On the most recent episode of “Something To Wrestle”, Bruce Prichard talked about the backstage feelings during the early days of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon’s relationship. Here are the highlights from the podcast:
Prichard On Who Was Behind Triple H’s Initial Push:
It was [Vince] Russo who really pushed for Triple H to win the championship and was in his corner big time. He’s responsible for getting him into the locker room….[Triple H] was a hell of a talent that drew money. He was good.
Prichard On Whose Idea It Was For Stephanie To Be On TV:
Contrary to popular belief, from my knowledge, the first person to suggest Stephanie being on camera was Cornette said something to the effect of “what the f*ck is this big ti*ty Demi Moore looking bit*h doing walking around the house and we don’t have her on camera? Cornette thought she would be perfect. She was good looking, put her ass on TV. She’s a McMahon, exploit the name”. It was Jim Cornette the first time I ever heard it.
On How Vince Felt About Stephanie Being On TV:
Vince was probably more protective of Stephanie than he was Shane; however, Vince also felt that Stephanie would be a better on-air talent than Shane. He felt that she had the chops and felt that she would just be a natural in front of the camera. That was Vince’s feeling, Vince McMahon.
On Who Put Together The Triple H/Stephanie Wedding Segment:
That all was Vince & Triple H. It was their doing. In fact, all of that footage was shot by Triple H and them. It was all just homemade stuff. I’ve been asked a million times if I’d produced it. I did not. I did arrange it with the Little White Chapel there in Vegas, the drive-thru. I got married there. Jim Ross got married there. Several other folks had wedded bliss in that establishment, so we did set it up with them; but, that was all 100% Triple H produced, shot, everything that night getting in there….the stuff at the wedding chapel was shot by Triple H and that was something he and Vince had come up with.
On Whether Triple H’s Close Relationship With Vince Led To Backstage Heat:
The Triple H stuff was – the effect on the talent – there was still a hangover from those who had lived it with Shawn [Michaels] and there was those rumblings of, ‘Oh boy, this is gonna be Shawn part 2. Triple H, of course, learned from Shawn and he’s gonna get in Vince’s ear and he’s gonna run everything.’ So there were definitely those kind of rumblings at that time because people never in a million years, going back to the first time that Hunter won the championship, people were like, ‘What the f*ck?’ If you were to ask all the agents and everything at that time, ‘Is Triple H the guy to go with and put the title on right now?’ they would have said, ‘No,’ and to the man everybody said, ‘No, we should’t do that with Hunter,’ but we did it and it worked. Hunter, by invitation of Vince who was like, ‘What do you got? Give it to me.’ And he did. Vince has given that same speech and same opportunities to a lot of guys, ‘If you’ve got ideas, bring it to me,’ and if he likes them then, by God, you’re in and he’s gonna take your ideas. He liked Hunter’s ideas and he took his ideas and used it. There was a lot of jealousy. There was a lot of people behind the scenes going, ‘Oh boy, he’s worked himself into a position. Now he’s put himself with the boss’ daughter, so now he’s gonna be all the way up to the top.’ There was a lot of jealousy and a lot of the guys were talking about that in the back.
On Whether Vince Was Open To Stephanie Dating Any Wrestler:
Wrestler was not even in the equation. I think that he made it pretty clear that he did not want her dating any of the boys.
On Shane’s Thoughts On The Triple H/Stephanie Relationship:
I don’t think Shane was happy and that’s me putting words in Shane’s mouth, but I don’t think Shane was happy at all. I think that Shane is very protective of Stephanie, very protective of his mother and if I were a betting man back then, I’d bet Shane wasn’t in favor of it, but he’s also not one of those guys who’s gonna go talk about it either.
Prichard On When He Realized Stephanie & Triple H Were Romantically Involved:
Jerry Brisco and I had this thing and we used to sit back and you watch people. I’m a people watcher. I just kind of like to observe things. We used to see two people hanging out together and catch ’em on the road sometime hanging out together and you’d go, ‘Oh boy, that’s gonna turn into a couple right there.’ We used to have a term for it – actually it was Vince’s term – the first time I heard Vince use it was when Hunter and Chyna got together and Vince said, ‘I think he’s worked himself into a shoot.’ So, we used the same term here. We’re watching everything go on in rehearsals and all this other stuff and they had to kiss on-screen and they had to be husband and wife on-screen a lot and, ‘Man, if he’s not careful, he’s gonna work himself into a shoot here.’ That was probably January 2001 that I ever noticed it. When I knew it was the first XFL game and that’s when I knew they were together because something said to me about something I said to Triple H and it was just weird how she defended it and I thought, ‘OK, they’re together,’ because she wouldn’t defend it like that if – it was just intuition, I guess, is the best way to describe it.
On Chyna & Stephanie’s Relationship Prior To The Affair:
It was great. Here’s the other thing that, again, people always get astounded at. On the writing team, the biggest proponent and the biggest cheerleader for Chyna in the room, at all times, was Stephanie. She was always on us, ‘We’ve got to come up with something bigger for Chyna. We’ve got to do more for Chyna. I want ideas for Chyna. We’ve got to keep her in a top role.’ This was before anybody knew anything at all and again, I don’t know how long they were together before anybody knew, but I do know that the biggest proponent was Stephanie for Chyna….She was her absolute biggest cheerleader.
On When Things Changed Between Chyna & Stephanie:
It never did change until the day that Joanie walked out, it didn’t change and I’m talking even the fu*king weekend before the big meeting with Chyna and Vince. It didn’t change. She was like, ‘You’ve got to make this work. You’ve got to come up with something for her.’ It never changed. It was weird.
