‘Neal Pruitt’s Secrets of WCW Nitro’ Podcast Reveals, Uh… Secrets of WCW

The voice of the nWo, Neil Pruitt, tells all!

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Over the past ten months, Neil Pruitt and Guy Evans have been putting on one of the more interesting WCW-focused podcasts out there with their Secrets of WCW Nitro. Pruitt was a former WCW feature producer who worked over a decade with the company but might be better known by fans as the voice behind things like, “The following announcement has been paid for by the New World Order.”

You see, Neil Pruitt wasn’t just the voice of the nWo but a constant element behind several of WCW’s key moments and vignettes. His eyes have witnessed a lot of the behind-the-scenes going-ons, and his show retells several stories from throughout his stint as a Turner employee. There is no real set weekly format as sometimes the show is just Neal and Guy tackling a certain topic and other times, it’s Neil reminiscing with another former WCW wrestler or crew member about the golden days. Neil is a nice guy despite his nWo affiliations, so don’t expect there to ever be salacious or scandalous details brought up. In fact, if you enjoy absolute nerdy tirades on old production tricks and editing in screen transitions on computers with only 120mb of storage available (!!!), you’ll be at home here.

So, presented to you here in no order at all are a set number of SECRETS that have been revealed during the show’s lifespan that I’ve enjoyed.

Roddy Piper Goes to Alcatraz and Almost Doesn’t Return

In the lead-up for SuperBrawl VII, WCW shot these incredible vignettes of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper being locked-in at the famous Alcatraz prison to psyche himself up for his match against Hollywood Hogan. Neil Pruitt retold what it was like filming these set of videos during the limited time that they had and brought up all of the issues they ended up dealing with. From the scheduled prison crew who were going to show up as extras that canceled at the last minute (Turner interns wearing Alcatraz tourist merch were used instead) to Piper causing trouble at the very get-go.

The promos were all shot in reverse sequence, so the start of the crew’s workday was the vignette of Piper on a ship sailing away from the prison he just theoretically spent a full well at. Neil Pruitt explains how Roddy Piper’s antics not only pissed off the captain of the rented ship they were filming on, but how he could’ve easily killed himself during the entire process:

Neil Pruitt: “So, the first shot with Piper getting onto the ship and then going towards San Francisco was one of those ones where you really have to have a whole lot of energy, a whole lot of excitement ’cause he was about ready to wrestle the greatest wrestler that WWE has ever produced…

Obviously, Hulk Hogan is a huge name in the industry, so Piper is all fired up about it. He’s so fired up, in fact, that he gets on the front of the ship and hangs onto the mast that is the pole that’s sticking up. He’s saying, ‘HOGAN, I’M COMING TO GET YOU! IT’S JUST A MATTER OF HOURS AND WE’RE GOING TO SEE EACH OTHER FACE-TO-FACE IN THE RING…’ 

So, we videotape that part. And then, he looks at us and goes, ‘Neil, I dunno. I just didn’t like it.’

At that time, the captain of the ship comes up, ‘WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HANGING OFF THAT MAST?! DO YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH SALT WATER IS IN THE AIR AND HOW RUST HAPPENS OUT HERE AND THAT MAST COULD’VE EASILY BROKEN OFF?! DO YOU KNOW HOW OLD THESE SHIPS ARE? IF YOU WOULD’VE FALLEN DOWN IN THAT WATER, IT’S ABOUT SIXTY DEGREES! YOU WOULDN’T LAST BUT A COUPLE OF MINUTES!’

And if you’re standing there on Alcatraz where the ships come in, and you’re looking at the water. It is rushing away from San Francisco towards Golden Gate Bridge where all the sharks are waiting for you. I could see why about nobody ever escaped from Alcatraz. I’d be surprised if those stories were true about the few people that did, but man. Bill Tinsley, the cameraman, and I looked at each other like, ‘Oh my.’

Piper goes, ‘Neil. I really think we need to do that again.’

By this time, after the captain just stormed back into his, whatever. The captain’s place that he was in. I had to go knock on that door and say, ‘Captain, can you come out here for a second?’

