Something To Wrestle With… Bruce Prichard
Episode 45: Judgment Day 2002
Air date: 5/5/17
Recap by: Jeff Rush
DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD
Highlights (check for full Timestamps at the end)
– RVD’s reputation behind the scenes.
– Holy s**t does Bruce take the gloves off a couple times. Paul Heyman and Kurt Angle are just a couple examples.
– The idea of shaving Edge’s head was very real.
– An appearance at WWE New York during an episode of Raw is the short straw you always assumed it was.
– An epic story about getting Rico ready for live TV
– What one thing secured Rikishi a prominent position?
– What was the plan had Hogan’s nostalgia tour never come to be?
What happened when WWE ran Judgment Day 2002?
Conrad points out that this is one of the more critical PPV’s they could cover because there’s so much stuff going. For example:
– This is the last PPV before Steve Austin walks out.
– This is the last time we’ll see Hulk Hogan as World Champion.
– This is an American Badass version of the Undertaker
– This is the rookie year of Brock Lesnar.
– The “curtain jerker” on the card is Eddie Guererro vs. Rob Van Dam
– Kurt Angle is in a “hair match.”
– It’s also the first time a PPV was run by WWE, after changing their name and running the “Get The ‘F’ Out” campaign.
– The show takes place just a couple days after the British Bulldog passes away.
Conrad feels there are at least a half-dozen potential stand-alone shows encapsulated by the Judgment Day 2002 lineup. (Note: this is going to be an awesome episode)
The first thing that came to mind regarding this show for Bruce was the Kurt Angle-Edge “hair match.” Bruce thought it was a great show and it brought back a flood of memories, which is only good for listeners.
The show took place on May 19, 2002 in Nashville, TN. Conrad was actually at the show.
Get The F Out
This is the first show where the company is running as WWE, having lost the rights to “WWF.” The company spends a lot of time and money on the rebrand. Conrad mentions that all this time later, people still refer to it as “WWF.”
Bruce says it was a huge pain in the ass. He says the initials WWF had been registered in the US as well as online. The World Wildlife Fund had done the same thing but had done it in the UK. Both sides fought for the letters. The court that governed over the internet ruled in favor of the World Wildlife Fund. Bruce said the company decided to spend money on re-branding rather than court battles. Vince felt that rebranding as an entertainment company was the way to go. Bruce also mentions that a ton of people on the soon-to-be-WWE side were fighting to get the word “wrestling” out of the new name. He’s happy that did not happen.
Bruce says because this was an international issue, they did not use their usual McDevitt-led legal team. Conrad says it was reported at the time that Justice Robin Jacob said the WWF’s legal team’s arguments were “hopeless and astonishingly poor.” To him, this was a tip off that McDevitt was not a part of the team, since given his track record, no one would ever describe his work in such terms.
Bruce says everyone felt it was a big deal but that it was also looked at as an opportunity to rebrand. To him, the whole thing was semantics. It was looked at not as “oh my god this is the end of the world,” but more that “this is a new beginning.”
Conrad points out that the company knew this situation was coming as they had changed the name of WWF New York to The World. Bruce says the club’s name was changed simply so that people wouldn’t view it as a WWF-themed restaurant. They wanted people to know it was a nightclub first and foremost. Conrad doubts this explanation and things get a tad heated for a second.
The second “W” in the original WWWF was dropped in 1979, and the company existed as WWF for 23 years until the change to WWE took place. The cost of rebranding was reported at being around $50 million. Bruce says it may have been more than that just due to the editing they had to go back and do in their library to remove or blur the WWF scratch logo and silence the audio every time someone said “WWF.”
Conrad points out that it seems arbitrary when and where the logo is blurred out in past footage. He asks if there is a rhyme or reason. Bruce says they only had to remove the WWF scratch logo, but that he’s also seen that left in. The specifics of this are uncertain. Conrad finds it all extremely fascinating because the WWF was such an institution. He imagines if the NFL suddenly changed their name, which prompts Bruce into an awesome impression of Vince growling “Welcome to the N-F-EEEEEEEEEEE.” This prompts Conrad to point out the irony behind Vince owning everyone’s name and trying to sue them if they use what he feels is his creation but then losing the rights to his own company’s name. Excellent point. Bruce no sells this point and jokes that the internet f**ked it all up.
