Something To Wrestle With… Bruce Prichard (Episode 44)
Bonus Show: Global Wrestling Federation
Air date: 5/3/17
Recap by: Jeff Rush
– Bruce talks money on this episode! Bruce never talks money.
– Bruce tells an epic story about an indie promoter putting a bounty out on Eddie Gilbert.
– In another great tale, we learn why Bruce didn’t much care to hang out with “Gentleman” Chris Adams.
– The story of how Bruce came to return to the WWF.
– Paul Heyman feels Bruce out for a role with Global.
– Vince eats a sandwich while telling Bruce he isn’t welcome back.
– Dusty talks turkey with Bruce about joining WCW.
– Dusty wants Bruce to manage Stunning Steve.
5:34: Show begins
6:00: Bruce’s exodus from WWF
12:11: Bruce joins Global
15:50: Global’s business model
18:20: Bruce’s duties
20:18: The Sportatorium, Aka The GlobalDome
21:36: TV Tapings
23:30: Joe Pedicino
27:54: Bruce’s first night
33:55: Jerry Lynn
35:49: Acknowledging other companies
37:33: Working with Joe Pedicino
39:37: Eddie Gilbert’s booking
43:23: Global’s budget
45:05: WCW reaches out to Bruce
50:16: Marathon taping schedule
52:23: Bruce Prichard, karate expert
54:26: Jeff Gaylord attacks Eddie Gilbert
1:01:07: Bruce’s TV hair
1:02:41: The Handsome Stranger
1:02:54: Who currently owns GWF rights?
1:03:26: Rip Rogers
1:05:53: Dark Patriot storyline
1:07:15: Bonnie Blackstone
1:07:43: Tuna fish can title belt
1:08:40: Terry Simms
1:11:27: Who did Bruce discover in Global?
1:12:08: Skandar Akbar
1:14:00: Iceman Parsons
1:14:51: “Gentleman” Chris Adams
1:20:54: Harlem Heat
1:23:03: Eric Embry
1:23:36: Good memories of the Sportatorium
1:25:19: Eddie Gilbert’s professionalism
1:26:00: WWF sues over the Global name
1:27:12: Contact with WWF
1:27:56: “Hollywood” John Tatum
1:29:47: Interesting factoid about ring bells
1:30:02: Inspired by Roddy Piper
1:30:30: Axl and Ian Rotten
1:31:35: A rumor about Buff Bagwell
1:32:33: Bruce’s reputation based on resume
1:34:02: Global’s lack of branding
1:34:53: Global stars that never were
1:35:35: More on Eric Embry
1:36:28: Brandon Baxter
1:37:24: Ahmed Johnson, sort of
1:38:03: Lightning Kid and Scotty The Body
1:39:07: Eddie Gilbert/Bruce’s departure
1:44:32: Black Bart
1:45:32: “Wild” Bill Irwin
1:46:44: Doug Gilbert
1:47:51: Barry Horowitz
1:49:13: Bull Pain
1:50:18: Double Trouble
1:50:38: ESPN relationship
1:52:30: Tug and Chaz Taylor
1:54:36: Rod Price
1:55:44: Bruce returns to WWF
2:02:08: Global’s announcers
2:02:42: The inspiration for bringing Bruce in to Global
2:06:13: The end of GWF
2:07:03: Closing thoughts on Eddie Gilbert
2:09:35: Wrap up
What happened when Bruce Prichard went to Global Wrestling Federation?
Bruce was fired from WWF in May of 1991, basically for being a dick, in his words. The now iconic TV sports producer, John Filippelli, was put in a position over Bruce, and Bruce’s ego was not up to the challenge of handling it.
After that, Bruce didn’t do much for a while other than look for a way to get back into wrestling. He attended WWF’s Tuesday In Texas PPV in San Antonio and, while there, was contacted by Paul Heyman. Heyman was feeling out Bruce’s availability, as Eddie Gilbert had become booker of Dallas’s Global Wrestling Federation. Bruce figured he would not be going back to WWF any time soon. Vince McMahon had told him so while eating a tomato and mustard sandwich. “They’re still getting confetti out of their hair in Stamford celebrating the fact that you’re gone,” said Vince.
Conrad clarifies that Heyman was able to reach Bruce while he was in San Antonio for the PPV by tracking him down at the hotel he was staying at.