So, I look at Bill Tinsley and went, ‘Bill, roll the camera please.” And I looked at Mike Velosa, and I said, ‘Mike, you’re rolling on audio, right?’

He said, ‘yeah.’

I said, ‘Ok. Piper here’s the situation. You’re saying that you want to do another take. The captain has just told us that if you fall over, if you fall overboard and you go into that water that’s sixty degrees, that you could die in a matter of minutes. And there’s no turning this boat around very easily and getting you back. You’re willing to take that risk to be able to get a better take on this video?’

And we pointed the camera at Piper, and he said, ‘Yeah, I am.’

The captain just looked at us like, ‘You guys are nuts.’, and walked back to his quarters…’

Roddy Piper, always the professional.

An Unaired American Males Vignette That Cost WCW $20,000

This is part of a story that I managed to get Neil to ask more about. Back in 2014, I had posted some photos I scanned in from WCW Magazine that Scotty Riggs ended up commenting on. I was originally joking about how much WCW blew on a Heavy Metal Van Hammer music video when Riggs chimed in:

I sent over a question to Neil and Guy about the vignette for their show, and Neil didn’t really have much to say. He wasn’t involved with the shoot in any capacity but months later, he ended up with a guest that revealed more about this American Males vignette that HAS NOT SEEN THE LIGHT OF DAY PUBLICLY BY ANYONE:

WCW Senior Editor, Kemper Rogers: “At the time, I was still producing music video demos that I was doing on-and-off during the late/mid 90’s, ’cause again, that was a big thing that was going on. Marcus Bagwell and Scotty Riggs were forming a new tag team that [WCW] was generating a new storyline for them which was The American Males, which was a group of guys that were extremely good looking and they were male models that were doing a wrestling gig…”

‘In this case, they needed a video, a promotional video, and so, sometime while we were down in Florida, Scotty and Marcus were told that they had to do this promotional video. They hired a production crew to come down there and produce and get this thing done at breakneck speeds. So, they took these guys out, and they went out to this field near this beach, and they had these horses, and these guys were riding these horses with no shirts on; I remember that Scotty Riggs said that he saw the video after it was done, and he said it was like the gayest thing he had ever seen before in his entire life. It was horrible.

Everybody looked at this thing that this other producer had done and you know–again, like the point I made earlier. You can’t just bring someone in, give them a couple of storylines or a couple of audio bites and say, ‘I need you to create something for me that’s ‘wrestle-esque’.’

It needs to have something to it and so, they saw this thing and were like, ‘This. Can’t. Air…”

WCW Senior Editor, Kemper Rogers: “I had heard all sorts of rumors about it, that it was [$10,000] or $20,000 worth of time and rush jobs and editing. [WCW] didn’t do anything for it, so that included the producer’s time, the camera crew, the camera rental, the horse rental, the horse wrangler, the location, and then the post-production. With the post-production, I don’t even know if it got edited at Turner. It probably got edited down in Florida somewhere and sent up. I don’t know, I just know that it never saw the light of day from the standpoint to where I didn’t even see it until I was told to look at it. And it’s hard to unsee.”

Kemper would go on and discuss the next video session that he would ultimately head involving the American Males, one that would actually convince WCW that the pairing of Bagwell and Riggs could work. Fun note too, Kemper took his “sizzle reel” and re-cut it for the A-Ha music video “Lie Down in Darkness”. No, seriously.

The “Take On Me” guys legit have a music video featuring the American Males that aired on MTV Buzz Bin, this isn’t a fan edit of any kind. This was even confirmed by Scotty Riggs himself over on Twitter.

What a world.

Tank Abbott Almost Became Tank Sinatra

This one doesn’t really need much setup as Neil and former WCW producer Jason Douglas discussed on an early episode how interesting and charming the real Tank Abbott was. Apparently, Tank was a cut-up, a character who would frequently be seen hanging out with the wrestlers at the hotel bars after shows. Vince Russo was aware of Tank’s charm and considered a different direction originally to go with than the TOUGH MAN UFC FIGHTER character that Tank Abbott eventually became on WCW television:

Jason Douglas: “Talking about character development, one thing they did do—during the Russo period when they were trying to re-brand all of these characters that they basically absorbed when Russo, Ferrara and Bill Banks came on board—was, we’re going to do ‘Tank Sinatra’. And by ‘Tank Sinatra’—the pitch was very short. It was communicated to me, I believe, by Craig Leathers, and he said, ‘We want you to do an infomercial for Tank, singing as a crooner, singing reworked Frank Sinatra songs.’

