This could be the biggest shoot interview that RFVIDEO has ever conducted as we were able to sit down with one of the most powerful men in the history of the wrestling business… Vince McMahon’s right hand man Bruce Prichard!!!
In a million years I never thought we would be able to sit down with one of the top 3 WWE executives of the last 50 years. If you know the business, you know there was Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson and Bruce Prichard. There were others like JJ Dillon and Jim Ross, but none of them made as much of an impact, dealt with more huge stars, or wielded as much power and influence behind the scenese as Bruce Prichard. Whether it was running and producing the TV tapings during the late 80’s and 90’s, heading the talent relations department and working closely with every major name in the company during his more than two decade long stay with the company, Bruce Prichard did it all. He was there for it all, and to use a popular phrase from the eeriely similar mafia world, Bruce “knows where the bodies are buried”…
Bruce Prichard’s relationship with Vince McMahon was well documented. Outside of Linda McMahon herself, no other person on the planet spent as much time with ‘the boss’ as Bruce. He rode the company jet, had daily meetings with Vince and Pat Patterson at the massive McMahon compound in Greenwich, and played a role in all the key decisions that went on daily inside the “machine” now known as “World Wrestling Entertainment”. Prichard was there for all the highs and lows, the controversies, the deaths, the drama and the debauchery that occured at Titan Tower and at Arenas all over the world. He was there during all the creative meetings whether it was booking TV, PPV’s, NBC Specials, house shows, the XFL and everything in between.
Prichard was a producer for some of the biggest storylines and angles that ever unfolded on WWE TV and worked with every big name and personality that came through the brass doors along the way. From Jesse Ventura to Jim Ross, JJ Dillon to Jerry Jarrett, Paul Heyman to Vince Russo, Jim Cornette, Michael Hayes, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Triple H, Mr. Perfect, Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Jake ‘the Snake’ Roberts, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Bobby Heenan, Gorilla Monsoon, Eric Bischoff, and everyone else along the way. Bruce Prichard lived through it all.
For the first time, Bruce Prichard sits down in front of the RF Video cameras and discusses it ALL. This near 7 hour interview gives you the inside scoop on every major story and we discuss every rumor, differentiate between fact and fiction and question Bruce about all the big names he encountered along the way. When a guy like Bruce Prichard sits down for his first shoot interview, you might expect him to sugarcoat some things or avoid some of the bigger controversies. but Bruce did just the opposite. He was open and honest, and took on every topic with the same passion and fearlessness he displayed when dealing with the biggest personalities in the most brutal industry on the planet.
Of course, Bruce Prichard’s WWE career came to an end a few years ago, but that wasn’t the end of his career in pro wrestling. After he left “New York”, he headed down south to TNA in an attempt to help build the company that many thought could one day compete with the WWE. Bruce took us behind the scenes at Total Non-stop Action and tells us what life is like working alongside Dixie Carter and friends and reveals just how dysfunctional things can be in a young company that so many want to see succeed. We learn about all the differences and similarities behind the scenes between the two companies and Bruce tells us just what went wrong down in Orlando (and on the road) as TNA struggles for credibility in a business dominated by Vince McMahon.
Talk about working for Paul Boesch
Did Boesch only run Houston, or was he responsible for any of the other outlying towns?
You went to Mid SOuth when Paul and Bill started working together
How was Bill Watts as a boss
Making the infamous Mid-South trips around the loop. As bad as advertised? – Or worse?
He did some TV announcing
How important was Paul Boesch in getting you into WWF and was there heat there for you going to WWF between you and Paul..Did Paul feel double crossed since he broke you in.
He did announcing for Paul
What are your memories of Boesch’s retirement show?
You left Watts with Joel Watts for WWF
How different was the political scene of the WWF locker room from Boech’s promotion when you started there?
You were initially working as an announcer. Was the idea that you would come in and announce at first or were you always going to be working backstage?
What were your first impressions of Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, Terry Garvin
Obviously the creative plans were laid out much more in advance during that era, how much of that information was passed down to the announcers and wrestlers of that time? How far in advance did the performers know where things were going.
1986 was one of Hulk Hogan’s hottest eras. How do you compare him in terms of performing and crowd reactions to Steve Austin and The Rock, who hit their peak a generation later.
Discuss your initial backstage responsibilities for WWF.
How was Vince McMahon’s relationship with the boys then in comparison to today? Was it easier to get Vince’s ear during that era?