This brings us to what would become a running joke throughout the rest of the episode about how you pronounce the “Get The F Out” campaign line with an eyebrow raise on “F.” Bruce says this comes from a Hollywood producer who suggested to Vince “you can say anything ‘eyebrows up’ and give it a different meaning”, that such a technique takes the edge off of that line. He says that stuck with Vince forever.
Next they discuss the British Bulldog, who passed away two days prior to the PPV. The only mention of Davey Boy on the show was a shot of a fan holding up a sign that read “RIP Davey Boy.” Conrad asks if Vince is trying to distance himself from the circumstances that may have surrounded his death. Bruce thinks maybe the idea was to save the tribute for Raw the next night, but that it should have been acknowledged more on the PPV.
Judgment Day 2002
First up is the subject of the various sets they use for the PPV’s each month. The shows used to have specific themes that featured crazy, specific set designs. Bruce enjoyed those but says the cost was probably prohibitive and led to the company using the same set for every event.
Conrad points out the design they went with for this show, which was very heavy on nooses. They were all over the place in this set design, and the imagery was mostly tied to the Undertaker, who was apparently handing down a most unfortunate judgment on this day. Was there concern over whether this was a good idea? Bruce confirms that. He says they were strategically placed so that when an image of someone was shown, they looked like they were hanging. This was ridiculous because they were trying to avoid this being seen as offensive imagery, but then they wanted the innuendo that went with such a shot on the screen. #RollTide
William Regal vs. D-Lo Brown
The dark match on the show was William Regal defeating D-Lo Brown. Bruce considers Regal to be a great worker but also a success story of WWE’s Wellness Program. He takes credit for getting Regal through the tough times. Bruce says he spent more time with D-Lo in TNA than in WWE. He saw him recently at WrestleCon.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam
Van Dam was finally starting to get a bigger push. Who was an advocate of him at this time? Bruce says Paul Heyman, specifically, but pretty much everybody. Some talent cringed at having to work with him, but he would take everything he gave out. He was a laid back guy, but pretty snug as a worker.
Conrad talks about how he and Bruce hung out at WaleMania this year with an unnamed current WWE wrestler who once gave advice to another wrestler regarding RVD: “Here’s a pro tip for you, get your f**king hands up.” It was a peek behind the curtain as to how other wrestlers felt about RVD’s sometimes brutal working style.
This was a battle of the Frog Splash vs. the Five Star Splash. Meltzer gave the match 3 stars. Bruce loved the match. It reminded him how good both wrestlers are. He points out both guys had the same haircut. He thinks it’s crazy that Eddie was just a few years away from being a headliner.
The finish comes when Eddie goes into the Lie, Cheat, Steal gimmick and wins with a backslide with his feet on the ropes.
Conrad wonders who was anti-RVD “and why was it Triple H?” Bruce says lots of guys cringed at the thought of getting in the ring with him. Additionally, Paul Heyman pushing hard for RVD probably worked against him. The way he presented things he was passionate about turned Vince off. Conrad speculates that when word gets out that Vince isn’t into Heyman’s ideas, those looking to kiss ass get on board with the sentiment as well and a railroading takes place. Bruce concurs that a lot of people probably did that.
In recent years, Conrad says, it’s come out that RVD wasn’t the biggest fan of Bruce. He asks if Bruce recalls being cross with him regarding anything. Bruce says this is in regards to “the pick-a-hand story.” RVD once told a guy that worked backstage at ECW to choose the left hand or the right hand. The guy didn’t know what this was about, but whichever hand he picked, the guy got smacked with it. Bruce says this came up on a shoot video recently and that RVD threw his name into this story.