Bruce and Eddie went back to Mid-South and had always been friends. No one else was looking to hire Bruce at the time, so he was interested. Global had national coverage on ESPN and he felt it would be a good opportunity to get people talking about him again.
So what were the terms of the deal? How did Bruce come to sign with the company?
READER ALERT: Bruce is going to talk money. Conrad pops huge. He’s been trying nearly 50 episodes to make this happen.
A deal was struck after lots of back and forth. Eddie said he was almost embarrassed to tell him what he could offer, explaining it was all about the exposure. Bruce said he wouldn’t be insulted, and was then insulted. He was offered a per night deal that was one of the larger guarantees they were offering at the time. It included transportation and hotel. The offer was for $100 per day.
When multiple shows were taped on the same day, was he paid per episode?
He was paid $100.
So if he’s on a show where five episodes were taped…
…he made $20 per show.
Bruce wasn’t around when the deal with ESPN was worked out. He does know that Max Andrews, the man with the money behind GWF, was a golfer with connections to ESPN and worked out getting them on a daily deal.
Conrad recaps that Global began in June 1991 and folded in September of 1994. Bruce remembers coming in around December-January of ’91-’92.
Eddie Gilbert first pitched Bruce coming in to be a color commentator, with the idea he would start as a babyface, turn heel and eventually become a manager. He was also interested in using Bruce on the creative side.
Conrad pauses here to ask what else was going on in Bruce’s life at the time. Bruce says he hung out at a strip club and tanned a lot. He was comfortable with his savings, so it wasn’t an issue.
We shift to talk about the famed Sportatorium, then referred to as the GlobalDome. It was the home base of WCCW and is world famous. Bruce says, with much backing from Conrad that the building was “not exactly Barclays (Center).” Bruce concludes it was not like the Barclays storage house. It was a “piece of s**t.”
At this time, Global would record all their shows once a week, on Friday night. They would pack in all the tapings over a 3-4 hour period.
Talk shifts to Joe Pedicino, one of the primary faces of Global. He used to run Pro Wrestling Weekly out of Atlanta, a syndicated show that highlighted all the various territories in pro wrestling. After a time, companies would opt out of this type of presentation, WWF being the first. Pedicino just wanted to be a part of wrestling. Bruce recalls him as a genuinely nice person.
Pedicino was married to Boni Blackstone. The guys discuss her time in WWF, basically as a female “Mean” Gene. She did interview segments that were different because they incorporated her Southern charm. Bruce feels her time wound down eventually due to that charm. In a short Vince impression, not long enough to qualify as a standout in this episode, Bruce does Vince: “Ugh, that Southern drawl.”
Bruce was not given a ton of direction on his first night in with the company. He says they felt they gave him a lot by telling him they “shoot”, unlike the major companies. They know their fans read the “dirt sheets” and don’t want to insult them. They impressed this upon Bruce enough to where, during his first taping, he inadvertently challenged this rule. The Patriot was North American Champion at the time and was beginning a feud with the mysterious Dark Patriot. No one knew who the Dark Patriot was or why he hated The Patriot. During the initial call of the match, Bruce says that there’s no mystery to the Dark Patriot. It’s Doug Gilbert, the booker Eddie’s brother. This was followed by silence. It curtailed the “let’s just shoot on everything” directive Bruce was given.
Conrad mentions many names to have competed in Global: Scott Levy, Buff Bagwell, Cactus Jack, JBL, Jerry Lynn, Barry Horowitz, Harlem Heat, Sean Waltman, etc. Bruce says he first met Scotty The Body (Raven) and Lightning Kid (Waltman). He then talks about the matches Waltman had at the time, says he came across as an old pro. Conrad mentions that Waltman was 19 years old at the time.
Bruce says Jerry Lynn is almost too nice to be in the wrestling business. If he’d been 3-4 inches taller, he’d have been a mega star. He says he was a great trainer who could explain psychology to younger guys and didn’t get what he deserves. He doesn’t know why Lynn never moved on to a trainer role at NXT other than guessing he doesn’t want to be in Orlando or has never been reached out to.
Conrad shifts things back to Joe Pedicino. He was in a commissioner-like role with the company and also had a segment talking about other wrestling companies happenings. Bruce didn’t understand that move. Promote your own s**t, he says. He doesn’t like drawing attention to the opposition. He presumes the line of thinking was maybe people would assume since they were talking about other companies, they were affiliated with them and give them some rub. This, he says, also explains the company name.