On The Rumblings Backstage:
I think there were rumblings and I think there was gossip and the rumor and all that bulls*it and people whispering about it. I don’t think anybody knew for sure, so it was again from my vantage point and sitting there with Gerald sometimes and going, ‘Hmmm, there’s more to this story,’ just the intuition at the XFL game going, ‘There’s something more going on here.’ I think people just were guessing and thinking. Again, I don’t know what the timeline of things were, but I think that there was enough between them in public and backstage that people were whispering and saying, ‘Oh yeah, they’re together. Oh yeah, he’s hitting that.’ That probably was taking place early 2001. Again I was talking to one of the wrestlers that was as close to it as you could be and they were saying that they didn’t know and they even made a comment that one of the wrestlers said, ‘Hey, is there something going on there?’ They said, ‘Man, I’m with her all the time and it couldn’t be.’ I didn’t want to be the only one naive. They hid it pretty damn good. If they were doing it earlier than that, they did a great job of concealing it.
On Chyna’s Last Days With The WWE:
I hate to speak ill of the dead and I won’t speak ill of Joanie. I love Joanie and thought she was a wonderful wonderful person as sweet as the day is long; however, unfortunately the story you just told [from Chyna’s autobiography] none of it’s true. She did call Vince. She did have a conversation with Vince and this was in April or May of 2001. She said that they had been seeing each other and Vince had said he knew and told her to stop seeing him and then he said, ‘Joanie, what can I do? If they love each other, they love each other. What do you want me to do? I don’t want to get involved in your love life. I don’t want to get involved in Hunter’s love life. I don’t want to get involved in Stephanie’s love life. She was upset. She wanted to have a meeting with Vince and so on and so forth. I got a call the night before the meeting from Jim Ross, asking me to be at the building early to be a witness for Vince, because J.R. wouldn’t be there and I got to the building and Vince said, ‘We’ll do it whenever Joanie gets here. Let me know when she gets here and we’ll have the meeting. I said, ‘Do I need to know anything?’ Vince said, ‘No, let’s here what she’s got to say and we’ll take it from there.’ So, Joanie came in. To the contrary, I don’t remember anybody splitting the red seas. To the contrary, there were people that were, ‘Hey, Joanie!’ By this time people knew there was something going on and she came in and she was obviously upset, but she was also just steadfast too and I went and grabbed her. I said, ‘Hey, I want to get you together with Vince.’ She said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ Vince had two offices. He had his main office and the room off to the side. We went to the room off to the side and she told him what she wanted and she asked for almost four times what she was making. [two million dollars] She wanted that guaranteed in the contract and another deal with Playboy and some other things; but, she talked about it and Vince said, ‘Look, I’m not gonna get into the personal stuff. This stuff happens, OK? We’re adults.’ The Stephanie altercation I know for a fact that didn’t happen that day because Vince made sure Stephanie would go out and stay in the arena, ‘I don’t want you anywhere near here. We can come up with a deal and I want to get you guys to deal and everybody work it out and agree we’re all gonna be adults here.’ I know it didn’t happen that day we had the meeting. That’s for sure. That did not happen. Vince told her he couldn’t do what she was asking. He made a very fair offer to her and he offered her a deal, more money than she was making, a down-side guarantee that was more money that she had made the year before. It was a great deal. It was above and beyond what had the situation been different, that he would have offered. She told him what she wanted and she said, ‘I don’t think I can work here under those conditions.’ He said, ‘That is your choice, but at the same time you’re under contract and I will pay you all the way through that; but, you also have this offer on the table. If you’re not willing to take that, I understand that too. That’s not going to be an open offer. Think about it. I don’t want your decision right now. Think about it. Go home. Talk to your agent, your lawyer, whoever it is you need to talk to, but I’m not gonna let personal feelings and all this other crap enter into business. Things happen it’s life. We want to do business with you and we’re showing we want to do business with you with this offer.’ She said she didn’t know if she could work here under these conditions knowing that the man she loved was there and having to work with Stephanie. She said she didn’t know if she could do it. He said that it was her decision, but that she was welcome and he wanted her here and we could work through this. She left. She did not want to perform that night. She was not fired. She was never asked to leave. She asked to leave and Vince said, ‘Sure, take your time and JR will be in touch.’ They decided that if she’s not gonna come back to just let her contract run out and move forward. That’s the truth. That’s exactly what happened, so anything else it just didn’t happen.
On Whether A Stephanie/Chyna Confrontation Ever Did Happen:
Not that I know of. I never heard of one, not at an event. I heard later on that she had called Stephanie or had some kind of altercation with her on the phone at some point, but I never heard anything at any arena or at the workplace ever. Nothing I ever heard of.
On Why Stephanie McMahon & Triple H Are Looked At As Heels Despite Falling In Love & Now Being Married:
It’s because of her last name, because she is the boss’ daughter and Triple H was the top guy. He was in there pitching ideas and pitching Vince years before anything ever transpired with Stephanie. To me the only reason is out of jealousy and lack of understanding. It’s two people that fell in love. They fell in love. They got married. They live happily ever after. They’ve got a happy family and all that sh*t. I think people look at it and they don’t understand that out of jealousy and they feel there’s only one ulterior motive. Why can’t people just be happy? Why can’t they just accept that they love each other and move on? It happens.
You can watch the full podcast of “Something To Wrestle” with Bruce Prichard below.