GFW CONFERENCE CALL (7/26): Bruce Prichard and Dutch Mantel discuss their roles in GFW, El Patron, Jack Swagger, Rey Mysterio, the Hardys and other topics

BY MIKE MCMAHON, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

On Wednesday, Global Force Wrestling held its weekly conference call. This week, Bruce Prichard and Dutch Mantel were on the call and they discussed a wide variety of topics, including their day-to-day roles, what has changed from the last time they were in TNA and a lot more.

On the edginess of the product, especially after Konnan was using wire cutters when abducting Dos Caras last week …

Dutch: “I think we’re going to do a program that is conducive to viewership. Will it be edgier? That’s a possibility but it’s not necessarily the way we will go. Konnan having wire cutters, that’s Konnan. That’s his personality. He added a touch of realism that I think is missing in some products. … Sometimes people play a character and sometimes people are a character, and I think you got true Konnan which is a plus for the industry.”

On their day-to-day roles …

Prichard: “Essentially I am a talent, but I’ve been asked to come in and help consult behind the scenes. I’m used as a sounding board. I’ve done it all in wrestling, so I’m there to help and watch the company grow from years of experience. My main role is that of a talent, and beyond that, I am a consultant and I’m not afraid to give my opinion.”

Dutch: “My role is like Bruce’s. I operate in a consultant capacity and I consult on various issues. Creative, TV, whatever I am asked. I was probably one of the first they called, when the new regime took over, I was one of the first ones they contacted and I was talking to them for several months before the change was made.”

“Right now, looking back, it’s a very positive environment. In anything in life, it’s a work in progress. We’re striving every day to make this a better product for our TV partners and most importantly the fans.”

On Jack Swagger …

Dutch: “I talk to Jack every couple of weeks. Since he left WWE, he has experienced some interest and we have some interest in him. He was on the road for 10 years, and I think right now he is enjoying his time off. But, I am interested in bringing him in. I think he is a great in-ring talent and performer. Even better than that, he is a great guy to be around. I think you could possibly see him in GFW soon.”

On negotiations with Rey Mysterio …

Dutch: “The latest I heard was that negotiations were not officially underway but unofficially. We are talking to him and he would be a great addition, but I can’t add anything to that. I think he would be a great addition.”

On the benefits of being able to tape television rather than be live …

Prichard: “Well, the advantage is definitely cost. You can spread that out. You’re not having the addition of traveling back and forth. In addition to that, you have your TV production costs, live satellites and what have you. Those are just simple economics of production.”

“The advantage on that part sometimes outweigh the advantage of being able to go live with the live element and live feel. I love live TV, but sometimes you have to look at the basic economics if it’s feasible. When it is, I’m sure we’re doing it. But there are advantages of having all your TV done and then the time in post production to make it the best you can as well. When you’re live you get one shot at it.”

Dutch: “A lot of advantages and disadvantages. On live TV anything can happen. Whoever is at that headset better be willing to step it up and make a decision. The reason we’re doing block taping is strictly economic. If you did shows like WWE does, or if we did a live show, a standalone show, the numbers are astronomical. I saw it the other day. If you package them up like we’re doing, one setup cost, and putting them under one roof, one travel, it lessens the money you’re putting out. It’s strictly a budget issues. Creatively, live versus pre-tape, I don’t really prefer one or the other. If it came down to it, I think live is more exciting.”

On the writing process for pro wrestling …

Dutch: “One person cannot write this. One person would be stretched so thinly, he wouldn’t have time to go home at night. There needs to be a team to do this. WWE has 25 writers. But there comes a problem. You have to have writers, but the writers need experience and I don’t know where you get that experience. In WWE, none of the writers were former wrestlers. The agents were, and the producers were, but the writers went to school for english or journalism. It doesn’t mean you can make that jump to pro wrestling.”

“One day I asked a writer up there, I asked him where he worked before and he worked for the Rochester Daily News Journal. He was very respectful and I like all those guys. … But you need a team for the amount of work and writing that has to be done.”

Prichard: “Having done both, being a single writer sometimes and also being part of a large group, even when you’re by yourself, you’re getting ideas from everybody. It’s impossible for one person to be able to do it and I think that the trick is, and the key is, is to get qualified creative minds all around you. I gave up the theory that they need to come from the wrestling business a long time ago, but I do think they need to have an appreciation for the wrestling business and they need to enjoy the product before they can come in and start contributing. For someone to be passionate about a product or about a story, I would hope at some point in their life they have experienced some of what they are writing about. Not just dreaming about it. If you’re writing a love story and you’ve never been in love, it doesn’t ring true. But someone who has been in love and has been jilted, they know how that feels. It’s the same in wrestling. If a guy who has never been punched in the face, he doesn’t know how to sell a punch in the face. Experience in life and passion are two biggest things I would look for in a writer.”