Pedicino, Bruce was told, fancied himself being the boss and wanted to be the Vince McMahon of Global, to treat him accordingly. Bruce gave him no special treatment. Shortly after Bruce had gone heel, Pedicino began showing up less behind the scenes.
Conrad asks about Eddie writing TV. Did he only go to the big shows? There were no big shows, says Bruce. Everything was episodic. Eddie was detail-oriented and loved to map out where he was going. He was always looking ahead by up to two months. The two of them would always discuss where they were going after the shows aired on ESPN.
Conrad says it’s crazy to look back at these shows now and think that Bruce only made $20 for each of them. Bruce says factor in all the time spent on the phone, working all the details out, and he was likely making less than minimum wage. It was for the love of the business, though, and the opportunity to be on daily TV made it worth it. For Bruce, it was all about remaining relevant. Conrad is quick to add that this podcast began the same way.
Eddie had big ideas, but not the budget. They couldn’t lure big names like Terry Funk or Jerry Lawler. It worked for Bruce because he already lived in the area and didn’t have anything else going on.
Bruce got a call one day from WCW about possibly bringing him in. Bruce confirms it was from Dusty Rhodes. He drove to where they were in Houston on an off day to discuss things. Bruce explained that Global was not his end game, that he wanted to make more money. This came back to Eddie, who thought Bruce was complaining behind his back. He confronted Bruce and told him if he was unhappy to leave. Bruce explained his position and asked Eddie if he could get a better opportunity from WCW, wouldn’t he take it. Eddie said he didn’t know, which Bruce calls bulls**t on. He reiterated that he was happy in Global, but with what he was being paid, he had to keep looking for full-time work. They were square after that.
Conrad asks about how he thinks things got back to Eddie. Bruce says Madusa, who was Eddie’s wife and working for WCW at the time, likely saw Bruce there and heard about the conversation, took it personally and told Eddie about it.
Conrad asks about the five-at-a-time taping schedule Global was doing at the time. They started at 7 pm each night, went for three-and-a-half hours cramming in as much as they could. So much was done in post-production, that they could get five hours of programming out of two to two-and-a-half hours of recording.
This brings us to Bruce’s karate expert gimmick in Global. The two throw back and forth with Conrad egging Bruce on tongue-in-cheek and Bruce saying the gimmick was legit, that he is a black belt expert. He says when it was time for him to go on camera as a heel, he came up with the idea to avoid wearing tights and taking off his shirt.
Next up is the subject of Jeff Gaylord attacking Eddie Gilbert in the locker room. Gaylord was a career indie-wrestler with memorable stints in WCCW, UFW and USWA. He came to a Global taping one week and approached Eddie, asking if they could have a word. Assuming he was looking for work, Eddie asked him to hang till the end of the night so they could chat. Gaylord then hung around all night. Once Bruce and Eddie’s brother, Doug, were in the back undressing for the night, they heard a commotion and knew it was a fight. Doug happened to be drinking a bottle of Coke, which you would buy in a glass bottle back then. When he came around the corner, he saw Gaylord on top of Eddie. Next thing Bruce knows, Eddie is retreating, holding his head and telling Bruce “go help Doug.” Bruce sees a trail of blood and finds Doug outside the building. Gaylord was already taking off in his car. Apparently, Gaylord jumped Eddie when he came into the back. Upon finding this, Doug threw his Coke bottle at Gaylord and split his face open. Bruce says Doug is always up for a fight. He continues that when things wound down, he talked to Eddie who claimed he had no idea what the story was. One week later, Bruce asked if anyone ever figured it out. Turns out there was a promoter in Pennsylvania, upset that Eddie had missed a show, who put a $1000 bounty on him. Jeff Gaylord showed up that day to beat Eddie up and collect the bounty. Eddie reached out to Gaylord afterwards to see what was going on, heard the story and told Gaylord he’d f**ked up. He explained had he known the deal with the bounty, the two could’ve set something up and split the pot.
Conrad asks about Bruce’s hair back then. Quick to correct a mullet accusation, Bruce clarifies that his hair was all the same length, not a mullet.
