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RECAP AND REVIEW: Something to Wrestle – Brother Love on why Vince McMahon originally didn’t want him to play the role, who influenced the character, other talent who were considered for the gimmick, the legend who hated working with him, the idea he pitched for Ultimate Warrior’s return (Ep. 100)

Something to Wrestle – Episode 100: Brother Love

Release Date: May 11, 2018

Recap By: Pradeep Kachhala

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

Preamble

  • Big Boss Man episode – mixed feedback from listeners, so at least they are being honest.
  • The controversy on the Dave Meltzer (DM) comment – Bruce said that DM likes to complain and he reiterated the blading story from last week. Bruce wondered how DM feels now that an accusation is being made about him. The DM and Bruce feud has become a little tiresome. The story is very much rumor and innuendo that DM was involved at all so Bruce changed his tune somewhat from last week.
  • Bruce called DM a “gossip monger.”
  • Conrad mentioned the Million Dollar Man episode on the network; folks if you have heard the podcast version, the network version did not add anything new.
  • Conrad does say that they have some old footage of Bruce going over the Million Dollar Man segment scenes, next network episode will be Roddy Piper.
  • The pair congratulated each other for getting to 100 episodes. They have had quite a run.
  • Royal Rumble 1992 will be a bonus show.

Background

  • Bruce came over to WWE in 1987 to work behind the scenes publishing the television and by 1988 all the WWE TV syndication.
  • In 1988 he moved to the creative areas working with Pat and McMahon and he eventually pitched the Brother Love idea.
  • Bruce’s motivation for Brother Love was the tent revivals where the evangelists would present. Bruce would watch as a child behind the tent and was mesmerised by how these evangelists could captivate an audience.
  • Bruce wasn’t a huge fan of organized religion. Jimmy Swaggart was one of these top evangelists back in the day; Bruce also mentioned Jim Baker and Robert Titlton. It was Tilton who became the main inspiration for Brother Love.

  • Tilton was the most entertaining evangelist in Bruce’s opinion.
  • Bruce was working mid-south with Eddie Gilbert and stayed at a Comfort Inn, where on Sunday nights the only show on TV were the evangelists. Bruce and Eddie would take notes for promos.
  • Bruce was fascinated as to how the poor would pledge to these evangelists because they had so much faith in them.
  • Bruce would travel with McMahon and Pat and they would go into their evangelists’ character. From here Bruce did a “what if?” with McMahon regarding the Brother Love character.
  • Bruce said it was difficult pitching his own character as it may come across as selfish. McMahon originally wanted someone else to do the Brother Love character; Bruce didn’t have the “face” for it.
  • Bruce already had the look of Brother Love in his head (the hair, jewelry and glasses). Bruce waited and pitched himself as Brother Love again. McMahon rejected it and this annoyed Bruce.
  • Pat and Alfred Hayes and Heenan, Savage and DiBiase were pitched the idea after McMahon originally rejected it. Heenan and Savage were supportive of it; Pat didn’t see Bruce doing the character.
  • There were no other suggestions for anyone else to play the character.
  • Bruce decided he would show McMahon he could do the idea and put on the full Brother Love garb.
  • Bruce walked in to McMahon’s office as Brother Love. Bruce was wearing just the hair slicked back and glasses, no white suit or paint.
  • Bruce went into a sermon in the middle of Vince’s meeting. Bruce replaced religion with love.
  • Bruce walked right out of the meeting after the promo and back to his own offices. McMahon left a message to call him back. McMahon agreed to take a look at the Brother Love character on camera.
  • McMahon agreed to produce the segment and told Bruce to wear makeup. Upon watching the promo after on camera, Bruce realised that Vince told the makeup lady to put Bruce in red make-up.
  • Bruce thought the makeup made Brother Love look like even more of a phony.
  • McMahon gave Brother Love an allowance to have expensive custom made suits. Bruce saw an evangelist with a white suit on TV and went with the idea.
  • Pat saw the character for the first time in full regalia at television. Pat supported it and was on board. McMahon worked on the nuances and detail of the character.

