You are here: Home>KM Interviews...>Dr. Tom Prichard
KM: If you could bring back one aspect of "old school" what would it be and why?
matches in the ring. And make working a hold exciting again. You
always had the flyers and sizzle but Brisco, Wahoo, The Funks and Valentine made
you believe they were really going for it.
Do you like that the business has been "exposed" or do
you prefer strict kayfabe?
I think as we all get older we get wiser and realize that you can't
hit someone in the face 30 times during a match and not come out with a broken
jaw or missing teeth. I think for the most part people appreciate the art
form the business is and appreciate real wrestlers like Lesnar and Angle when
they work. I think the only difference is people think it's a lot easier
now because they know all the "secrets".
the promoters you've worked for... how was Bill Watts compared to Don Owens
compared to Ron Fuller compared to Paul Boesch, etc.
TP: In my
opinion, Paul Boesch and Don Owen were very similar. Both were fair men.
I can definitely understand how Watts could be misunderstood. He was harsh
but he was also the guy who asked me if I ever thought about being a heel.
I told him at that time "Every day!" Ron Fuller was easy and
cool to work for. Jerry Jarrett was Jerry Jarrett. Mike Lebell in
California had a different style but I was so green I was just happy to be
you mentioned earlier, it seems nowadays, there are schools that train someone
to be a pro wrestler, but during your day, it wasn't such an easy thing... on
top of that, it's known that the trainers were pretty rough on their prospective
students. What's your thinking on the Ole and Gene Anderson method of training?
those days I understand that's what had to be done. They came from a
different school of thought. If someone is coming to me to learn how to
"work" then that's what I am going to teach. Working isn't that
easy if you've never done it before. Some people think just because they
watched it on TV they can automatically do it. Not so. It's tough.
I try to be a little more patient. I would rather someone learn the right
way to protect themselves and their opponents.
Did a chance
to go to the AWA or the Central States areas ever arise?
your worst road trip in terms of miles traveled, time spent on the road, etc.
think of any specific. I know the
first time Al Madril and I traveled to San Jose it was long, but every trip I
made was full of entertaining things to watch and listen to.
Did you ever
have an opportunity to work in World Class during its mid 80s glory days?
I stayed away from Texas during that time.
Did you have
any opportunities to go to the WWF sooner than the 1990s?
TP: I might have if I wasn't so narrow minded.
I was asked about maybe coming in as a tag partner for Tom Magee but I
don't know how serious that opportunity would have been.
I was focused on some personal out of ring issues early on that didn't
help my cause.
match in your career stand out as a favorite?
'93 against The Steiners was cool. I
had some really good ones with the Dirty White Boy and Brad Armstrong that I'd
Was it tough
traveling in Mid-South and Memphis due to the distances and road setups?
It was tough
but I shared an apartment with Brad Armstrong and Tim Horner and traveled with
them until I turned heel and then I rode with Steve Williams and DiBiase.
Again, I really can't say I was miserable because I was having a great
time living the lifestyle.
some of the crazier/funnier characters out of the ring amongst the
wrestlers you knew?
Armstrong, Buzz Sawyer, Tommy Rich, Roddy Piper, Jim Cornette, Tracy Smothers,
Big Bossman, Brian Lee
Did you ever
work full time for Joe Blanchard's Southwest group or did you just work on
Boesch's Houston shows that featured Southwest talent?
I worked full time for Joe and worked the territory.
started out in Houston. What was it like during those early days as you were
just getting into the business? How does it compare now vs. then for someone
entering to become a pro wrestler?
business was obviously a lot more closed than it is now. I think growing
up in Texas watching guys like The Funks, Wahoo, Valentine and guys like that, they
always made you believe what was going on. I was very lucky in that my Mom
took Bruce and me to the matches every Friday night. So we were around the
stuff. Paul had a great office that was like a museum and had some cool
pictures on the wall that was a wrestling fans dream. My older brother Ken
called Paul at his office and asked if he would just meet with me as I was
taking pictures for magazines and trying to get my foot in the door. Ken
picked me up from school and we went down to see Paul. This was around
1973 as Jack Brisco was being groomed to take the belt. Paul invited me to
take pictures at ringside of Brisco vs. Wahoo. It took off from there and
as I was complaining about selling shoes for two weeks at Montgomery Wards with
Paul standing in the front office, he offered me a summer job selling tickets,
mowing the small patch of grass by the office and being a gofer. He paid
me $75 a week, but I would have paid him to work there. It was a lot of
perseverance as far as Paul letting me train to wrestle. There was an
ex-football player who wanted to learn to wrestle and Mohamed Farouk (The Iron
Sheik) was in the territory and would ride down on Fridays with Gary Hart.
