There has been one thing synonymous with WWF/E programming for over 30 years….aside from the actual wrestling…talk shows. Whether it was a pit or a corner, a shop or a parlor…the World Wrestling Federation…errr I mean World Wrestling Entertainment has had a long history of talk show segments and the history of these segments is the focus of this piece today.
In recent years, with the advent of live broadcast TV and with wrestlers becoming more adept at cutting a promo by themselves…the talk show segments have been much fewer and far between. Usually a wrestler will now stand in the middle of the ring and sell a match or a pay per view or they will be seen backstage with an interviewer and tell a story. Sure, once in a while, we will get the occasional Miz TV or Highlight Reel or some other variation of a talk show where tough questions will be asked. All in all however, those days have seemingly vanished.
It really all began in 1982, when Vince McMahon Jr. bought the WWF from his ailing father Vince Sr. Vince Jr had grand visions of taking his newly bought company into the national spotlight. It wasn’t just pro wrestling he wanted to sell to the fans…but an in depth look at the wrestlers lives (kayfabe of course) outside the ring. The best way to do that, was have someone who could dig deep and ask the tough questions. A talk show segment that was sandwiched between matches.
Before the birth of the WWF talk show, Vince Jr would usually do the generic interviews himself in front of an empty ring and ask the wrestlers about a specific opponent or event. When Vince took over the family business, a part of his new programming included talk show style segments complete with a set. The only thing missing was the perfect host.
Vince found that host in the form of the charismatic, outspoken and very first WWWF champion….’The Nature Boy’ Buddy Rogers. The segment would be called simply…Buddy Rogers corner and he would interview the top stars of that era including Don Muraco, Superfly Jimmy Snuka and the Wild Samoans. After Rogers broke his hip in a comeback match…Rogers would retire and leave the WWF.
Vince Jr. would quickly find Rogers replacement with someone who was almost the exact opposite of the former world champion. A man by the name of Robert Debord…a name that truly epitomized his personality. Debord wasn’t just any Joe Schmo off the street…no…he was in reality the editor in chief of the WWF’s official publication…Victory magazine. The title of the new show was called “Victory Corner” no less.
The biggest problem with Victory Corner was the host…Robert Debord. He was dry, uncharismatic, stumbled over his own words and was the exact opposite of what the young Vince McMahon looked for in personalities. The show started in November of 1983 and lasted until January of 1984…when a new kid came to town….
‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper took over the Victory Corner segment and renamed it Piper’s Pit…the rest as they say, became instant wrestling history. Piper wasn’t intimidated to poke and prod every wrestler that came on his show. Piper’s Pit revolutionized how these talk shows should be done and became the standard bearer for them. Of course, once Piper left the WWF to make movies and retire for a brief period of time…Vince needed a suitable replacement or replacements…and boy did he ever try.
Here are just a few of the talk shows that made the TV rounds during and after Piper’s Pit ended in 1987…
The Flower Shop hosted by ‘Adorable’ Adrian Adonis
The Snake Pit hosted by Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts
Blackjack’s Barbecue hosted by Blackjack Mulligan
Missy’s Manor hosted by Missy Hyatt
The Body Shop hosted by Jesse Ventura and later hosted by Don Muraco
The Barber Shop hosted by Brutus Beefcake
The Funeral Parlor hosted by Paul Bearer
Heartbreak Hotel hosted by Shawn Michaels
The King’s Court hosted by Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler
The Brother Love Show hosted by Brother Love
Reo’s Round Up hosted by Reo Rogers (Bruce Prichard)
Tuesday Night Titans hosted by Vince McMahon and later by Gene Okerlund
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the late night TV talk show called Tuesday Night Titans aka TNT that aired every Tuesday night on the USA network. The show was the WWF’s version of a late night talk show ala Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon etc. It aired from 1984-1986.
All of the aforementioned shows were just a drop in the bucket for the WWF/E. Other shows were spawned like, Under the Covers with Sunny, Carlito’s Cabana, The Peep Show, The Cutting Edge, MVP’s V.I.P lounge, Dude Love’s Love Shack and countless others. Some were much better than the others, but all hold a place in WWF/E lore.