The Show

  • Originally Brother Love had a pink shirt with a white suit ad white tie.
  • Makeup for the red face would take 20 minutes and was applied by someone else.
  • The Brother Love show set was meant to be simple and was put together by the WWE head of production, there was no creative service in those days.
  • McMahon called a meeting with all the talent to come to the arena for a rehearsal and Bruce was instructed to do a full skit (with make up on) in front of the wrestlers. McMahon even mentioned to Don Muraco that this would have been a perfect gimmick for him. Bruce was terrified.
  • McMahon asked him to repeat the segment over and over again. DiBiase was then filmed to his part of the segment as Brother Loves’ benefactor. Heenan and DiBiase’s endorsement was to get Brother Love over as a heel.
  • Slick was a real life preacher, and wasn’t willing to work with Brother Love – he felt it was sacrilegious. McMahon had a chat with him and the problem was solved.
  • Bruce viewed Brother Love as a conman, based on preachers who presented themselves as something far from their reality.
  • Brother Love show was on Wrestling Challenge, because McMahon wanted it as a proving ground rather than on Superstars of Wrestling which was seen as the A show.
  • Bruce enjoyed working with Jake Roberts as his promos were always riveting and there wasn’t a lot of prep needed. Bruce also liked working with Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage in the early days.

  • Hogan was on sabbatical when the show debuted. Hogan said when he saw Bruce on TV he said he hated it because Brother Love got so much heat and therefore he didn’t know how to work with it.
  • Andre the Giant didn’t like working with Brother Love. He couldn’t make the differentiation between Bruce and BL. Andre didn’t talk to Bruce when he was in Brother Love gimmick.
  • Prior to Summerslam ’88, Andre was scheduled to be on the Brother Love show. Bruce spoke to McMahon about Andre’s issues with BL. McMahon set up a meeting with Andre and Bruce (wearing the Brother Love suit without makeup). Andre just couldn’t understand the Brother Love character; Andre liked Bruce but not Bruce.
  • Hogan also enjoyed working with Brother Love once their first segment got underway despite Hogan’s earlier hesitation.
  • Summerslam 1988 – the 3rd PPV where the Brother Love Show was supposed to host Jessica Hahn (part of a televangelist scandal with Jim Baker). This fell through, the next idea was to debut Ric Flair. McMahon eventually realized that Flair wasn’t going to do the deal so the WWE were left without a guest. Eventually they slotted Hacksaw Jim Duggan into the segment.
  • The Summerslam 1988 Brother Love segment was Bruce’s first ever live performance. The segment also got special light treatment which was rare in those days.
  • The Brother Love Show was eventually bumped up onto Superstars of Wrestling. McMahon trusted Bruce with the character more; the segments also became more long winded.

Memorable segments

  • The Show also was now being used to set up angles, like Bossman and Hogan (see previous podcast).
  • Hogan was always going to be the 1st wrestler to put his hands on BL. This was built up over a period to a culmination at Saturday Night’s Main Event. Bruce thought this was the pinnacle for the character.  
  • WrestleMania 5 Brother Love was on a special Piper’s Pit segment. Jessica Hahn was again discussed for the segment. Eventually the Brother Love show was cancelled for WM5, instead McMahon opted for a Piper’s Pit with Morton Downey Junior and BL. Bruce was then instructed to do a dry run with Piper to see how they worked together.
  • The underwear and diaper that Brother Love had to wear was chosen by Jimmy Hart.
  • The WM5 segment between Piper and Morton Downey went completely off script and didn’t really work in Bruce’s opinion.
  • The Hogan and Earthquake segment – Bruce believed that this segment made Earthquake’s career.
  • Jake and Rick Martel “blinding with arrogance” segment – Martel was limited in his promos so Brother Love was there to help the segment get over. During the feud Brother Love took the DDT, Bruce thought that it was an easy bump to take if you listened to Jake.
  • Ultimate Warrior and Sherri skit – Warrior putting Brother Love in a dress, although Bruce didn’t like working with Warrior he thought it was a memorable skit even though Bruce felt that Warrior rushed it.

