Jim Cornette is one of the most polarizing names in professional wrestling. Longtime fans remember his amazing promos and the great teams he managed. Newer fans see him as the old guy who hates the Young Bucks and has refused to accept that wrestling has changed. Whether you love him or hate him, even the most ardent haters of the “Louisville Slugger” have to admit his knowledge of pro graps is incredible. Listening to a Cornette shoot interview is always entertaining, but how well would his knowledge transfer to comic books? Jim Cornette Presents Behind the Curtain: Real Pro Wrestling Stories is a sometimes fascinating read that sometimes misses the mark.
Behind the Curtain is an anthology that looks at some stories from wrestling’s history. For a wrestling fan, it is a very interesting look at the sport, as Cornette is an undisputed wrestling expert. Even the stories that initially seem like they will be boring become impossible to look away from. Whether it’s a story about racial segregation or the Monteal Screwjob, the writing of Brandon Easton keeps the reader engaged.
Cornette picked some great tales. The Montreal Screwjob has been told to death over the past two-plus decades, but Corny has intimate knowledge and his take is interesting. The Andy Kaufman/Jerry Lawler feud is also an often retold part of wrestling’s history that Cornette manages to keep interesting. The story about the Fabulous Fargos is a Cornette must but is always funny. The entire collection has a running theme. Some may see this as “things were better in my day,” but to me it came across as how much things have changed.
The lesser known stories are also very interesting. The one about Sputnik Monroe is a great one while the one about Jerry Graham may just be sadder than any story about pro wrestling has any right to be. Cornette supplements each of these stories with real newspaper articles and photos, adding a realism to the stories. Even if the names are not familiar, the stories will still hold readers’ attentions.
Will Behind the Curtain appeal to a non-wrestling fan, however? The first thing to look at is the art by Denis Medri, and it’s very hit and miss. The most noticeable thing is that many times faces will take on a zombie-like quality. This is especially true of the eyes, which will often have a lifeless glaze about them. Characters in the book will often take on the exaggerated quality associated with wrestling. It is very jarring.
The irony is that there’s lots of emotion in the drawings. Anger, confusion, and joy are expressed often over the course of the Behind the Curtain. Each time, it is done very well. These are not just characters in a comic; these are real people and Medri does a great job of getting the feeling across in the book. Wrestling may be a work, but the sentiment seen in the stories is real.
Jim Cornette Presents Behind the Curtain: Real Pro Wrestling Stories is an interesting look at some of the most interesting stories in the history of professional wrestling. Fans of the sport will find the book very enjoyable. Even though some of the stories have been told ad nauseum, they are always interesting to hear. Unfortunately, erratic art and a niche topic make this a buy for fans only.