Pat Patterson is credited with being one of the best finish-men in the business ever while Terry Garvin, because of the WWE scandals, if often ignored in WWE history – give us some insight into Garvin’s role backstage and whether he deserves the scorn he’s received.
Discuss the road agents of that era – Tony Garea, Rene Goulet, Arnold Skaaland and Jay Strongbow – what were they like and what did you learn from them.
Obviously there was a lot of wilder behavior among the wrestlers during that era. How much harder was it for management to keep guys in line, make sure they did their jobs, made the towns, etc.
Break down the weekly schedule of being on the road in the 1980s for backstage officials and compare it to the weekly schedule of a performer?
How hard was it for you to adjust to the crazy road schedule.
You were involved in what was pretty much the predecessor to today’s talent relations. How different were the early days of that side of the company.
Is it hard drawing the line between being one of the boys and being an official?
Today, WWE goes out of their way to help and assist past and current talents – do you think they should have done that earlier than they did or was it not their responsibility?
When did you first get involved with the creative side of the WWF/WWE?
How hard is it to time shows out and keep things running smoothly on TV and also at house shows, what are the differences between timing one out vs. the other
What was the most stressful moment when it came to timing out a live PPV or TV for WWF? Was there ever a moment where you were concerned they were going to go off the air before they had hit all their marks.
Give us insight into the political locker room scene of the time. You had Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage in that era, plus Ultimate Warrior and Ted DiBiase would soon come in. Andre the Giant, etc. How much politicking was done in that era, or was it whatever Vince said was the law. Were there guys who tried to get Vince’s ear? How much of his ear did Hogan have?
Any favorite Andre the Giant stories from the road.
Obviously, PPV became one of the centerpieces of the company with Wrestlemania 3. What are your memories of Mania 3, specifically the behind the scenes planning and production aspects of the event. Did WWF see PPV as thw game-changer it became?
In the late 1980s, the WWF vs. Jim Crockett Promotions war was a big story. What are your memories of the WWF side of the war? What moves did you see WWF taking to fight off Crockett? Did Vince want to put them out of business at the time?
What was Vince McMahon’s reaction to the territories going out of business at the time? Did he seem happy about it or was he more focused on his own business? He’s often villified for the death of the smaller, regional promotions – do you think it’s fair to judge him for that?
What did WWF do in the 80s to keep up with what was going on in the different territories at the time? Were they concerned with what was going on with the AWA, for instances, or were they only interested in talents that they wanted to hire?
Describe the process of getting someone you thought was going to be a worthwhile addition to WWF hired? What was the process like then vs. today where there are tryouts, etc.
Was there ever anyone you fought with WWF over to get them hired and then were told you made the right call? Was there ever anyone you regretted helping get into the company.
When did the Brother love character get developed? What was your first reaction to it?
Did you want to do an on-air role or were you more interested in a long term future behind the scenes?
Was the Brother Love character based off of Robert Tilton, Jimmy Swaggart, or just a mix of all those types of televangelists at the time?
Favorite memories of the Brother Love Show?
Memories of appearing at Wrestlemania V with Roddy Piper and Morton Downey Jr. Would you say that was the highlight of your run with the character? How did the deal come together for Piper to return to the company for that one night (he had been retired)? How did Downey get involved? Go into details on how the segment was put together and how it may have changed as it evolved?
How much did the backstage scene change when J.J. Dillon was hired and added to Vince McMahon’s circle.
It’s been said that one of the keys to success when working with Vince is to get him to think your idea is something that he came up with – how true is that? How often would Vince change his mind when it came to creative directions and ideas in the company.
Jim Cornette has talked about “The long and miserable Wednesdays” at McMahon’s house writing TV. What can you tell us about that.
For a time, Randy Savage was involved with the creative process in the early 1990s, how was he as a mind for the business? Were there any angles you can recall he brought to the table?
How much did the sex and steroid scandals hurt the company in the early 1990s? Were you surprised when Pat Patterson was accused? Were you surprised that Terry Garvin was? What was Vince McMahon’s defense strategy during this time period? Did he blame hulk Hogan for lying on Arsenio Hall and making everything worse.
WWF began their testing program as a result. Compare the creation of that drug testing program to what they were doing previously as they had tested for cocaine and other drugs. Was Vince simply trying to get the heat to go away or did he see this as a way the company had to go in order to survive.
