Steve Corino recently spoke about Matt Hardy in ROH and more. Here are the highlights…
On his time with OMEGA: It was great. I had met The Hardy Boys in 1996 when we were all just job guys in the WWF and me and Matt hit it off right away and he had told me his plan for OMEGA and I wanted to be a part of it. Myself and Joey Mercury and Christian York would drive down there and be a part of it. It was crazy because we didn’t know what was going on, but we were just guys who loved wrestling, and wanted to be something different. Years later people would be like, “wow this is something good.”
His “elimination” from the WWE’s light heavyweight title tournament: I was in the original bracket for like a week, and then I was replaced. Because at the time they were doing the qualifying matches on like Shotgun Saturday Night , and this was like before Scott (Taylor) was Scotty Too Hotty, and Brian Christopher was just Brian Christopher from Memphis, and it was just this big thing to put the title on Taka (Michinoku). So you would win a match on Shotgun or Superstars and “qualify” for the tournament. My chance to qualify was in Atlantic City in 1997 and I was wrestling Jimmy Cicero, and we ended up getting bumped off the show because The Iron Sheik & Tiger Ali Singh went way too long. I was angry for like a year at Tiger Ali Singh, but now he’s one of my better friends. So they ended up scrapping my match and in return, they sent me to Memphis to USWA for the last few weeks before the company closed.
On his start with ECW & The $100 Toehold Challenge with Tommy Dreamer: I was back on the indies for about a year before I started with ECW. I was working with Nova a lot leading to a big cage match and Dreamer was there, and he liked my anti hardcore thing, and eventually there was an opportunity for a guy to come in (to ECW). And Nova told Paul, “I know you want Reckless Youth, but I think Steve Corino would be a perfect fit.” We both got tryouts and I ended up getting a job. And then I was just an opening match jobber for guys like Chetti & Nova for like the first 3 months, and then we were in Trenton, NJ and Dreamer said he would work with me that night. He asked me if I was good on the mic, and I said I was alright. He told me to come up with something funny, and I came up with the whole $100 challenge and we ended up having a 22 minute match and 11 minutes was on the microphone during the match.
On promos being scripted: It’s the evolution of wrestling. The WWE is such a television show. They call it sports entertainment, and it’s very much like your Law & Order or Modern Family. They follow a script. Would I personally love it to be more of a Curb Your Enthusiasm where you get to improv some stuff? Absolutely. And I think a lot of times the talent is a little more comfortable with that. On a personal level, give me an idea of what you want and I’ll just go with the flow. It always worked for me in ECW. Paul would give me an outline and I would fill in the blanks.
Did TNN sabotage ECW?: Everybody was so excited about going on TNN, and I remember the first Television taping- I thought it went all wrong. Why were we doing TV in Dayton, Ohio when we were a Philadelphia company or a Queens, NY company? Why aren’t we putting our best crowd in there? Not that Dayton was a bad city, but why are we going to a big arena trying to tape TV when we were this alternative blood and guts, smoky arena type of company? I knew right from there that Paul (Heyman) wasn’t happy. I think the first taping got scratched and we had to do a second one. And Paul didn’t do himself any favors, because instead of being corporate Paul, he was, you know, Paul Heyman. He created “The Network” to crap on the network we were on.
On Ring Of Honor through the years: It’s so different. I think that people tend to forget how different it is. ROH is not Gabe (Sapolsky), Doug (Gentry) or Rob Feinstein’s ROH anymore. It’s a television product for Sinclair Broadcasting. It’s basically their brand for their Television stations and I think it’s on in 88 different markets, but it’s really become a television product. Some of the loyal fans from 2002-2010 say we’ve lost what we were going for and they just have to realize that it’s a different product. Gabe, Doug, and Rob’s vision was awesome and so was Cary (Silkin) and Adam Pearce’s and now with corporate backing it and with Hunter Johnston as the booker, it’s still great, it’s just a little bit different. It’s a different world.
Does Sinclair have any say in on-air product for Ring of Honor?: I’m sure, but I don’t know that. It’s very quiet about how things work in the office. It’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing also, and things are good, so why poke the bear if we don’t need to?
On Matt Hardy in ROH: A lot of people don’t understand why Matt Hardy was brought in, but they have to understand the television business side of it. Matt Hardy, for a lot of years, was on the WWE and they were in front of 3-5 million people a week. People know who Matt Hardy is and if you can get an extra 10% of those people watching your show (ROH) just because Matt Hardy is on there – it’s not that Matt Hardy is being featured, it ‘s just that fan that says he only watches WWE and who do does Ring Of Honor have, and you say “Michael Elgin, Kevin Steen, Steve Corino, and Nigel Mcguinness,” and they’ve never heard of them, but then you say you have Matt Hardy. They’ll say they remember Matt Hardy and his brother Jeff and they watch the show and see Matt. But then they see these guys like the Adam Coles, Michael Elgins, Jay Lethals, and Tommaso Ciampas and Kevin Steens, and they say, “Wow this is what we want to watch.” I think that’s part of the influence.
On Daniel Bryan: We over-think sometimes as fans. I watch Raw and Smackdown as a fan. I never try to over-analyze and say they’re doing this or that wrong. There is no doubt that Daniel Bryan is so over, right? But, you don’t think WWE knows this? You don’t think a money making machine like WWE doesn’t see what’s going on? I think us as wrestling fans want Daniel Bryan to be in that main event spot right now, whereas the WWE says we’re making money off this guy right now. Let’s string it along and see how far we can go because we’re going to need a main event for Wrestlemania 31. Stone Cold Steve Austin was over at King Of The Ring 1996, but go back and see how long it took him, as they strung him along, and people wanted to cheer, and they were cheering him at Survivor Series 1996 with Bret (Hart). They were cheering him in every match, and finally they did the turn and put the rocket up his ass a little bit after WrestleMania 13 and he didn’t get the belt until the next WrestleMania, so you have a year and a half where they knew he was over and he was going to make big money for them and they just took their time, and I think that’s what they’re doing here with Daniel. They know he’s over and he’s not going anywhere. Think about how genius it was putting him with The Wyatt family for 3 weeks. They literally turn him heel and the crowd said no way. The fans feel like Bryan is one of them and he is doing everything they would do if they were wrestlers. I think it’s great. To me, if I’m Vince McMahon or Triple H or Stephanie McMahon, I have it in my mind how Daniel Bryan vs. CM Punk is my main event for WrestleMania 31.