Before we go any further, check out this week's Hardway Podcast on TheJonHarder.com with 411's wrestling editor, Larry Csonka! Larry has a true independent spirit about him, and with discussing the history of his 411mania.com career, it goes to show where dedication can get someone. You can find him on Twitter at @LarryCsonka411. Also, I am here to let the world know that on October 2nd, CW ANDERSON will be on Episode 104! He opens up and talks a lot about his career, including a few good ECW and WWE stories which will leave you in awe, as well as tales on the Extreme Horsemen. Check out TheJonHarder.com this Wednesday morning for this very special podcast.
Lastly, follow me on Twitter at @TheJonHarder to talk about anything wrestling, Mets, Beastie Boys, or Tim Horton's coffee. I'm down for whatever. That's how I roll.
With that out of the way, time for this week's piece. As a fan of the obscure in wrestling, I was very excited a few weeks ago when I caught a rare episode of Smackdown and was able to catch one of my favorite wrestling segments on September 13 in the main event of the episode. It was the return to WWE television of the Cutting Edge.
The talk show segment was a shining example, not just to Edge, but to other wrestlers willing to take the next step with their personas and showcase their abilities on the national platform. It truly could advance storylines, memorable twists and turns, and the character itself. The innovator of this groundbreaking vision, Rowdy Roddy Piper, took the medium to a whole different level. It wasn't just a place to cut a one-minute interview for a local TV-spot; it was a revolutionary concept to help develop character. Obviously, Piper's Pit set the stage for a lot of storylines, most notably the official challenge from Andre the Giant against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 3. Also, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka was hit the head with the infamous coconut on the Pit in 1984. "Hot Rod" also fire extinguished Morton Downey, Jr after he lit up a cigarette in the Pit in 1989 at WrestleMania 5. So many great memories in the Pit, and it set the stage for all the other talk show segments on WWE television.
With the success of Piper's Pit, it led to the debut of the Brother Love Show in 1988. Despite to the contrary beliefs of other individuals, Brother Love was an awesome gimmick. (His removal from WWF programming in 1991 by the Ultimate Warrior was a perfect way to go out, by the way). In 1991, several months after the debut of the Undertaker, Paul Bearer unveiled the Funeral Parlor. The biggest moment to come from that show was the locking of the casket once the Ultimate Warrior was stuffed inside. And how can we forget the Barber Shop with Brutus Beefcake, where Shawn Michaels threw Marty Janetty through the glass window and signified the end of the Rockers in 1992? Speaking of Shawn Michaels, the Heartbreak Hotel had the entire hype for the Undertaker vs Undertaker Summerslam 1994 battle, with the unveiling of Ted DiBiase's UnderFaker and the announcement of the return of Paul Bearer's Undertaker a few weeks before the hottest event of the Summer.
For 10 years, post the early 1990s, the talk show segment disappeared from wrestling, never to be seen again. Although the world of mainstream wrestling changed with the formatting of the weekly television show, little segments like this were completely missed from television. Suddenly, with his return in 2003 after WrestleMania 19, Roddy Piper returned with Piper's Pit on Smackdown. Trying to counteract with a little love for Raw, Chris Jericho jumped on with the Highlight Reel in May 2003. After an attack from Stone Cold Steve Austin and Piper at WrestleMania 21, Carlito debuted Carlito's Cabana in April 2005. In the midst of his rivalry with Chris Jericho, Christian unveiled the Peep Show in 2004. MVP opened his VIP Lounge in 2008, and nearly had everything repossessed in between his 20 match losing streak on television. Most recently, the Miz started up his own edgy talk show called MIZ TV earlier this year.
You know you've made it in the WWE when you are given your own segment to display your charisma. HOWEVER, there have been a select few talk show segment that have gone on record of being a total bomb on TV in Vincent Kennedy McMahon's WWF Universe. And LUCKY FOR YOU, I have found three examples what shows that just didn't work on television. Whether it wasn't funny, connected with the audience, or just flat out didn't work, I have here for you the best examples of segments that weren't fondly remembered by WWE audiences. Without further hesitation...