Ric Flair came into WWF in the summer of 1991. Thoughts on his run there – did he success to the same level of success he had in the NWA/WCW? Was any of that due to WWF mishandling how he was presented? Was his program rushed with Hogan…How did the office view Flair during the 80’s was he someone they wanted to grab
The top three babyfaces in the late 80s into the early 1990s were Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior. Discuss how they each approached being champions and representatives for the company. Which was easiest and hardest to work with?
You were written off TV with an angle where Ultimate Warrior destroyed the Brother Love Show set. The rumor at the time was that you had personal issues and the company was letting you go because of them. What were the circumstances that led to your departure
How did you get involved with Global Wrestling in Texas? What was your outlook on the promotion when you got there? Did you expect you’d ever return to WWF? Were there any diamonds in the rough in the promotion at the time? Did you expect GWF could build something for themselves or was it a lost cause by the time you got there?
What led to your WWF return? What was the story behind the Wizard and Rio Rogers personas that you did briefly for WWF TV as announcers/
How had the WWF political scene changed during your time away.
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had been positioned as the top two titleholders during the time period of your return. How were they in comparison to top names that came before them? Which was easier to deal with?
What led to the creation of Monday Night Raw? Why did Vince go with such a small venue in NYC to run live weekly?
How had the steroid trial taken a toll on Vince personally and the creative side of WWF? What were your thoughts when Jerry Jarrett was brought in to oversee the company if Vince went to prison? Should someone else have been given that distinction? Patterson? Dillon?
How bad were the financial problems of the time? WWF obviously cut back on expenses, and at one point Vince told all the executives that he was cutting their pay in half? What are your memories of that era in terms of what it was like working day to day at Titan Tower and behind the scenes? Is it true they literally walked the water coolers out of the offices?
How did Vince change personally after going through the trial? JJ Dillon wrote in his book that it made Vince more arrogant. Do you think that’s a fair assesment?
How taxing was the schedule Vince put on the creative team? It’s been said you would get called on a weekend and be told to be at his house immediately – how do you balance your family time with the responsibilities of working for Vince McMahon?
Do you think he prefers to work everyone so hard as a way to keep control of them or is it a case of Vince being an overachiever and forcing it on everyone else?
Was there ever a moment where anyone told Vince he was working people too much?
Do you think Vince prefers those who challenge him or does he enjoy squashing those who do in the office? It’s been said that he tires of “Yes Men” but then those types have much longer careers in the business.
Do you consider yourself someone who challenged Vince? What was that instance like if you did?
What was the most intimidating you ever thought Vince was to you or someone else?
You were put with Undertaker for a short time when he debuted. What were your memories of the creation of the gimmick and of when he was first hired?
Were disappointed when they they replaced you with Paul Bearer for the role?
How has Undertaker evolved as a talent and a person during his time in the company? What do you think defines his legacy.
It’s said he’s one of the few talents that Vince will defer to out of respect. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
How many other talents have you seen Vince show that respect to over time?
WWF had you bring back the Brother Love character at different times over the years. Was that something you were open to or did you prefer to work backstage?
After you departed WWF, Jim Ross took your role in talent relations. Talk about the pressure of being in that role and how he handled it. There always seemed to be political battles with Ross – whether it was Vince trying to replace him, Kevin Dunn wanting someone else in the main announcer’s seat or Vince Russo writing angles that mocked him on TV. Why did Ross have that reaction from people? Was it fair to him?
Talk about the formation of the Kliq. As Nash, Hall, Michaels, Waltman and HHH formed their alliance, why did Vince allow them to have so much power over the political climate of the company? Why didn’t Vince just squash them and hold power over them instead? What was it about those 5 that specifically changed the makeup of WWF?
Who’s careers do you think suffered the most due to the power of the Kliq?
How did their power change the creative direction of the company?
Did they deserve the amount of power they had considering how badly the company was doing financially?
When Nash and Hall returned after the end of WCW, had they changed at all? Why were they not able to get the same political stroke?
How did your responsibilities change as Raw evolved and the Monday Night Wars began?
When was the first time that WCW going to Monday Nights was seen as a threat to Raw?
What was the first reaction from Vince McMahon when he heard about the show?
Do you think he and Eric Bischoff had any conversations during the height of the war?
Was it fair for Vince McMahon to be upset about talent being poached when he did it to the territories? If it was, why?
How bad did it bother Vince when Randy Savage left?
Why do you think Vince was never open to bringing Randy back?
Do you buy the Savage-Stephanie McMahon rumors?
How had the pressure to beat WCW changed Vince McMahon and the company as a whole?
What did Jim Cornette and Vince Russo each bring to the creative process?
