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WRITTEN PODCAST RECAP: Something to Wrestle With (classic) – The Lex Express: why the bus tour flopped, details on another cross country journey featuring The Undertaker, Luger’s jump to Nitro (Ep. 3)

Dusty Rhodes episode

Something to Wrestle With: Episode 3 – “The Lex Express”

Show Length: 1 hour 12 minutes

Release Date: August 19, 2016 (recap published September 16, 2017)

Recap By: Andrew Soucek, PWPodcasts.com Editor

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

Highlights:

-Bruce’s Jim Cornette impression is unleashed upon the world.

-Undertaker had a cross country journey of his own with Paul Bearer.

-Lex Luger didn’t want to travel on his own bus.

-The story behind why Luger didn’t win the title at SummerSlam ’93.

-We find out if a rumor behind Luger not winning the title at WrestleMania because he spilled the beans to a newspaper is true or not.

Show Rundown

Bruce is a little bit cranky. Actually, he’s all the way hot! But why? He had spent time with Conrad the past few days and was exhausted. There’s more though. More specifically, Delta can kiss his ass. Somehow his sleeping medication was dumped out or stolen by someone at the airline. He then busts out the show’s first Jim Cornette impression, “they stole my s**t!”

5:22 – Commercial: Go to ProWrestlingTees.com to get a Bruce Prichard shirt.

6:38 – What happened when Lex Luger came to the WWF?

Bruce said when Lex first came into the company, he came in as a co-host for the World Bodybuilding Federation. This is because he was under contract still with WCW and could not wrestle anywhere else. Lex also had a motorcycle accident during this time and hurt his arm pretty badly.

Was the plan to bring Lex into the WWF to  take it to Jim Crockett? No. Bruce relays JJ Dillon saying “Lex Luger is the finest example of potential that was never realized.”

Did Lex come in with a bigger contract than most members of the WWF roster? He didn’t have a guaranteed contract as a wrestler, but did have one with the WBF. There was a lot of heat on Lex from the locker room, because he was being paid big money for the WBF, as were all the other bodybuilders.

Did Lex make more than $250,000 per year with the WWF? Bruce doesn’t think so. Conrad points out that he probably took a paycut then. Still, he had potential to make more with Vince.

Lex ended up having plates installed into his arm from the motorcycle accident. Creative decided to bring him in as a heel. If you spent time around him, you could pick up a “narcissistic” vibe around him. That’s how his gimmick was born. Conrad notes this was the Lex of 25 years earlier. He’s a changed man now.

Luger’s first program was with Curt Hennig. Lex would stare at himself in the mirror in real-life a lot. Hennig would take someone’s idiosyncrasies and exploit them. Every night that they worked together, Curt would pull one tassel off of Lex’s trunks. It drove Luger crazy.

15:10 – The reaction from the fans was lukewarm for Luger. He wasn’t a great in-ring performer and wasn’t getting over how they liked. Why did they name him The Narcissist? It’s hard to spell! It was a Vince idea.

Hulk Hogan had returned for WrestleMania IX. They knew he wasn’t sticking around.

Detour: Hogan wins the belt at ‘Mania IX? What happened? Bruce said the idea was to get the belt on Hogan so he could go on the European tour and work with Yokozuna every night. Vince and Hulk thought that was the best idea for the tour. How did Bret feel about this at the show? He was hurt. He knew he was dropping the belt to Yokozuna (the original plan), then found out that weekend that Hogan was getting it by the time the show ended.

How was business with Bret as champion? At that point, in Bruce’s opinion it was flat. Neither up or down.

Was Hogan’s black eye the talk of the locker room? Not really. Hogan got hit in the eye with a jet ski. Are the rumors and innuendo of Macho Man punching Hogan over Elizabeth staying at his and his wife’s’ house true? Bruce says it’s not true.

22:40 – Hulk leaves the company. Yokozuna becomes champion at King of the Ring. They needed a new, fresh babyface. Lex was the anointed one. They came up with the Bodyslam Challenge on the Intrepid in New York City on the 4th of July. Bodybuilders and sports stars came in to attempt to bodyslam Yokozuna. No one could do it. Finally, a helicopter lands and in red, white, and blue, and out comes America’s only hope: Lex Luger. Luger bodyslams Yokozuna and all is right in the world.

Was the plan for Hogan to hold the belt for two months and drop it? Bruce says yes.

Why did all of Hogan’s matches have screwy finishes? Vince still wanted to protect him big time.

Did they know Hogan was gone for good when he left after this run? No, they knew he wanted to get into TV and movies. They believed he’d be back.

Was Lex supposed to be the “new Hogan?” No, he was just going to be the “next guy.”

It was 107 degrees on The intrepid that day. The ring had been out in the sun all day and the ring was burning. Yoko took off his flip flops and realized it was really hot. He went to get his flip flops back but Mr. Fuji had kicked them away. Ouch!

28:50 – The Lex Express. Conrad says this is near the top of bad ideas. Bruce says Bob Collins came up with it. George Bush Sr. was doing a tour across the country on a train the prior year or so. He’d stop at a bunch of small towns and greet the public, this inspired Lex travelling the country via bus and stopping at cable stations, newspapers, ball games, etc. Bruce thinks this was a great idea. However, the execution wasn’t so great.

