Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: WWF Timeline 1990 w/ Bruce Prichard

The Warrior’s mega push, Slaughter turning Iraqi and the Undertaker’s debut are just a few of 1990’s hot WWF topics covered within

Hosted by Sean Oliver

Presented by Kayfabe Commentaries

Prichard was primarily a WWF TV producer at this point rather than being on the creative team.

Hogan and Richard Belzer settled their lawsuit from 1985 stemming from Hogan choking Belzer out while being asked to demonstrate a headlock on a talk show. Bruce supported Hogan protecting the business. It was a costly mistake though for Hogan.

The WWF was involved in a dispute with Viewers Choice over the PPV buys. The WWF took to the air to implore their fans to write Viewers Choice.

Raymond Rougeau was tired and wanted to have a real home life, so he retired after the Rumble PPV.

Sapphire was placed with Dusty to give him a softer edge and open him up to be more entertaining and less of a blood and guts warrior. Prichard worked a series of house shows as Brother Love messing with Rhodes during his feud with Randy Savage.

Sapphire was a super fan who Vince McMahon really fell in love with, thus why she was given a prominant spot. .

Brother Love was spawned from Prichard’s childhood. He was not a religious person, but he saw many church revivals growing up in the south. Sunday morning TV was nothing but church and Houston wrestling.

Bruce goes into a spiel about a local pastor who would ask you to give half of your savings to him with the promise that God would reward you with even more money, which you would then offer him half of again to repeat the blessings.

Prichard would do his religious character while joking around with Vince and others semi frequently. Bruce actually undersells how he pitched the gimmick to Vince here. On his podcast he indicated that he did a full dress up and stormed into Vince’s office during a meeting, screaming about “love” or whatever.

The “Brother Love” outfit made Prichard look so different while in character that he could still go to bars or whatever and not be recognized.

The WWF was always a babyface focused territory, so building to Hogan vs.the Ultimate Warrior was a natural fit.

Scott Hall had several tryouts before being hired on a few years later. He lacked charisma until the Razor Ramon character turned him around.

Big Bossman taped his introductory vignettes from the actual prison where he had once worked.

“The nicest guys usually make the best heels”

The Rockers showed up to TV covered in bruises after they got into a violent fight with one another. Spending all that time together meant that the guys would get on one another’s nerves at times.

Rumors at the time suggested Marty Jannetty would soon be turned heel. Marty was a little older than Shawn, and perceived as more ready to handle a push.

The WWF had pre-taped weeks of TV based around Mike Tyson coming to “The Main Event”. He then lost his boxing title to Buster Douglas which left the WWF having to scramble to replace him.

Mike Tyson and Don King backed out of the deal, the WWF did not request a change of plans.

Damien spent a lot of time in his bag, so he ended up ornery at times. Jake was bit twice in short order once, so they sent Damien back and replaced him with a garden hose. Damien was switched out for a new snake every few weeks.

Roddy Piper didn’t think he’d get heat for painting half his body black because he considered himself a minority. (Scottish.)

Bad News Brown took himself very seriously. Bruce tried to play around with him a little bit and Brown made sure Prichard understood he was not a joke.

The Ultimate Warrior appeared on the Arsenio Hall show, running in circles and knocking over all the furniture as the audience sat there stunned as most were not wrestling fans.

Vince did not like Tony Schiavone’s commentary style and was fine with him heading back to the WCW.

By Wrestlemania 6, Bruce was working right behind the curtains producing the show.

Greg Valentine hated his “Rhythm and Blues” gimmick, but the office was hoping the team would catch on.

Andre the Giant stopped working for the WWF in the ring after Mania 6. Andre was in pain and was becoming increasingly more grumpy backstage.

Randy Savage got a legal separation from Elizabeth to protect the business when they split on screen after Wrestlemania 5.

Warrior was the chosen one to attempt to replace Hogan as the top WWF star. Hogan was heading off for movies.

The over the top nature of the Warrior may have hurt his chances to draw as he cut wild promos that no one really understood. Hogan was more down to earth and had a persona that people could buy into.

