Man, bro, I absolutely hated “Chainsaw Charlie”. And, NO, I am not passing the buck. As I sit here and write this I am less than ONE MONTH away from 62. Do you really think that at my age I’m going to LIE about a ridiculous, meaningless wrestling character from 25 years ago?! Trust me; I have more important things to occupy my time.
BUT I will say this—even though I thought the idea was atrocious and one that was downright EMBARRASSSING to a legend like Terry Funk, I didn’t express my true feelings to Vince McMahon when he pitched it. Why? Because, at the time, it was a hysterical RIB.
The backstory here is classic and one I don’t think too many people know.
At the time of the inception of “Chainsaw Charlie”, the creative team consisted of me, Jim Cornette and Vince McMahon. What a !@#$%^ DREAM TEAM. Man, those meetings at Vince’s house were downright BRUTAL. Every week the conversation would turn into an argument between Jim and me because our wrestling philosophies at the time were heading in two different directions.
Being of the “old school”, everything Jim would pitch reeked of Memphis circa 1975. In the meantime I was looking to completely throw away and re-write the “Rasslin’ Hand Book”, with an exciting, realistic, cutting edge flare that the business had never seen before. The truth is that the arguments between the two of us were becoming frequent. I could tell by Vince’s body language and facials that he was getting frustrated with the both of us.
Knowing and understanding that we were wasting valuable creative time weekly, I set up a meeting with Vince telling him just that. I told him that the dynamic was never going to change being the people that Jim and I were, and I felt like he had to make a choice between us and chose a direction. I ASSURED Vince that if he chose Jim I was fine with it, being that I was still the editor of publications at the time and I knew I’d still have a job.
The next week I showed up at Vince’s house and Jim was not there. Vince made his decision. That decision was REALLY the beginning of Jim’s deadly hatred towards me.
(NOTE: While I understand that Jim will do an entire podcast about this, ranting, raving, getting red in the face like a lunatic, I remind you to look again at my opening paragraph. No, as now a Grandpa of two—there is no reason to LIE about anything Rasslin’.)
Back to Chainsaw Charlie.
Now, to back up the story a few weeks, there was a pitch from Jim that I believe assisted Vince in making his decision.
At one point during one of our creative meetings, Jim suggested to the Boss that we put somebody in a box at ringside, and keep them there for a few weeks before we reveal them. When Vince asked, “Why?”, Cornette answered, and I quote, “Well, everybody knows that when somebody comes out of a box they’re instantly OVER!”
I can’t even describe to you the look on Vince’s face. I truly believe that “pitch” was the beginning of the end for the “Louisville Lip”.
But there’s more.
In conjunction with somebody coming out of a box, Jim had been forcing Terry Funk down Vince’s throat for WEEKS. Bro, I get it, Jim was trying to get his friend a job and that is indeed honorable, but Jim just couldn’t read that VINCE GOT IT. OK, JIM, ENOUGH.
So now… you guessed it… do the math. We have a guy coming out of a box and we have Terry Funk. You got it—the birth of “Chainsaw Charlie”.
No, I said nothing. Why? Because I thought it was funny at the time.
Would I have said something if it was today? Yes, being that I am older and wiser, this was a complete disrespect to Terry Funk, and one that he didn’t warrant. Now, there could have been some old baggage between Vince and Terry, maybe when they did business in the 70’s and 80’s, but I wasn’t familiar with that story if there was indeed one.
So there you have it, the TRUTH behind “Chainsaw Charlie”, and YES, Terry, I do apologize for not speaking up.
But, it was funny.
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