The bus was comfortable. Everyone spent a couple days on the bus but Lex didn’t want to be on it anymore. He wanted to stay in hotels and fly out to shows and meet the bus there. Lex didn’t really like his fans. He was standoffish. This was a fatal flaw in the entire concept.

32:30 – Commercial – Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling event

33:40 – How much did the bus cost? Bruce doesn’t know. But he will defend that it was a good idea. Before that, the company had Andre the Giant’s old custom van turned it into a hearse. Undertaker and Paul Bearer traveled across the country in it and loved it. Conrad had never heard of this (neither had I!).

Bruce and Conrad agree that John Cena could have made the bus tour work, but Lex just didn’t embrace it. During this time, the company started realizing his lack of enthusiasm. They started to feel he might not be able to be “The Guy.”

Could others on the roster at the time made this bus tour work? Undertaker would have. Randy Savage would have.

38:00 – SummerSlam 1993. Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna. Lex wins the main event via countout. What the hell? Was this the plan? No. The audience wasn’t buying Lex all the way. They could tell he wasn’t genuine. Vince, Pat Patterson, and Bruce thought they should keep rolling with Yokozuna, then whoever takes him down will be made.

Conrad brings up WWE sticking with Roman Reigns for multiple WrestleManias even though it wasn’t working. Is this a different Vince now? Bruce doesn’t think so. It was just a series of “What if’s?” that lead to Yokozuna winning (this duck and non-answer wasn’t challenged).

Why was Lex Luger added into WrestleMania that year if he wasn’t getting over how they wished? They thought maybe Lex was working a bit.

Side story: Undertaker’s dog ate the lining of his jacket.

What metrics do they use to see if something is “working?” Merchandise, ticket sales, quarter hour ratings. But a lot of it is also a gut feeling.

How much of ticket sales are attributed to the champion? And if Lex isn’t the champion, shouldn’t the lack of interest in the promotion have been on Yokozuna? Bruce said the champion doesn’t matter, it’s your top babyface. Dusty Rhodes never needed to be champion. Andre didn’t. Piper didn’t. Some guys need the belt to help them draw money.

Did creative think the belt would have helped Lex? Yes.

50:45 – Why did Bret lose the belt in the first place? Yokozuna was an anomaly. He was unique and the crowd was receptive to him. It was nothing on Bret, they had something with Yoko.

The idea behind Bret/Yokozuna/Luger at WrestleMania X was to do something that hadn’t been done before.

Is the internet rumor of Luger not winning the belt because he told people at a bar he was going to win true? Bruce says they didn’t discuss what they were going to do with the talent until that weekend. Only Vince, Pat, and himself knew the finish. He doesn’t know if a newspaper did print something like that, but that never came up in their meetings. Even if it did, they wouldn’t have changed all their plans for the summer over it. He wants people to use logic over rumors like that!

Were they nervous that there was no Hogan at a WrestleMania for the first time ever? They weren’t. WrestleMania X was an attraction and had it’s own aura for being the 10th anniversary.

Best match on the card? Tie between Bret/Owen, Michaels/Ramon. Conrad makes him pick. Bruce goes with the Harts.

58:55 – Lex shows up on Nitro. Bruce was in Hong Kong at the time. They had recently been doing a shoot for Raw for a new opening to the show. Bruce left Lex off the list of people he wanted in the video. Bruce was questioned about it, and simply said Lex hadn’t signed his new contract.

What’s with the rumors and innuendo of a JJ Dillon/Lex Luger meeting? Lex hadn’t signed his new deal yet. Allegedly, there were some issues with dates and when the deal expired. While in Hong Kong, Bruce got a message on an answering machine and Pat Patterson informed him that Lex Luger showed up on Nitro.

“He’s their problem now.” – Pat Patterson on Lex Luger.

Vince had taken Luger at his world. He told his boss he wasn’t leaving. Luger blamed it on Dillon. Bruce speculates that Vince was hurt by the jump.

Bruce said that Dillon worked his ass off in the office. He was great on details, yet was the whipping boy of the company. And thus, ends the tale of Lex Luger in the WWF.

Bruce gives a shout out to a few wrestlers in NXT. He was thrilled to see Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe, and Austin Aries join WWE. He predicts Roode will be the biggest of the three (in Sept. of 2017, he’s in a solid second place of the trio)

They then run quickly predict the SummerSlam 2016 winners.

Rating – 7.0

A more focused effort than the prior two weeks. The energy is still down way from what it would become in the future. That’s not a knock here, just an observation that these early episodes have a different vibe to them.

While it felt like the Dusty Rhodes and Mega Powers episodes could have used a lot more details to round out the story, the Lex Express entry pulls into the station at about the right length. We were told exactly why Luger didn’t work as a top star. Rumors were cleared up. New stories like Undertaker’s cross-country hearse travels were told. No big complaints here. 

For newer fans who haven’t listened to this one yet, there are no Jerry Jarrett impressions, the commercials are much shorter, there’s no arguing, and not one beer can was opened on-air. At this point, they’re still taking small steps into becoming the wrestling podcast juggernaut that it would become. 

Timestamps

6:38 – Lex Luger joins the World Wrestling Federation
15:10 – Initial fan reaction to Luger
22:40 – The Bodyslam challenge
28:50 – The Lex Express
38:00 – SummerSlam ‘93
50:45 – WrestleMania X and Lex title rumors
58:55 – Lex jumps to WCW

For more, check out our archive of Something to Wrestle With

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