlete… he’s a criminal. A felon. A murderer, who isn’t even allowed to roam freely around the arena without his legs in chains. This man represents H O Dubya, its wrestlers, and its network. This man represents pro wrestling, in the age of Lee Best. So nice, hearing each and every week about all those nice folks that you murdered in cold blood, but if it’s alright with you, Jeffrey, I thought maybe we could talk wrestling for a little while. You know, since we ain’t scheduled for a Cold Case on a Pole match at March to Glory.
He clears his throat again, leaning back in his chair and taking on a more relaxed posture.
James Cornfield: You wanted to talk, Jeff. So let’s talk.
He slowly unbuttons the cuffs on his dress shirt, rolling each sleeve up toward the elbow. He doesn’t seem rattled– most men of his stature would be intimidated by a man so justifiably intimidating as Jeffrey James Roberts, but Cornfield seems calm. Confident. Like he knows something that we don’t know. He leans forward in the chair, taking a sip from his glass and holding back the bitter face as the brown hits the back of his throat.
James Cornfield: We get it, Mr. Roberts, you’re a man who kills people and considers it art. There, I summed up your entire rambling manifesto in a single sentence. You love the sound of your own voice about as much as you enjoy the smell of your own flatulence, so pardon me if I leave the room whilst you waft… what you do is not art, and what you do is not wrestling, so I’m afraid I’m not particularly interested in hearing any more about the Sistine Chapels you’ve painted with the blood of Mrs. Robinson who lives down the lane.
The PWA owner’s sarcastic tone doesn’t bother to hide the bitterness beneath.
James Cornfield: You’re a smart guy. And you’re right, I’m a smart guy too, so I appreciate that acknowledgement. Always nice to stroke a fella’s ego while trying to manipulate his client into jumping sides, but I’ll be the bearer of bad news and tell you that GenoSyde don’t watch a whole lot of TV, and he don’t read a whole lotta H O Wrasslin’ dot com, neither. See, he ain’t much of a talker… he’s more of a do-er. I’m the brains, and he’s the muscle. I’ve been tryin’ to beg, barter and steal my way to the H O Dubya Tag Team Championships since the day I landed on ninety seven red Plymouth Rock, so if you think you’re gonna sweet talk my boy into a trap under the guise of making… murder art… I’m afraid that you’re woefully and pitifully mistaken.
Not that his client has much of a choice as to whether or not he wants to hear JJR out– conspicuously absent from this video promoting a GenoSyde match is… GenoSyde. The towering beast, and presumed PWA World Champion, is usually lurking somewhere in the shadows, but the room is well lit enough to note that the actual participant in the match is nowhere to be found. It’s hard to imagine a six foot six monster taking a day off to shop at Target, so it’s more likely that Cornfield himself chose to leave his client out of today’s proceedings.
He raises his glass toward the camera, with a shitty smile.
James Cornfield: Cheers for a college try, though.
A long sip, and a wince.
The office is really, really fancy… and surprisingly well decorated. It doesn’t look like something that Cornfield would have chosen for himself, and surely out of the budget of his new HOTv deal with Pro Wrestling: Assault. It would almost appear as though whatever money he’s come into lately, it’s come from a different deal.
Maybe the Best deal he’s ever made in his life.
James Cornfield: Truth is, Jeffrey, you and GenoSyde don’t have near as much in common as ya think. Hard to say if they let you watch TV in that little box you’re stuck in, on account of you being a serial killer and whatnot, but at March to Glory, you’re scheduled to have a wrestling match. That big square that they make you stand in before they take the chains off, that’s a wrestling ring. Those horrific gore fests that you have with various unfortunate members of the roster, those are supposed to be wrestling matches. I couldn’t really care less about you rambling on like Hannibal Lecture, cause it ain’t got a lick of anything to do with the wrestling business, and GenoySide ain’t got a lick of anything in common with you.
He sets the glass down, and leans forward in his chair.
Elbows on the knees of his dress slacks, Cornfield’s chin rests upon his fists as he looks directly into the camera. There might not be a bunch of cops around to add to the drama, or nine years worth of talk about murders that happened long before he was in HOW, but that’s because this is a wrestling promo. Sorry if it isn’t as exciting as the shows your grandma leaves on in the background because it’s been lonely since Grandpa died, and she just likes hearing the voices in the living room.
James Cornfield: Mike Tyson was a rapist, Jeff, but it sure didn’t make him a better boxer. You know what did? Training. Training every day of his life. Working hard, and getting better, and honing his craft. You? You don’t give a half a damn about being a professional wrestler… you just wanna be out of that box for a little while. Stretch those legs. Get in a workout that isn’t you pretending to dribble a ball in a ten by ten basketball court with no net. Pro Wrestling is your vacation… your excuse to forget that you aren’t a captive, locked in a cage. All you ever seem to wanna talk about is murder, and death, and blood, and art… because it’s all you know. You don’t know the wrestling business. I do.