Were you surprised to see Russo gain as much power as he did? Why do you think he was able to get Vince’s ear?
Why did Cornette and Kevin Dunn not get along?
Explain the week to week creative process once the company was in the midst of the Monday Night Wars? What were the differences between the 1980s glory era, the early 1990s when Raw went live and the Monday Night Wars era in terms of directions changing, trying to hire talent and keeping the company afloat?
How close was WWF to going out of business before they turned things around?
Was there ever a point you looked to leave, either to go to WCW or to get out of the business, because you thought WWF was going down?
Were you surprised to learn J.J. Dillon had resigned?
In his book, Dillon claims that Vince told the locker room that he was gone because he tried to extort money from Vince. Did you ever hear Vince claim that?
Do you think Dillon leaving hurt the WWF machine at the time?
When did you first learn of the plans to screw Bret Hart in Montreal? When you learned, were you for it or against it?
What would have been the effect if Bret had left without losing the WWF title?
What does it say about belts today when that same scenario would seem nowhere near as threatening to a wrestling promotion in 2013?
Describe the immediate fallout in the back. When did you find out Bret punched out Vince?
What do you say to people who believe that Bret and Vince had a huge work at the time?
Were you surprised when Hart returned to WWE to work the program with Vince?
Favorite memories of Owen Hart.
Would you say his death was the worst moment in wrestling history?
How much was WWF paying attention to ECW and WCW week to week at the time?
Why did WWF help ECW promote their initial PPV? What was in it for WWF?
What are your thoughts on Paul Heyman? How involved was he in working with WWF during the time period he was also running ECW?
It’s claimed that WWF paid Heyman a regular salary while others say it was a stipend for taking talent from ECW. What’s the truth and fiction there?
The rise of Steve Austin and The Rock helped turn WWF around. What was it about them that made it happen? Was there a specific moment where you knew the company was on better footing?
The ratings were an important part of the battle during the Monday Night Wars? Do you think fans still concern themselves too much with the ratings today?
How much scrutiny was put into the quarter hour and minute by minute breakdowns of the ratings when they were released? How often were plans changed during the Monday Night War era because of them?
Did WWF taking the lead in the war make Vince too arrogant?
Were you surprised when Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara left for WCW?
One of Russo’s complaints was that the workload had doubled with the addition of Smackdown as a series but the pay didn’t. Did you feel that was the same across the board?
Were you shocked at how bad WCW’s product got under Russo?
What was the WWE reaction to how bad WCW’s creative end turned?
What was your reaction when WWE bought WCW?
Memories of the final Nitro? (I think he was backstage)
Discuss the difficulties in turning WCW into its own promotion under the WWE ownership. Why did WCW fail to do so, yet WWE was able to make ECW into something that sold DVDs, had its own PPV, launched a new version of the company, etc. etc.
Why do you think Stephanie McMahon ended up in power and not Shane McMahon?
The WWE ratings declined after Stephanie took creative control. Do you think there was ever any consideration on Vince McMahon’s part to letting her go from that aspect of the company? Do you think she was insulated from failing because of who she was?
Explain HHH’s rise in power. What was it about him that allowed him to rise through the ranks to a position where no one else in the history of WWE was ever allowed to go,.
There are times people in interviews will say how much you are despised. Why do you think you have that reputation among some in the business? Do you think it’s fair that you are seen that way? What do you say to those critics.
Why did you leave the WWE
You took the high road and just said that you were fired “plain and simple,” but didn’t get into the details of why. So what were the circumstances behind your release by WWE in 2009?
Are the rumors true that you were “disgruntled,” and was the one who leaked a possible Undertaker/Wrestlemania XXV script out? (I believe it was the PWTorch that reported that.)
When did you forge a relationship with John Bradshaw Layfield? Was it in Global? Any Global stories in general?
What it was like working for Layfield Energy?
Was his Mamajuana Energy shot really “virility in a bottle” as advertised?
How did the gig opening for Mick Foley doing stand-up come to be? Any thoughts about getting back into doing it?
You had expressed interest in possibly joining TNA before you were hired, but how were you approached to join the company?
Initial Impressions of Dixie Carter
Taking over for Terry Taylor, as head of talent relations, and what you inherited.
Thoughts on the strongly negative feelings that many have of him.
Any thoughts on the situation between Jim Cornette and Taylor, that ended up with legal threats from TNA?
As your responsibilities increased with the company, what difficulties did you encounter? How much assistance were you afforded?