So instead of, you know, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, it may have been ‘I’ll Punch You to the Moon’ or something like that.

One look at this face and you automatically think, “I wonder if this man can carry a tune…”

Jason Douglas: “Now, we’re just going by direction from our executive producer. To make this piece, he probably told us to make it like a minute-in-a-half to three minutes. That was about the whole direction I think we were probably given. We worked with the talented Bill Tinsley… to come up with a look that we would put [Tank] in front of, like he’s singing in front of one of these [infomercials], ‘Call right now and get this album of the greatest hits’”

“Joel [Edwards] worked very hard around the clock to come up with these songs. They flew Tank in. We had Tank singing in front of a backdrop.  I think it was a maroon backdrop, it was beautifully lit. No one has probably seen it, in like, fifteen to eighteen years. Tank was a good sport, he sings along, we do all this work; I think we may [have] cut it together. But I remember, somehow I was called into one of our lawyer’s offices to which she told me very quickly that, ‘THAT will never see the light of day. Stop what you’re doing with that. I don’t know whose idea this was, but the Sinatra group will sue us if they even hear about what’s going on.’

So… that was something that—I don’t even know how many times that happened, but for me that was a little bit unusual. Just to [go], ‘Hey, we want to change Tank’s direction!’

He’s a fun spirited guy, everybody knew him from the bars after work and everything. He was a very funny guy, so they just played that up and had him do this character.”

Unbeknownst to many wrestling fans (Neil and Jason probably included), hints of this Tank Sinatra concept actually managed to slip onto a set of music tracks released by the WWE. In April 2014, WWE: The Music of WCW was released digitally for online purchase and streaming. The WWE made a deal with Jimmy Hart to release several of the tracks that Hart held ownership on, and buried deep within that SIXTY track release was something called “Tank in the Night”.

When I came across this track for the first time four years ago, I wondered what this song all about…

And now I know.

Yes, WCW Did Pipe In ‘GOLD-BERG’ Chants

Ok, this is one of the lesser-guarded secrets of WCW, but it’s still interesting to get confirmation from a man responsible for controlling the audio for the company. Neil Pruitt casually admits this practice and goes into why he also sweetened the crowd audio at time as well.

Neil Pruitt: “[T]he A1’s, the audio people that run the mix boards in the truck, have the hardest job, I think, in the wrestling business, because they have so many things that they have to pull up. Whether they go backstage for a fight, or whether they’re in a certain dressing room. Whether they’re [with] Mean Gene’s mic on the stand or whether somebody’s at the entrance way where you’ve got to pick up the audio off one of the camera’s microphones. I mean, there’s a lot to it. Mixing the excitement of the crowd, like whether we mix in Goldberg when he’s coming down, ‘GOLD-BERG! GOLD-BERG!’.

You know, sometimes, some of it would be recorded, and we’d mix that in just to get the people excited.”

After Guy Evans asks for some clarification as he’s well aware of the Internet’s fervor over debating this particular subject, Neil offers up more:

Neil Pruitt: “It didn’t happen all that much as far as the live shows go really, I don’t think. I know I would enhance some of the PPV events. Like, some of the crowd tracks that you could have that would kinda keep a ‘rumble’ in the crowd especially when something’s not going real well and the crowd’s really not into it…”

“I would always super enhance the audio as far as when the show aired on TV for my own benefit, because I knew that it would be better, I think, for the crowd watching at home. So if you’d hear it live, it would be a totally different sound than if you’d hear it on TV, because I had a ‘roar’ track that I used underneath that I think really enhanced the show and made it a lot better.

WCW piping in fake “GOLD-BERG” chants? Check.

WCW piping fake crowd noise as well? Check.

