Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard – Demolition
Air date: July 28, 2017
Recap by: Jeff Rush, PWPodcasts.com Specialist
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Top 10 Impressions
10. Tony Garea, Stinkface Match agent.
9. Dusty Rhodes describes a Stinkface match.
8. Macho Man wants WWF to hire Mona.
7. Dick Cheney invites the Rock to the GOP Convention
6. Vince wants Kurt to kiss Stephanie good.
5. Vince wants Lillian to stick to the Star Spangled Banner.
4. Paul Heyman describes the background of Italian film director Freddie Fellini.
3. Jim Ross calls a Deep Crotch Slam.
2. Johnny Ace thinks Kurt Angle is a hottie, but that Vince is magical.
1. Vince wants to call the man Just Joe, not Joe. Jim Cornette doesn’t get it.
– Vince never thought of Triple H as more than a mid-card talent until after he’d won the Heavyweight title the first time.
– Perry Saturn was originally thought to have more upside than Eddie Guerrero.
– Bruce confirmed rumors that Dick Cheney’s office reached out to invite the Rock to attend the GOP Convention.
– We got a great story about a disappointed Brock Lesnar f**king with Big Show’s Krispy Kremes.
– The story of how Joe E. Legend got the name Just Joe.
– Randy Savage reached out to Bruce in 2000 attempting to land Mona a job.
– Bruce first discovered Scotty 2 Hotty while scouting Triple H.
– Bruce has never heard the term “X-Pac Heat.”
– Bruce’s insight on former head writer Chris Kreski was very interesting.
Conrad sets the scene – both WCW and ECW are “circling the drain.” Bruce says this was a pivotal time in wrestling.
Business is great, but Stone Cold Steve Austin is out with an injury. We’re coming off a Fully Loaded show in July that saw three matchups between established guys and “new guys” with the older wrestlers going over in all three matches, but the newer guys coming out looking good. For the record, those matches were the Rock over Chris Benoit, the Undertaker over Kurt Angle, and Triple H over Chris Jericho.
Conrad brings up Jericho’s reputation at the start of his WWE run. Bruce says a lot of people felt he was too small and that he had to fight to overcome his WCW background.
Kurt Angle was being used in a comedic role at the start of his run here, which Bruce didn’t agree with. He adds, though, that he was impressive from the very beginning.
Vince thought of Triple H as a mid-carder at best. It wasn’t until he was given the Heavyweight Title for the first time that he was viewed as a main-eventer.
It was around this time the WWF was shifting from USA Network to TNN. Conrad breaks down the legal mechanics behind the move. Bruce says USA didn’t hold up their end of the deal and it was a given they were leaving. He also introduces a Vince-ism here that we haven’t heard before. His reaction to USA attempting to block their move was “Grab your best hold, pal.”
Conrad then discusses the Radicalz, Benoit being the highest paid and Vince being very down on Perry Saturn. Bruce says Saturn was initially seen as number two in the group, just behind Benoit. He says there was an unexpected disconnect between Saturn and the audience and also Saturn and Vince.
Big Show dozed off during a production meeting, which among some other moves damaged his reputation just a year-and-a-half into his WWF run. Bruce says Big Show “had his moments” and that he wasn’t in the best shape at this time. Leaving shows early and not watching other matches or attempting to learn earned him a bad rep. Bruce says Show felt that simply showing up and being a giant was enough and, clearly, the company disagreed.
Lillian Garcia spoke up at a production meeting regarding Trish Stratus’s usage on Raw. She felt that Trish shouldn’t be asked to do some of the physical activity she was. She was told to “stick to Oh Say Can You See” and began crying. Trish distanced herself from the comments and said she didn’t ask Lillian to stand up for her. Bruce says this came from Lillian having to rub salve on Trish’s back after a brutal match. He feels this was Trish’s place to speak up if there was an issue, not Lillian’s, that Lillian was speaking out of turn here.
Conrad brings up Triple H reportedly having his own locker room at this time while the Rock dressed with everyone else. Bruce says that was not the case. Bruce doesn’t know when Triple H began to get trash talked for being a brown noser. He says that probably came out around the time he started dating Stephanie, but that he was insulated from that part of the locker room.
WWF got involved with the GOP Convention that year, sending Linda McMahon and the Rock to the event. Bruce says he heard a rumor that Dick Cheney invited the Rock to the convention. The guys discuss the Rock getting involved in politics in 2017. Bruce jokes that Brian Gewirtz would write his speeches.
Conrad starts discussing Tazz. He says any time he mentions Tazz, the shows listeners freak out. Bruce says Tazz’s style worked well for him in ECW, but that the Human Suplex Machine gimmick didn’t work for him in WWF. He says reports by Wade Keller and others were probably just fueling Tazz’s paranoia. He says Tazz was open to change and willing to work on things. Bruce says wrestlers backstage did, in fact, mess with Tazz though.