He tents his fingers into a steeple, tapping them against the sides of his jaw.
The preacher-esque, carny tone of his voice falls away, as we perhaps hear from the real James Cornfield for the first time since he’s come to High Octane Wrestling… and his voice is riddled with disdain.
James Cornfield: You don’t belong here, Jeffrey. Lee Best bought you on a fire sale because he wanted a weapon, but last I seen, Lee Best was a vegetable and you were the public face of a network championship. You think ol’ Ollie wants the casual fans to see a guy like you representing H O Dubya? No, Mr. Best and I, we’re about the same height… that is to say, we see eye to eye on a lot of things. And we both agree that this little Scared Straight experiment has run it’s course, Mr. Roberts. I’m not here to destroy H O Dubya by burning it to the ground. I ain’t here to steal the talent, or bleed the coffers dry. I’m here to destroy H O Dubya by turning into the one thing that Lee Best has so desperately tried to avoid for twenty years: A real pro wrestling company, with real sponsors. With real accountability. Without the vulgarity, and the sexuality, and the ultra violence. And you, Jeff? You are the first piece of rot that needs to be cut from it’s flesh, lest gangrene set in and we have to amputate the whole thing.
His teeth are gritted, spittle flying from his mouth despite the low volume of his voice. Cornfield is absolutely seething, despite having never met Jeffrey James Roberts in his whole life. It is instead the idea of him… the idea of all modern professional wrestling. The excessive violence, and sexuality. The nonsense flips and complete lack of psychology. He is a creature from a different time, and right or wrong, he is consistent in his belief.
James Cornfield: So you can threaten to slit my throat and hang me by my entrails, Mr. Roberts, but I think you know that at March to Glory, it won’t make a bit of difference., because you can’t murder your way to a successful defense of that title. Not without taking all of this away from you. All the modicums of freedom that you’ve barely managed to earn, those are gonna be stripped away in a heartbeat the second you lose control and open a vein. The second you step over that line in High Octane Wrestling under the rule of Michael Oliver Best, you will never see a lick of daylight again the rest of your miserable life, and that’s why GenoSyde is going to put you on your back and become the HOTv Champion.
He leans back his chair, and now the faintest hint of that carny smile creeps over one side of his face.
James Cornfield: You don’t have the self-control to keep your freedom.
Now, the deviousness returns to his eyes.
The tag team tournament had been an abject failure, but it was allowed to be. This was the beginning for Cornfield and Pro Wresting Assault… the foothold needed to make change not just in this company, but in this entire industry. One match, against one sociopath, was all that was separating Jimmy from finally rebuilding the dynasty that Lee Best destroyed. To do it in Lee’s own company, whilst allying with his own brother, was the most delicious revenge that had ever been served cold.
He is practically salivating… and he has a plan.
James Cornfield: Why do you think I asked Michael Oliver Best for this… Cornfield’s Carnival… match? A match with no rules, no regulations, no limitations, except a pinfall inside of the ring. Do you think it’s because I’m looking forward to some outlaw mudshow death fight that ends with one of y’all lying in your own blood and piss? C’mon, Jeffrey, you’re supposed to be hyper intelligent, ain’t ya? I asked for this match because the only reason you’ve survived for this long in H O Dubya is because of… rules. Because of structure. Because it’s a lot easier to lose weight when there ain’t a big, fat piece of cake sitting in the middle of your dining room table. Now? I’m handing you the cake. Hell, I’m even handing you the knife…
A devious smile.
James Cornfield: But you can’t have that cake and eat it too. Knowing you aren’t confined to the rules isn’t going to make your life easier, Mr. Roberts, but a thousand leagues more difficult. Because in addition to your fancy pants little Elite Protection Unit standing around and lying in wait, I will have a dozen of Chicago’s finest there to put you in handcuffs the very second you lose control. The second you give into that urge. You hand a wrestler like GenoSyde a match with no rules, and you unshackle him. Empower him. You set him free. But you?
He jams a finger forward, pointing toward the camera.
James Cornfield: You’re a murderer. A murderer with a H O Dubya contract that is legally dubious at best. Negotiated by a felon who deserves the coma that he’s in. Lee Best gave you a modicum of freedom, Jeffrey Roberts. But at March to Glory, I’m gonna give you all the freedom in the world. Just enough rope to hang yourself with. The same match that will unshackle my monster and unleash him upon you is the one that will handcuff to your own instinct for self preservation, Jeffrey. And once GenoSyde has unified the PWA World and HOTV Championships, we’re coming for the rest of this scumbag company, one title at a time. Pro Wrestling: Assault isn’t just the name of my wrestling company, Mr. Roberts…
He lifts his almost empty glass, raising it toward the camera. Jimmy throws back the last shot, but this time he doesn’t wince. His eyes never break contact with the camera, as he slams the glass back down onto the wooden table with a thunderous crack.
James Cornfield: …it’s my mission statement.