Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard – Episode 69
Recap by: Denny Walker Crumc
Air Date: 10/13/17
-Jim Cornette may have flashed the live show crowd in Detroit
-Cornette and Santino got into another altercation
-United Kingdom fans used to get traditional WWF PPVs for free
-Terry Taylor refused to sign a non-compete clause after Russo left unless Vince made him second in command
-Russo leaving is why Vince uses a team for creative to this day
-Gorilla Monsoon used to be part owner of the WWWF
What Happened When…The WWF rolled into the Gund Arena in Cleveland for No Mercy 1999
Hey hey, it’s Conrad Thompson introduces us to the show! He expresses his excitement about this episode because there is so much going on in the WWF at this time. But he wants to circle back and follow up on last week’s episode on In Your House: Badd Blood 1997.
Both men agree they received good feedback on the episode. Bruce noted the only feedback he received that he didn’t care for was a photoshopped picture of Kane wearing green and black ring attire. Conrad says last week they addressed the rumor and innuendo that Kane had wore the green and black ring attire while teaming with X-Pac. Conrad acknowledges there are photos, but they are clearly photoshopped.
Conrad says that any fan who challenged him with those pictures received a reply from Dave Silva with their faces photoshopped on X-Pac’s body.
Bruce says the “rumor and innuendo” tag line seems to be Corey Graves’ new go-to phrase. Conrad sends a shout out to him. He also notes Dolph Ziggler has been using their “and then the bell rang” line and gives Dolph a shout out as well.
Conrad says one of the things they received a little feedback on was what Vince’s reaction to the Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker Hell in a Cell match was. Conrad says that obviously the match was a clinic and one of the best ever. (I have to agree. It is my personal favorite Hell in a Cell match. If you haven’t watched it for whatever reason, please go watch it right now.)
Conrad asks Bruce what the reception is like from Vince, the office, and the boys backstage after a match like that. Bruce says as far as Vince goes, it is like the reaction of a proud father. He just watched his children go out and perform and go above and beyond the call of duty. Vince was extremely proud and happy that nobody had any major injuries. The talent backstage gave Shawn and Undertaker a standing ovation and lined up to shake their hands.
Conrad says he was not able to make it to the live show over the weekend due to his “real life work.” He says Bruce and Jim Cornette had all of the fun at St. Andrews Hall. He heard Detroit was one of their most rowdy crowds of all time. Bruce says he wants to start out with the Dirty Dozen. (For those of you who do not know, Bruce offers a meet-and-greet intimate dinner-type setting the night before some live shows called the Dirty Dozen. It is supposed to be open to just 12 fans. I happened to be part of this in Detroit. Bruce sat and talked with us for hours. He answered any question. He signed anything people brought. He took as many pictures and videos as we asked for. He told some great stories. It really was a fantastic time, Bruce couldn’t have been nicer.) He then notes there was about 15-16 guys at the Dirty Dozen. They had a blast.
From there, they went to St. Andrews Hall in Detroit. His guest, James E. Cornette, is his friend of over 30 years and he loves him to death. He will always be his friend no matter what he does. He thanked Cornette and everyone in Detroit.
Conrad notes the venue Bruce and Cornette held their show was actually the same venue where the battle rap scenes from Eminem’s movie 8 Mile was filmed.
Conrad then wants to address the rumor and innuendo about what happened over the weekend during the show. There are a lot of reports out there he can’t speak on because he wasn’t there. Reportedly, Cornette got a little too into the show and threw a prop that was on stage that represented Vince Russo on the ground and he pulled out “George the rat.” That is a metaphor for Cornette pulling his penis out.
Bruce saw the censored video. It shows he wasn’t looking at Cornette so he didn’t see it. He didn’t even hear about the incident until he was on his way to the airport that day. He apologized to anyone who was offended. He doesn’t want to see any pictures or videos. He knows Cornette did not mean to pull his pants down as far as he did. Bruce then jokes he doesn’t think the crowd saw much, “if you get my drift.”
Conrad asks Bruce if he is confirming Cornette did pull his pants down, but that he wasn’t sure how much “hog action” went down. Bruce has no idea how much “hog action” took place. Nothing like that will ever happen again at a live show. Conrad backtracks a bit saying how unpredictable their live shows can be. (I didn’t make it to the live show. I can’t confirm this incident. But, apparently there are pictures and video out there.)
Conrad asks Bruce to compare the level of preparation Bruce does with Conrad as opposed to shows he does with Cornette. Conrad feels like in his head, Bruce and Cornette just meet at the building and say “let’s call it in the ring, kid.” Bruce says that is exactly what happened. He did ask Cornette if there was anything he didn’t want to discuss. This took Bruce into his Cornette impression just saying a couple of obscenities.
