WrestleMania X featured a number of special guests including Burt Reynolds as the guest ring announcer for the main event and Jennie Garth as the guest timekeeper.
But it almost had another guest who would have certainly portrayed a heel at the event. Bruce Prichard says that Tonya Harding was almost brought in for the show which would have been just a couple of weeks after her orchestrated attack on Nancy Kerrigan prior to the Winter Olympics.
“We considered doing something with Tonya Harding and bringing her in and her getting her ass kicked. She wasn’t interested,” stated Prichard on his podcast. “I think maybe because we were interested at one time, and perhaps someone like her manager or someone from her camp was telling her that she could get a lot of money in Japan and floated it out that way thinking that maybe they can get a big payday. It was all publicity. It was all for publicity sake because during that time she had no desire to do it, at least at that time.
“Later on, she would go on to do the Celebrity Boxing matches and all that bulls***, but yeah, we approached her. Definitely.”
Another of the celebrities there was Little Richard who performed “America the Beautiful.” However, it wasn’t a live performance as Prichard recalls because Little Richard was terrified of performing on that kind of stage.
“Little Richard was the sh**. I got to work with Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, some really true greats in their own rights through the years who sang their rendition of ‘America the Beautiful.’ Little Richard may have been the most insecure of all the talents that I have ever worked with,” admitted Prichard.
“When I say insecure, he was one of the most talented, insecure motherf*****s that I have ever seen in my life. Richard gets in the middle of the ring and we are doing a sound test. We are going through everything and Richard is playing the piano and singing. The guys are working, setting up chairs and everything, the building goes silent just to listen to Richard sing. Some of the most beautiful sh** that I have ever experienced in my life and I was sitting right there at ringside.”
However, Richard didn’t want to sing live so he recorded a version of the song with WWE composer Jim Johnston beforehand. Richard then planned on lip synching the song so Prichard thought he’d give it one more shot to convince Richard to do it live.
“I got in the ring and I said, Richard, that may have been the most beautiful rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’ that I have ever heard and he said, thank you. I said, I don’t think that your track version holds up, and he just looked at me, and if looks could kill – let’s just say that I didn’t have a good track record with celebrities that night, so let’s start there. If looks could kill I would have been dead,” said Prichard. “He kind of laced into me and said that I don’t understand what it means to perform in front of people and his voice isn’t what it used to be and how long it took to take that track into perfection, and he wasn’t going to risk his reputation in the middle of a pro wrestling ring in New York City.
“I said, okay then, thank you very much. I turned and walked out of the ring and just kind of walked on my way…. I love it when talent get on the microphone or play the guitar and just sing, like they are in the shower if you will. That was what Richard was doing [during soundcheck], and he brought The Garden at a stand-still where everyone stopped what they were doing and just listened. One of the greatest singers that I had the pleasure to work with, but he was just terrified at that stage of his career where he would look foolish.”
Little Richard opened WrestleMania X with “America the Beautiful” but didn’t stick around much longer to take in the action.
“I remember him being gracious with everybody. He did leave and said goodbye. He thanked everybody, but we knew that before he got there,” Prichard said of Little Richard leaving after his performance. “It wasn’t like he dashed out and did his thing and got out. We knew. We had a window of after he was going to finish his performance and then leave, so it wasn’t a surprise to anybody, but he was gracious to everybody. He stood in the back in the little alleyway there in the dressing room area where Hulk comes down and the old man is sitting there playing with his quarters. Richard sat there and talked with people there, and was very cordial. Nice as can be. Didn’t stick around, but was nice as can be.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Something to Wrestle with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.