Review – Jim Cornette Presents Behind the Curtain: Real Pro Wrestling Stories
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Brandon Easton
Art by Denis Medri
Released – August, 2019
Jim Cornette Presents Behind the Curtain is an illustrated episodic docu-comic about the golden age of professional wrestling and it’s dark but brilliant veil of commitment. Presented by Jim Cornette himself -doing his best Rod Serling impression, we dive deep into the wrestling’s Twilight Zone. Yes, this is a comic book. All of the traits of a comic are here; superheroes and supervillains with super strength, super intelligence, regenerative powers and high-risk world-shaking stakes. However, these stories are not fake. They are Kayfabemania running wild and they are very much real. Step into the story-time squared circle with Jim Cornette and prepare to get slammed.
If there was one person capable of sharing how off script the predetermined world of professional wrestling goes, it’s the all-around wrestling businessman and notorious, Jim Cornette. Say what you will about Cornette, the man knows his wrestling history and does a great job in touring the reader through the backstories of wrestling’s works as well as his own involvement within the infamous Montreal Screwjob.
To the best of my knowledge as a diehard wrestling fan along with some research, his telling of the stories is 100% factually accurate…which is both utterly fascinating and terrifying to think about! I hope that the predominant belief that “professional wrestling is fake” will be slammed to the mat, pinned for the 1, 2, 3 count and retired while the crowd chant in unison “THIS IS AWESOME!!!”.
Just to lay some perspective myself. For those who aren’t convinced of the reality of professional wrestling, your favourite shows like Game of Thrones and Coronation St. are absolutely predetermined and fake. Cornette puts it best himself when he says that professional wrestling is a three-ring circus of sport, theatre and psychological manipulation. For the most part, it is live entertainment; No stunt doubles, no redoes, the botches although rare, are still inevitable for beholders to witness and are there to remind them that this industry is indeed still real, damn it!
Cornette and through the art of gripping storytelling with no one to interrupt him, produces thought provoking arguments against the state of modern professional wrestling when emphasizing the bleak and almost military approach to kayfabe.
With the rise of the internet and social media, the walls of kayfabe and commitment to character can be torn down by just a simple click to the point where over the top gimmicks have all but been buried in the dirt. In the golden age of wrestling however – and much like every superhero ever, professional wrestlers would withhold the locker room law of protecting your real identity from the public so to abolish any criticism of faux fighting, sometimes to questionable and devastating levels of commitment; like Daniel Day Lewis being cast as The Joker. Yeah, THAT kind of commitment.
Medri’s artwork presents wrestlers with details and proportions that are wholly unrealistic for the most part; Ric Flair was not Goliath in stature, he was a guy. This, however, is not a criticism as the style beautifully represents the nostalgia of a fan recalling their memories of awe-inspiring icons under the spotlight from the front row of the arena as a child. Cementing the legacy of these very human legends as superhuman Superstars.
That being said, oh god the eyes. THOSE HORRIBLE EYES!!!
As mentioned before, Cornette appears to be narrating the Twilight Zone like he’s the Rod Sterling of wrestling as it unfolds around his every fourth wall breaking word.
Overall, no matter your opinion on Jim Cornette, his telling of wrestling’s no holds barred history is fully engaging and earth shattering whether you are a wrestling fan or not. What has fascinated me most is that I had never heard the stories before and I am dumbfounded, gobsmacked and worked that Hollywood hasn’t picked up one story in particular that would change the world of storytelling forever, ironically just as the heel in question did for humanity back in his day.
The novel is a great way for existing fans to expand on their knowledge of the wrestling world and maybe even introduce them to classic matches if they are relatively new fans of the sport. I myself have more respect for the grandfathers of wrestling than I ever had, now that I have found this book and will recognize names like Sputnik Monroe, Jerry Lawler and even Jim Cornette himself, as some of the most influential characters in the art and sport of professional wrestling.
So, whether you’re a mark for wrestling or a guy called Mark that doesn’t know what a kayfabe is, this book is the main event and is a stunner throughout.
PS. If you don’t know what Kayfabe is, this book also works as a wrestling dictionary!
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