Makes me wonder how Neil doesn’t have a job currently within the WWE. Sounds like Neil would fit perfect under Kevin Dunn’s rule.

Rick Rude Isn’t One to Fuck With

This particular secret had been previously mentioned during a 2015 WOOOOO! Nation podcast with Ric Flair, Conrad Thompson and Eric Bischoff. The Flair show has seemingly been wiped off the face of the Internet, but luckily I covered that episode in a two-part Podcast Report on the site. Basically, all you need to know is that Rick Rude wanted Sting’s spot and WCW turned him down. Neil goes into what it was like producing with Rude before laying out an incident that left Eric Bischoff shaken:

Neil Pruitt: “I worked with Rick Rude in the interview room a few times. I mean, you talk about a guy with so many gifts. I mean, the ability to work so well, the ability to make people mad. His interview skills—often times when we were in the interview room, I had to be the control cop, I guess you might say, where he would make these sexual innuendos, and I would have to cut him off. ‘Nah. You can’t say that, Rick.’

‘WHY NOT?!’

And I knew where he was going with it, but it was Turner and it was my job to not let that kind of stuff slip, so I had to have him change his words often. So, we got along fine and everything, but I could tell sometimes that I really made him mad because he wasn’t able to say what he wanted to say. He probably had practiced it before he got into the room, but I don’t know. He was so gifted at it. I’m not sure if he was like Flair where he really didn’t need any practice, didn’t even know how to tell you how he did so well or not.”

Neil Pruitt: “In this case, Rick… I don’t know if he had taken too many drugs or what was going on with him, but it was a tough time in his life. And, he had the belt. I think they said on, Ric Flair said on his podcast that Rick Rude wanted to have Sting’s spot, and wow. To have Sting’s spot, that would be a big crowning jewel for anybody, and that’s not gonna happen [so easily]. Sting had put in his time and had so many great matches with Flair and just always been there for the company. You know, [he] just did a wonderful job and still has a good career going today. Rick Rude kind of thought he should be there, and it just came to blows finally where Eric just asked for the belt back…

[Eric Bischoff] just had enough so he said, ‘Rick, you’ve got to give me the belt.’”

“[W]e were all parked fairly close, and Rick Rude takes Eric to his car because he said he had the belt in his trunk. So, he undoes… he takes the keys and opens the trunk, and in there, Eric sees two items, very important. One was the WCW world title belt, and the other was a gun. And Eric, from what I understand from [Flair’s] podcast, says that he was just hoping to God that [Rude] didn’t pull that gun on him. But Rude, kindly, took the belt and gave it to Eric Bischoff but wow. It freaked Eric out and everybody else too, at the same time.

And the weird part about it was that Rick Rude and Mr. Perfect and [Bischoff], they all have known each other for a long, long time cause they grew up in the Robbinsdale, Minnesota area. So, that may have been something that helped Eric keep being Eric (laughs). Who knows? It could’ve turned tragic real quick.”

Bischoff’s take on the incident, back from 2015:

Eric Bischoff: “We walk out to the car, [Rude] opens up the trunk, and there’s the [WCW International World Heavyweight Championship] sitting there, right next to a .357. And he just kinda looked in the trunk, looked and me, and he reached in, and I thought “well, here it goes”… and he grabbed the belt.

He made a statement, and that was the end of it. Nothing happened after that, but it was an awkward moment.”

Eric Bischoff gets blown away by Rick Rude in 1994, where does WCW and wrestling go afterward? Something morbid to ponder, I guess.

Lex Luger was the Worst

Neil Pruitt has taken the opportunity to not only answer questions sent in from fans on his show but to always be open and honest with his thoughts. When someone asked who is favorite and least favorite person to work with, Neil didn’t hesitate at all. For him, “Macho Man” Randy Savage was his all time favorite due to the two having great chemistry with one another. Savage trusted in Neil because he felt that Neil was always there to make him look like a million bucks. Macho Man would also always hit-up Neil to provide him with, “some more verrrbage, yeah.’ during shoots.

When it came time to talk about Neil’s least favorite person to deal with, Pruitt only had one name.

