Guest Booker with Bruce Pritchard
Presented by Sean Oliver and the Kayfabe Commentaries crew
Bruce Pritchard has his hair slicked back and he’s wearing pink – perhaps an ode to his Brother Love persona.
Pritchard’s first sentence out of his mouth admits he won’t tell all he knows about the screw job so that he can perhaps get a WWF job again someday. So much for shooting.
Growing up in Texas, Bruce and his brother Tom watched the Funk’s Amarillo territory. They then moved to Houston. The move actually killed kayfabe for the youngsters as Grizzly Smith had broken his neck and retired in Amarillo and suddenly here he was working in Houston. Then Smith’s neck was “broken” again in Houston…with the same angle that was used in Amarillo.
Bruce also saw some AWA wrestling while on yearly vacations and he could tell the AWA looked different in the ring than his Texas wrasslin’
Pritchard started out in the business as a gopher for promoter Paul Boesch at age 10(!). He saw Boesch use ceramic statues to work out a finish with some wrestlers and that was how Bruce first saw how matches are created.
He worked as a ring boy, ring announcer, color commentator, assisted in booking and laying out the TV format among other duties.
It is implied Bruno Sammartino failed to draw well in Houston because his style was so much different than what the fans were used to.
Nick Bockwinkel came in as AWA champ and drew well.
Pritchard had to deliver the hard truth to guys when they had shit matches and whatnot.
Pat Patterson taught him that instead of bitching at guys or other bookers ideas, to propose an alternative to ease the other person’s ego.
The audience is the true judge of a booker’s idea.
The Bret and Owen Hart break up angle was the first major idea that Bruce was able to take credit for “creating”.
Pritchard does admit he stole the idea from Bruce Hart, who wanted to make himself the centerpiece of the idea.
Vince and Patterson were against the angle because “brothers don’t fight”. Bret liked the idea though. Once Bret was on board, suddenly Vince was all for it.
Bill Watts didn’t get along with Bruce because both of them are bull headed and egotistical. Watts was a bully, but was a great teacher.
When Bruce worked for TNA, he compared their structure to an online college vs. a major university (WWF).
TNA would panic at small rating dips and would book hot shot style to try and bump the ratings back up – this only hurt the long term picture.
Dixie Carter was given a spot that she wasn’t prepared for because the outside world has the idea that if you can run a business, you can run a wrestling circuit much the same way.
TNA was a fun place to work for, but the powers that be wouldn’t get out of the way.
Bruce was employed by the WWE for 22 years – much of that as part of the creative team.
Texas wrestling taught Bruce that wrasslin’ was blood and guts, so watching things like Mantaur being put on TV was a hard pill to swallow.
Vince would create characters to bring flare to average looking guys.
Bill Irwin really played hockey and liked the sport so Vince created the Goon for him.
Mike Shaw was a good worker and McMahon had this idea that he really wanted a wrestling monk, so Wrestlecrap was born in Friar Ferguson.
Bruce blames Shaw for not believing in the gimmick for it not getting over. Bastion Booger was not much of an upgrade for a second idea for poor Shaw.
Terry Taylor was a journeyman wrestler, solid but not spectacular in the ring. Giant ego. When Taylor met Vince, McMahon caught wind that Taylor was full of himself and decided to amp that part of him up into a gimmick. The Red Rooster was suppose to be a guy who thought he was hot shit and somehow this developed into a man who acted like an actual Rooster.
Bruce again blames Taylor for not going all in on the gimmick and Vince realized this and his push dissipated.
Bruce says Taylor is still remembered as The Rooster, so the idea must have been good. Sean points to Dusty Rhodes wearing Polka Dots and getting it over as a case of a “bad idea” getting over. Bruce denies that the polka dots were a poor choice and says Vince just wanted Dusty to be colorful.
Dusty saw himself as a bad ass, Vince saw him as an entertainer.
Pritchard took his ideas from everywhere in life. He reads a lot of serial killer books, watches the news and listens to his kids.
People are naturally egocentric, so asking people about themselves can bring out their stories and personalities and you can learn from them.
Bruce wrote ideas more so than word for word promos like we see in the current product.
Writers can only write what they know. Pritchard doesn’t mind outsiders coming in with new ideas, but takes exception when the writers try and recreate the wrestling structure.
CM Punk was an enigma, so Bruce took him into the stands and quizzed him on his tattoos, his non usage of drugs, his MMA moves, etc. and that finally opened up the writing crew to what he was all about and he could be pushed.
Vince likes to just “stick his dick in and cum” with stories sometimes, and other times he can romance the angle and make it a long passionate affair.
We head back to 1997 to set up our booking plan: For the sake of clarity, I’m going to italicize the fantasy booking portions.