Next, we talk about Steve Austin’s recovery from his injury. Bruce says WWF felt his absence greatly. To know at this time he was going to come back was a big relief.
Talk then returns to Big Show being in bad shape. Bruce says he would get lip service from Show about his diet and exercise. Bruce tells a story about Harvey Whippleman bringing a huge box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts in for Big Show. Brock Lesnar saw them being brought in and wanted one. Whippleman told him they were for Big Show, but not to tell anyone. Brock then proceeded to go through the box and take a bite out of each doughnut. He then told Harvey to bring the doughnuts to Show and tell him who did it.
This was not so much ribbing, but more an example of the disappointment and tough love being shown towards Big Show at this time, both by wrestlers and agents.
Conrad says around this time, wrestlers from WCW were reaching out to the front office in WWF to try securing a job. Bruce says these calls happened all the time and would be directed towards JR, never Vince.
Regarding the AOL-Time Warner merger, Bruce says no one knew what was going to happen to WCW at this time. Wrestling was a pet project of Ted Turner’s, but a mega-corporation didn’t have those feelings.
Conrad asks about the Radio WWF project the company was trying out at the time following PPVs. Bruce says Jim Ross loved radio broadcasting. It was in his background. He also points out that Michael Cole came from radio.
Conrad inquires about the reputations of Shane and Stephanie at this time. He says he’s met Stephanie and loves her, but that he doesn’t work for her, and that her reputation as a boss is that of “a f**king b**ch.” Bruce says she was put in a position of responsibility at an early age. He thinks when she became head of creative, she began to get a more negative reputation. Bruce relates. He says he was only 24 when he was in that position and that the pressure is great and you’re way too young to really know what you’re doing.
Conrad wants to talk about Just Joe. Brue starts laughing. He says Joe E. Legend will be so happy to be brought up on the show. He calls him a decent worker, but nothing special. He says no one could come up with a name for him. His “Just Joe” name came from Vince. This leads to an awesome Bruce impression of an Abbott & Costello type conversation between Vince and Cornette.
Bruce feels that SummerSlam 2000 doesn’t hold up. He watched it back this week and wasn’t crazy about it. Conrad agrees. At the start of the show, he even mentioned being disappointed that it won the listeners poll.
WWF was promoted heavily on MTV and on various TV shows. Conrad says it was the hottest time for business and that lots of wrestlers from outside of the company were hanging around hoping to get noticed. Bruce says Randy Savage called him to see if he could get his valet, Mona, hired at the time.
Conrad talks about the operatic opening of the show. Bruce facetiously says it was a beautiful production. Vince loved it.
Conrad talks about the various sets the company would use for PPVs at the time. Bruce says they probably spent about $100K for each one. He thought the set sucked for this show. Bruce says the pyro budget for shows around this time was between $30-50K.
Conrad says there were tons of signs in the crowd at this time. Bruce says it was sparked by Austin 3:16 in 1996 and got out of hand from there. He says way back in his Houston days, the company would make signs for usage during the show.
Right To Censor vs. Rikishi and Too Cool opened the show. Bruce says Stevie Richards was a small fish in a big pond in the WWF, and that he didn’t have an “it” factor to set him apart from the pack. The RTC gimmick worked well for him, though.
Bull Buchanon was a Jim Cornette guy out of OVW. Bruce felt he was decent in the ring, but lacked personality. The thought was putting him in the RTC group would mask his limitations.
Godfather had converted into the Goodfather and joined RTC at this point. Bruce says this wasn’t just done to freshen him up, but that they wanted him to be a heel, so they took away all the risqué things that made him cool and turned him into a preachy codger instead.
Too Cool was over big at this time. Bruce says the dancing and the outfits worked well. Scotty 2 Hottie was enhancement talent when Pat Patterson and Bruce went to scout Triple H in his Terra Ryzing gimmick. They thought Scotty looked great and brought him in. It took a couple years for him to strike gold, but things really clicked with the Too Cool gimmick.
The show was in North Carolina and Jim Ross announced a $1.1M gate at the start. Conrad asks if this was just the company bragging and sticking it to WCW. Bruce says they were just happy to have set such a record.
Conrad describes the angle between Kurt Angle and Stephanie and Triple H. He says at the time, it feels like the Rock and the title picture took a back seat to the love triangle.
Up next is X-Pac vs. Road Dogg. Bruce says Road Dogg was super over, but that he wanted more out of this match, that by this point the show continued to disappoint.
Bruce had never before heard the term X-Pac heat. Crazy.
