Former TNA/Impact Wrestling star Don West passed away on December 30 at the age of 59 following a battle with cancer. Jim Cornette discussed West’s passing and his time with West in TNA on the latest episode of his “Jim Cornette’s Drive Thru” podcast. Cornette had the following to say about West:
“You know, it obviously wasn’t unexpected because we had mentioned it, I think it was probably, what, three or four months ago was his GoFundMe, which still may be active, I don’t know if you can search it out. We were having some fun with Scott D’Amore because he was matching all the donations that week, so we amplified it a little bit and I think we stuck D’Amore for about 15 grand and he loved every minute of it. A lot of people tweeted about it. I’ve made mention, I don’t tweet about people dying anymore because what do you say and blah, blah, blah in a tweet. But the outpouring from everybody that had ever worked with Don or even didn’t know him, Michael Cole and obviously with approval mentioned it on SmackDown this past Friday. The WWE as a company in the production of the Ric Flair video completely overlooked his five years or whatever it was in TNA, it was never mentioned, but they mentioned Don West on SmackDown on network television. Everybody loved Don West and how could you not if you ever met him.
“He was even good-natured, he took some heat early on from people because he hadn’t had absolutely no wrestling experience. Jeff, I think and his dad, Jerry, one of the others, both had seen Don on the Shop At Home. I mean, he even was parodied on Saturday Night Live. That’s the thing, he was a gimmick before he even got involved in wrestling and I say that in a nice way, but not like he had a gimmick, Don was a gimmick. Back in the good old days, when guys were gimmicks rather than Adam, he was just an over the top personality, he had that drive and that oomph and the yelling and the over the top because he had that voice and I don’t know how he kept it. He just had the voice, the ability to do that and the infectious enthusiasm and he could pitch anything and sell anything and that’s what they liked about Don’s work at Shop At Home, so then they said, well, maybe this will work for wrestling. As I was saying earlier, he took some heat early on from people didn’t know anything about wrestling, but he instead of being an asshole and say, well, fuck, this isn’t serious anyway, he actually learned and tried and got to know the guys and they got to know him. He’s sitting there next to Mike Tenay who’s an encyclopedia of wrestling knowledge, but also had broadcasting experience in wrestling so that he could help shepherd Don there and he got good at it and still was himself in his own way.
“But he never shit on the business or did take it seriously or he was involved in some goofy things until weren’t we all because of the loose nut behind the wheel in that vehicle. He didn’t shit on the business because he came from outside of it or not take it seriously or whatever. That was the big thing, you saw everybody, not only people from TNA and IMPACT, but people that have gone on to other companies and they liked Don West. He was great to be around. I’ve told many times, the best part of my experience at TNA was either sitting in the back with Dutch Mantell when we get people to leave us alone or after the production meeting in the production meeting room, getting a chance talking shit with Tenay and West while all of our stay stepchildren were still arriving before I had to go actually argue with people about shit. Obviously he had an issue I guess or a bout with it once before and then it had gone into remission and then it came back I think probably about what was it, maybe even less than a year ago he announced that it was back.
“And in the year since he’d been out of wrestling, he taken a job, he was in Washington state and he took a job with a minor league baseball team and then he had started doing a radio show and Don was perfect for radio also because he again, the voice and the infectious enthusiasm and he could talk about anything. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that, at one point, probably, TNA was grossing from more money from the merchandise that Don West was selling than the fucking tickets to the shows because he was the one that would come up with the offbeat merchandising ideas or ways to pitch stuff or we’re not just selling you an autographed picture we’re selling you, an autographed picture on a plaque with a piece of the ring mat from this specific PPV. He was just a whiz at that stuff. He made them a ton of money from the people they could suck into to go to a show or to get online, he was doing pretty good. He made it valuable because he made it something and gave them a lot of ideas behind the scenes like that.”
The full episode from Cornette can be found at this link. If using any of these quotes in your own article on other websites, please credit Joshie Lopez with a H/T link back to WrestlingHeadlines.com for the transcription. Check out the latest episode of The Hoots Podcast below:
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