Bruce says he’s sure everyone has heard about Cornette’s (latest) confrontation with Santino over the weekend. The news of the incident was the first thing he was greeted with when he landed in Detroit. He goes into his Cornette impression, again saying “I’m leaving his son of a b***h” and “I’m going to kill somebody.” He just wanted Cornette to be at the show to tell his version of the story. Bruce says if you want to hear the whole story of what happened to go check out Cornette’s podcast. He then notes he likes both Santino and Cornette. Both are great guys and he isn’t picking side. Conrad notes Santino is a listener of the show.
Conrad says the point is you never know what could happen at a live show. Bruce agrees and then tells a story about Micky Doyle telling one of the worst stories in the history of the show. The crowd started to get a little hostile. He and Cornette were basically in the background begging the crowd to stop booing. Conrad says he has no idea who Micky Doyle is, but he is not booked for their next show in Houston. This takes him to a plug for that show.
No Mercy 1999
Conrad says this feels like their 900th PPV show where they are covering the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Conrad notes the WWF did a lot of major angles, storylines, and shows there. He asks Bruce what it was about Cleveland the WWF had a sweet spot for. Cleveland was a great market and the Gund Arena was a friendly building. The Gund Arena was ran by a friend of Vince’s who used to run the Hartford Civic Center in Connecticut. They always got a good deal on the building and it was beautiful.
Conrad agrees the market was good. They drew a sellout crowd of 18,752 in attendance with 17,430 paid for a gate of $478,156. They had a good day at the merch stand too, adding another $130,303. He says the house was good to transition into another commercial.
Conrad says Austin is still selling a lot of shirts. This draws a “oh hell yeah” from Bruce.
Conrad asks Bruce why they did a U.K. only show called No Mercy and then did a traditional PPV of the same name. This took Bruce to his Vince impression saying “I like No Mercy. Nobody in England will watch this.” Bruce clarifies there was no real rhyme or reason. It was a good name and Vince liked it. The idea behind the U.K. PPVs is they were U.K. only, so there wasn’t a lot of cross promotion. There was some, but not a lot.
Conrad notes in October of 1999 they were already running another U.K. only PPV called Rebellion. What was the thought behind running U.K. only PPVs? Bruce said it was an experiment with Sky Sports, who were just starting their PPV division in the United Kingdom. The WWF offered to do several PPVs for them. The U.K. was getting the U.S. PPVs for free on Sky. With the introduction of the PPV model, they would do specific show for Sky to get them to make a few more dollars in that market. They were also experimenting with doing TV in the United Kingdom as well.
Conrad asks what the methodology behind putting the U.K. only shows together was. He suggests they didn’t want to advance storylines that people in the U.S. would miss. Bruce says they wanted to give the U.K. market something unique and special to that market. If they were going to advance storylines, then it may be just 1 or 2 things they could bring back and put on the domestic shows. It was basically a special event house show for that market.
Conrad runs down the card for the U.K. Rebellion show. Jeff Jarrett defeated D-Lo Brown to retain the Intercontinental Championship, Godfather beat Gangrel, Val Venis defeated Mark Henry, Ivory retained the Women’s Championship by defeated Luna, Torri, and Jacqueline, Chris Jericho beat Road Dogg, Chyna beat Jeff Jarrett by DQ (Conrad noted Jarrett pulled double duty on this card), Kane beat Big Show, British Bulldog beat X-Pac, Edge & Christian beat The Acolytes and Hollys in a triple-threat match, and Triple H defeated The Rock inside of a “salad” (he purposely pronounces “solid” like this) to win the World Championship.
Conrad notes Triple H and The Rock in a cage for the belt felt like a pretty big attraction. Bruce agrees. Cage matches were unusual to do in the United Kingdom, they wanted to give fans a special attraction and added value.
Conrad asks if there was any fun memories of traveling with the boys during these U.K. PPVs. Bruce said that for whatever reason, whenever they would go overseas, something would tick in the boy’s heads that would cause their behaviour to not be exactly what it would be.
Bruce speculated the wrestlers felt like because they were in international waters it didn’t count. So the boys felt like they could drink a little more and party a little more and think they could get away with a lot more stuff. People who didn’t ordinarily go out, went out. And people who didn’t ordinarily get in trouble, got in trouble. It was a completely different atmosphere due to the longer than normal travel. You get bored and you start wanting to cut people’s hair off, shave eyebrows, or steal shoes to have fun. Something always happened that wouldn’t have happened in the States. It was different because the whole roster had to travel together, stay at the same hotel, and ride the same buses, so the routine was much different than it was back at home.