On the current state of the television deal …

Dutch: Pop, in a lot of places, doesn’t even get carried. Sometimes you’re at the mercy of your TV partner. Certainly we would like Pop to be bigger, but that’s what we have right now and we work hard to bring Pop the largest audience we can. They’ve been a great partner. We’re working very hard every day to get the GFW product out there and I think that’s a work in progress. It may change hourly.”

On the Hardy “Broken Universe” situation …

Prichard: “From my point of view, I know absolutely nothing about it. So to give you an opinion, I couldn’t. There are always two sides to every story and regardless of what happens, you have to remember that. Both sides could be right, both could be wrong, I don’t know anything about it so I am not going to comment. You would be getting a comment from someone who has zero knowledge of the situation and that’s not fair to anybody.”

Dutch: “I try to stay out of the way. It’s not my area of responsibility. I know about as much as everyone else. The company’s position is IP law belongs to the employer, and that’s the line they’re taking. If negotiations are going on or not, I have no idea. I hope it gets worked out and I think it will in the end.”

On Davey Richards leaving GFW to pursue being a doctor …

Dutch: “I wish him all the best in the world. That’s a profession where he can help people. I knew he was a paramedic but I didn’t know he was studying to be a doctor. What always stuck out to me was his passion for the business. He really had a passion. Personally, as far as I am concerned, I hate to see him go and the door is always open for him to return.”

Prichard: “Always hate to lose a talent, but I know he has a passion elsewhere that he wants to pursue, and to not pursue that passion, shame on him if he doesn’t. I wish him nothing but the best of luck.”

On the changes in TNA since the last time they were there …

Prichard: “It’s a completely different company from when I left. Walking into it, for me, from a talent standpoint, I go in and I am working with Jeff. It’s a different environment to what it was before.

“When I sit there and I talk to him and we talk about the business and the future, I believe there is actually an understanding when we talk. I don’t believe that was there before. The folks at Anthem have placed their confidence in Jeff, Dutch and Jeremy and they’re allowing the people who know what they’re doing to go ahead and do it. They’re allowing the business to be run and they’re listening to folks who have done it before. The environment is night and day, and frankly, that was one of the selling points on me coming back into the fold. It’s a completely different company.”

Dutch: “It’s totally different. Ownership sets the tone. From top to bottom. When I was here before, the tone was a little bit off. I’ll be honest, when I was here before, I didn’t know who ran the company. This guy was, no Dixie was. I didn’t know. In WWE, you have one guy in charge. Vince McMahon. When it goes to him, it’s going to the supreme court. In TNA, and this is not a knock, but sometimes it was a rudderless ship and we were just floating out in the water. That’s the difference. Anthem has taken over and they have put certain people in charge. They don’t tell you how to handle it, but they tell you what your responsibility is and they let you run with it. So far, I think we’re doing well, but it’s still a work in progress.”

On the relationship with Lucha Underground …

Dutch: We are talking. What GFW is trying to do is to bring all of these outliers in. We brought Crash in, and NOAH and AAA and we’re trying to bring in Lucha Underground. We’re trying to bring in a working relationship with all of these other companies. There are benefits to everybody. If a talent comes in from Lucha Underground, they can’t sign a long term deal so we’ll sign a short term deal. That’s ok. They won’t wear out their welcome. It’s a great wokring relationship for everybody.”

On what old-school aspects of wrestling could be brought back today …

Dutch: “Too many companies have let WWE set the standard for what a wrestling show should be. Look at WWE, they usually start with a long talking segment. I’ve even been on some indie shows where they start with a long talking segment. We need to keep our stories simple. … The other thing is, the shows are way too long. Two hours is all you need. Every week on Raw, and I appreciate what they do, but three hours is a commitment. Three hours, for me, I’m not going to it. There are a lot of things we can bring back. A 90-minute show in Memphis, that’s a big show in Memphis we set records on. 90 minutes is the perfect length for a wrestling show. I can put up with two hours.”

On Alberto El Patron’s suspension …

Dutch: “He’s cleared as a suspect. As far as I know, Orlando PD said he wouldn’t be charged. We’re still conducting an internal review because its’ something we don’t take lightly, and when that is complete, we will release our findings.”

On a potential network setup, or an agreement with a streaming service such as Netflix ….

Prichard: “Never say never, especially with someone like Anthem involved. That is a real possibility at some point in time. I do know that they have all the skills and capability and platform to do it.”

Dutch: “I have heard they have reached out and possibly some talks will be held in the future.”

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