Gary was booking at the time and he would meet with Paul while we would go to
the empty Sam Houston Coliseum to get stretched by Sheik. It was a great
learning experience that led me to Nick Kozak and Joe Mercer's wrecker service
where they had a ring set up during the week. King Parsons had just begun
working out as well. He would pull up in a big dump truck and we would
train in the ring. I was still working for Paul and training with Kozak
and Mercer during the week and then get in the ring on Fridays with
Sheik. They put me through the wringer but I was glad they did. To
this day Sheik calls me "his rookie".
there seems to be a school or independent show on every corner. Some guy
who got beat up on WWF TV maybe twice goes out and calls himself a
"trainer" and screws people out of money. It's easier to become
a "rassler" now a days but harder to learn the proper way which is to
ply your trade every night in front of different crowds. It was different
then but the same principal applies today. If you believe in yourself and
have talent you'll wind up where you want to be.
took you from being a fan of wrestling to someone who actually took the chance
to become one?
couldn't see myself doing anything else. I dreamed of being on the road,
in the ring and traveling from town to town. To me, that was the life!
I never cared about the money. I wanted to be a part of the
"wrestling life". I started working out with weights with Mark
Lewin around the same time I started working for Paul in the office. I
worked summers while I was in high school and then worked full time after I
graduated until I began wrestling.
What are your memories of working with Paul Boesch?
was the greatest experience of my life. I was living a dream and got to be
around the business I loved and wanted to be a part of. Paul was a fair
man and obviously a lot of the guys in the business felt the same way.
In one sentence, describe Paul Boesch as a promoter.
A man who cared about and loved promoting wrestling
Compare the atmosphere of the Sam Houston Coliseum in the "glory days"
to modern-day events in Houston.
The Coliseum was every week and had an intimate setting so to speak. The
house lights went off and the overhead ring lights drew your attention.
You had the regulars and the "home town" stars as well as big national
and international stars come in every week. Today is more like going to a
rock concert and seeing all the big stars. There was a cool air about
going to the Sam Houston Coliseum every Friday night.
Do you remember any particular "regular" fans at the
Sure. Jo Russell, Francis, Lucy Sanderfer, Alice Nelson, Mike
and Peggy Williams, Dean, Tim Huddleston, Momma, Tommy Fooshee, Pat Hatchell,
Mary Pierce. I remember others by face but can't think of the names.
Who was in your opinion the most over heel and face in Houston?
think Wahoo and Jose Lothario were the most over babyfaces. The Great
Malenko and Johnny Valentine were the best heels.
What was your best match in Houston. Who was it against, and
why do you recall it as such?
TP: Toss up between Dick Slater and Tully Blanchard. Both made me look good and took care of me.
How did it
feel to wrestle at Paul Boesch's retirement card on August 28, 1987?
I had mixed
emotions. It was the first time I
met Vince and boy did I make a horrible impression! I didn't know what was going
on behind the scenes that night either and I was feeling weird.
I had been working out with Mark Lewin in the gym before I started
wrestling and now I was going to wrestle him on Paul's retirement card... Plus I
was going over. I could tell Mark
wasn't too pleased about that.
Mark Lewin that night at the Boesch retirement card. Did either of you have any
TP: I was nervous for a number of reasons.
I think it was Rene Goulet who came over and told us to keep it in the
ring and don't go outside. The first move of the match Mark threw me out of the ring and
straddled me on the barricade. Then
he started choking me with the mike cord. I
don't even remember the finish but I remember Mark just saying
"thanks" and that was it.