There’s always people saying one hand doesn’t know what the other one’s doing – which often resulted in money being squandered frivolously. What were the biggest frustrations you had as far as trying to get your goals accomplished.
How did you feel initially about the companies spending habits?
What were you most proud of accomplishing?
Issues dealing with established talent who were hired, but took the attitude that TNA was nothing more than a “vacation” between trying to get roles with WWE.
What are the biggest changes you would make in the organizational structure of the company if you had all of the power?
It seems to be an aberration that TNA gets over a million viewers every week, yet convinces such a tiny percentage of those viewers to buy the pay-per-views. What would could you do to rectify that? And, in reality, how long would it take to ratchet that number up to satisfactory levels?
Bobby Roode’s deal expired, seemingly with no one noticing. A few days later, Hulk Hogan also claimed his did. In addition, Rob Van Dam, DOC and Devon – while he was still TV champion – also had their deals expire. What happened?
How much support does the person dealing with contracts have, if any at all? And, what was the biggest misconception people have over your role in contract issues?
Any names that asked for their release that would come as a surprise? How many guys/girls asked, but were talked back down by you, or someone else?
Thoughts on how your own departure was handled. Thoughts on the press release, and Eric Bischoff, making it seem like it was your decision to leave to spend more time with your family and not a move related to cost/relocating to Nashville.
The budget cuts seemed to come down swiftly, and very hard. When did you have an inkling that things were going to get blown up? Did anyone? Considering angles seemed to not be taken into account.
Opinion of Big John Gaburick as the choice to replace him. Any memories of working with him in WWF/E?
Was there any push by anyone to bring back Jeff Jarrett during his exile? What was your opinion on the whole situation, and how it was handled?
Is it a wise idea for Viacom/SpikeTV to buy the company, much like they did with Bellator? What do you think the results would be?
Feelings on trying to tie-in Bellator fighters like Mo, Rampage, and Tito Ortiz (also Joe Warren on commentary) into the show.
Thoughts on releasing Jesse Sorensen, and the backlash that came from it.
The pros and cons of working with Eric Bischoff, Jason Hervey and Hulk Hogan.
Do you think they are working Dixie Carter and treating her like a money mark
Who came up with the idea for Gut Check? Did it work out at all according to the original plan?
Who were some people who came through that you believed should have been sent to OVW, and, conversely, was there anyone who made it that you didn’t care for? Anyone there were vehement arguments about?
What was the reaction backstage to Ric Flair going off-script with Alex Silva? And was your work improvising the end of that segment appreciated?
Working with Al Snow and Danny Davis.
Your brother Tom was approached to possibly join OVW as a trainer, but claims he never got a call back, nor was he given any definitive information on the job. What do you know about that scenario?
It seems the people who work with the women (Dutch, Lagana, etc.) all believe they can do some things with them, but they’re treated such an afterthought. Why is that, considering it had sparks of life at times, and was (by far) the better working group of the big two companies?
What was your, as well as the overall, opinion on Thea Trinidad? She seemed to have everything you could ask for today, in a non-work sense – attractive confident minority, with a real-life legit emotional story. Was it purely a financial decision to let her go? Was there any push by anyone to keep her?
Opinions on producer Keith Mitchell, and the criticisms leveled against him over the years, as far as making the same mistakes that were made (missing shots, etc.) with WCW? Is new blood needed?
Opinions on Dave Sahadi, Dave Lagana, and Matt Conway’s work. And what were the positives and negatives with working with them?
People seem to have strong thoughts on Lagana. Where do you believe those feelings come from?
Knowing both companies so well, who on the TNA roster could hold a place on the WWE roster? Who absolutely could not? Did anyone have delusions of grandeur of what they could accomplish somewhere else?
Whose idea was it to bring in Kenny King from ROH? Any reservations about the way it was handled, especially considering his feud with Rob Van Dam was incredibly underwhelming, in hindsight.
Who was responsible for the experiment of making all X-Division matches three-ways?
Are you aware Simon Dean once said in an interview that you are the only person in the wrestling business he’d like to knock out. What’s your reaction to hearing things like that?
What’s the future of the wrestling business?
Would you write an autobiography?
Do you see them ever putting you in the WWE Hall of Fame?
Would you welcome a return to the company?
What death hit you the hardest
Who are you still close with
Tell me something about Vince that nobody knows
Thoughts on WWE using smaller talent
What he wants to say to his fans which is a great speech and he directs this to many that might have had problems with him in the business too…Really unexpected answer here…