Bruce Prichard has spent decades both in front of and behind the cameras of professional wrestling’s greatest empire. He helped create and perpetuate most of the WWF/E’s most iconic moments throughout the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s producing their shows, storylines, and characters as owner Vince McMahon’s “right-hand man”. His unprecedented success and insight in the wrestling business makes him an ideal host of one of the planet’s most popular wrestling podcasts Something To Wrestle with Bruce Prichard, and he’s finally bringing a live solo show to Australia so fans can pry the mind of one of wrestling’s most successful and respected behind-the-scenes guys (or lay the boot in about some of the most controversial or unsuccessful ideas from wrestling’s most profitable and recognized eras).
Wall of Sound: G’day Bruce! From where are you speaking with us today?
Bruce Prichard: I’m in Texas on a nice, icy cold day here.
WoS: Well it should be plenty warm when you’re down here in March! Is it also true your upcoming tour here is your first ever time visiting down under?
BP: That’s true! I don’t know if I’m more excited for the shows, or just getting to visit Australia the country. That’s a big one to check off my list, I’m really excited to be making it down there.
WoS: And what’s impeded you from getting here so far after so long with a big, constantly touring international company like World Wrestling Entertainment?
BP: I didn’t really get to do it during that time, and it just was one of those that slipped by me.
WoS: It’s only fitting then that we talk about some Australian wrestlers. Has anyone brought Nathan Jones up with you yet?
BP: No, they sure haven’t! Nathan was one of those big guys that had come over and was working in California, trying to do movies and things of that nature.
WoS: Did you have a hand bringing him in?
BP: Yes, I did know Nathan and worked with him while we was here. He just eventually got home sick and wanted to go back down under. Nothing wrong with that. He was homesick, and travelling wasn’t for him.
WoS: Well there’s certainly a history of wrestling down here, as you well know.
BP: Well y’know it’s funny, the Australian wrestling scene with Jim Barnett way back in the (60’s) with television in its infancy. So much of what you see today really got its start in Australia. That’s where Jim Barnett had a promotion, secured TV down there, and guys like Mark Lewin, Gerry Brisco, King Curtis Iaukea, were just mega stars there. Jim Barnett was the promoter and owner, and understood the importance of television. He took that same model back here and that’s what the super station WTBS and the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) was based on.
WoS: Your knowledge outshines mine, and I’m a local! Amazing. Hey, did you get a call from (brand new wrestling promotion) All Elite Wrestling for a job in the last few weeks?
BP: I did not! I think that they’re interested in doing their own thing, and they have their list of guys they want to work with. I understand it, they’re doing what they want to do, more power to them, and I hope they’re very successful.
WoS: Same here. It seems like with the online content, podcasts, and new promotions coming up, it’s never been a better time to be a wrestling fan. Would you agree?
BP: Yeah, I think there’s a certain demographic of fan that remembers and cherishes those olden days, and they want to go back and relive what they loved as kids or young adults. That’s what I’m able to do; go back and tap into what was happening behind the scenes during some of the favourite times of your lives, and the other side of something you may not have known about.
WoS: It’s great that as adults we’ve got such great ways to get more intellectually invested in something we enjoy. Although for you it must get tiring with some hardcore fans who look back on most things with 20/20 hindsight, or only serve to point out what you could have done better.
BP: Oh, there’s times where people that when they do that, they don’t take in to consideration dealing with any of the personalities involved and all the outside influence you have to deal with, or what’s happening in the world at the time all around you. There’s just different eras that required different thinking, and the human being behind every character. A lot of the times people only see the character on TV and think “Wouldn’t it be great if he/ she could do this?”, but maybe they – as a person – just couldn’t do that! That’s a frustration sometimes; “Why didn’t you book that old face this way?”, well it’s because we tried it backstage and it didn’t work! You can go repeat what someone else has done, or you can create something new. We’d always try to create something new.
WoS: Hey, we are a music website, and music’s always been such a huge part of professional wrestling. Do you have any favourite entrance/ theme music in wrestling?
BP: So I think when you look at entrance music, it has to fit the talent, and as far as doing that I always think of the Ultimate Warrior and that frenetic pace that was set there. It fit the character, and having that identifiable music was key in getting people over. The Nation Of Domination that was so distinct, and Stone Cold Steve Austin I don’t think there’s anything that would get a crowd off their ass like that glass breaking. It just was incredible. That’s as big a part of someone’s identity as what they wear in the ring.