Conrad transitions into the build up for No Mercy 1999. He suggests that anyone who hasn’t listened to the Unforgiven 1999 episode of Something to Wrestle should do so since Unforgiven is the PPV before No Mercy and was part of the build to this show. He gives a quick recap of Unforgiven. Triple H won the belt for the 2nd time in a 6-Pack challenge against The Rock, British Bulldog, Kane, Mankind, and Big Show with Steve Austin as the special guest enforcer. Conrad says Steve Austin is in the main event at this PPV (No Mercy).
The Monday Night War is in full swing, but the WWF is in full control at this point. The Raw before No Mercy drew a 6.1 television rating against Nitro’s 2.6. The night after No Mercy, Raw did a 5.4 against Nitro’s 3.3 rating. (I always find it interesting when I hear television ratings breakdowns from the Attitude Era. The perception is that Nitro was such an awful show that drew bad ratings the last couple of years. But WWE now would love for Raw to consistently draw a 2.6 rating.)
Conrad says it feels like a bit of a momentum swing in Nitro’s direction here. Much of that is credited to Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara signing with WCW during this time. Something to Wrestle did cover this extensively during their Vince Russo episode, but he wanted to mention that Unforgiven was Russo’s last PPV and No Mercy was the first PPV without Russo.
Conrad asks Bruce what kind of impact he thinks Russo leaving had. Bruce says there was definitely an impact felt because they were in a state of flux from a creative standpoint. Vince was looking for the next team. There was a lot of people vying for that position. There was a lot of doing the status quo and trying to finish up stories that had already been started. This was the last PPV Russo booked and had written television for. There was an attempt to continue the stories and make what they had make sense and then go from there.
Inside the office, the departure created a lot of turmoil. A “who’s with us, who is against us” mentality. Conrad says when Russo left, he didn’t have a contract with the company and was free to go. He then asks if Vince went into panic mode and started checking contracts for everybody who was of significance to the company. Bruce says that employees (office workers, creative, marketing, etc) didn’t have contracts. Up to that point, there had never been a reason to have a contract with an employee. Vince created non-compete clauses for employees. He defines that by saying if an employee left the company on their own, they wouldn’t be able to go work for a direct competitor for X amount of days.
Conrad asks Bruce when Vince started non-compete clauses. As far as employees, it began when Russo left. But as far as in-ring talent, Vince always had some kind of non-compete clause in their contracts. Bruce thinks the non-compete clause last 90 days.
Conrad asks Bruce if he remembers a wrestler, in particular, where the non-compete thing would be a catalyst for conversation. Conrad brings up Rick Rude appearing on WWF television without a real contract. Bruce doesn’t remember any wrestler off the top of his head because Rude was a special deal. The WWF was doing daily deals with Rude. Every day Rude appeared on television, he signed a contract.
Bruce says Jeff Jarrett’s contract was coming up and he had not been re-signed, but the non-compete for him was well covered. You don’t really think about your CFO or Head of Marketing quitting and working for direct competition. Vince got caught with his pants down when Russo and Ed Ferrara left.
Bruce says Vince wanted to protect against those things. So, he had non-compete clauses drawn up and especially wanted those who were on the wrestling side of things to sign them. Conrad asks if Bruce remembers anyone having any sort of hesitation or push back about signing the clauses. Bruce says Terry Taylor didn’t want to sign it and refused to. Everyone else was eager to sign. Lawyers looked at the agreements but noted that when it was put in front of him, Jim Ross, and Howard Finkel, in particular, the deals were signed almost immediately. Taylor argued that if something happened to him at the WWF, he wanted to be able to go to WCW. Vince didn’t know why Terry was even thinking about that if he was with the WWF.
Bruce says Taylor wanted to be “the man,” he wanted to be the head writer and booker. He wanted to be Vince’s 2nd in command and told Vince if he would give him that spot then he would sign the non-compete. Vince wasn’t willing to do that.
Conrad asks Bruce if he was in the room when the conversation happens. Bruce says no, but Terry and Vince both told him that story. Conrad asks Bruce who was 2nd in command at that point. It was Jim Ross. Conrad says Terry wanted the J.R. spot. Bruce says in Terry’s mind he wanted the Russo spot. Terry wanted to be the head writer and book the towns, which was a responsibility Ross was taking care of at the time. Ross was also in charge of talent relations, which is something else that Terry wanted to do. Bruce thinks Terry wanted a raise, but Taylor probably would have been happy with just the title.
