I recently interviewed former WWE and TNA executive Bruce Prichard whose podcast, Something to Wrestle, can be heard every Friday afternoon at MLW Radio. In the second and final part of the interview below, The former Brother Love discussed his podcast, shooting down Hulk Hogan - DX rumors, Vince McMahon's thoughts on Goldberg in the 90s, his TNA run, the lack of competition for WWE today and more.
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I wanted to ask you about something you mentioned before, that during the Attitude Era someone had suggested Hulk Hogan come in in 1997 and join DX.
"Well that was actually -- how the DX thing, joining DX, I did one of those guest booker things with Shawn Oliver. And the thing was book the Survivor Series where 'Bret Screwed Bret' and what happened afterwards. And that's where the DX thing comes from. I said, 'what a lot of people did know, is that Hulk Hogan at the time that we were negotiating with Bret [Hart], Bret had an offer from WCW and had come to us and that's when Vince did the 10 year deal and all that stuff with Bret, but Hulk -- his contract was up at the time and he was able to re-negotiate. He was able to negotiate at the time.
"So we were considering whether or not we wanted to do a deal with Hulk, or we wanted to do a deal with Bret. And the DX thing came from the guest booker thing and I said, 'well here is what you could have done. You could've brought Hogan in here' -- but the idea was if Bret leaves we let Bret go to WCW and we bring Hulk in, how do we get to where we want to go, because [Steve] Austin was red hot at the time, we knew that Steve was on fire and we're kind of looking long-term. Who is that next guy? And we were thinking Steve was that next guy. Who could get him there? And you're thinking either Hulk or Bret, and of course it ended up being Shawn. But we were in a very good position because you had a lot of guys to choose from. But that's where that came from, it was an idea that if Hulk is available, then what do we do with him? And he was red hot as a heel in WCW, and we got this mega baby face coming up on the other side in Steve Austin, this could work."
Also during that time Goldberg was getting red hot, what was Vince's reaction to Goldberg back then?
"Back then they protected Goldberg, and if you remember, his matches didn't consist of much. They were kind of designed in the vein of old Ultimate Warrior matches. They were very careful not to put him in there with somebody that would expose him. So hats off to how they booked Goldberg and got him over because obviously it worked, but I think that when you would watch him you kind of saw through the facade. But damn, if he's gotta hit that two minute mark, he's gonna be dead. There was that feeling, but again hindsight being what it is you have to take your hat off to him and say, 'hey, that was a good job.' They kicked our ass for a long time in the ratings, so you can't deny that they were doing something right. They weren't able to stay in it, we eventually won, but we gotta give credit where credit is due, and they did a good job at that time in getting their talent over and making something different and unique. Goldberg was different and unique at the time, and they built a monster babyface that was unstoppable. So the build worked."
Was there a time when you guys were like sending fielders or anything like that to Goldberg, or was he pretty much tied up [with WCW]?
"Well the fact of the matter is that we had actually made an offer to Goldberg before he went to the Power Plant. Jim Ross knew Goldberg from Atlanta and the Falcons, they're old Oklahoma buddies. So there was definitely fielders before Goldberg actually went to the Power Plant for him to come up and train with us and learn the business. So yeah that was definitely a possibility for him to come with us and learn in there."
I think a lot of people were surprised when you did leave WWF. Were you surprised by it or did you feel like it was time and you saw it coming?
"(Chuckles) Which time?"
"2008, it was simply kind of time. You know, 22 years is a long time. And I thought I had a great run, I had a hell of a lot of fun, great career, they provided me a lot of opportunity and I wouldn't have what I have today if it wasn't for them and that time there. So yeah, it was one of those deals. And plus I was involved in another business on the side, and I thought, 'you know what, maybe it is time to just move on.' So timing is everything and you never like to be let go of something that you love, but at the same time you have to understand 'okay, maybe it is time to move on'. And you pick up your stuff and you go, and just try and make the best of it."
What were your thoughts on your run with TNA? You were there for a few years.