He says there was a period where they were looking to get more emotionally out of RVD. Bruce asked him what pisses him off. RVD refused to tell him because he felt telling him such information would give Bruce power over him. Bruce persisted and persisted, never did get an answer but proceeded in annoying the s**t out of RVD.
Conrad asks if Bruce has a fun Eddie Guerrero story and mentions that he told many of them on the Something To Wrestle With Radicalz episode, which like all others can be found in the archive. Bruce retells the story of the time Eddie’s mom was booked in a segment and was supposed to have a heart attack in the storyline but ended up having one in real life. He says Eddie wanted to kill him.
Next up is a segment Conrad says does not age well. Vince McMahon is joined by Reverend D-Von, Deacon Batista, and Stacy Keibler. D-Von has everyone bow their heads in prayer, but while they’re doing so, Vince proceeds to stare at Stacy’s ass. He then hurries the prayer along. Conrad says this feels like the real Vince McMahon. Bruce says he doesn’t go to church, but when he does, he’s always the guy who looks around instead of bowing his head. Conrad says so much of this segment feels weird and wouldn’t fly today – an evil priest, a company owner acting lecherous and belittling Christianity. Bruce continues to side with the Vince character in this segment. Conrad asks if anyone raises an eyebrow when this segment is filmed. Bruce says no because this skit was true to the Vince character. The guys conclude that the company is different and so is Vince.
Stacy Keibler vs. Trish Stratus
First, we discuss Dave Batista coming to the main roster. He was working in OVW under the name Leviathan and being managed by Synn, Jim Cornette’s actual girlfriend. The character was that of an evil monster. They decided to bring him on to Smackdown and pair him with D-Von where he would be a big scary guy who guarded the Reverend’s donation money. Bruce doesn’t think too highly of the introduction, but he says it was a way to get him on the air. He points out that the Deacon character is similar to Batista’s Drax the Destroyer in the Guardian’s Of The Galaxy franchise.
We then discuss Trish Stratus and the significant role she plays in the evolution of women’s wrestling. Bruce reminds us that when she first started she was “god awful horrible” and “absolutely terrible.” Conrad counters that most people suck when they first start, that it isn’t unique to Trish. Bruce says that most are at least somewhat polished when they first appear on TV. Trish, on the other hand, was a fitness model who got rushed into a spot. He credits Ron Hutchinson in Canada who helped bring her up to speed quickly. Bruce also says Trish was determined to be the best and put the work in. He agrees she went on to greatness.
At this point, however, we’d yet to progress as a society and simply had this match on as an eye candy break in the action. Bruce says it wasn’t nearly where we are with the Women’s Division today. Conrad says what stands out the most is Batista bodyslamming the s**t out of Trish, but Trish then kicking out of an ensuing pin attempt by Stacy. Trish went on to win with “maybe not the best-looking bulldog in the world.” They definitely got better.
Conrad asks if Vince just had his mind made up that he prefers to have model-type women wrestling instead of being valets. Bruce says the idea was to have beautiful women competing but they didn’t want them to compete like men. The thought was no one wanted to see attractive women compete. Bruce says he was in favor of them competing.
Another backstage segment is up next with Vince and Ric Flair talking to one another. The idea was they were civil to one another but clearly hated each other. Bruce says they both worked really well together.
The Hardy Boyz vs. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
Brock has just debuted a month earlier and is being booked as an unstoppable monster. He lays waste to both Hardys and lets Heyman take the pin. Conrad asks if this squash kills the Hardys and was there any hesitation regarding the booking of this one. Bruce says this was Brocks coming out party and that the Hardys had no issue with the booking.
Does Bruce remember ever having a conversation regarding Heyman wanting to be an in-ring performer? Everyone in the business, Bruce included, all wanted that at some point. Everyone who gets involved in the business sees themselves one day being World Champion. The desire is there, and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t be in the business. That is a way more serious and deeper answer than I would’ve expected to a question regarding Paul Heyman wrestling.