Conrad notes Terry and Bruce didn’t always have the best relationship and asks him what his relationship was like with Terry at the time. Bruce says it was a business relationship. Terry was there helping out with creative and he was on the talent relations side helping with developmental talent with creative when he could. His relationship with Terry was all business. Terry felt like he was the only one who could step into the Russo position and that’s what he wanted in order for him to stay. However, Vince was not in a hurry to bring anyone in and put them in charge. Vince felt like he had given Russo a lot of leeway and had depended on him a lot.
Russo leaving the way he did hurt Vince. So McMahon wanted to build a wall and form some protection to prevent something like that from happening again.
Bruce says Brian Gewirtz tells the story that when Russo left, it was the turning point in Vince’s head. He would create a team. If one person left, no big deal. The rest of the team would just carry on. Conrad says a lot of people want to debate that a team isn’t necessary and things were better back when there was just 1 or 2 people. But he feels like the logic Bruce had just laid out about the reasoning of having a team makes more sense.
Conrad asks Bruce about Ed (Ferrara) because they hadn’t talked a lot about him. Conrad ask Bruce to give us something about Ed, since he mostly flies under the radar. Conrad even calls Ed the “Marty Jannetty” of the team. He was a talented guy, but the general feeling is he was a tag-a-long to Vince Russo. A nice guy, but no threat. If Russo left, but Ed didn’t, he wouldn’t be the head writer.
Conrad asks Bruce if he can remember an angle, idea, or gimmick that was great that he can say was Ed’s idea that was awesome. Bruce says no. Conrad asks Bruce if he can remember something that wasn’t awesome. Bruce says no because it was always presented as a Russo idea. So not being with them 24/7, he didn’t know what Ed would have come up with.
Conrad asks Bruce if Russo’s big personality allowed him to take the credit for Ed’s ideas and Ed was just comfortable being behind the scenes. Bruce could see that happening, but doesn’t know if that is accurate. Russo is very bull-headed and very strong. He had some specific ideas and thinks Ed just helped him get those ideas out. They were always presenting the ideas as if they were Russo’s. Bruce can’t think of anything at all that was for sure Ed’s idea.
Conrad wants to circle back to Vince not wanting to bring anyone in after Russo left. He brings up that Bruce said the departure hurt Vince. Conrad says it sounds like it hurt Vince personally and emotionally. Bruce says it did hurt him. Conrad points out they don’t really talk about Vince having hurt feelings very often. Vince gets upset at his own sneezes.
Conrad asks Bruce if he had a conversation with Vince about Russo leaving hurting his feeling. Bruce said yes, he had a conversation with Vince. Vince is a proud guy, but will admit when something bothers him or gets to him. This did because Vince trusted Russo. Regardless of how Vince really is, he sees himself as an open, understanding, caring, and approachable guy.
Bruce said he would tell Vince he is an intimidating guy. He then goes into his Vince impression saying “GODDAMMIT I’M NOT INTIMIDATING!” Bruce says he sees Russo’s side about not wanting to have that conversation with Vince (McMahon) after he decided he was leaving. But he can also see Vince’s side and why it hurt him. He has gone to Vince about some of those subjects from time to time and gotten his head bitten off. But Vince always apologized after the fact, but at least Bruce went to talk to him. Vince was hurt Russo didn’t come talk to him face to face. He compares it to a break-up.
Conrad ask Bruce if he remembers when Vince decided he was going to look outside of the industry for writers. He notes the person who stepped into the Russo spot was Tommy Blacha, who didn’t have a wrestling background. The process had already started because Vince wanted more help and wanted Russo to have more help. Vince wanted more writers in from outside of the business that had a working knowledge of wrestling, but were from the entertainment industry. Blacha was hired by Russo on his last week.
Who is Blacha? Bruce says he was working on the Conan O’Brien show, and believes Russo may have met him when one of the wrestlers (he didn’t remember who) did the Conan show. Russo talked back and forward with Blacha about skits and different things the talent on the show could do. At the same time, Brian Gewirtz was working in Hollywood with Jenny McCarthy and some things at MTV. There was this new breed of writer that was going to be coming in to help Russo. Bruce says he is not sure if Russo saw this as a threat or it was just the timing of the offer from WCW had came, but he isn’t sure what his true motivation was to leave.
(I find this interesting. I have heard for years from Russo that he left because he felt overworked and didn’t have enough help. With all of these people coming in, I’m sure Russo knew. If he was going to have some of his workload taken, why would being overworked be the reason he left? I would like to hear an explanation from Russo.)