“Titan Towers” was bought in April. The IBM building nearby was their first choice, where 4 different building would serve as a studio, training center, office building, warehouse, etc. Then the Titan Towers buildings came up for sale. They allowed for a more condensed location, so the WWF went that way.

Paul Heyman nearly came into the WWF in early May. Prichard pushed for him to be signed, and Bobby Heenan was a fan, but McMahon didn’t like him.

Curt Hennig was very loose backstage and kept everyone laughing.

Earthquake was a hell of an athlete for a 400-pound man. Vince was not sure if Quake could cut a promo, so he sent Bruce down to ask him for a sample. Earthquake then cut a fiery promo on Prichard, who happily alerted Vince. Quake was a quiet, respectful guy otherwise.

Terry Taylor wanted to be Ric Flair. McMahon was rubbed the wrong way by Taylor’s confidence and Vince compared him to a rooster who strutted around the barnyard. Prichard blames Taylor for not embracing the gimmick and instead moping around because he was given a crappy gimmick. Prichard swears the WWF would not invest TV time on a gimmick just to make fun of a guy.

They filmed a segment with Warrior and kids to try and soften his image, but he just couldn’t pull off the human element required for his position.

Crush debuted in June to replace Ax in Demolition. Crush was added because Ax was getting older and was having some health issues.

Prichard was able to ride town to town with Dusty Rhodes, and they had a ton of fun. Rhodes was just one of the boys. His WWF run netted him the biggest money of his career.

Dusty still thought of himself as a major talent, and would claim to outdraw Hogan while they worked on opposite WWF touring rosters.

Brutus Beefcake had his face crushed during a parasailing accident on July 4th. Beefcake was in the middle of a push where he may have been given the IC title soon after.

Hillbilly Jim hurt his neck and retired in early July. Jim ended up working behind the scenes for many years.

Coliseum Video’s parent company also sold porn.

Sgt. Slaughter returned in late July. His role as the American hero was already taken by Hogan, so a heel turn offered a fresh perspective on his gimmick.

The issues with Saddam Hussein were a timely event that presented the WWF with a chance to tell a story. Then an actual war broke out and the angle got real dicey from a mainstream perspective.

The Road Warriors finally signed in summer. Vince had been pursuing them for years. Demolition were formed to take their spot in 1987 after JCP won out in a bidding war. Bruce never saw the Demolition as a Road Warrior rip off due to several differences in the gimmicks. The Powers of Pain were a more direct rip off.

Kevin Von Erich was never heavily pursued, but Kerry had the looks Vince craved and World Class was dead, so the WWF was the perfect fit for him.

Kerry was easy to work with, but he did get messed up after the shows. It never affected his ring work. (Others would disagree with that one.)

Bruce jokingly defends Bad News Brown being given “Harlem Sewer rats” to combat with Damien the snake.

Tugboat was easy going. Tugboat was going to turn on Hogan and become anti-American to fight Hogan before Slaughter got his spot. Prichard shoots down the rumors that Tugboat’s ego was out of control at the time.

Jesse Ventura was super politically minded and he would debate others a lot on the issues of the day. This would drive Bruce nuts.

Piper replaced Ventura after Jesse and the WWF had a falling out. Piper was not able to capture the same magic he once had as a commentator. Piper had a ton of ideas for himself and was also tossed a lot of ideas from the office, it all blended poorly.

Sapphire being bought by Ted Dibiase is discussed by Sean and Bruce. The current climate of social justice warriors would destroy the WWF for trying a stunt like this, which could be implied to be racially motivated.

Sherri Martel had all the tools and she was loved by the office and the locker room. She had a natural crazy side, which no one could quite grasp at how much was her playing the gimmick and how much was Sherri.

Andre was supposed to teach the Ultimate Warrior how to slow down in the ring in 1989. Macho Man was given the same task in the later half of 1990.

Warrior was given a chance to film commercials for Slim Jim. He would spit them out when the camera stopped taping and loudly bitch about how terrible they tasted and how unhealthy they were. The Slim Jim execs were not impressed.