Neil Pruitt: “If we want to go to the ‘with who I didn’t like to work with’, one was definitely Lex Luger. Lex, unfortunately, lived in Lex World and he marched to his own drummer. He didn’t want to be on time for anything. I remember him being two hours late one time for a shoot when he and Miss Elizabeth were supposed to do something for us in the studio at WCW…

And I remember another time when we had everything set up , and Lex was supposed to show up in, I believe it was Charleston. And he was probably an hour and a half late there and was acting as if it wasn’t his fault, that he didn’t know about it.

He knew about it. People told him and called him. But he just wanted to make your life miserable, for whatever reason and unfortunately, I think, he was miserable at the time.

Thank God, literally, that Lex is now a good Christian man and has changed his ways so much. You wouldn’t believe the change he made in his life. It’s amazing. I’ve reconciled with him since then, so we’re friends now. It was a weird conversation but a good conversation when we talked about it. We’re on the same page now, so that’s a terrific thing to know that even the people that you really despise can change and do. And he did.”

Guy Evans asked Neil what it was like to have a “Come-To-Jesus Meeting” with “The Total Package”, and if he held back with his feelings in the slightest:

Neil Pruitt: “I absolutely went over every detail, of what I felt about him. It was a tough thing to do. It really was, because I’m not a person that hates. I think I did hate him at one point, and I told him that. I guess it’s one of those things that’s kind of weird to tell somebody, you know? It was an emotional moment, I’ll tell ya. I’m just thinking about it right now. It’s not an easy thing to talk about, but, like I said, he’s on the right path. God can still perform miracles. He still does, and he did with Lex. It was a great thing to see.”

Neil Pruitt isn’t the only person who has said negative things about Lex Luger’s attitude over the years but most people would shy away from talking openly about it given Luger’s current physical state. Neil’s has been away from the wrestling business long enough to where he can be totally honest, which is kinda rare in the world of wrestling podcasts today (*insert clip of Bruce Prichard defending the WWE here*).

Mick Foley Getting His Ear Ripped Off by Vader

In one of the rare gruesome tales told on the podcast, former WCW announcer Gary Michael Cappetta discussed what it was like to be on the infamous WCW tour of Germany where Mick Foley had his ear ripped off. Cappetta and Neil go back-and-forth discussing the incident and what it was like for Gary to have someone’s severed ear plopped into his hand for safekeeping.

Gary Michael Cappetta: “It wasn’t as if [Mick Foley] had an healthy ear and it got torn off all in one night. From what I explain [during my one-man show] is that his ear–because he was doing that one move where he’d be swung into the ropes, he would insert his head between the middle and top ropes, and then vault himself over the top and he’d be hanging off the side of the ring.”

Neil Pruitt: “I thought he was gonna break his neck.”

Cappetta: “The referee would pull the ropes apart as much as he could but there’s not much give in those ropes to begin with.”

Pruitt: “They’re cable!”

Cappetta: “Every night, every night, his ear would get nicked and nicked.”

Pruitt: “Really? I didn’t realize that. Gary, I didn’t know he did that every night.”

Cappetta:  “Yeah! You know, [on all the] house shows…”

Pruitt: “I thought just for special events. I’m wrong.”

Cappetta: “By the time we got to Munich, Germany, his ear was half-severed from his head. So on that last night, the ropes were extremely tight and the referee was a local referee who didn’t know what to do to help him get out. He didn’t lose his ear when he went through, but he severed it even more. I mean, [Mick] would enter the ring with his ears taped down to try keep them in place.”

Pruitt: “Oh, wow. These are great secrets.”

Cappetta: “He gets back into the ring, and he’s wrestling Vader. Vader slugged him a few times, and his ear flew off. And I’m not knowing that this is going on and I see the referee—who didn’t speak any English. He was a French referee, so he only spoke French…

He picked up the ear and he brought it over to where I was sitting. He kept on saying, ‘Ambulance, ambulance!’

So, I understood that, but I didn’t know why he was saying it. And then he dropped the ear to me. So, I have Mick’s ear in my hand. It was so surreal. And I knew that if we’re going to be able save it, in a sense, to get it reattached to his head, we would need to put it on ice. So, I would never, ever leave ringside but that was the one night that I did. I went back to find the doctor, but it was not able to be reattached.”