Then we go to the Twitter question bank. Unfortunately, a lot of these questions regard either a time during which Bruce was not in Global or subjects he doesn’t recall. We’ll highlight the ones that got a story:
What was the plan with the Patriot/Dark Patriot? It was supposed to be a long-term issue between them, but Del Wilkes pursued an opportunity in Japan, which derailed everything.
The Winner’s Title Belt: Barry Horowitz won this belt. He was big into his diet and ate a lot of tuna fish. This belt was designed to honor Barry and, thusly, included the top of a tuna can as its centerpiece.
Who stood out to Bruce in Global and did he sign or try to sign anyone later when back in WWF? Lightning Kid (Sean Waltman), Scott Levy (Raven), Jerry Lynn and Boni Blackstone are all named.
Skandar Akbar: Bruce recalls him fondly.
Iceman Parsons: Bruce is surprised he didn’t make it bigger.
We then get to a Chris Adams story. Bruce met him for the first time in Little Rock, Arkansas. Chris was fresh out of jail, which was a common occurrence back then. The two of them were out looking to drink, which was difficult in Little Rock, as it was a dry town at the time. You needed to be a member of a club in order to consume alcohol. They were having a problem getting into one of the clubs when they were recognized by two couples. They were members of the establishment and got them in, where they proceeded to have a good time. This led them back to the doublewide trailer their new friends lived in, where recreational drugs were brought out. After a time, Bruce noticed Chris Adams and one of the wives had disappeared. He discovered them having sex in a back room. He was suddenly terrified of his surroundings. The husband went to find his wife, Chris emerged from the bedroom and the two of them got out of the trailer fast. Bruce says that was the first and last time he hung out with “Gentleman” Chris Adams.
Harlem Heat: They had joined Global just before Bruce left the company. He assumed they were professional football players when he first saw them due to their sharp appearance. Bruce is now good friends with Booker.
Eric Embry: There’s a rumor he lived in the Sportatorium for a time. Bruce confirms he was told as much by Paul Bearer once.
They then discuss how sh**y the Sportatorium was as a building. Bruce notes that, while it was a trash heap, it was filled with such history, that simply entering the building felt similar to entering Madison Square Garden.
WWF sues Global in 1992 over their use of the term “Global.” Bruce found it silly as he thought no one would ever confuse the two.
“Hollywood” John Tatum: Bruce thought he was a hell of a talent. He mentions that he was a friend of Michael Hayes in order to work in a quick impression.
The GWF ring bell was a tire rim, as it carried a good sound. Bruce says most bells were tire rims at the time.
Axl and Ian Rotten: They took on a British persona to emulate Johnny Rotten. Bruce didn’t care for their style, just never got it.
In regards to the lack of branding on the ring apron/skirts in Global, Bruce mentions that Vince McMahon preferred a “clean look” back in the day, which is ironic considering how things in WWE look today.
Eric Embry: Bruce remembers him starting out in Southwest Championship Wrestling in San Antonio. He credits him for teaching Magnum TA fundamentals early in his career.
Brandon Baxter: A kid who hung around and that Joe Pedicino took a liking to. He later worked with him in Memphis and hears he is currently a DJ in Jonesborough, AR.
Bruce just learned that Ahmed Johnson joined Global right after he left.
Bruce says a big angle was shot with Raven and Sean Waltman beating down the Patriot and then immediately left the territory.
Global decided late in Bruce’s tenure to run a house show – the only one they’d done. When Bruce arrived for it, he received a memo from Skandar Akbar saying anyone on a guarantee, receiving transportation, etc, would have it cut from their deal. With that, Bruce decided he was done. Eddie was on a flight that got delayed and the wrestlers were coming to Bruce to find out their finishes. He sent them to Akbar as he decided it was his last night. Bruce had a match with James Beard and Bill Irwin that night. He told them since they were staying put and he wasn’t, he’d put them over. It was a terrible match. As he’s coming out of the shower following the match, he’s approached by Akbar who wants to know what they plan to do in their match. Standing in a towel coming out of the shower, Bruce tells him the match already happened. “How was the match?” asked Akbar. “F**king awful” replied Bruce. “Alright, good. Thanks a lot, kid.” And that was that.
Eddie departed shortly after Bruce and headed to ECW.
The guys then play name association. Check the timeline above for details.