America was under the shadow of war with Iraq, so many public events were canceled out of fear of terrorism. The cost of extra security for big events would be immense, and that ultimately pushed the WWF to cancel their plans for running the Coliseum in Los Angeles for Mania 7. Bruce does admit ticket sales were slow prior to the change. .

The WBF was hated by everyone in the WWF except for Vince McMahon. Vince gave the WBF bodybuilders contracts that exceeded anything the wrestlers were promised. Vince even paid to have WBF vitamins and clothing lines to try and cash in on the concept.

Gen. Adnan was an actual childhood friend of Saddam Hussein. He got tremendous heat during this period of war.

Herb Abrams’ UWF got some TV clearances but the WWF was never really worried about their product.

Steve Austin and Hogan were the only 2 men that Vince ever felt bad about leaving the WWF fold.

Rick Martel’s model gimmick worked fantastically. They kept his promos short as he wasn’t a great talker, but he was great in the persona. The early outfits Martel wore were actually Vince’s suits that they retailored for Martel.

Warrior was rough while throwing Prichard around. Warrior was really intense, but that was no excuse as guys like Macho Man were intense too, but they never hurt you.

The WWF staged a food fight for Saturday Night’s Main Event with the talent in lederhosen and drinking from real German steins. Everything was rented, and after the taping was done the WWF ended up paying over $27,000 to replace it all..

McMahon and Bruce still text from time to time, but they don’t talk much.

Battle Kat was designed to be a “Mighty Mouse” gimmick, as Vince loved the show as a kid.

Rick Rude was injured, but the WWF still plugged him to headline a series of shows against the Bossman. Rude protested his name being used without him being paid for the houses, and ended up quitting over it.

Bruce is a natural smart ass, so his arguments with Vince could get testy. They spent 22 years together working to make the best show possible, but at the same time they could end some fights with “fuck you” and move on to other things.

The WWF canceled “C-shows” late in the year as they were not drawing anymore, and it made little sense to lose money in small towns.

House shows were still a huge part of the business, and TV was largely there to build up to them. Now the structure is much different.

Buddy Rose pitched the “Blow Away Diet” skit to Vince and Bruce at a Denny’s. They roared with laughter and went with it.

Bruce came up with the Undertaker concept. The Undertaker was designed to be as evil as Brother Love was “good and pure”. Love would manage him. WCW had a guy named “Mean” Mark Callous who Bruce thought had potential to be the guy for the role. He and Vince watched Callous work Lex Luger and the match sucked. It turned out that Callous was hurt and not at his best. Vince soured on him after seeing the match, but a meeting a few weeks later turned McMahon around. Vince then saw some graphic designs for what Callous might wear for the gimmick and McMahon dubbed him “the Undertaker”. His original name was going to be “Kane”, named after the biblical character who committed the first murder ever.

Brother Love was suppose to manage Taker in order to give Love more to do because Brother Love got so much heat. Bruce did not work house shows, and Vince decided that Taker needed a full time manager.  Bruce had to choose between being an office worker or being a talent. He chose the office spot.

Percy Pringle was a free agent. During his job interview with Vince it came out that Pringle was a real life mortician before he became a wrestler. This helped sell Vince on him getting the spot as Taker’s manager. His name “Paul Bearer” came from Road Warrior Hawk, who shouted out the name as an idea while he was sitting on the commode.

Vince was all in on the Gobbledy Gooker. He was going to serve as a mascot to entertain fans at house shows. Hector Guerrero was going to be given a spot as a wrestler when not in the costume.

Honky Tonk Man became a commentator for a little while. Having him and Piper sucking all the wind out of the booth- with Vince bloviating in between them as well – just did not work.

Jay Strongbow booked the jobbers. He had contacts around the country who either ran training centers or indy groups who gave Strongbow the bodies he needed.

The Mountie debuted late in the year. His gimmick caused him issues in Canada, where he was not allowed to be a “mountie” due to the negative aspects of his gimmick.

Final thoughts: This had a lot of interesting nuggets tossed out there, but you definitely get the feeling at times that Prichard is still using the mindset that he needs to tow the WWF line.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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