Bruce calls the pairing of Eddie Guerrero and Chyna “magic.” He says Chyna wanted to have matches with guys, but that Vince felt she would be better used to elevate the women’s division. He says it was a constant battle at this time.
Val Venis had evolved at this point. They were attempting to get him away from the porn star gimmick. He was paired with Trish Status briefly here prior to his joining the RTC. Bruce says they scaled back on the controversial aspects of the product at this time due to heat from the PTC. Conrad counters by pointing out all the man-on-woman violence on this show.
Chyna won the IC title in a mixed tag match here. Bruce absolutely hated this. He felt it diminished everything they were trying to do with Val Venis.
Mideon is brought up here. Bruce says he was one of the funniest guys in the locker room. Unfortunately, he notes, it never transferred in front of the camera.
Tazz was programmed with Jerry Lawler on this show in an attempt to get some sort of heel momentum going. The guys discuss an off-color remark Tazz makes on this show regarding Jim Ross’ physical condition. Bruce enjoyed this match. He says Lawler provided psychology. Lawler would win this match, which Conrad feels was a burial of Tazz. Bruce no-sells the notion and says Lawler is a legend.
Steve Blackman vs. Shane McMahon is up next. The guys discuss the planning of Shane taking a 50 foot fall in this match. Bruce always hates these spots, though he feels they are well rehearsed and done safely.
Blackman won the Hardcore Title, defeating Shane here. Bruce says Blackman was finally getting some personality here and getting over. He mentions the Head Cheese gimmick with Al Snow as being the reason for that. He thought this match was decent, but reiterates he’s not a fan of huge spots. He admits, though, that it helped the match.
Mick Foley was doing the commissioner gimmick at this time. Bruce says, though Foley was no longer a worker, they wanted his star power on TV. Austin was out with an injury and they wanted all the help they could get.
Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho in a 2-out-of-3-falls match. Bruce felt this match didn’t live up to the hype. It was good, but not spectacular. The only part he really like was the finish. He says this match was all about Jericho and Benoit proving they belonged in a big PPV match. He thinks they accomplished that.
Edge and Christian, the Dudleys and the Hardys had one of their famed TLC matches on this show. Conrad calls it a car crash and says he absolutely loved it. Bruce says it was entertaining and recognizes that everyone worked hard but says, much like the Shane bump from earlier, he hated the dangerous element of these matches. He hates that guys are always trying to top each other in these matches and feels at some point you have to say enough is enough.
The Kat defeated Terri in a Stinkface match. Conrad points to this match as another example of the WWF being hypocritical in their claims to be cleaning up their product at the time.
Bruce says this match was brutal. Conrad describes it in painful detail.
Undertaker vs. Kane is the sort of co-main event of this show. Taker is into his biker persona at this point and the story of the match is his attempt to unmask Kane. It ends after about six minutes when Kane loses his mask and retreats to the back. No bell ever sounds. Bruce blames this on Big Show. He says he was originally set to be Undertaker’s opponent. When they pulled him from it due to his lack of conditioning, they hot shot a Kane heel turn and threw this together. He feels the match didn’t do much for either guy.
Conrad has been describing vignettes of the Angle-Stephanie-Triple H love triangle throughout the show. He’s noted that, though both are squaring off in a Triple Threat match with the Rock for the title, the focus has clearly been on Stephanie throughout. It seems odd that, to listen to this episode, The Rock has yet to make an appearance on the PPV, even though Stephanie and/or Kurt appear between pretty much every match. It sounds as though it was really being forced down viewers throats, but I remember living through it the first time. The first hints of this angle were dropped the previous winter, with Stephanie subtly admiring Kurt as an impressive newcomer. Every once in a long while, Triple H would shoot a glance. The whole thing grew seemingly organically and was really well told. It’s an approach I would like to see them take more today. Ironically, it appears the Kurt Angle/Jason Jordan angle might be being given a similar amount of care and attention to detail. We shall see.
Kurt and Triple H brawl to start things, though the match doesn’t truly begin until the Rock arrives. Angle suffered a concussion at this point and was out cold for a period. Conrad says Angle was really impressive in this match and won over a ton of guys in the back with how he got through this. Bruce says Kurt was brought to the back and checked out. He says he personally spoke with him. Kurt told him he was fine, that he just got his bell rung. He says had this taken place today, there is no way they would send Kurt back out. Conrad points out Kurt was cleared to go again the very next night.
Conrad brings up the People’s Elbow and the ridiculous nature of it. Bruce says, to the contrary, he was the most over guy in the company. Even though it’s a sh*t finish, it worked. Conrad presses as to whether anyone had an issue with taking this move as a finisher. Bruce maintains since Rock is the top guy, regardless of how silly the move was, it worked and was effective.
Rock uses the People’s Elbow on Triple H for the win.
