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 “Curtain Call”, forever changed the face of the professional wrestling. It was also what many, including Jim Cornette, consider the day the four friends (now known as The Kliq) irreversibly disrespected Vince McMahon.
Jim Cornette is one of wrestling’s most polarizing, uncensored mouthpieces. Never one to hold back what’s on his mind, read on to see what he has 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 fucking 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 fucking 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 fucking walls. He wanted to fucking stretch all of them as soon as they came back. Everybody was fucking hot because it was…
They took a shit 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 fucking 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 fucking 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 fucking 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 shit 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 fucking bullshit…” 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 shit’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 fucking kiss ass and a suck up then. Now he doesn’t need to kiss ass 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 fucking being irreplaceable because he’s got the keys to the kingdom. Because he’s fucking 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 fucking NASA! Because I know as much about the fucking Hubble Space Telescope as she knows about fucking booking wrestling. It’s fucking ridiculous! Nepotism and fucking 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.”
SOURCE: Jim Cornette Kayfabe Commentaries ‘YouShoot’ interview (2010)