Over the years, it seems that Foley has developed a sense of humor about the whole incident and even periodically makes jokes at his own expense on his Twitter.

That IS hardcore!

Secrets of the WCW Power Plant

Finally, we have a set of stories from former WCW wrestler Mark Jindrak from his time at the WCW Power Plant. The current CMLL World Heavyweight Champion is strangely bitter over how people perceive the WCW training facility or maybe he feels like the latter graduates get passed over whenever fans discuss the place. Still, Jindrak talked up how he felt about “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff’s training style and if whether or not the WCW Power Plant deserves the low reputation is has for being nothing more of a torture facility.

Mark Jindrak: “Nothing against Paul Orndorff, but when we went to the new style of Power Plant, over at the new factory at the headquarters of WCW in Smyrna, Georgia, I hated to kinda see [Jody] Hamilton go. Nothing against Paul Orndorff but like, Mr. Hamilton… we learned so much from him. He had more of a, than Paul did, more of a way to talk to us. We were young kids, you know? Young kids, we were away from our families. We went to do this dream of professional wrestling. It’s not easy, you know what I’m saying? It’s not easy being around these top guys, these stars, coming in and out of there.

Mr. Hamilton was a guy who did it. Who did it and had a long and successful career. So, when he talked, it was like… imagine, I can picture [what it was] like when Jesus walked the Earth. When he started telling one of his stories and the people would gather around to just listen. Young kids, sometimes you have a one-track mind, but when Mr. Hamilton spoke, when he came out of his office to speak? Man, we were listening. It just was never the same [under Orndorff], although we went to the new Power Plant. It was more modern, it was more clean, it wasn’t as gritty; I felt that we had lost a real big part of learning when Mr. Hamilton wasn’t there anymore.

Some people–like for example, Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player of all time, but he’s not the greatest owner of all time, you know what I’m saying? Some of the greatest wrestlers aren’t the best teachers.

Paul Orndorff was our second teacher in our second stint when the Power Plant renewed itself. He taught us some valuable stuff but nothing compared to what Mr. Hamilton taught us. He was a great wrestler, he was a great teacher.”

“Can anybody explain to Mr. Sanders what’s wrong with his armlock here? Yes, you with the shitty haircut.”

Note how Jindrak casually throws out Paul Orndorff’s name but with his former trainer, it’s always “Mr. Hamilton”. Jindrak continued talking about his WCW training:

Mark Jindrak: “We were a lot of raw athletes. I liked the Power Plant, but it really was just a place where a lot of training was done. A lot of training, and— we all broke in at the same time. It was probably a group of ten or twelve of us. Chuck Palumbo. Sean O’Haire. Johnny the Bull. Mike Sanders. Allen Funk. Elix Skipper. Myself. We all broke in at around the same time. It was almost like a group of kids hanging out together and going to school together. Eventually, we got to the big show [with] Nitro and Thunder, and we stayed [together] like a group. It was a lot easier for us because we stuck together. But the school itself? We have great memories from there, I have great memories. I loved it, I loved it.

Maybe it was very tough, the power plant. We did five hundred squats per day. We had Sarge. Sarge drilled us every single day. No breaks, eight-to-four, but we were all athletes. We could handle it. We were hungry, we were all hungry. We were the first, kinda, group. You know, the Power Plant was always sold as, “Goldberg came from the Power Plant.”

Goldberg really didn’t come from the Power Plant. Big Show didn’t come from the Power Plant, Paul Wight at that time. Power Plant was where like the Karl Malones would go, where DDP would come sometimes to work out a skit on TV. Dennis Rodman would go there. It wasn’t until we started, until they signed us…  we were the first group where they massively signed us all to training deals. That’s when Paul Orndorff took over, Mr. Wonderful, as our trainer. That’s kinda when things blew up, and that’s when we got our opportunity on TV with Vince Russo, just throwing us on their TV.