Did you have
a chance to meet any childhood heroes amongst the many legends in attendance
I had pretty
much met everybody at one time or another who was on the card. I did tell Boris Malenko how much he and Wahoo meant to me
growing up watching their matches. I
met Stu Hart for the first time.
KM: You worked Los Angeles early in your career.
What did you learn from your time there and did you feel it was time
well-spent since it later got the reputation as a territory being a bit out of
the mainstream by the late Ď70ís, early Ď80ís?
It was definitely well spent time. I got to wrestle in the
Olympic Auditorium, which was dubbed the MSG of the West Coast. And I got
to meet John Tolos, Fred Blassie and all the other guys who stopped in on their
way back from Japan. I was 20 years old and in the big city!
Was the Los
Angeles promotion beyond repair while you were there or could it still have been
I think they
had seen a lot of stuff and it was a down period.
I think times were changing anyway and while the promotion tried to hang
on, a lot of damage had been done.
crowds were you getting at The Olympic?
Not big but
regular crowds were coming. I want
to say we drew at least 1000 or more each week.
How was it
to wrestle in that enormous ring (24 feet by 24 feet) at the Olympic?
TP: Houston's ring was big but the Olympic's was huge!
It was a good bumping ring. The
apron had a lot of room to stand. I
remember running in it the first time thinking this is a long way to go for a
KM: Your thoughts on some LA stars when you were there:
TP: John was solid in the ring. It was cool working with him as he was one of the stars I knew of through the magazines growing up. Very nice man. I knocked out his bridge accidentally as well. He was a little hot, but he got over it.
I had a good
time with Chavo and Mando. I met
Gory there for the first time as well. Being
from El Paso it was really cool to get to know Gory and his family.
I took Linda (their sister) out a couple of times.
I have remained friends with Mando and Chavo through the years.
Eddie and I have a special bond as well since he's come to WWE.
OK. He was pretty much business and
guy who just didn't have it for the business.
Good guys and a lot of fun, but crazy.
There's a story that's too long to type about Jon tearing up my apartment
one night. Then a couple weeks
later he went off on Ken Wayne. Very
unpredictable at times.
I liked Chris. He was fun to be around.
There were times when he could get out of hand but I think we all were
like that. I remember when he and
Jeannie first came over and had a place in Santa Monica.
We had a good time together.
Define the aura of Los Angeles' Olympic Auditorium.
was still special because you had "stars" coming in. Blassie and Tolos were still names and Japan was still taping
shows from there every now and then. The
ring was huge, the dressing rooms were classic and the building had a feel to it
like something special was going on.
You were tag team champions with Chris Adams in Los Angeles in early
1981. What are your memories of
this pairings and of Adams in general?
I remember Mike Labell making us his "sensational, young team"
and making Chris out to be a teen idol. I
was just happy to be there and be featured.
As I said, I liked Chris and we had a lot of good times.
Was Dutch Savage was still running Washington when you was working
in Portland, and if so what was the relationship between Dutch and Owen?
TP: Dutch wasnít there when I was. I never met him.
What were your opinions of the boys on topÖBilly Jack, Rip Oliver, etc.
TP: I liked Rip Oliver. I worked with him in Houston years before when I was visiting my family. We always had good matches. Billy Jack was a good guy. It seemed like it all happened too fast for him and he wasnít sure how to deal with what he was handed. Don gave him a hard time when he came back from WWF the first time because Billy thought he was going to be a big star and didnít know what he got himself in to. Buddy Rose was a lot of fun as was Ed Wiskoski. I rode and hung around with Mando Guerrero a lot. I have known the Guerreros from when I first started and we had a good time. I really donít have any bad memories of the guys there. Matt Borne could rub some people the wrong way but I got along with him great!
KM: How much political play was there in
the Portland Region?
TP: Iím sure there was some, but I was too busy enjoying myself to worry about it. Hell, I was traveling and partying with people I liked being around, the area was cool, and it was wrestling, working out and playing that I was concerned about. Things kinda fell in place for me there and I was happy.
In the Northwest, you teamed with Brett Sawyer, can
you clear up one of the business's great mysteries...Buzz & Brett were
brothers, it has long been rumored that Tommy Rogers was a half-brother, is it
Tommy was not any relation.