  • When Warrior came back in 1996, Bruce pitched an idea to be a fan in the arena as Warrior spoke about “destrucity” and getting into shape. Warrior would choose the Bruce character and once he got into shape he would reveal himself as Brother Love and Undertaker could turn back heel as revenge for running Brother Love out of WWE in 1991.
  • The Bushwhackers and feeding Brother Love sardines – this was a McMahon idea. The Bushwhackers got the sardines everywhere and when Bruce returned to Gorilla everyone was laughing at him. Bruce shook his hair violently and got the sardines over everybody including Andre. McMahon realized that one of the segments had to be reshot and BL’s suit had to be cleaned again.  
  • Bruce told a good story where Bad News choked Tunney to an extent where Tunney nearly passed out.
  • Brother Love also introduced LOD to the WWE. Prior to this segment Bruce had just had root canal and was in a lot of pain. Bruce was on a lot of pain pills that day, and the LOD had to hold Brother Love up by their spikes.
  • Bruce spoke about riding with Dusty and the unhealthy meals they would eat, such as looking for a hot dog stand that didn’t exist.
  • Brother Love also worked house shows as a referee as a way to get Brother Love more exposure. Bruce recalled working with the newly face turned, Hart Foundation and the Rougeau Brothers. Bruce said it allowed him to do something different other than the talk show segment.
  • Main eventing on a house show with Hogan – this was done on short notice due to the poor house show gates. Brother Love cut a promo to market the event and the show sold out. They repeated this around the country and did great business.
  • Bruce found Dino Bravo and Frenchy Martin a chore to work with.
  • Ron Bass’s promos didn’t work either, even though prior to WWE his promos were very good; Bruce thinks he got stage fright.
  • Working with Zeus was a challenge. – Brother Love was tasked with getting Zeus and the move No Holds Bared over. Zeus didn’t understand the wrestling business at all as he was a Hollywood character.
  • Summerslam 1991 – Sgt Slaughter was coming back as a heel and people needed convincing. To get him over as a heel he presented an American award to BL. Brother Love got into a lot of trouble for praising Sadaam Hussein.
  • Healing a blind fan in a wheel chair – some people believe this is why Bruce got fired. The whole segment was impromptu as a dare from McMahon. It wasn’t meant for TV and was simply to fill time at a house show. This wasn’t why Bruce was fired though.
  • Bruce had a choice to work with Undertaker or remain in his backstage role and Bruce chose the latter. He often wonders what would have happened had he chosen the former. He believes that he would have ended up annoying somebody anyway.
  • The Ultimate Warrior was the last segment and the Brother Love show was making room for the Funeral Parlour. Bruce mentioned the problems he had working with the Warrior. Bruce said that the Warrior injured him and thought that Warrior was a bit of a bully.
  • On Bruce’s return there was no mention of bringing Brother Love back.
  • In 1993 Brother Love was brought back as a one off, Bret Hart was having trouble delivering promos.
  • Reo Rogers was also mentioned as an idea of Jerry Jarrett’s. His commentary was so bad that McMahon brought in Lawler as a commentator.
  • Brother Love 1995 return didn’t last long and was an introduction to the million dollar belt and Steve Austin.
  • Brother Love also managed the Headbangers when they were known as the flying nuns.
  • Next Brother Love appearance was WM 17 at the gimmick battle royal. Bruce did not want to be in the gimmick battle royal.
  • Next Brother Love appearance is with the Undertaker when Brother Love comes out of a box along with working with Zach Gowan.  
  • Bruce said he enjoyed his time as Brother Love and was an extension of Bruce.
  • Bruce points to the fact that prior to the podcast most people knew Bruce as BL.

Answers to questions

  • Only the Red Rooster declined the WM17 gimmick battle royal.
  • Brother Love never turned down as storyline.
  • Some fans did try and come over the railings for Brother Love when he first started.
  • Brother Love didn’t get hate mail from televangelists but did get a lot from another people.
  • The weight comments about Brother Love from McMahon were planned by BL.
  • Most embarrassing moment were BL’s pants splitting during a match.
  • The Brother Love music played throughout the segments because it sounded different.
  • There was never a face turn consideration for the Brother Love character.
  • Amanda Ultimate Warrior was a fan out of the audience.
  • Never any serious planning about Muraco playing BL.

Overall thoughts

  • Good show which didn’t lose pace by going off tangent or excessive detail.
  • Some really good insights particularly in the formation of the character.
  • Definitely worth a listen, some great nostalgia moments – Brother Love show was a key part of driving storylines from 1988-1991 and never overstayed its welcome.

 

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