WWE Hall Of Famer Steve Austin recently had pro wrestling veteran Tom Prichard as a guest on The Steve Austin Show. Among many other things, Austin and Prichard talked early influences and ‘it’ factor. Also, Austin told a story about how Prichard tired to get Austin to think about his character early on in Austin’s pro wrestling odyssey.
According to Austin, he tried to emulate Ric Flair early on in his pro wrestling career, but failed.
“For me, for many years, I tried to be Ric Flair and I was a big failure being Ric Flair, but he was a big inspiration early on in my [professional wrestling] career and I found that the brawling style [lent] itself to me.” Austin continued, “in USWA, when I met [Prichard], hell, I was just trying to learn the ropes!”
On the subject of early influences, Prichard shared that he was most inspired by the legendary Terry Funk and Dick Murdoch. ‘The Doctor Of Desire’ indicated that he did not really understand Funk’s unorthodox presentation till they became colleagues.
“Terry Funk, I mean, The Funks, all of them, were great workers, but Terry stood out because he was just so unorthodox, and so out of the ordinary, and later on, watching a guy like Valentine, I could appreciate his work.” Prichard explained, “back then, I wasn’t sure what he was doing, but later on when I really got to watch it and talk to him a little bit, I got it even more. He was one of those guys who loved the lifestyle and just loved to get hit and get in the ring. And some of those guys were like that. Some of those guys just liked to get in the ring and hit each other. But Terry Funk told a story even when there wasn’t one to tell. He made it. He made everything he did mean something. He worked even when he wasn’t on camera. He was working the whole time and he was having fun. And that was another thing, man, when I used to watch him once I got in the [pro wrestling] business, and he’d be on the card, I’d watch him in the dressing room. He’s messing with everybody! And just having fun, just having fun. A lot of those West Texas guys really influenced me. [Dick] Murdoch was another one.”
Interestingly, Prichard suggested that he may have been correctly accused of copying the late great ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper on the mic. The former Bodydonna stated it took him several years to develop a strong promo.
“Ooh, do you know what? I started out, I think, okay [at promos]. But then, after a while, I didn’t know anymore. And then, people said I copied Piper a lot and maybe I did. Maybe it was that influence of Roddy because it was much more of a natural thing because Roddy was such a great guy. To hear him and then watch him, you’re not sure of it, but then, you meet him and he was such great guy. And I think when I got a chance to talk as a heel, it came a little more natural because that’s the guy I admired as a heel was Roddy. He wasn’t a big guy always, but you believed him when he went to the ring, when he said something.” Prichard added, “I think it took me a while. It took me a good five [or] six years before I think I could talk.”
In Prichard’s expert opinion, the difference between pro wrestlers that fans cannot take their eyes off of and the rest is ‘it’ factor. Prichard suggested that ‘it’ factor is what separates the likes of Austin and The Rock from ‘Dr. Tom’ and Zack Ryder [sorry, broski].
“This is a feeling business.” Prichard elaborated, “you can talk about it all day long, you can go over moves all day long, but it’s what you do in between the moves. Like [Austin] said, you can walk and talk for eight minutes, but it’s how you walk and talk, and what you say during those eight minutes, all the mannerisms. It’s the ‘it’ factor and some people get it and some people don’t. But I mean, that is what separates guys like [Austin] or The Rock from guys like me or Zack Ryder, which I don’t mean any disrespect to Zack at all. I’m just saying there’s a reason people are attracted to that and that’s a nerve-racking process that every performer, I think, goes through.”
Also during the podcast, Austin told a story about riding with Prichard during Austin’s ‘Stunning’ Steve days. When Prichard asked Austin why he is ‘Stunning’, Austin had no answer.
“One time, we were riding down the road and I’d ask [Prichard] a million questions after we developed our relationship and our friendship. I always had a lot of respect for [Prichard]. [Prichard] [was] always very fair to me and gave me a lot of [Prichard’s] time. I’ll never forget. It’s one of my trademark stories that I’ve told a million times, but we were driving down the road and I think [Prichard] might have been driving at the time. I might have been riding shotgun. But ‘Prime Time’ [Brian Lee] was in the backseat. [Prichard] looked at me, maybe I was driving, but [Prichard] said, ‘Steve, what’s so stunning about ‘Stunning’ Steve?’ and [Prichard] asked ‘Prime Time’ ‘what’s so ‘Prime Time’ about Brian Lee?’ and that was the first time? Hell, I was just trying to be a pro wrestler. I wasn’t thinking about a character. I wasn’t thinking about a being. I wasn’t thinking about my relationship with the crowd, what the crowd thought of me, who I was that they could think or me or form an opinion of me. I was just trying to be a wrestler. I was caught up in the mechanics, the one-on-one stuff and then get to the psychology, a couple of different layers of that, but I wasn’t a character. When [Prichard] asked me that question, it’s a story that I’ve never forgotten and I didn’t have an answer for [Prichard] because when Dutch Mantel made up ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin, he had given me ‘Steve Austin’, which I rejected, because I didn’t want to copy ‘The Million Dollar Man’, ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’, but going out, I needed a name and that’s what he [came] up with.” Austin recalled, “so I’m Steve Austin, I go through my whole career not thinking about a character and [Prichard] [was] the first person to make me think about that.”
Check out the podcast here https://www.podcastone.com/Steve-Austin-Show. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: The Steve Austin Show