"I was. Well I had fun at TNA, especially in the beginning. I loved working with the young talent. There were guys there that wanted to learn and were hungry and it was a much more laid back atmosphere than were I had come from. Dixie Carter is a very nice lady, I enjoy sitting down and having dinner and a bottle of wine with Dixie. As far as business goes, they weren't the best business people in the world, I think that may be evident now, and it was difficult to get things done.
"I know that people like to [say that], I get thrown in there as well, Hulk and Eric Bischoff ruined TNA, and then Prichard came in and we convinced them to do all these horrible things. I give them credit for at least trying some new things, and guess what man, [Impact] going to Monday Night... I wasn't there when they made that decision, but at least they tried. They tried to compete, they gave it a shot. I might have done it a little differently, I might have gone up against them on Friday nights instead of Monday Nights. Go up against them on SyFy where they were brand new, and they hadn't established a time slot. Another idea, another way of looking at it. Instead of going up against the big dog on Monday Nights, but at least they had the balls and they tried it.
"When I got there it was what it was. There wasn't a lot of money to go around, there wasn't a -- the biggest problem was that they had an ownership in Dallas, Texas, they were owned by people that built power plants. And they made the money decisions. They had no one from the entertainment business, or the wrestling business, that understood it in any decision making areas. Now we had titles, I had to make decisions on some things, but when you've got a limited budget, and when you've got someone second guessing you that just never even left their offices in Dallas, Texas to look at your operation, it was challenging. It was challenging at times. And it was sad because I love competition and I love the wrestling business. I read things and frankly, you read stuff and you don't know what's true and what's not true. But having gone through a lot of the stuff I did in TNA I go 'yeah, I can see that happening.' But the thing is I don't want them to go out of business man. We need competition, we need places for people to work, and it's sad that a lot of good people that are in that company that bust their ass, that put everything into int, and the thought of them having to be out of work because of some really poor business decisions is sad. And the guys are having one less place to apply their trade, that sucks. I'm a fan first, I love the business, I love going to -- I got to go to an independent show in Staten Island [recently], I enjoyed the hell out of it. Because it was different, it was young guys, it wasn't the greatest wrestling in the world, but it was fun. And it was guys out there busting their ass trying to live a dream, and I appreciate that. I just like to see that because as a kid that's all I ever wanted to do. And I got to live my dream, and I enjoy watching people with a genuine passion for the business that go out there and give it their all.
"And those guys at TNA that are out there, and no matter what the situation, they're out there busting their balls and giving you everything they've got. For the love of the business. I look at Matt and Jeff Hardy and people -- everybody made fun of Broken Matt when they first started doing the stuff, and that first deal they did. And I'm one of them. I sat there and said' what the hell is this?' Then I sat back and took my jaded producer hat off and just watched it, and absolutely had fallen in love with it. Matt Hardy has re-invented himself, Jeff Hardy has re-invented himself, they are relevant again, the stuff they are doing is entertaining as hell, and to a traditionalist old timer like me to say 'oh it's bull sh*t, they're killing the business.' No. They're making it interesting. They got people talking about them, and to that I applaud them, I love it. To the EC3 kid, hell of a talent. They got a lot of great -- Drew Galloway, they got of great talent there. And for those guys to have one less place to work, and not to be able to have some place to do what they love, I hate that for them. And I hope that something good happens for them in that situation."
It seems like WWF is best when they have people competing with them, because the falling ratings doesn't seem like it's changing. It seems like they have to be pushed by another company.
"I think that's fair to say with anything, but especially with Vince. He's the first one to say 'I won't be complacent' but you look at the way their backstage interviews are shot, they haven't changed in fifteen years, sixteen years? And that's back when I was doing it, it'd just drive me nuts. Just try to give me something different! But you're right, there is nobody challenging them, there's nobody at their heels. So you do the status quo, you become complacent. And I'll steal a line that I learned from Vince McMahon, 'sometimes you get the wrinkles out of their bellies.' Sometimes they would say that to old timers when the guy would get a lot of food in his belly and his belly got bigger and it smoothed out. When you're hungry you got wrinkles in your belly because you're not getting enough to eat. So when you're fed and your complacent then you got the wrinkles out of your belly and it's all smoothed out.