Bruce says Vince had always wanted people from the entertainment world to come in and format and script the show. How did the WWF find these Hollywood outsiders? Did they use a recruiting agency? Bruce says a lot of times, for example, when they were doing a shoot at Universal Studios, he saw a producer who was a freelance for Universal Studios that was putting the shoot together. Bruce worked really well with the guy and he ran the shoot well. So Bruce tried to hire him on the spot. They also put ads in the trades like the Hollywood Reporter and Variety. And they also had “head hunters” who would go out and try to find some of the best writers and producers in Hollywood.
Conrad plugs Tommy Blacha’s 10 Minute podcast.
Conrad asks Bruce about Blacha’s transition from a more controlled environment like the Conan O’Brien show and how he adapted to being thrown into the wrestling world. Bruce says Blacha adapted really well. He came in wanting to learn and had a lot of ideas. He didn’t have a pride of authorship. He came in with an attitude of “what if” and that he “got it”. Blacha sat back and observed before he was really made part of the process. Bruce says he didn’t even know Blacha worked there for a few weeks. Blacha wasn’t part of the team when they would do writing for television and PPVs. Vince would meet with him privately and would pick his brain for a few weeks before he threw him in there with the rest of creative. Bruce knew someone was hired, but had no idea when that person would start and be part of the process. Conrad asks Bruce when he remembers Blacha becoming part of the process. He thinks it was right after No Mercy 1999.
Conrad says he doesn’t know when they will talk about Tommy Blacha again. But notes that when he said the same thing about Jerry Jarrett he became a staple on the show. Conrad asks Bruce what were some of the more memorable ideas that can be attributed to Blacha. Blacha came up with the idea to hit Steve Austin with the car when Austin had to take some time off. Bruce says Blacha was the doctor who delivered Mae Young’s hand. He was responsible for a lot of the Sexual Chocolate stuff.
Conrad asks when Brian (Gewirtz) started with the company. Brian started shortly after that, but Bruce doesn’t remember the time frame. He promised to call him and get the information for us next week. Brian was working for MTV. He remembers his first day. He was wearing a Yankees hat, but said he was just joking because Brian is a big Mets fan. Brian looked like a 12-year-old. Ron Simmons saw Brian and Bruce went into Simmons impression saying “Yo! Who the hell are you? Why are you in the dressing room.”
Bruce said Brian didn’t exactly fit in and could be a little awkward at times. Conrad wants to talk about Brian in long form because it feels like he is overlooked. He notes that Russo gets his credit good, bad, or indifferent. But nobody really talks about Brian even though he was the “straw that stirred the drink for like a dozen years.” Bruce says Brian is a genius. He is the one who formatted the show and put Raw together for so long. He had a great way with Vince and Stephanie. He did a lot of stuff with Rock and still works with him and 7 Bucks Production. He is in charge of their television production and creative.
Brian is an unsung hero and doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves. This is because he doesn’t go out and brag about it.
Conrad moves along, saying Gorilla Monsoon passes away around the time of this show on October 6, 1999. Conrad asks Bruce if he has any other memories or stories about Monsoon that he would like to share here. Bruce says Gorilla was an avid gambler and would bet on anything. Even on his “deathbed” Gorilla was calling the studio and asking the guys if there was a game that night he could bet on: Golf, badminton, chess tournament. Anything. They then talk about a game room Gorilla had in his house for a bit.
Conrad says a lot of people do not know Monsoon used to own part of the WWWF. Bruce says that Monsoon, Vince Sr., Arnold Skaaland, and either Phil Zacko or Toots Mondt all owned a portion of Capital Wrestling, which was the parent company to the WWWF. Most people viewed it as Vince Sr.’s company. So Vincent Kennedy McMahon had to pay all of those people off in order to own it. Bruce says the payoff was after WrestleMania 1, Vince had to make this huge balloon payment to every single one of the partners. And if Vince missed a single one, the partners were able to take the company back in full. No questions asked. Bruce points out that history shows Vince was able to make the payment and restates that Monsoon was one of the owners.
Back to 1999, Conrad says again that the company was hotter than ever. Business Week ran a story that covered the phenomenal impact wrestling had on television. Conrad notes Seinfeld had just ran its last episode so NBC was falling off a bit. UPN was trying to make a big push and are doing well thanks to the new Smackdown show. Business Week wrote that the man responsible for the big rating was a man named “Stone Cold Steve Phillips.” He asks Bruce for his thoughts. Bruce jokes that Steve was over like a million bucks. He had this Phillip drop thing that he did. He later went on to captain a boat and take on Somali pirates. Conrad thinks they somehow merged Stone Cold Steve Austin and Stone Phillips into one person. They use this to do a plug for their shirts.