It’s 1997 and WCW is kicking the WWF’s butt. Bret has just resigned to a 20-year deal for a big chunk of money. Hart wanted to slow down and suddenly that big contract sure felt like a drain on the company’s coffers.
Vince allowed Bret to talk to WCW.
“Reasonable creative control” is bullshit to be put into a wrestling contract since the company is paying you to do their wishes in the long run.
Steve Austin was going to win the title at Wrestlemania either way, so Bret losing the title was just a means to an end.
The WWF wanted Hart to stick around till the Royal Rumble originally to put Austin over one final time, but WCW wanted Hart for Starrcade, so Vince agreed to let Hart go when he wanted.
Shawn Michaels had declared he would not lose to anyone, so Bret wasn’t going to lose for him. Bruce believes that Shawn was just full of bluster and would have laid down for Bret had Vince told him to. (I don’t think I buy that.)
Mike Tyson was coming in at the Rumble and that was going to be Stone Cold’s national coming out party one way or another. No hot shotting was viable despite WCW’s dominance and the backstage chaos that the Kliq and Montreal caused.
Hart couldn’t have lost the title on RAW or a house show because Survivor Series was a major PPV and needed the Bret/Shawn dynamic to sell.
The “Wrestling with Shadows” documentary had a great climax thanks to the screw job occurring and it led to speculation that the whole thing was a work since Bret benefited by “not losing”, Shawn got his World title, Vince had the kick start to a great heel character and the doc got a great ending.
The Mr. McMahon gimmick was not on the horizon at all. Vince thought the fans saw him as a bombastic announcer and not as a millionaire who controlled all the happenings.
Pritchard was not in the inner circle that knew of the screw job. As far as he knew, Hart was winning by DQ.
Bruce was sitting by Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart (who were supposed to run in) and suddenly the bell rang. They were all very confused. Bulldog started screaming “They fooked Bret! They fooked Bret!!”
HHH, Shawn, Earl Hebner and Vince are the only guys who knew for sure the screw job was happening. Not even Pat Patterson knew.
Vince was at ringside as part of the story and Hart may have even been the one who suggested that crinkle in the story.
Shawn acted “shocked” even in the locker room. Pritchard left before Bret’s crew could come to the back room.
Vince, Shane, Bruce and other stooges watched Hart destroy things on a monitor.
Tony Garea, Jerry Brisco, Sgt. Slaughter, Shane McMahon and Bruce went in the locker room with Shawn , Bret and Vince. Bret swore like crazy and took a shower. When Vince was still there after his shower, Bret slugged Vince. It was quickly broken up.
Bruce thinks Vince took the shot because he knew he had it coming and owed Bret that much.
Vince and the stooges had to walk by Bret’s family. Some members spit on Bruce and the others as they passed by in the locker room.
The title is a prop, so the champions should do the job when asked because it’s all planned anyway.
Now we begin the booking segment of the shoot:
Steve Austin has to remain hot, Shawn needs to be heated up and Bret needs to remain relevant.
Austin works with Owen and Bulldog while simmering until Rumble.
Hulk Hogan was in serious talks to jump back to the WWF in late 1997 and a contract was offered for a similar deal that Bret received. Bruce speculates that Bret may have lost to Hogan and then the WWF would build to an Austin/Hogan match at Mania with Tyson as the ref.
Ultimately Hogan stayed with WCW for a ton of money and far fewer dates.
The WWF told Tyson to go all out in his struggle with Austin the night after the Royal Rumble. They wanted an air of realism and had the right guys in the ring to control Tyson from going too far.
The angle got over so hot that the WWF picked up more dates for Tyson to add to the angle.
The night after Survivor Series Hulk Hogan shows up and interrupts Shawn. He points out he’s the real legend and icon.
Bret faces Hogan at the Rumble. Hogan wins the title and joins DX. Tyson later joins DX because he was a childhood Hulkamaniac.
The original plan for Bret was to work Taker at Mania. Kane got the spot once they realized Hart was leaving.
Shawn’s back is shot, so Hogan has to be hot shotted into the top heel role.
DX turns on Hogan the night after Mania and returns to the red and yellow in 6 months.
DX dumps Shawn as well so he can retire.
Hogan is a businessman, so Bruce is convinced that Hogan would agree with the scenario laid out.
Taker beats Hart at Mania and then Hart can either go to WCW or start working with Austin, HHH, etc.
I went in expecting to hate this, as Montreal is an over exposed topic and I was leery as to what Bruce Pritchard was going to be able to offer for “inside” info. He proved to be an engaging speaker and offered many interesting tidbits. The actual booking portion was thankfully short as those tend to be the worst part of this series, ironically enough.