So, the experience was good. I had a great time, I have memories. People want to say that we were green, we weren’t ready. Well, we were. We were green. We probably weren’t ready. I don’t feel like I really started learning how to work until I got to the system in the WWE…”

Pretty incredibly thing to admit from Jindrak, that even with all the WCW television time, touring, and even championships, he admits that he wasn’t ready for prime-time. In fact, the WWE inheriting a lot of these guys in their buyout of the company helped doomed WCW’s chances during The Invasion as Jim Ross felt that these rookies needed more training. The idea of WCW being the outright inferior brand permeated deeper than just the minds of the WWF fans, that was also the outlook of the WWF locker room as well.

With the lack of veterans and a slew of Power Plant talent, you can see why WCW existing as a separate brand within the World Wrestling Federation in 2001 was an incredibly difficult thing to ask out of Jim Ross. Luckily for him, the Buff/Booker RAW main event fiasco helped put the entire concept to bed before it ever had a chance to really have a go.

Jindrak continued on discussing the WCW Power Plant’s idea of wrestling training:

Neil Pruitt: “So, when you’re going to go the Power Plant, one thing that’s so often misunderstood is, ‘What does it really take to be a wrestler?’

We’ve seen it time and time again, you and I have seen these big guys that come in. They’re big bulked up weightlifters. Yeah, maybe they can bench press five hundred, six hundred pounds or whatever… but they can’t sprint across the ring twice without getting blowed up. Did you know [about] that? Did you start training, when you did, did you go cardiovascular all the way? What was your regime before you started?”

Mark Jindrak: “I knew squats. I knew they were going to try to break you physically. I was always an athlete. The thing that people, the misconception was that you had to be big and bulky. [You had to] walk around and bench-press five plates and stuff like that. It wasn’t like that. They wanted athletes. They wanted resilient athletes with stamina, agility. All those guys I named from the Power Plant, they all had it. They all had something…

All the meatheads got weeded out. My tryout, I did go out and tried out the following month. My tryout, about twenty-five to twenty-six guys showed up and it was a three-day tryout. By the end of the day, there was only three guys left.”

When I post photos of the WCW Power Plant online, it seems that fans are quick to make immediate comparisons to the WWE Performance Center, but it really doesn’t seem like the two places were anywhere near each other in terms of training. It seems that perception of the training facility is that the instructors would focus more on grinding wannabee wrestlers down to a pulp over getting actual wrestling experience. Jindrak mentions how if you managed to get through the initial stages, you’d earn the right to continue to pay for training and take part in a monthly WCW tryout session.

The Sarge puts Sean O’Haire and Mark Jindrak to work!

Jindrak finished his training stories by bringing up someone who maybe had potential to be something great for World Championship Wrestling, but hit a roadblock at the WCW Power Plant. That someone was Bob Sapp.

Mark Jindrak: “[A]ll the guys who made it at the Power Plant, we’d still have the tryout every month.  So when they have the tryout, these dudes would be there right along with Sarge just torturing these guys. Bob Sapp, who honestly had talent and ended up being a huge phenomenon in Japan, he actually threw up. And when he was running to the garbage can to throw up, he threw up in front of himself, and then he slipped in his own puke. He just took a big bump on the cement.”

Neil Pruitt: Oh, jeez.

Jindrak: And he eventually never came back. What a loss of talent. That was a kind of a knock against the Power Plant sometimes because [WCW would] torture them so bad, like we got tortured, that you got a lot of guys that didn’t make it that probably had a lot of talent.

Vomiting and slipping on said vomit in front of your potential employeers? Yeah, there’s no coming back from that.

Oh, wait… WCW actually did put him on television in late 2000! Turns out “The Beast” recovered from his vomit incident but never did anything for WCW beyond this lone segment. Sapp would actually begin his professional wrestling career in late 2002 over in Japan. If only he got to puking at the Power Plant back in 1997/1998…

‘Secrets of WCW Nitro’ is a weekly podcast hosted by Neil Pruitt and Guy Evans. Evans is also the author of the upcoming ‘Nitro: The Incredible Rise and Inevitable Collapse of Ted Turner’s WCW’ book that’s set to release on July 6th, 2018.

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