Conrad says WWE is taking some chances going into No Mercy because they ran a show at the Georgia Dome. He notes the WCW Nitro show that set all of the records (Goldberg vs Hogan). The show drew 33,375 fans for a huge gate of 861,000. Conrad says it is one of the top 10 largest crowds in the history of American pro wrestling and it is for a “f***ing Raw.” This is up there with WrestleMania 3 and the Royal Rumble in the Alamodome. (I’m not sure this information is entirely accurate. Every WrestleMania since 23 has been in a stadium and has never drawn less than 50,000 fans. Let alone the other WreslteManias like 6, 8, 17, 18, and 19 were all in stadiums. Perhaps he means indoor shows. But still, there is no way a crowd of 33,000 is in the top 10.)
Conrad asks Bruce what went into the decision to run the Georgia Dome. They hadn’t ran a show in Georgia for a while and Raw was doing well. So the opportunity presented itself. They cut the dome in half when they did the show. They didn’t go in thinking they were going to draw 70,000 people, but were realistically looking to draw 30,000. They were very happy with the outcome and going back to Atlanta. Conrad says that February they set an all-time Raw and Monday Night War attendance record when they ran the SkyDome in Toronto that drew 41,432. Conrad says that two Raws in 1999 drew 70,000 people.
At the Georgia Dome show, Billy Gunn worked with Crash Holly, Ivory was supposed to wrestle Mae Young, but Moolah attacked her. Edge & Christian wrestled the Hardy Boyz to a double count-out. X-Pac pins Farooq, Mark Henry has an appointment with a sex therapist named Dr. Andrea Early. Conrad asks if the name of the doctor is a rib on anyone in the back and where the name came from. Bruce says he has zero knowledge of where the name came from.
Conrad continues with the card, the Headbangers defeated Jericho and Mr. Hughes, which was when Jericho hit Hughes and walks out. Big Show finds out that his dad had inoperable cancer. Conrad says Meltzer wondered if this had something to do with Gorilla or Brian Hildebrand since they are using a cancer angle while people in wrestling had cancer. Godfather beat Mark Henry. Bossman comes out and teases Big Show about his dad. Big Show comes out, but Bossman lays him out with the nightstick. Al Snow comes out to make the save, but he gets laid out too. Conrad says Meltzer claims they are paying Big Show $950,000 a year for this spot on the card.
Conrad says Tommy Blacha was involved in a Big Show/Bossman storyline. Bruce says Tommy was supposed to be the one who was supposed to shoot the scene when Bossman came into Big Show’s father’s funeral. Blancha didn’t make it, so Bruce had to shoot it. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Connecticut, they set up a mock funeral with a guy in a Blue’s Brothers police car with a big speaker going around a cemetery saying (Bruce does this in a cartoon-like southern accent) “ha ha! Your dad is dead!” Bruce says take a look and examine the absurd of the segment and know at the time there were people paying respects to their loved ones all around that. Also, nobody told Big Show to jump on the casket and nobody told Bossman to speed out of the cemetery the way he did.
Conrad says on that Raw episode, Stone Cold and Jim Ross fought Triple H and Chyna. That sounds weird in hindsight. We saw Jarrett push Chyna off of a ramp inside of a laundry crate. Bruce says they were doing so many crazy things. A lot of this is on the heels of Russo leaving. Some of it had Russo involved, some of it didn’t. Bruce remembers the Austin/Triple H brawl. It was fabulous and they went all over the building. Bruce mentions a famous concession stand brawl in Mississippi. Conrad interrupts him and says he thinks he knows which one he’s talking about the one with Onita. There were several brawls, but this particular one had Eddie Gilbert and Ricky Morton on one side vs. Onita and a partner he can’t remember. Conrad asks Bruce if the brawl he was talking about had glass involved. Bruce said yes and Onita’s tag-team partner was Masa Fuchi.
Fuchi got hit over the head with a jar of mustard and a shard of glass went into his ear. He stood there screaming with glass in his ear. That was the concession stand brawl so many people tried to recreate over the years. And that was what they were trying to do with the Austin/Triple H brawl. Bruce says the brawl was great. It was around the same time Jarrett was saying women have a place in the home. So what better place to put Chyna than a laundry cart?
Conrad says this Raw isn’t done yet. Most famously, they have Rock and Mankind taking on the British Bulldog and Val Venis. He quotes Dave Meltzer’s writing saying “Rock put a platter of what was purportedly dog crap from bulldogs backstage that Mankind had scooped into a nice platter, brought it to the ring with Earl Hebner selling the smell big time. He gave Bulldog the Rock Bottom into the dog crap. Remember the remark Bret made in a column not long ago about a bulldog rolling around in s**t and being so stupid as to like it? Clearly that is where this idea came from.”
