Something to Wrestle: An Interview with Bruce Prichard
Known to old school wrestling fans as the red-faced preacher of love, Brother Love, Bruce Prichard has spent the last 30 years engineering some of the most iconic moments in sports entertainment history (both in front of and behind the camera). When it comes to professional wrestling history, there is no better storyteller.
In August 2016, Prichard and co-host Conrad Thompson launched the podcast Something to Wrestle - quickly becoming one of the most downloaded audio shows in the world. Now, Bruce is set to bring the cult phenomenon to Australia for a series of live conversations. We phoned Brother Love himself to get a taste of what fans can expect from the show. So you're just about to touch down in Australia. Did you ever have a chance to visit during your time with WWE in the 90's? No, I’ve never been to Australia! it’s been on the bucket list of places I really had to visit, so I’m very excited. Something To Wrestle's second year anniversary is coming up - does it seem like it’s been that long since you first started? You know, it really doesn't. It’s flown by! You have to pinch yourself to realise this is real and it’s still going on. Were you nervous about how the show would be received, back when you started? I don’t know if 'nervous' would be the right word, but I think I felt a little trepidation because I had no idea what the response would be. Initially, being talked into the podcast, one of the things I was a little fearful of was that no one would care - that I wouldn’t have any listeners, or ones that would want to continue to listen.
Is there anyone or any subject you haven’t talked about yet that you’re looking forward to covering on the show? There’s a lot actually. I'd like to go back and dig into Eddie Guerrero and tell those stories. Some some of the more obscure ones might be a lot of fun. I know when we did the Houston Wrestling episode, Conrad knew nothing about it and didn’t think anyone would care, and it’s one of our most downloaded episodes ever. I have to ask - is there any chance we’ll see Brother Love on TV again? Well, never say never! Many years ago I would have said it would be very unlikely, but maybe for an odd appearance here or there. Not in any long term capacity, that’s for sure. Well obviously that might have something to do with your busy schedule working back in creative now with WWE. How does it feel being back, and have there been a lot changes since you left? Well there’s an awful lot of change in the way the company does business. WWE has grown so much in the last 10 years; it was really amazing walking in and just seeing all of the cosmetic changes in general. It’s probably ten times the company it was when I left a decade ago.
It's now a huge publicly traded company that runs like a well oiled machine. I had the opportunity to work with people who are not just department heads, but heads of their own divisions in the company. When I think back, for so many years it was just Vince, myself and Pat Patterson - everything funneled through us and when people came in, they had to meet with Vince and get approvals and we’d be right there. Now it’s just so big with so many moving parts. It’s really impressive... something I never imagined it would get to back in the day. Have you had an opportunity to visit NXT and check out any of the new talent just coming into the company? I haven’t been down to the WWE Performance Center yet, but I like Velveteen Dream and a lot of the fan favourites down there now. The guys who stand out really stand out! You definitely want to see a lot more of them, and to that end it’s a really cool deal. It’s nice to be able to create talent and have them at your disposal when you’re creating the next big thing. I know you have some great memorabilia in your collection. Do you have a favourite piece? And do you still have the original Brother Love clothes? All the original Brother Love clothes are gone from my collection now, but I still have my suit I wore for the 25 year anniversary of Raw. And I have the original 'Book of Love' I used all those years ago.
One of my favourite pieces I own though is a bronze of Maurice Tillet, The French Angel’s Death Mask - so I have his head in my office, that’s a pretty cool piece of memorabilia for sure. It’s the only one that exists in the world and a nice conversation piece. Speaking of memorabilia, what was it like seeing yourself as an action figure for the first time? For me it was a thrill beyond thrills! When it was coming out I was going out to get it from he store and I told my son ‘Hey I’m gonna go get my action figure” and he said “Oh that’s real cool Dad, can you get me a Ric Flair and Jeff Hardy instead? It just destroyed me (laughs). But that was a big kick, that was an “I made it” moment.
Seeing as you were his first manager, I have to ask you a few questions about the Undertaker. I was wondering what you would have done if Undertaker’s streak situation was in your hands? Me personally? I wouldn’t have ended it, but I understand why they did. It was shocking and any time you have the ability to shock the audience and make yourself less predictable, that’s better for the audience. I understand why they did it, but for my taste I wouldn’t have done it. I was disappointed he never had a match with Sting did Undertaker ever mention Sting? Well, I think people never really looked at that match until he dark version of Sting emerged in the late 1990’s. That Sting was intriguing, a dark and mysterious character people could relate to the Undertaker. But there was never an option for a match to go ahead, due to all the contract situations with Sting.
With Wrestlemania coming up, which one sticks out for you the most? For me it's Wrestlemania 5. Getting to work with Roddy Piper was a huge thrill for me, both personally and professionally, and then of course the gimmick Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 17.
Do you remember the last time you saw Roddy? Probably about 6 months before he passed. I was one of the last phone calls he made before he passed, and it hits you in the heart a little bit when you think, 'Holy cow, I missed that last phone call'. We were in regular contact and we spoke up until a day or two before he left us though. I saw the news about King Kong Bundy's passing recently. Do you have any memories of him you'd like to share with our readers? King Kong Bundy was absolutely hilarious! He was one of those guys who was always grumpy, and it was always funny when he was grumpy. He’d make a joke and complain about everything around him, so he was great to poke fun at. But he was a really good guy and just always had us laughing backstage to say the least. I know you didn’t get along with Ultimate Warrior during his time in the company. Did he have any redeeming qualities for you? Charisma out the wazoo! Unbelievable charisma. He was a huge draw, made an awful lot of money and just had charisma that was unmatched. It was oozing out of his pores. So as far as a performer and someone that could draw money, he could definitely do both - the human being and I never got along very well though. Did you see him at any conventions or anything in the later years of his life? No, actually the last time was the last WWE event he was at in the late 90’s. We had brought him back around Wrestlemania 12, and that was the last time I ever saw him. Did you still find him difficult to work with around that time? From my vantage point he never really changed, but you have to work with people you don’t agree with and you may not like personally all the time. That’s just part of the business - you make the best of it and move on. If Ted Turner had come to you back in the day and asked you to fix WCW's problems before it went under, what would you have done? Do you think it was saveable at all? Whoo boy! You know, they went so big so fast. It was a juggernaut, but they had too much talent with too much say. They definitely had a lot of people around feeding them ideas, but when you have ten people who have control over either their own or other people’s characters, that’s when it becomes dicey. They don’t necessarily have the overall product in mind. So that was the downfall and that’s why, throughout history in the wrestling business, wrestlers who were bosses never really worked that well. They either did one or the other, and that would be the best case scenario. Does that happen much these days? Do any of the talent get a say in their own creative? Oh sure, a lot of the talent have a say and are able to contribute - but it’s how they contribute and what they contribute. They don’t have the ultimate power to say 'yes' or 'no' to someone else's career, which was a big part of the problems in WCW. Okay, last question. If there was a Legends House 2 on the WWE Network, would you be interested? Holy cow (laughs)... I can barely live in my own house for 3 or 4 days at a time. Well let's say they made sure Tony Atlas didn’t show up again... There’s actually a few I would hope wouldn’t show up (laughs). I don’t know! I would say I’d be interested, but to get me over the line would take a lot of prodding!
Something To Wrestle with Bruce Prichard will be in Sydney on March 22, Melbourne on March 23 and Brisbane on March 24.
Tickets are available here.