THE PROFESSIONAL 3: Little Remembered WWE Talk Show Segments
In the fall of 1993, on an episode of WWF Superstars, Vince McMahon was joined in the commentary booth by a Southern gentleman with a lisp. In fact, he loved to use the term "If you will...", which is a very popular phrase by a certain wrestling personality. Was it the son of a plumber Dusty Rhodes? Of course not! With the affinity of hatred towards Dusty during those days, it was decided that a Dusty spoof would debut on WWF television. ENTER REO ROGERS. After a few weeks of color commentary with Vince in 1993, Reo moved on over to the talk show segment circuit in the WWF entitled Reo's Roundup.
After a live edition on the Survivor Series Showdown in November 1993, Reo had quite possibly had his brightest moment in the WWF, as the Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels rivalry over the undisputed Intercontinental championship kicked off on his show. Sadly, after this segment, Reo rode off into the sunset and never to be seen again. Was Reo Rogers a rough knockoff of Dusty Rhodes? Oh yeah. But it was a decent attempt regardless.
JON HARDER DID YOU KNOW FACT: Did you know Bruce Pritchard portrayed Reo Rogers? Yup, it's true. Reo Rogers and Brother Love on the resume speak numbers for the longevity of Pritchard in the WWF and in wrestling in general.
After reading Missy Hyatt's book "The First Lady of Wrestling" in 2001, I was surprised by quite a few things. I was shocked that Missy once dated Butthead from the Wonder Years. The Jim Kelly hookup was another stunner. But, as the giant wrestling nerd that I am, I was more surprised over the fact the Missy Hyatt once had her own WWF talk show segment in 1987 called Missy's Manor. After reading how it ultimately didn't pan out the way Missy and the WWF had wanted it to be, I had always wanted to see it. When I was unable to discover it through the early days of YouTube or Daily Motion, I gave up.
Suddenly, last year, Missy uploaded several editions of rarely aired editions of Missy's Manor from the WWF television tapings in 1987 on her YouTube channel. Stoked, I sat down and watched a rare edition with the Can Am Connection. Seeing how awkward Tom Zenk and Rick Martel looked on the show was one thing; how off everyone seemed was entirely different. Missy Hyatt is a trendsetter for females in pro wrestling, but especially in 1987 WWF, Missy's Manor just didn't work. I will say, on record, that when Missy had the Manor in the early days of Women Superstars Uncensored in the mid 2000s, it came off extremely well. Experience does that to certain things and if Missy had as much poise and experience in WSU when it was 1987, Missy's Manor might have been remembered.
I LOVE late night television. Whether it's Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, or even the new Arsenio Hall show, it truly is a great format to ply a trade on. For some reason, when the Abraham Washington Show debuted on ECW on SyFy in 2009, I was stoked. Seeing two of my favorite television styles combining to make one entertaining talk show segment, I was tuned in to watch the ECW program just to see that. Sadly, it was a bomb from the word go.
No disrespect to AW, as he truly was a great character and manager during the early days of the Prime Time Players, but as you can tell from the episode of the Abraham Washington Show, he was trying too hard. His questions were too forced, trying to play up a heel persona didn't connect, and the fans not getting behind it hurt the program as well. Tony Atlas becoming AW's Ed McMahon breathed new life into the show, but by then, ECW on SyFy went off the air and so did the Abraham Washington Show. In my opinion, one of the biggest letdowns in the past ten years was this vision. It could have been so much more and quite possibly, could be have become the modern day version of the Brother Love Show, which would have put Mr. Washington into a gentlemen with genuine hatred behind him. Instead, it faded away and is vaguely remembered by WWE fan bases.
I mentioned this earlier in the column, and I loved every second of it. I hated Brother Love as a boy, and seeing the Ultimate Warrior destroy him on WWF Superstars made my day. Check it out and enjoy it with me.
The talk show segment in wrestling has no in between. It's either remembered for its magical moments, or forgotten due to a multitude of reasons. Regardless, shows like these should always be utilized on mainstream television. And that is why for every Piper's Pit, there is a Reo's Roundup. And don't get me started on WCW TALK SHOW SEGMENTS! Lava Lamp Lounge ring a bell?
Jon Harder - email@example.com