Bruce felt the match was short, sweet, and to the point. He got a kick out of watching Paul run around the ring. AND THEN… in a completely unprompted segment, Bruce buries the crap out of Paul Heyman:
Bruce mentions that Paul had a “skullet.” A frothy skullet with stringy hair hanging down. He then breaks the fourth wall. “Hey Paul, this is Bruce talking here. Paul is not an attractive man.”
This line elicits a pitch-perfect response of shock from Conrad, who stammers “Oh my gosh.”
Bruce continues about Paul also being sweaty. He says watching this match, he paused the video during a moment when Paul’s head “predominantly filled the screen.”
“That’s a Vince shot,” notes Conrad.
Bruce continues you can see the dye (“black s**t”) on his scalp, and that it looked unbelievably bad. “Trying to give the illusion of hair,” he says.
“You know he listens to this show and you’re burying him right now” deadpan’s Conrad, clearly uncomfortable with this segment.
“Paul, you have no f**king hair, and the hair you have is gray. Let it go, buddy” Bruce justifies.
Bruce concludes that Paul looks better and more his age now that he shaves part of his head. He explains that his kids give him s**t about his hair, which is a pretty hilarious comparison. Conrad finds none of this funny. He sighs heavily and moves things along.
Wow, you guys.
Conrad wants to talk about loud “Goldberg” chants that can be heard during this match. Was Bruce surprised to hear the fan reaction? Did they have it in mind already to one day pair the two up in a program? Bruce says not at all.
We then touch on a segment where Booker T is propositioned by an unknown attractive woman. She gives him a hotel room key. Booker is giddy.
Conrad wants to know if this is a Vince produced segment. Bruce says this was Brian Gewirtz, that everything involving Booker T and Goldust was also his. Gewirtz loved their chemistry. Conrad wants to know where they found the model for this segment. “Models R’ Us” retorts Bruce. Clearly.
Steve Austin vs. Big Show and Ric Flair
This is the fifth match on the card. Does Austin feel slighted finding himself in the middle of the card? Conrad reminds us this is the last PPV Austin would do with the company prior to walking out. That infamous walk out would take place at Raw in Atlanta three weeks later when Austin refused to put over Brock Lesnar clean with no prior buildup.
Conrad wants to know why things are set up this way. The biggest star in the history of the business is on a match in the middle of the card. Bruce says it was timing, as Hogan had just returned to the top of the card. There were other guys, such as Lesnar, that the company was looking to move up the card. Bruce doesn’t feel that there was any slight to being placed in a match with Ric Flair. He adds that it was the top storyline on Raw at that point.
Conrad observes that this was the exact situation Austin moved away from some seven years earlier in WCW. He was promised to be moved up the card and it never really happened because of guys like Hogan holding on to their top spots. Austin is coming off a run that helped make Vince a billionaire and here he is in the middle of the card while Hulk Hogan, of all people, is headlining in the championship match.
“It feels like everything he tried to escape in WCW,” Conrad astutely notes.
Talk shifts to Ric Flair, who Conrad feels in 2002 may not be the performer he was 15 years earlier, but is still damn good. Bruce agrees and both feel this was a fun match.
X-Pac gets involved, and he, Big Show and Flair all take Stunners, as was the fashion in the day. Austin gets the win.
Edge vs. Kurt Angle – Hair vs. Hair Match
Conrad feels this is the match most people recall from this show and says that’s crazy considering everything else going on here. He points out that Bruce said that exact thing at the top of the show.
Who’s idea was the hair stipulation? Bruce says Kurt was losing his hair at the time and decided he wanted to shave his head. Bruce comes from the old school where losing your hair should mean something, so he freaked out and was like “NOOOOO! STOP!” He figured if the hair was going to go, it should go as part of an angle. They felt that Edge, with his flowing locks, was the perfect opponent.
Edge’s theme song at the time was performed by Rob Zombie. Bruce says Rob was a fan and that he was easy to work with.