TP: Buddy was fun to be around.
At that time I think we all had a "dark" side.
Buddy was entertaining to me. I
can't think of anything specific, but Buddy was great to me.
What were the best towns for fans? Best towns for payoffs?
TP: Portland and Salem were the best payoff towns. The Portland Sports Arena was cool because you had the regulars and die hards. We did high schools and armories of course but the regular towns like Portland, Eugene and Salem always had a good old school feel to it. The fans there loved wrestling.
spent some time as a preliminary wrestler, and then were turned heel. Almost as
suddenly though, you were gone. What happened?
Dundee was at the end of his run as booker and he was leaving, going back to
Memphis. So he asked if Pat Rose and I would come in as a team.
Watts had no use for me there so I left.
Though your time was short, how was it working the Mid-South
territory as a heel in 1985?
It was great. I had the opportunity to try something
different and it was a lot of fun. Louisiana crowds were pretty rowdy and
I liked that.
define the role your brother, Bruce played in Bill Watts' company?
much more involved in the office than I ever did.
I believe he was not only doing on air interviews, but he helped write
and produce TV.
1986, you were siding with the team of Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden. Your main
opponents during this time were the team of Tommy Rich and Steve Armstrong,
along with their third, the Intern. What are your memories of this feud?
Intern was Johnny Rich. Those were fun days because Robert was booking and
I was traveling with him and Jimmy a lot. It was great to be in there with
Tommy and Steve because I had known them for so long. I've known all the
Armstrongs pretty much my whole career and the territory was easy. I've
known Tommy since my Georgia days and had a lot of fun with him. I like to
say that I made Tommy Rich's voice the most imitated in wrestling!
would you compare your first few years in Continental under Ron Fuller versus
the last few years under David Woods?
Ron and Robert things were run pretty good. We could go to the beach all
day and make the towns and there'd be no problem. Ron is a pretty smart
guy though. In the end the towns weren't really drawing and Ron saw a way
out so he sold to David Woods. That's when he brought Eddie Gilbert in.
Eddie ran the show. David knew nothing about the wrestling business.
I had a good spot when Eddie came in and he just kept it rolling. But with
Eddie came other problems and stuff that obviously people didn't care about so
lo and behold as the business was changing forever, that place dried up.
your first 14-15 months or so, you were a mid-high card player. In the last two
years, you were arguably the main star in the area, both as top babyface and
then as top heel. How is the transition made for something like that... going
from a solid mid-card performer to the number one man in the company? Were there
any concerns on your part or from anyone else? Were you comfortable stepping
into that top spot?
think just being there at the right place at the right time had everything to do
with it. Ron Fuller owned the territory with Robert Fuller, Jimmy Golden,
Bob Armstrong and Roy Lee Welch as partners. I was friends with the
Armstrongs and became pretty close to Robert and Jimmy. I didn't mind working
with anybody or doing anything. I had been there a couple years and showed
I was willing to work with anybody. I think it was something that evolved.
I was comfortable stepping into that spot but at the same time we were not doing
stellar business so while I was in a "top" spot it didn't translate in
business terms of really drawing. I was happy to be there though.
was it working with Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden, two men you were closely
affiliated with in your early months in the promotion?
and Jimmy were great guys. Fun to be around.
did you get the "Doctor" nickname?
and Jimmy had been getting juice wrestling Tommy and Johnny Rich all over the
territory. Robert got the idea to do an angle where he and Jimmy would
have a "cut man" at ringside. This way if they got split open there'd
be a doctor there to take care of them immediately. On TV they had a guy
at ringside and for the finish they had a big schmoz and this cut man taped
Tommy's feet to the bottom rope and Robert and Jimmy beat the hell out of
Johnny. They then proceeded to go to the stage with their new ringside
physician and cut a promo. Robert proclaimed that everywhere they would go from
now on he and Jimmy would have Dr. Love with them in their corner to make sure
they didn't get their faces messed up again! Well, when the show aired Ron
got a call from the F.B.I. They wanted to know where this Dr. Love was
because they had a warrant for his arrest. Needless to say, Ron called
Robert and they squashed the angle. But that next week I was riding with
Robert and Jimmy and I was wearing a pair of doctor's pants and when we stopped
at a store a light went off in Robert's head. He told me I could be their
doctor and we started coming up with all kinds of promos and laughed all the way
to the building. I really didn't think too much about it until I showed up
at TV and saw he was serious. It was a good break and once again, right
place right time (I broke my ankle in Louisville while working against The
Fabs and Sherri Martel took care of me in Nashville. Her roommate was a
nurse and she had given me a couple pairs of doctor's scrubs. They were
comfortable and I wore them often. I guess all circumstances are connected
one way or another...)
were some of your favorite wrestlers to work with in Continental?