WoS: I always loved Val Venis’ theme.
BP: Definitely! It’s kind of like when you hear Back In Black, those first chk chk chk… people know what’s coming. It’s goin’ man, and you’re ready to go! Same with Val’s “Hello Ladies!”, it all worked. Vince’s No Chance In Hell theme is another one in the same vein of theme that people identified immediately.
WoS: Did you have any say in what the themes were, or was that all left to Jim Johnston?
BP: Especially in the 90’s and late 80’s, Jim would always bring the themes over to Vince, usually Vince, me, and Pat (Patterson), and Vince would yay or nay them. I could be a harsh music critic at times, because there was a period where everything Jim brought over sounded like Bam Bam Bigelow’s theme music, because Vince loved the saxophone thing. Anyway to me everything sounded like Bam Bam’s theme music, so that was a frustrating thing to hear (laughs). I had trouble expressing myself in any way except saying “That sucks”, and for a creative guy or musician that’s just the worst feedback you can get; “Yeah, it sucks. I don’t like it. Get me something else.”
WoS: Jim is a notoriously private guy. Is he just an introverted character, or does he dislike the spotlight like so many strange creative cats out there?
BP: He’s quiet, he was a strange creative cat. That’s a good way to describe him. But he was quiet and always kept to himself, and I think also he was a workaholic. He got his relaxation in the studio, and when he was in there creating, he loved to go in and tinker in the studio. He had an incredible work ethic, he was always there, plus it was his release more than anything.
WoS: Definitely! And your brothers are both guitarists, right?
BP: I’ve got two brothers that both play the guitar and were in bands, but nothing major. They’ve played guitar since they were teenagers. They did the music thing and my brother Tom and I did the wrestling thing.
WoS: Do you have any musical bones in your body?
BP: Zero. I’m a damn good singer though, I’ll tell you that! I’ll be doing some singing in the upcoming shows there. I can promise at least two songs!
WoS: Like a full variety show! Hey you’re a wrestling fan as much as, if not more than, the rest of us. Who’s your top of the pile for the next few years in WWE?
BP: I still look at a guy like AJ Styles and it amazes me where he is, because AJ is just one of those talents that I love to watch him work. So AJ’s at the top of the list. I find myself kind of leaning toward the Smackdown brand, but there’s so many… I just love wrestling! And I get upset when people who claim to love it, their only interaction is to knock the product. If you love wrestling, watch it, enjoy it, and be a part of it! If you hate it so much, then you can vote by not watching it. I used to vote by enjoying it, and I enjoy all forms.
WoS: Absolutely. There’s never been this much wrestling that’s this good ever in history! You obviously get a lot of impassioned and dedicated fans at your shows. Do you ever get fully grown adults who aren’t smartened up?
BP: Well, I think there’s the ability when you’re watching the product, to get lost and suspend your disbelief, and have fun! When people go to a scary movie, they know what they’re watching isn’t real, it’s a movie! But they’re still scared, and they can relate to it. I think that’s what the (wrestling) business is. For people it’s a release to be able to go out and enjoy what they’re watching, and cheer and boo, and have fun! That’s what love about the business.
WoS: Before we go, and pertaining to one of the other podcasts your co-host Conrad Thompson is also a part of; do you think you get off easier than (WCW executive producer/ president) Eric Bischoff in retrospect, seeing as the WWF won the Monday night wars against WCW in the 90’s?
BP: Without a doubt! But here’s the thing about Eric. With him doing what he did in WCW, there wouldn’t have been the Monday Night Wars, and I don’t think the WWF/E at the time, we would’ve gotten off our ass the way we did to combat them. So I applaud what Eric did, and Eric was able to kick our ass in the ratings for 83 weeks, and made us get better. Without him having the balls to go out and do what he did that people told him he shouldn’t and couldn’t do, I don’t know where we’d all be today. I applaud him for that.
WoS: Thanks so much for chatting, and giving us fans the opportunity to really sink our teeth into the business we love so much.
BP: Thank you, Todd. I look forward to seeing you at the shows.
Interview by Todd Gingell
Bruce Prichard: Something To Wrestle With LIVE
Friday 22nd SYDNEY, Factory Theatre
Saturday 23rd MELBOURNE, The Thornbury Theatre
Sunday 24th BRISBANE, The Triffid