A curtain call refers to the part at the end of a performance when actors come to the front of the stage and the people watching clap to show their enjoyment. While a curtain call is a completely acceptable form of practice in live performances, it is something that very rarely takes place in the squared circle. This is exactly what happened just prior to Kevin Nash and Scott Hall’s departure from WWE on May 19, 1996.
In the main event that night, Nash, as Diesel, wrestled WWE Champion Shawn Michaels. Hall, as Razor Ramon, wrestled Hunter Hearst Helmsley, earlier in the evening.
After the main event, wrestling fans were not at all shocked when Razor Ramon entered the ring and hugged Shawn Michaels. The two were babyfaces and huge fan favorites at the time, so the crowd was on their feet. Shortly after, Helmsley, a heel at the time, entered the ring, and he hugged both Michaels and Ramon. Diesel joined the other wrestlers in a long group hug, then the four turned to the crowd, with their arms raised together. There was a mixed reaction: fans ranged from elated to perplexed.
This final bow, now known as the “Curtain Call,” forever changed the face of professional wrestling. It was also what many, including Jim Cornette, consider the day the four friends irreversibly disrespected Vince McMahon.
Jim Cornette on the infamous curtain call and nepotism in the WWE.
Jim Cornette is one of wrestling’s most polarizing, uncensored mouthpieces. Never one to hold back what’s on his mind, he had this to say about the infamous curtain call and nepotism in the WWE:
“I [got along with Triple H] until, when he first got there, you know, he was one of the guys. You know, fine, etcetera. I was in the f*****g office; he was one of the boys. When they did that curtain call thing, you know, I wasn’t the only one mad. I was throwing my f*****g suit bag down the goddamn Madison Square Garden hallway! I assume everybody knows what the Curtain Call is. I don’t need to go into it. Jerry Brisco was kicking f*****g walls. He wanted to f*****g stretch all of them as soon as they came back. Everybody was f*****g hot because it was…
“They took a s**t on Vince McMahon’s dining room table, the guy who was paying them. The Madison Square Garden show was to his father and to him. At that time, the yardstick measured success in the business. And just because they had their little ‘Billionaire Boys Tree Club’, they had to go out and expose the business and have a big f*****g circle jerk. And okay, who was Vince McMahon going to discipline? It was Kevin Nash’s last night. It was Scott Hall’s last night. Shawn Michaels was the champion. So Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who was supposed to win the King of the Ring, didn’t win the King of the Ring. Cost him about a hundred to a hundred fifty thousand dollars that year. Probably what he would have made and what he didn’t make. He was punished because he went along with the other three f*****g guys.
“So I actually went up to him, I said, ‘Look, you made a mistake. You let these other guys…’ I said, ‘Who got punished? You got punished. Because he ain’t gonna f*****g discipline Shawn because he’s the champion. What’s he going to do to Hall and Nash? So you’ve got it. So you let these guys get you into a position and you shouldn’t have done it. You s**t on the business. All the guys were hot at you.’
And he had been told to apologize. He went around and apologized to everybody, to all the boys Helmsley did. He apologized to me.
“‘Sorry I shouldn’t have done that, it was f*****g b******t…’ blah blah blah. Seemed very genuine.
“What happens? A couple years goes by. Meanwhile, also, Steve Austin wins the 96′ King of the Ring. So THANK YOU, because, the curtain call, if nothing else, gave us one of the biggest stars in the, well the biggest star in the history of the business.
“But then a couple years go by and now Russo’s work shoot s**t’s in full mode and there they play some fan’s camcorder on Raw of the curtain call and Helmsley said, ‘I apologize but I knew we were revolutionizing the business.’
“He never meant it. He was a f*****g kiss a*s and a suck up then. Now he doesn’t need to kiss a*s and suck up because he’s licking the right crack! So, therefore, he doesn’t need to suck anybody. But the point is, he didn’t mean it when he apologized to me. He didn’t mean it when he apologized to the boys. He didn’t mean it when he said he was sorry that he exposed the business.
“And so, you know, as his brow increases from steroid or HGH use, so does his ego from f*****g being irreplaceable because he’s got the keys to the kingdom. Because he’s f*****g married to the boss’s daughter- who took the job as head of creative straight out of college. I think Stephanie is a bright girl and I never had a cross word with her, but she needs to be the head of creative like I need to be the head of f*****g NASA! Because I know as much about the f*****g Hubble Space Telescope as she knows about f*****g booking wrestling. It’s f*****g ridiculous! Nepotism and f*****g corporations have led us to where we are in the wrestling business, which is why Dana White and the UFC are kicking all of our asses! Because they’re doing pro wrestling from thirty years ago and they’re doing it better than we are.”
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