Conrad brings up Chris Kreski. He was the head writer in the WWF at this time. Conrad says his reputation is that of being the real genius behind WWF’s writing and is now an almost mythical figure. Kreski is said to have used storyboards for his angles that would help him maintain a continuity not usually seen in WWF writing. He was supposedly mocked for it at the time, but it definitely helped create his legend. Sadly, he passed away in 2005 from complications due to cancer.
Bruce says Vince brought him on as a head writer to oversee both Raw and Smackdown, but that no one really knows where he came from. He says he was a super nice guy. Bruce says, however, the accolades he receives for being a television genius are undeserved. He never saw Chris do a pre-tape or run a production meeting. In the meetings Bruce attended that Kreski was involved in, he saw him acting as more of a secretary than anything. Bruce says the credit given to Kreski should go to Brian Gewirtz. He talks about how impressed Vince was with Kreski’s storyboard, but says he never saw it put to use. He says Kreski would watch Mets games during most of the shows.
To listen to Bruce describe Kreski, you get the impression he was one of the people mocking him for the storyboard. There were obviously issues between the two and all we’re able to get now is the Bruce version of things. I know nothing about Chris Kreski and cannot say that Bruce isn’t recalling it exactly as it happened, but I’d love to hear the opinions of other people involved in a backstage capacity with the WWF at the time regarding Kreski.
Bruce talks about Vinnie’s Steak House which was run by Vince McMahon’s best friend. He says the place was named after Vince McMahon.
Rating: At the start of this show, Conrad lamented that SummerSlam 2000 had won the poll. He felt the other SummerSlam options were more interesting. Hearing that, you get the feeling you’re in for a bit of a dud show. I won’t say it got anywhere near that level. I don’t think this show ever does. That said, when you’ve got both Bruce and Conrad talking about how lackluster the PPV was throughout the episode, you know it won’t be a top 10 all time show. Bruce was spot on with the impressions, and Conrad got testy with the answers he was receiving on more than one occasion, so yeah, it was classic Something To Wrestle.
For me the highlights were the backstage details of what was going on with both Big Show and Tazz at this time. Additionally, hearing how things played out with Kurt Angle’s concussion during the main event was also pretty captivating. For a show that’s been running weekly for a year, we even managed to get to some names that haven’t been brought up before – most notably Joe E. Legend and Chris Kreski. This show is always worth a listen and this week was no exception. 7/10
10:39: Show begins
24:40: The Radicalz
28:58: Big Show’s condition
31:40: Lillian Garcia
34:40: Triple H’s reputation
37:00: Walker, Texas Ranger
40:08: GOP Convention
43:25: Bruce and wrestler weddings
53:10: Steve Austin’s recovery
1:02:40: Wrestling’s reputation in the news media
1:03:30: WCW inquiries
1:04:51: AOL-Time Warner merger
1:06:10: Radio WWF
1:08:00: Shane and Stephanie
1:12:00: Just Joe
1:14:15: WWF’s popularity
1:20:20: The PPV broadcast
1:22:54: The PPV set
1:25:00: Signs in the audience
1:27:00: RTC vs. Rikishi and Too Cool
1:37:51: Kurt Angle and Stephanie
1:41:25: X-Pac vs. Road Dogg
1:43:30: Chyna and Eddie
1:46:06: Val Venis
1:47:45: Val Venis vs. Eddie Guerrero & Chyna
1:56:10: Jerry Lawler vs. Tazz
2:05:15: Steve Blackman vs. Shane McMahon
2:14:10: Commissioner Mick Foley
2:15:25: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
2:18:48: TLC Match
2:24:00: The Kat vs. Terri Stinkface match
2:30:55: Undertaker vs, Kane
2:34:00: The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. Triple H
2:43:43: Chris Kreski
2:40:01: Vinnies Steak House
2:49:05: Twitter questions
Jeff Rush is a life-long fan of professional wrestling. He’s attended the last match of both Andre the Giant and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s careers and two of the three matches of the Rock-Austin WrestleMania trilogy. As a child, he was once yelled at by John Tenta for sitting too close to him on a bench at Hershey Park. Jeff listens to way too many wrestling podcasts and watches way too much WWE Network. He also catches as much indie wrestling as he can when it comes through his home of New York City. @jefflikesstuff
With regards to the Kreski thing, I think Bruce has his set of ideas on what skills are valuable for a creative producer, and should you believe everything else that has been said about Kreski in the past, perhaps his skill set simply wasn’t as obvious to Bruce in terms of the value he brought. The picture I’m getting is that Kreski wasn’t the ideas man, but he was the glue that held everything together and made sure the stories had proper continuity. Bruce obviously doesn’t place much value on that; given the issues the product has had in other eras, I do.