Bruce says ESPN would not allow certain things to air, like chair shots and blood, which would often times lead to terrible crowd shots followed by a guy laid out in the ring.
Conrad says the timing of the show on ESPN at 3 pm Monday through Friday was because they were targeting the show towards children.
Bruce was distraught after leaving Global and having nothing on the horizon. He drank a lot and did a ton of drugs. One night, while sober, he took a boat out into the Gulf of Mexico and ran into some jetties and nearly died. He would receive 78 stitches in his chin and suffer from a punctured jugular. He had a come to Jesus moment then as his life was flashing before his eyes where he decided he wasn’t done in wrestling yet. He called Vince and told him what had happened. He then went to Hawaii for two weeks, visited Hong Kong for a month and decided to move there. He called Vince again and said goodbye. He was then offered a job in WCW by Dusty Rhodes to come in and manage “Stunning” Steve Austin. After deciding to take the offer, he got a call from Vince saying he’d like to talk with Bruce after returning from SummerSlam in London. Bruce pressed him, saying he’d already accepted a job with WCW. Vince told him he didn’t want to go there. Bruce retorted that they offered him a job and Vince hadn’t. Vince then told him to come back. Bruce attempted to reach Dusty, Bill Watts, and Jim Ross to discuss the matter, but no one would return his calls. Bruce decided that was a pretty good indication of how WCW viewed him, and sent a Fed Ex telling them he was going back to WWF. He returned to the company not knowing how much he would make, but with the understanding he would be working exclusively with Vince and Pat Patterson.
Bruce discusses the idea Eddie had when he brought him on as an announcer. He would be a smiling babyface on air but, during commercial breaks, he would be a total d**k to his play-by-play man. This would “accidentally” air to the audience and would eventually define Bruce as a heel.
Global Wrestling closed down on September 21, 1994, though ESPN Classic began airing old episodes in August 2013. The Sportatorium in Dallas was demolished in 2003. WWE Network does offer a small taste of GWF episodes.
Bruce closes by discussing how much he enjoyed working with Eddie Gilbert. He says he was very creative and open to all types of ideas. He took the business seriously but loved having fun. Bruce enjoyed the freedom they had working without handcuffs and would jump at the opportunity to work with him all over again. He feels if Eddie were still around today he would be a huge asset to WWE.
This brings Conrad to discuss the usage of the term “demons” in WWE, how it’s always used to describe someone with a drug problem. He wonders if it’s a term coined by WWE in the same way “belts” are called “titles” in WWE-speak. Bruce says no, that recalls that term being used on Gino Hernandez long ago.
It’s a briefly somber way to close, but that’s how we do it this week.
A disclaimer about show ratings: I really enjoy this podcast, to the point where I’d heard about the relaunch of PWPodcasts, immediately reached out about doing these recaps, and ended up getting the spot. Where some other shows reviewed here appear to be done by neutral writers, I’m not really one when it comes to this show. In my opinion, it’s the best wrestling podcast out there, and that’s not a unique sentiment. So that said, it’s rare you’ll find a poorly ranked show as part of my review. Negative marks against an episode would be things like a low number of impressions (particularly a show lacking Stu Hart) and perhaps a subject that Bruce either doesn’t recall a ton about or was not involved with during a time of noteworthy happenings. Short of that, these shows will usually finish up at an 8/10 or higher.
Rating – 7/10
This episode was guilty of the two things I mentioned that could earn a ranking lower than 8/10. The setting was a company filled with people not capable of earning a good Bruce impression. For his part, Conrad tried numerous times to get one, but Bruce simply didn’t recall this period in his life or remember some of the names well enough to do those subjects justice.
This show also covered a period of roughly eight months in Bruce’s life. This period began with him losing his dream job and ended with him almost losing his life. In between, he made very little money and did next to nothing outside of work. If I had to guess, I think it’d be fair to say this was one of the darker points of Bruce’s adult life. As a result, we got more “I don’t remember” and “I wasn’t there” responses than you’d find in your average episode.
It’s worth noting that this was a bonus show. As a rule, these shows are typically ones that have not done well in listener polls in the past, but contain enough interesting info to make them worth it – and that’s how I would sum this episode up. It had some fun stories, the chemistry between Conrad and Bruce was as top notch as always (check out the “Bruce Prichard, Karate Expert” segment), and there were definitely a handful of stories that make this episode worth the download.