Something ELSE to Wrestle? Nothing to worry about, it seems. All your fears that suddenly the successful podcast rife with swearing, drinking, drug references and chocolate titties would become a PG pillow fight can be put to rest. Lets see how Roll Tide WWE's latest Network series is.
Hello and welcome, you've landed on Planet Kayfabe, I'm K.C. and these are my thoughts on the premier of "Something Else to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard" on the WWE Network.
Before I get into the show, I will address those who may follow me on Twitter who think I'm flip-flopping. During Raw after a commercial for this very program I sent out the following tweet:
I have my doubts that Bruce Prichard of all people will "say the things they don't want us to say" on the same Network that got rid of Steve Austin's podcast because he said things they didn't want him saying despite his show being their highest rated non-PPV original program.
To fans of the show, it may sound like I'm "hating" but I think my point is fair. Let me also say this, I've listened to every episode of "Something to Wrestle w/ Bruce Prichard" co-hosted by Conrad Thompson who knows his shit (which I will also get into). I still listen to it every week the day it drops on Friday; however, this is the same company that micromanages everything to the point where people get bitched at backstage if they use a word like "strap". Are they really going to let someone "go there" on their network if they don't want them to? Steve Austin "went there" and the rumor and innuendo was that he got heat despite his podcast being very successful. The WWE's favorite way to promote things like this is by saying it's "controversial" and they're not just going to press all the hot button topics but smash them.
Like "Bring It To The Table" which was nothing more than a corporate infomercial that spent half the time burying the hardcore fans... ya know, the fans who are buying this f***ing network every month, those fans. The fans who need to be talked down to like children simply because they don't accept Roman Reigns as their hero. Man, f***ing get over it. They act like he's the first guy to not get over as a babyface. More recently they gave Corey Graves a show. Again promoted as a hot tell-all SHOOT when in reality his first interview with Roman Reigns was a scripted tickle fest at best and straight up ball washing at its worst. Seriously, go back and watch (or fire up your Google Machine and read my full review) they promoted Graves as boldly going where everyone's afraid to go when the questions asked were all cliche and rehearsed and b-b-b-oooring!!! That's not what the fans want. When they see interviews they want something real. They want a tap into the real person and get their real thoughts. Not just spewing the same boring corporate speil like a bunch of robots.
The show begins with Conrad Thompson pointing out this is an award-winning "sports-entertainment" podcast, admittingly rolled my eyes at the shoehorned WWE speak but it was quickly turned to a chuckle when Conrad threw that away by saying something to the effect of "forget that, this is a WRESTLING podcast!" and suddenly us fans are worked back and Conrad is over as an established babyface to the new audience. Some personal thoughts on Conrad since this is not my introduction to him. As I have already said, I am a regular listener of this podcast. I listen to his podcast with Tony Schiavone sometimes and I listened to his podcast with Ric Flair a couple years back which was also very good. Conrad isn't someone who is "in the biz". He is a fan like you or me. Much to the chagrin of the bitter old podcasters who think you need to take a f***ing bump to be an expert or at least knowledgeable on the wrestling business, Conrad is never caught with his ass out and he's not afraid to address things that others may be afraid to ask fearing heat either from the company or the public.
This is a much welcomed addition to WWE, though apparently he's technically not employed by WWE. Conrad is a breath of fresh air. He's way more knowledgeable than that f***ing shit eating grinning douche sack Rosenberg who can't even dress himself or Sam Roberts who is every bit as annoying as he looks. Both of which are just a bunch of company puppets anyway... and yes I'm aware both of them are friends of this podcast but... they f***ing suck in WWE in my opinion and the opinion of about a million other Network subscribers. The "Alabama Dream" is pretty much the opposite of them and perhaps not being a WWE employee is the best thing that could happen to this podcast. Hearing a real person talk like a real person and bring up real topics that all of us have thought about and care about was very refreshing in a world that has become very structured and often predictable and lifeless.
Bruce and Conrad talk about Wrestlemania 14 in Boston, Massachusetts and the events leading up to it in this episode. They are pretty much displayed like a Skype call and a few cuts to WWE archived footage to illustrate a topic on occasion. The duo let off the same chemistry they have on the traditional audio podcast. The program is rated TV-14 so you get all the shits, asses, assholes, bitches and bullshits you can ask for... the word "f***" is censored though... I guess you gotta leave something to imagination. It says "PG" at the start but I could have sworn while watching I saw a "14" in the upper left corner during the show. Whatever. If it is PG, it's the most un-PG thing WWE has produced. Nevertheless, the dialogue isn't watered down for kids and... why should it be? Kids aren't the target audience of this show. This same network has a f***ing CARTOON called "Camp WWE" where they use words like "mother-f***er", so they aren't afraid to branch out beyond their PG television product they've had for 10 years now. No, this show is for you old fans out there. The adults who watched Hulkamania run wild and watched Austin bring the WWE to new heights and a popularity boom and mainstream acceptance it still hasn't seen again to this day. As a regular listener and held true to this episode on the WWE Network, you're not going to be talked down to. You're not going to treated like a mark... except when Bruce denies ass kissing Vince and Triple H, says that like a million or whatever people were at Wrestlemania 3 in contrast to what Dave Meltzer reports and stands by Dusty's polka dots not being a rib.