Conrad asks Bruce “who booked this s**t?” Bruce laughs. This is a Vince McMahon specialty. He does his Vince impression saying “there is poopy everywhere!”This is a Vince classic quote and goes back into his impression saying “there is nothing funnier than dog s**t. Dog s**t on a shoe and you gotta get a stick and get it off and it gets everywhere.” This draws a long sigh from Conrad. He then asks if this was “shoot s**t or working s**t.” Bruce says it was mainly Baby Ruth and “hundred thousand dollar bars,” grass, and corn.
Conrad says it is amazing they have someone making s**t when they could have just called X-Pac. Bruce said it was true and there was also real bulldog there making s**t. Conrad asks who was tasked with making the s**t and asked Bruce if it was Richie Posner. Bruce said it was Posner and Nick Dall who made it. Conrad asks Bruce what it would sound like if Posner was making the s**t and Vince McMahon was getting impatient. Bruce goes does his Vince impression saying “goddammit Richie! Are you done with the s**t yet? If you need me, I’ll make some right now for you goddammit! Hurry up!” They then speculate what it would be like from Posner’s perspective while trying to make the patties. (It was basically them making poop and corn in poop jokes. I didn’t find it very funny. I’m not above low brow humor. This just didn’t do anything for me.)
Conrad says that on Raw, Austin and Triple H are still fighting. Austin throws Triple H into a room with a rattlesnake and locks him in. Conrad asks Bruce who’s idea the snake was. He thinks originally it was either Hunter or Steve’s and Vince loved it. But then they had to get the rattlesnake, which was what he remembers the most about it, unfortunately. They did it live. They rehearsed the hell out of it. You had to have a glass barrier where the rattlesnake and Triple H were. They cleaned and everything the best the could for the glass panel and rehearsed it a hundred times so we wouldn’t see the reflection of the camera in the glass. It was perfect where it looked great and you couldn’t see the camera. Then they went live and you didn’t see the camera, but you see Triple H’s reflection of himself and he does his Vince impression again saying “GODDAMMIT YOU SEE THE REFLECTION! I THOUGHT WE REHEARSED IT!” Bruce said it was interesting to say the least.
Bruce says “yeah, let’s put a rattlesnake and let it loose in the locker room.” Conrad ask Bruce if he remembers any reactions from the boys about a real rattlesnake being in the locker room. Nobody wanted to be near it. The top of the glass wasn’t that high. The snake was contained and couldn’t get out. And it was trained to strike. So if it saw something it would strike. Every time they put Hunter in front of it, it would strike. Bruce feared it would go over the glass at some point. It didn’t, but the fear was there.
The snake bites Hunter in the storyline and Triple H shows up on Smackdown with a horrendous snake bite on his face. Conrad asks Bruce what he thought of the makeup that Hunter is wearing. Bruce thought it looked great (it seems like he’s joking). Conrad says it looked awful. Bruce says they were hoping it would look passable for television and it had to look like make-up so he could tear it off at the end. It was that prosthetic rubber stuff. Conrad says it looks like it was from party city. Bruce says it wasn’t from Party City because it was from “Snake-Bites-R-Us make-up.”
Conrad asks Bruce what Austin thinks of the make up since Austin is never short on opinions. Bruce laughs and says they all kinda went “ewwww.” It looked as good as Jillian’s mole years later. They hoped if they shot it a certain way the television audience wouldn’t realize how bad it was. This takes them to a plug for WWE 2k18.
Conrad quotes Meltzer saying A&E was working on a documentary on Owen Hart that would air in November. This is of course on the heels of Owen’s death. Conrad asks what the feeling was within the company on the documentary. He speculates this wouldn’t be something Vince would be excited about. It was too new and way too fresh. It was opening up old wounds.
Steve Austin on Nash Bridges. Conrad said Austin had recently filmed more episodes and they were going to air in October of 1999. He asks if Austin enjoyed it and how the opportunity came about. Bruce says it was a special character and was as close to “Stone Cold Steve Phillips…or Stone Cold Steve Austin” as you could get. So Steve liked it because it was a chance to essentially be Steve Austin on Nash Bridges. There was even talk at this time Steve would maybe get a spin-off series. But Steve wanted to focus on wrestling since he felt like he still had a lot left. Steve had a good time.
The best thing that came from this is Steve was in a trailer with Don Johnson. Don and Steve were friendly. Bruce said that while they were talking, one of the production assistants came in and told Don Johnson they would be ready for him in 5 minutes. Five minutes goes by and Don gets ready and is walking out to the set with Steve. The same production assistant says they aren’t ready yet and won’t be for another 15-20 minutes. Don looks at the assistant and says “Ah hell, don’t make me have to learn your name.” Bruce said he stole that phrase and has used it ever since because he thought it was funny. Conrad says “what a f**king a**hole.” That is an a**hole thing to say and says a lot about Bruce’s a**hole personality!