Armstrong, Tony Anthony, and Danny Davis
What was it
like to wrestle against and feud with Johnathan Boyd? Was he really the larger
than life character that he seemed to be?
TP: John could be very cantankerous at times.
Other times he would be great to hang around with.
He was very opinionated but I liked him because I never took stuff too
better or worse (depending on your view), you will always be tied to The Dirty
White Boy, Tony Anthony, simply because of the intensity of that feud,
especially for its time. What are your recollections of that angle/feud?
TP: I had
known Tony for a couple years before that. We clicked in the ring and that
made things a lot easier. I remember Eddie Gilbert asking us for some
ideas and I came up with the hanging. I had seen The Hangman do something
like that to Nick Bockwinkel back in the early 60's and it left an impression on
me that this guy was killing him! We came up with some stuff that worked
there because people were programmed to Alabama style rasslin' and that's what
we gave them. I introduced Tony to Kim (DWG) and I wound up marrying Kim's
sister Sandi about two and a half years ago. So we will forever be
connected...For better or worse...
Anthony hit you with the bottle in 1988, it looked like so very real. How did
you gimmick the bottle?
TP: We baked it and left it by the door in Dothan.
Watching it back in hindsight I thought the ambulance gimmick took way
your opinion, what prompted Ron Fuller to sell Continental to David Woods, and
what if anything, did Woods do right with the promotion?
saw the writing on the wall. He knew the business was changing and he saw
the opportunity to get out. Sure he went to Knoxville and opened up but he
was only going to do it if it made money. David was a nice guy but he
trusted a lot of the wrong people. Not that they intentionally tried to
kill his business but I don't think they were completely honest with him either.
Road to Birmingham 20 was initially scheduled to take place in June of 1988, but
was repeatedly delayed until it finally took place on October 3rd,
1988. What were the reasons, if any, for the delays?
not sure. Eddie was booking and I believe there was beginning to be a
fallout with David around that time.
KM: As a
follow-up, how was it that the booker decided that you would be the one to win
the CWF title at the Road to Birmingham tournament? Was that always the plan or
because of the repeated delays, did circumstances cause a change in the way the
final result would be booked?
knew who was going to go over until that night. Eddie called me that day
and had me come to his apartment and get the belt. I found out that night
I was going over.
was some great heat and build towards a huge feud with Brad Armstrong that
suddenly died when Brad left the area. What happened?
TP: I think
Brad left for Charlotte. Like I said we weren't drawing that great and the
opportunity came for Brad to make more cash so he left.
your opinion, what could have been done to keep the Continental promotion in
don't know if anything would have worked. Business and times were
changing. WWF was coming to Birmingham and people were seeing the major
stars and anybody else was perceived as minor league so it was one of those
things that was going to happen anyway.
yourself, who was, in your opinion, the best worker in the Continental
has long been a rumor that after Dennis Condrey injured you in late 1989, you
were supposed to return as a babyface and feud with Condrey, possibly
recapturing the CWF Heavyweight title. That never happened because David Woods
ended up shutting down the promotion. Had that not happened, would this rumor
have taken place? Would you have gone after Condrey and his belt?
left in 89 to spend some time with my ex wife and daughter in San Antonio.
I had a trip to Japan coming up in October and I was planning on coming back
after that. I remember Robert calling me wanting me to work a shot against
Kerry Von Erich but I wanted to stay in Texas and spend Christmas with my
family. I think it was around that time I got a call to do a shot in
Germany against Steven Wright. Shortly after that I went back to Memphis,
Smoky Mountain, WWF.
is your recollection of your early '90's tag team with Eric Embry, and your
battles with Jerry Lawler and Jeff Jarrett?