Both guys loved this match. Bruce felt it was Kurt Angle at his best, says that there was no wasted movement throughout. They talk about a belly-to-belly suplex over the top rope that looked insane. Conrad felt that bump was unnecessary and could shorten a career. Bruce agrees that could be the case if you didn’t know what you were doing, but that these two did.
Conrad feels that with a balding guy entering a hair match, it seemed like a given who would lose. As part of the build, they cut out a big chunk of Edge’s hair, which made you question who would really win. Bruce says the selling point of this match was that the loser would be shaved completely bald, not just given a haircut, as had happened to Jeff Jarrett, Kevin Nash, and others in the past.
Edge gets the win and brings Angle to the stage where they have a barber chair and barber waiting. Conrad wants the juicy details of this story. Who was the barber?
“Just a shoot barber. Nobody special.”
Ouch, Bruce. Shoot barbers have feelings too.
Bruce says the real barber was there to help out if needed as it isn’t easy to shave a sweaty head.
Bruce confirms a rumor that Edge was considered as the loser of this match. He pitched shaving Edge’s head. He thinks a shorter haircut on him could’ve been refreshing. The idea was that Edge would eventually have a cool haircut, Angle would start doing crazy stuff with his own hair as a brag that he still had his, and eventually it would lead to another hair match, which Angle would then lose. Thus, we would have gotten two shavings out of the angle. However, neither Edge nor Vince was into the idea of Edge getting shaved.
Talk turns to Edge and his placement on the card. Bruce says it was already believed by this time that Edge was the future. He felt that way since he first debuted.
We move to the conclusion of the Booker T/Marriott Hotel angle. Goldust ends up in the hotel bed with Booker T, asking Booker to leave the NWO and return to tagging with him. Conrad says Goldust is revealed to be wearing women’s lingerie and wonders if there was any hesitation on either wrestler’s part to do such a skit. Bruce says they were both totally cool with it and that Goldust was crazy, that he would do anything. Surprisingly, we then move on. It seems this would’ve been a good place to discuss Dustin Runnels offer at one point to have breast enhancement surgery. Oh well.
Triple H vs. Chris Jericho, Hell In A Cell
Conrad asks Bruce to confirm rumors that Jim Cornette is responsible for the Hell In A Cell concept. Bruce says it came up at the time Cornette was involved in booking, so it’s possible. But basically, this line of questioning is here to set up an epic Cornette impression where he details the finer points of HIAC.
Conrad says that Triple H was “Hogan level tan” in this match. He asks Bruce about the tanning fascination in wrestling. Bruce says he likes to tan because “fat looks better tan than it does white.” He continues that there was an obsession with tanning at this point. Wrestlers used to stand in line backstage to get their tans sprayed on.
We then discuss blading being caught on camera, as Triple H inadvertently did an obvious color job in this match. Conrad gets a bang out of Jim Ross refers to a wrestler grind another wrestler into the cage that “they’re trying to cut him up like coleslaw,” that this is funny since JR is the BBQ guy.
Conrad says this match happened during a time where the guys in a HIAC match would always end up on the top of the cage. Conrad can’t imagine anyone being comfortable up there. And then there’s the problem with logic. Bruce says you have a clear path to the back where you could run away from your opponent, or you could climb onto the top of the cage. The choice seems obvious.
Bruce’s Weekly F**king Cage Rant™: “It drove me nuts because I came from that old school of nobody in, nobody out – without putting a top on the mother f**ker. The idea was to settle it inside the cage, not to get out of it.”
Bruce then talks about the awkwardness of everyone getting on top of the Cell, the match ending, then everyone having to get off the cage.
Eventually, Triple H hits a Pedigree on top of the cage for the win. The match gets 3 and a quarter stars “according to the dirt sheets.”
Bruce’s thoughts? “F**k Meltzer.”
Conrad points out he is using Figure Four Weekly for his narrative this week, not the Observer. Any thoughts on Bryan Alvarez?
“F**k Finger Four, I don’t know Bryan.”