While watching, surprise-surprise, the show feels like the podcast. Bruce works in his familiar bits by doing his impressions complete with Fathead style posters... or masks or... whatever... I don't know. Faces on a Popsicle stick? The loyal fans who were skeptical quickly have their concerns put to ease. Bruce comes off as a likable guy. Though it is sometimes difficult to tell when he's working and when he's not, the inside stories are good fun. Of course since he's a loyal company guy you're going to get the company slant on things and he's going to defend his shit and sometimes it is comical watching him defend anything he has his fingerprints on. Very rarely does he give in and shake his head and admit something was the drizzling shits, but even when he defends his crap he and Conrad share a laugh about it since it is obvious Bruce is just defending it because no one else will and he was involved in it. A good example on this episode is when they get to Wrestlemania 14 and discuss the opening match which was an 8 minute battle royal featuring the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom (Now dubbed LOD 2000 with Sunny as their valet) it was a quick match that Conrad shit on as the opener and Bruce's best defense was that it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. Awesome.
Regarding the actual episode, it runs at about an hour and 50 minutes which off the top of my head is what the typical STW podcast run at, though many are at least twice as long. As usual, it's not just a review of the event being covered but the events leading up to it and all the rumors and side stories that have either gone untold or forgotten about over the years. There's a story about Earl Hebner and that he had suffered a brain aneurysm before Wrestlemania that year. Earl's life was in danger and I don't think I ever even heard this story. It's not even mentioned on his Wikipedia page, so it makes sitting through the fun company lines like the polka dots weren't a rib on Dusty worth it when you get information like this. This is why they cover the events leading up to the show. Earl Hebner, while a well-known name to older fans, isn't the type of guy that will be regularly brought up in interviews. They picked a good period to cover for the debut episode, too. It's the thick of the Attitude Era. Some would consider this the unofficial beginning. The Austin Era began. A hot angle with Mike Tyson was in the works. A hot feud with Austin and McMahon was just starting out. A legend in Shawn Michaels was on his way out mere months after the infamous Montreal Screwjob. It was a very busy period. A period of change and a peiod of wild success for the WWE. It also happens to be a period much of the demographic have fond memories of as well, so it was a wise choice.
To put a bow on this column, this show is exactly what the WWE Network needed and exactly what it's been lacking since they shafted Steve Austin for being *gasp* too real. Some people try and dismiss Conrad as "just a fan" with the same old tired bullshit remarks from bitter old insiders like "I lived his dream so he doesn't know shit because I made a living in wrestling". Well, I trust Conrad a lot more than I trust an out-of-touch, bitter old former insider like Vince Russo who pretty much has a podcast just to remind the 50 or so people that listen to it that he wrote for WWE in 1998. The only people that dismiss Conrad are those who are threatened by his knowledge. That's not just putting him over. It's true. And by "those" I mean guys who were in the business who when they have their bullshit called out their best defense is "I lived it, you're just a fan of it". It's funny how wrestlers think they're so special. There are people who review movies who never acted or wrote or directed a movie. There's people who analyze sports who never played the games professionally. There's people who review albums and interview musicians who can't play a chord to save their life... but... for some reason bitter old wrestling wrestling insiders think their brand of entertainment is just far too sophisticated for us mere fans to comment on with any validity. Don't get me wrong, though. There's a lot of guys in the biz who don't look down to fans and they're smart not to. They are the consumers. They know what they like. They can smell bullshit when it's presented to them a mile away. Conrad holds his own. He's like one of us on the Network and isn't afraid to call out the company or Bruce and since this is the virtual monopoly era, it is nice to see the promotion taken to task once in a while. We all love WWE and wrestling in general, but if the fans are going to be given shoot interview shows on the Network we deserve it to be genuine.
There's my thoughts on Something Else to Wrestle w/ Bruice Prichard. Like I said in closing there, if WWE is going to promote these shows as a shoot, I'm glad we are getting that. I'm not sure what they talked about that was such a hot button issue that the WWE would have said "you can't talk about that" like it was promoted on TV, but it was still enjoyable and worthwhile. The hardcore fans eat this stuff up. After they got rid of Austin, who again I can't stress how great Austin was and if it weren't for him GRILLING Vince McMahon we may still not have Randy Savage in the hall of fame... anyway, after they got rid of the "Stone Cold Podcast" the most real show on here was the just under half-hour long "Table For 3" and "Ride Along". Give the fans something real they'll eat it up with a spoon. Give them bullshit like Graves' show or any of the shows John Layfield was on and they'll shit on it right back. There's a reason why this podcast is popular and why Austin's podcast is popular and why the old "Legends of Wrestling" round table discussions were popular. They were honest and treated the audience with respect and treated them like adults. So, assuming Vince didn't watch this show and doesn't dip his hands into it like the Crusierweight Division, everything should be fine and the show should be one of the better original programs of the WWE Network.
So, there ya go. I obviously recommend watching it. I was nervous at first, but I watched it and was satisfied in the end. Thanks for reading Planet Kayfabe. If you want my thoughts on the Superstar Shakeup head over to my Facebook page by searching for "Planet Kayfabe on NoDQ", I shared my thoughts there instead of writing a full column. Follow me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe and I'll see you next time. For NoDQ and Planet Kayfabe I'm KC Paul Matthews. Take care, everyone.