TP: I was
able to do commentary on ESPN thanks to the USWA. It was a great
experience working with Lawler and Jeff in that spot. Jeff's another guy I
clicked with in the ring. Lawler is a real pro who knows how to get the
most out of less.
What are your thoughts on Jerry Jarrett, business-wise and
Jerry Jarrett stayed in business longer than anybody because he was
not going to lose his money! He gave the boys a place to work. But
he said it best one time. If you can draw then you'll get paid. It
was something I understood at the time but it's something that didn't really
sink in until after I stopped wrestling. The promoter is the guy paying
the bills. He can pay the boys whatever he feels is fair or right.
Jerry did just that and a lot of people didn't care for him. There was a
time that I didn't care for him. I have a little more understanding now
why he is the way he is I think. I've always liked Jeff. I think
Jeff probably got a lot of heat just because he was Jerry's son. But
that's life. I had some damn good matches with Jeff.
When you returned in 1990, how tough was it to make a go of it
compared against what it had been like in 1983?
Not that tough. It was a new crew that I sort of clicked
with. Embry was booking, Austin was there, Jeff was coming on strong and I
took my place as a heel and got figured in things.
your opinion, what went right with SMW and what ultimately was wrong with the
Cornette had all the right ideas for that part of the country. Times were
changing though. Cornette gave me the opportunity to get even more rub off
guys like him and Stan Lane. It was a great old school promotion.
Jim was taking on everything with minimal help. Brian Hildebrand and K.C.
O'Conner helped out but there was just too much to do. It was a great idea
but maybe people wanted to see Superstars instead of solid wrestlers. It
was getting tougher and tougher to compete with Vince. Everybody else's
show was perceived as small time.
was the transition of going from a worker who was primarily a singles wrestler
throughout most of his career, to becoming one who was primarily a tag team
wrestler for the rest of his career?
was an adjustment at first but I liked it after a while. It helped to have
a partner to rely on and there were more options for me as a tag. I'm not
the biggest guy so working with another guy evened the odds in a way.
Did he come
up with the "Heavenly Bodies" name in SMW? He and Pat Rose were a team
with that name in Memphis in 1986.
TP: Jim Cornette called and asked if I would be
interested in forming a team with Stan Lane as The Heavenly Bodies. Pat Rose and I were a team in Tennessee thanks to Bill
Dundee. Bobby Fulton suggested the
Bodies name in Tennessee. It was
Cornette who did it in SMW.
were in two versions of the Heavenly Bodies... first with Stan Lane, and then
later with Jimmy Del Ray. Compare the two teams.
KM: Is there a territory you didn't work in that you would've liked to?
TP: I would have liked to work in Florida for Eddie Graham. And I would have liked to work in the AWA for Gagne just for the experience good and bad! Also I wish I could have worked Calgary for Stu Hart.
KM: Is there a worker or workers that you always wanted to wrestle but never got a chance to?
TP: Terry Funk
KM: As someone who is seen as a solid technician, who, in your opinion, were some of the best workers in the regional territories over the years?
TP: Jerry Lawler always knew how to get the most out of doing less. Buddy Rose was good at everything he did back in the day. Bob Armstrong. Brad Armstrong. Buzz Sawyer. Tommy Rich. I consider good worker someone who knows how to get everything they can out of a match and use psychology.
KM: What are your current duties with the WWE??
TP: I am the Developmental Talent Manager/Trainer. I scout out new talent on tapes and live shows. I go to OVW each month and check up on our developmental talent there as well.
KM: Looking back over your career, is there any one moment that stands out to you? Is there anything that given the power, you would have done differently?
TP: Getting the WWF tag titles at the Free For All in WM 12 was cool. If there's one thing I definitely would have done different, I wouldn't have married my first wife. Other than that things went the way they should.
Kayfabe Memories would like to thank Dr. Tom for doing an interview with us. Tom's been a supporter of the site since he first discovered it and it's been our thrill to have him join us here. Thank you Tom for all your great work over your career. It's been our pleasure to watch you in the ring.
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