"You can not deny the business they do, they are doing great, they're merchandising and the network is doing well. They're television and they're pay-per-views or they're specials, whatever the hell they call them now, they're doing well. I don't know what they're house show business is, but they are successful. They will continue to be successful, but I would love to see some competition. I would love to see somebody come in and really challenge them and get them off their ass. But also to give the fans something of quality, something else to look at and compare it to. Who knows, maybe somebody comes in and knocks them off. I don't see that in the foreseeable future, but I don't think anybody saw WCW years before saying 'this will be a viable competitor.' The business itself has changed."
As a general fan and someone who's been in the business for so long, what are your general thoughts on today's WWE watching it? Do you still enjoy it or is it getting harder to watch?
"It gets harder to watch to be honest with you, when I started doing the podcast -- the first couple of weeks I would comment on the current business. I would comments on the current shows. I'd get feedback, I'd get a lot of negative feedback and what they really liked was the old stories in the segment we call 'What Happened When' because that's what happens to me when people say 'what happened when you guys did The Undertaker vs. Undertaker? What was that all about?' And I go back and tell those stories. But I was watching it, I was watching three hours of RAW and then two hours of SmackDown, and then two hours of TNA, and oh my god NXT and the Cruiserweight Challenge. It's too much. A three hour RAW is just too damn long for anybody. I truly enjoy watching SmackDown because it is only two hours, and at least it attempts to look a little bit different, but it's a lot of the same. I like Kevin Owens, I like Seth Rollins, love Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton - you can watch Randy Orton every night - but besides that, there is nothing that has me waiting for 'oh I have to see this.' There's not that 'oh my god what's Austin going to do this week? What the hell is gonna come out of The Rock's mouth?' They've lost the edginess, which is what I think made it take it to the next level. It's become very homogenized. But then again I watch the NFL, and when I played football as a kid the first thing everyone of our coaches said 'take their heads off!' I'm all for the concussions and all that stuff and we now have research that says 'oh that's not the best thing for your long-term health here folks.' But I think everything grows and gets homogenized along the way. I think that's a lot of what's happened to the product today."
I'd hear your appearances on The Steve Austin Show and they just fly by, your old stories with The Undertaker, and it's great it just seemed like a natural thing with you doing the podcast. Why did it take so long?
"Because I didn't wanna do it (chuckles). And Steve Austin called me one day, just out of the blue, and we BS'd for four hours on the phone. And when we're done he says 'god damn kid, I should have you on my podcast sometime, this is great!' And when I finally did the podcast a few days later, Steve had taken so many notes and had a history, that it wasn't as organic as it was when we were catching up the first time in a year or so, and we talked for four hours just laughing and telling stories, and just catching up. He was so upset afterwards and said 'ah it sucked.' I said 'nah I enjoyed it, I actually liked talking to you.' He said 'nah we prepared bulls--t like we did the other night.' 'Yeah but you know, nobody else knows that.' And Steve is such a perfectionist as it is.
"But anyway fast forward to why I didn't do it, I just didn't want to. I didn't think anybody would care frankly. Conrad Thompson, who is my co-host, I work with Conrad and we do a lot of things together, and we're sitting there one night and we're talking about wrestling and he said 'man this is a podcast.' And what started it was The Radicals. We were talking about Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero and everything and he says 'man this is a podcast.' I said 'shut up, I'm not doing a podcast.' He says 'no, really.' He suggested it, and of course you have to ask Twitter, and I got a decent response there. So I said 'I'll do it but you have to do it with me,' because he prods me. And we just started doing it and it's been pretty successful, it's fun."
Click here for the first part of the interview, where Prichard discussed how he first started working for WWE, being Brother Love, scripted promos, coming up with The idea for The Undertaker, Vince McMahon's thoughts on Taker in WCW, Randy Savage's WWF departure and more. You can listen to Prichard's podcast, Something to Wrestle, at MLW Radio with new episodes dropping every Friday. The MLW Radio Network features podcasts from the likes of MVP, Kevin Sullivan, Court Bauer, Mister Saint Laurent, Jim Cornette,former WWE writers and many others. Visit MLWRadio.com to learn more and listen to shows.