Tim White separated his shoulder in this match following an ugly bump. He was a big part of the company for a long time, first entering as Andre the Giant’s agent. Conrad brings up the “lunchtime suicide” skits Tim starred in a few years later and how he would reference this match in a couple of them, as this match took him out of action for a long time and he would never be the same. Bruce says it allowed Tim to spend time at his bar, The Friendly Tap, which was destroyed numerous times on WWE TV. Conrad feels Tim is an unsung hero of the company, having done so much for so long.
The guys then discuss WWE New York. They would throw to these segments during PPV’s. In this instance, Maven and Torrie Wilson were featured. Bruce says whoever drew the short straw would be kept off the show and would have to appear at the restaurant.
Billy & Chuck vs. Rikishi & Rico
Conrad asks Bruce to explain the psychology behind putting this match between two major matches – HIAC and the main event. Bruce says it’s simply to bring the crowd down before bringing them back up. It’s also commonly referred to as a “popcorn match” to give people a break and let them get a bite or use the bathroom prior to settling in for the main event.
Rico is aligned with Billy & Chuck at this point and is paired against his will with Rikishi. They win the match and are then reluctant champions together.
Rico Constantino was the first American Gladiator. He was super green though. He got sent to OVW and that’s where Jim Cornette fell in love with him. Cornette pushed hard for him and, much like Heyman’s exuberance for RVD hurt more than it helped, the same happened with Rico. He was also 41-years-old at the time, so there just wasn’t a realistic opportunity for him as far as headlining went. Vince instead saw him as a manager/mouthpiece. Bruce notes that he was also a police officer in Las Vegas and believes that was his true calling. Conrad mentions that Rico has been dealing with serious health issues for a number of years now.
Bruce serves up a pretty nice Rico story:
The day they were shooting the Billy & Chuck wedding, it was a live broadcast, Rico had a ton to remember and was extremely flustered. The idea at the time was that Rico would be on his phone backstage with the wedding planner, getting flustered. But he couldn’t quite get the emotions right.
So if you’re following, the guy was so flustered with pulling off his role, he was incapable of acting the appropriate level of flustered where the script called for it. Got it? We’ll continue…
Eight seconds before going live, Bruce hauled off and slapped the s**t out of Rico, knocking his phone to the floor and breaking it. Rico recovered the phone as the count to going live went to three, two, one and what resulted is what Bruce feels is the best backstage segment Rico ever did. Once the segment ended, Bruce hugged Rico and said “please don’t kill me.”
Next up, we learn that Rikishi’s willingness to show ass, literally, is what opened the door for his run.
Bruce says when Yokozuna entered the company in 1992, they wanted him to wear the traditional sumo garb with no trunks, just have his ass hanging out, but Yoko was uncomfortable with that.
Vince apparently harbored feelings for that type of arrangement, because six or seven years later, it came up again – this time with Rikishi. Bruce sat down with him and began to explain the character. Rikishi was taken aback by the idea of bleaching his hair. Bruce told him “I’m not at the best part yet.” He explained the original idea they had for Yoko. He told Rikishi that he believed if Yoko “had gone the extra mile, that nobody could’ve touched him.” He then told him it could only happen if Rikishi wore the traditional garb and exposed his ass. He says Vince truly thought that was the thing that would put it over the edge and make Rikishi a huge star.
So obviously this happened, but what Bruce points out next is that as Rikishi got more popular, he began covering his ass more. He would broaden the whale tail on his trunks more as he got more popular.
We’re all human, but crazy to think that Rikishi was self-conscious of his posterior.
We go back to Edge-Angle for the final time. It’s not explained on this show why Kurt didn’t have his head shaved immediately following the match, but apparently this was a show-long angle. Edge finally gets ahold of Kurt backstage and puts him in a sleeper hold. Bruce points out that this was a “shoot” sleeper. Edge actually applied the move realistically. He adds they had multiple clippers on hand for this scene. They went through two of them and then had Edge use a straight-edge razor to finish the job. Bruce says Kurt played this off to perfection, including breaking the mirror after getting a look at himself following the haircut.
