The latest episode of “Grilling JR” with Jim Ross and Conrad Thompson covers the King Of The Ring 2000 pay-per-view and all of the big news stories from around that time.
Here are some highlights from the podcast:
Jim Ross was asked if he liked the idea of a tournament on a PPV: “Yea, I did. I like tournaments in general, especially when they are well booked. If you get down to a really good final four, I’m a proponent if you are going to do a tournament, do the semifinals who is going to go to the final match, and then the finals. You have 3 matches of the King of the Ring variety on that PPV and not the whole tournament. I could also live with using your weekly TV shows to build it up, have the tournament, create your stories and create interest.”
Conrad Thompson said at that time, it was reported: “Todd Pettengill on his New York Radio show said he would be returning to the WWF to host Live Wire. Pettengill replaced the older Gene Okerlund as the WWF interviewer in the mid-’90s to give the broadcast a more youthful appearance. Eventually, he drew a lot of resentment because he was a successful DJ outside of wrestling and was able to command a high salary during a time period when the company was losing money.” Conrad said: “I learned from hanging out with Bruce (Prichard) that Todd was not a popular guy. He would drive his new Land Cruiser to work wearing a Rolex. The next day he would pull up in his Lexus. He was a very successful DJ outside of wrestling and happens to be rubbing elbows with guys, a lot of which just got a pay cut (at the time). As a result of this, there was resentment. He asked JR if he remembers this. Ross responded: “Oh yes. Todd liked Todd. He was a very talented guy. He got better at his job as he went along because he, along the way, obtained more product knowledge. He knew what to say and when to say it. He had a little heat on him but he was very happy and proud of his deal. He was on the morning drive on the very highly rated show in New York City (the biggest station in the country). I think his partner was Scott Shannon, a long time star on radio. They had a great thing going. When he mentioned you in a positive light, he was very good at marketing. You have his station being listened to by more people than anything else. It was a good P.R. move for WWE, notwithstanding that Todd did a nice job on the wraparounds. He was a funny guy but he thought a lot of himself. When you come in and start talking about your personal possessions, when everybody else is struggling and trying to get back on our feet, it was daunting. I wasn’t around him very much. He did all his work, or the vast majority of his work at the TV studio and my office was at Titan Tower.”
Ross was asked if there was any chance Brock Lesner would be signed anywhere other than the WWF to start his career: “Absolutely not. We had him. We can thank Jay Robinson, the wrestling coach at Minnesota for his support on that deal. We could have signed Brock after his Junior year. As a favor to Jay, his old teammate, Jerry Brisco, and with my blessing, made a deal that we would not sign him. I never told Vince this story because he would want me to go sign him right away. We made a deal that we would not try to steal Brock from them so he can come back his senior year and try to win the NCAA National Championship at the heavyweight division, and he did. We had Brock committed and on his way to, along with Shelton Benjamin on their way to Louisville within days of the wrestling season being over. Literally, that week. So no, I wasn’t worried whatsoever. Jerry had a great rapport with Jay Robinson. We built a great rapport with Brock. Brock was tired of being broke. I remember he got the biggest rookie contract to that point, $250,000 to start out with.”
Ross was asked if there was talk of bringing back Vince Russo in 2000: “I want to say there was interest in bringing Russo back. I think he wanted to come back. There was an interest in bringing him back and see if he could recreate his magic and all that stuff. For whatever reason, if it was money, or job description or whatever, I don’t know if the job of being head writer was available to him. When a guy has driven the wagon, sometimes you don’t want to ride shotgun. You want to drive. That may have been an issue there. But, there was some interest, yes.”