The subject of this week’s episode of Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard is The Creation of and Early Days of Raw. Longtime fans will recall (usually not too positively) Rob Bartlett, who appeared on commentary during Raw’s earliest episodes.
Explaining that Vince was looking for someone “topical and funny,” Bruce provided insight on why Rob Bartlett did commentary on Raw:
“Rob was a comedian and a DJ in New York at the time, so New Yorkers knew who the hell Rob Bartlett was. He was all over New York, he was all over radio, he was all over television in New York and he was a pretty well-known comedian as well.
“So, Vince wanted to put someone, a fish out of water, in the commentating booth, in the play-by-play booth, to ask the questions, to be basically Conrad Thompson. (Someone) to look at it from a fan perspective, ask the questions that the people at home are wondering, and hopefully provide some humor to the broadcast.
“Rob is a great guy, funny as hell. He’s one of those people you sit and talk to. It’s like Casio Kid. You just laugh when you talk to him because he cracks you up. But then it went from having Rob be Rob to producing Rob, and I’m not a comedian. I can’t give a comedian jokes and write his stuff. I can tell him how to do wrestling stuff, but not funny ha-ha comedian stuff.
“Vince had met Rob and really liked him. So the fact that Vince knew Rob and had been around him and had interactions with him and the way that Rob was able to pick up the vibe. He’d done a charity event with him, Rob had really picked up the vibe of the room and just owned the room at the time. Vince fell in love with him and got to know him, so he didn’t look any further than that. It was ‘I’ve got the guy.’
“We didn’t want him to be a wrestling commentator, that was the thing. I think wrestling fans were looking for an analysis guy like Jesse Ventura or Bruno and they wanted their straight wrestling. We didn’t want that. We wanted the off-the-cuff silly questions and silly comments that he did. So I think everybody was pleased with his first outing.
“He was uncomfortable. This was the first time a lot of these guys were doing live television, so it was uncomfortable. It was a feeling out process that we hadn’t really gone through. We’d done a few run-throughs in the studio in Stamford to prepare, but other than that, they were just thrown in the fire.
“(In the end) it was taking it’s toll on Rob, as far as all of his different appearances and things that he had to be up late on Monday night. I don’t know that Rob was necessarily – nobody’s used to the abuse – but prepared for the type of abuse he would take from the wrestling community that didn’t appreciate his commentary.
“It’s funny when you talk about Rob, some of the other names that were considered – you mentioned Howard Stern and Imus. But even before Vince was like ‘I’ve got it, Rob Bartlett,’ you know, there was talk and it was only talk, it didn’t go any further than internally, of ‘What if we had Bob Costas on this show? What if we had Marv Albert?’ Because Vince was looking for that Howard Cosell character to be on this show.”
The episode covers not only the early episodes of Raw and the people associated with it, but also how the show’s name came to be, how it ended up in the Manhattan Center and much more. To check it out, visit Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard.
Check back here later in the week for my full recap of this episode.
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