Then, on a show that saw a crazy burial of Paul Heyman’s physical appearance earlier on, Bruce confirmed that he is indeed in some sort of mood, by delivering an epic line. A hurtful one, perhaps, but still:
“Maybe that’s where his seven years of bad luck came.” He dryly spins in Kurt Angle’s direction.
Several seconds of silence follow before Bruce follows up by telling Kurt he loves him and that if someone plays this show for him, to make sure they play the whole part so Kurt knows he loves him. Yowza.
Hulk Hogan vs. The Undertaker
Conrad points out that this was Hogan’s last title defense in the WWE (and also his first, technically speaking, when you take into account the name change of the company).
First, we discuss the Undertaker’s alternative persona – the American Badass. He’s got Limp Bizkit doing his theme song. Conrad relays a story Kevin Nash once told of Undertaker almost coming to WCW, but McMahon telling him he could do whatever he wanted as long as he stayed, and Taker saying he wanted to do the biker gimmick. Set the record straight, Bruce:
Undertaker had offers to go to WCW, but he never came close. It was Undertaker’s idea to do the Badass gimmick. Bruce points out that in 2002, Taker was transitioning from American Badass to Deadman, Inc. Conrad wants to know the difference between the two. Bruce confirms it basically came down to selling new T-shirts.
They talk more about Limp Bizkit’s involvement with having their song featured as the Undertaker’s theme and then discuss how Taker used a different song for this show. Conrad mentions the old song was scrapped because people were cheering it, even though Taker was a heel. Bruce offers that the deal had probably expired. After talking about how bad the new song was, I had no choice but to check it out on WWE Network. I must say, the song would fit right in with anything being cranked out by the WCW music department circa 1992. This song could’ve been Fireman Chip’s theme. For real.
Who’s idea was Hogan’s nostalgia run here? Bruce expects Conrad to s**t on his answer, but says Triple H thought it would be cool to drop the title to Hogan. He adds that this decision was made on the day of the show where Hogan went over Triple H. They were simply looking to capitalize on the resurgence in interest in Hogan that began following his match with The Rock at WM18. Bruce was largely opposed to giving Hogan this run. He felt the belt should not be passed around in such a flippant fashion and that the company should stick to their initial plan.
We reach the 2:19 mark of this show and Conrad starts getting silly. He jokingly wants to discuss the Hogan-Gawker case. He continues with an attempt to start a hashtag trend regarding Hogan’s penis on Twitter. Bruce no sells all of this.
We then discuss the infamous chokeslam. Hogan took it deadweight. It was totally s**t on by Figure Four Weekly and Bruce hated it too. Think of you chokeslamming someone you know, a non-wrestler, while horsing around at your house. It really looked that bad. What’s funny is Bruce says that everyone backstage watching the initial chokeslam knew another one would be coming. Fortunately, the second one was better and everyone was happy that the match was over.
Bruce observes that no matter what Hulk did at this point in his career, people were going to cheer him. Conrad agrees.
Tidbits from Twitter questions:
D-Von Dudley pitched having Bruce appear as Brother Love to manage he and Deacon Batista. Bruce didn’t really want to do it. Vince wasn’t into the idea either. The thought was Bruce’s schtick would take away from D-Von’s character, and he was the focus.
One specific bike was being used on the show for Undertaker’s entrances, town to town. Once the run was over, Taker was gifted the bike.
Bruce thinks Taker doing the American Badass gimmick was a natural progression of the character. That said, he was super happy when he went back to the original character.
Was it always the plan to have Undertaker win the title even if Hogan hadn’t defeated Triple H for it after WrestleMania? Conrad translates the implication of the question to be: did Triple H drop the belt to Hogan so he wouldn’t have to do so to Undertaker? The thinking being it would look different if he dropped the title to a nostalgia act instead of a fellow competitor on the roster. Bruce says the original plan was for Triple H-Jericho to be a title feud and for the title eventually to find it’s way to The Rock. But then, he adds, Rock “wanted to drop the title to Brock.” Undertaker was never in the plans, other than as a transition champion once Hogan as champ became a thing.