Bruce says Meltzer reported there was plans around this time for Triple H to drop the belt to Rock on a Raw, but Triple H complained loudly enough that the idea was nixed. He asks Bruce if he remembers this. Bruce says he doesn’t remember them wanting to change the title at that time. He chalks it up to rumor and innuendo.
Conrad says Meltzer also reported that ECW’s Miss Congeniality would be starting in about a month. She was trained by the Hardy Boyz and was a good bump taker. She would go on to become Lita. He asks Bruce his memories of this. He first saw Lita through Dory Funk at his Funkin’ Conservatory in Tampa. Dory sent some pictures in and told them she was going to be working with ECW, but they should check her out. They called her first and asked her what she was doing. She told them she was going to go in and do the ECW thing. They told her if she had already committed to that, then she should do that. Bruce called Paul Heyman and asked what he had planned. Paul said he didn’t have anything long-term planned. Then they found out she was friends with the Hardys.
Bruce said they saw her work and he and Jim Ross had a meeting with her. Since she spoke Spanish, had trained in Mexico, and was familiar with the lucha style, they had a guy they named Papi Chulo who couldn’t speak English they could package her with. He was Essa Rios in the WWF.
Conrad wants to talk about Tazz. Meltzer reported that Tazz vignettes would start in November to build up to a January debut. He had just finished up in ECW, dropping the belt. Meltzer wrote his biggest supporter in the company was Russo as there was those in the WWF who thought his height would be an issue since he doesn’t sell well and his gimmick was a bully/tough guy. Conrad asks Bruce if he remembers it being the case and how Tazz’s run would be different had Russo still been with the company. Bruce says Russo was definitely Tazz’s biggest supporter. Russo had made the move to bring him in, but Ross was also a big supporter of Tazz. He liked his amateur background.
Conrad asks Bruce his thoughts on Tazz when he came in. Conrad says nobody could have predicted Tazz’s career would be cut short and he would really make a name for himself in the WWE as a commentator. Bruce says he felt like Tazz had value. His promos were good and he had a unique look. Regardless of how tall he was, he could back it up in the ring. He had personality. He had something that made people forget he wasn’t as tall as the other guys. He made people believe in what he was doing because he believed in what he was doing.
The WWF brought in 76.2 million dollars between May 1st and August 1st (1999). Conrad says they are on track for another 250 million dollar fiscal year. Conrad asks Bruce if this is the best the business has been since he had joined the company. Bruce says yes. As far as exploding and the high dollar amounts, yes. It was great. Bruce says he was there during 87-88 and that was a great time, but the dollar amounts were just so much higher in 1999. Everything they were touching turned into gold.
Conrad asks if he remembers MSNBC’s show Heros and Legends and the show they did on Vince McMahon. Bruce remembers it vaguely. He said Vince never likes anything that anyone does on him. Part of Vince views himself in one way. Bruce acknowledges that many fans will call BS on this, but says Vince is actually very shy and humble. He doesn’t like to be the center of attention and he doesn’t like other people’s interpretation of him. Conrad says he hears what Bruce is saying, but at the same time, he has framed pictures of himself in his office. Bruce says Vince doesn’t decorate his office. Bruce does his Vince impression saying “GOD! LOOK AT MY GUNS! THEY ARE MASSIVE!” Bruce says yes, there is that part of him. But there is a part of him that likes to be seen the way he sees himself. Most people sees Vince completely different than he sees himself.
Check back soon for Part 2 of No Mercy 1999 and a review score.
IYH: Badd Blood 1997 follow up at 4:30
Jim Cornette at STW live how at 8:55
No Mercy 1999 U.K. at 14:50
Unforgiven 1999 recap at 23:58
Russo leaving at 25:20
Terry Taylor refusing to sign a non-compete clause at 30:05
Vince McMahon’s hurt feelings about Russo leaving at 37: 06
Gorilla Monsoon story at 49:40
Big Show’s father’s funeral at 1:01:08
Real rattlesnake used on Raw at 1:08:30
Lita starting with the WWF at 1:19:05
Tazz starting at 1:21:25
Denny Walker Crum has been watching wrestling for as far back as his memory will allow. He is a radio personality at a hip-hop radio station in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio. He has done stand-up comedy and starred in several independent, local films. Wrestling has always been his first love. He also performs as a wrestling manager for an Indy promotion based in Toledo. He most famously was body slammed onto thumbtacks and stinkfaced by Rikishi in the same night. Follow Denny on Instagram and Twitter @Dcrum26