We close things out with Conrad bringing it back to the Hardy Boyz-Brock feud. As part of the build to this match, the Hardy’s deliver two incredibly hard chair shots to the head of Lesnar. Bruce remembers these shots and assumes they were at the request of Lesnar. Ultimately, though, they were brutal. In Conrad’s words, like several other things that took place on this show, just 15 years ago, these chair shots did not age well.
And that’s a wrap.
Rating – 9/10
Coming off of a month long run of shows set largely during the New Generation Era of the mid-90’s, this post-Attitude Era episode was a breath of fresh air. What’s more, there was so much great stuff covered here. At the onset, we were promised insider info on Hogan’s nostalgia run, Undertaker’s American Badass gimmick, Angle losing his hair and, of course, the transition from WWF to WWE. The show over-delivered, though, with insight on the origins of Rikishi, RVD’s reputation, the company’s opinion of women’s wrestling at this time and so many other terrific nuggets. There was also a dynamic shift over the course of the show where we went from Conrad removing himself from some harsh commentary by Bruce to Bruce wanting nothing to do with Conrad’s silliness regarding Hogan and, uh, hashtags. There were some tremendous impressions and, by god, even a, can I call it, post-Meltzer rant. Ok, not really a rant, but “Finger Four Weekly” is pretty damn classic. Absolutely download this episode.
9:28: Show begins
9:57: Run down of significant events to take place on this PPV
12:36: WWE, not WWF/”Get The ‘F’ Out”
26:48: The British Bulldog
27:59: PPV sets
31:20: The noose
32:37: William Regal vs. D-Lo Brown
34:30: Eddie Guerrero vs. RVD
38:14: Anti-RVD sentiment backstage
40:24: The Pick-A-Hand story
44:00: Eddie wants to kill Bruce
49:19: It was a different time
54:32: “Deacon” Dave Batista
56:45: Stacy vs. Trish
1:00:55: Thoughts on women’s wrestling at the time.
1:02:05: Ric Flair and Vince dynamic.
1:09:21: Brock & Heyman vs. Hardy Boyz
1:12:17: Bruce discusses Heymans physical appearance.
1:14:30: Brock/Goldberg comparisons
1:15:35: Booker T and Models R Us
1:17:14: Steve Austin’s standing in WWE
1:20:05: Austin vs. Ric Flair & Big Show
1:22:50: Hair Match concept
1:24:55: Rob Zombie
1:25:38: Edge vs. Kurt Angle
1:30:04: Angle loses
1:32:17: Edge knocking on the door
1:33:22: Booker T & Goldust at the Marriot
1:35:42: Hell In A Cell
1:37:33: Triple H vs. Jericho
1:38:25: Tanning in wrestling
1:39:45: Blading on camera
1:42:12: Triple H-Jericho HIAC Match
1:45:55: Bruce’s Weekly F**cking Cage Rant
1:47:36: HIAC match finish
1:49:26: Edge pursues Kurt Angle
1:50:25: Tim White
1:53:18: Get The F Out spots
1:54:39: Sexual innuendo skits
1:55:44: Discussion on Popcorn Match concept
1:57:21: Billy & Chuck vs. Rikishi & Rico
2:03:10: Billy & Chuck pairing
2:06:45: Edge shaves Angle’s head
2:09:22: American Badass/Deadman Inc.
2:15:10: Idea of Hogan’s nostalgia run
2:17:11: World Title hot potato
2:19:04: Genitalia talk
2:20:43: Hogan vs. Undertaker
2:26:08: D-Von and Brother Love
2:27:46: Takers bike
2:29:09: Hogan’s music
2:30:17: Was the Undertaker as champ always the plan?
2:32:16: Hardy Boyz chair shots on Brock
2:33:28: Wrap up
If you missed it, check out last week’s recap of Something to Wrestle With.
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