This was filmed in 2005.
It is hosted by Rob Feinstein and Doug Gentry.
The interview runs at two hours long.
Bret’s first question is what was the hardest thing for a wrestler to grasp when starting the business. Bret says the toughest thing for most people to grasp is that none of this (wrestling) is real. He says the whole objective of pro wrestling is to tell a story without hurting each other. Bret talks about people chopping each other and how that hurts and is stupid as he points out how the fans react and letting them dictate what you do is the wrong psychology.
He talks about his dad teaching him to make wrestling seem as realistic as possible. Plus, he said an athletic background makes for a more credible pro wrestler. Bret said when you first started out you had to know how to protect yourself so someone does not come in and try to “guzzle” you. He also said you could embarrass a bigger opponent by “blowing him up” in the ring. In Japan, Bret said they would take liberties in the ring with you only after you became exhausted.
On how to explain wrestling psychology, Bret said it follows the same thread as real sports and likens it to boxing fights from guys like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson as it calls wrestling psychology a takeoff on boxing, like winning an uphill battle to win a fight for example. Bret says he wanted fans to believe in his matches the same they did while watching boxing.
He also talks about a babyface selling too much is death to a match and you need a good heel to keep the fans invested and give hope that the babyface can fight back. Bret believes the heel should do everything to establish that he is the villain but also make the babyface look like a million bucks in his comeback. He also talks about first wrestling in the WWF against guys like The Spoiler and Swede Hanson and how they gave him nothing in the ring except for an occasional sunset flip spot so when he turned heel, Bret made it a point to give the babyface opponent a good, long comeback. He recalls a story of Rick McGraw getting upset that Bret was taking too much but Bret told him he knew what he was doing and would give him a big comeback and says you need to give the babyface about four spots that end up in nearfalls to make the fans believe he has a chance to win.
Bret says that Bad News Brown did not have any psychology and could not understand wrestling was a work and did not give back what he took even against credible opponents, referring to him as a “meat chopper.” He also said no babyface would want to work with him as a result because all he did was eat up his opponents and they did not want to ruin their standing with the fans as your stock would plummet after working with him.
He also talks about a good wrestler should not always have to rely on a gimmick and get by on your own instead.
Bret talks about learning the most about psychology from riding in cars with guys like Harley Race, Terry & Dory Funk, and others. He also said it was ingrained in his mind by watching wrestling his entire life. Bret said he was not “smartened up” until he was 19 years old and a referee for the Stampede Territory in Calgary by his brothers while riding around in the vans.
On why wrestlers do not go for the win early on in a match, Bret said that the mentality is that both guys are fresh. He feels there are too many nearfalls in wrestling matches today and it makes all the matches appear the same and it makes it harder for everyone else to work another style of match as a result.
Bret believes a good high-flying wrestler can still have psychology. He then talks about not doing something you cannot do well and credits Hulk Hogan for making what he did work out great. Bret feels that Rey Mysterio is amazing to watch and a gifted wrestler with a great imagination as he credits his psychology for being excellent. He also talks about Sabu and thought there was something missing to his psychology when he put guy throughout the table with convoluted spots so he took that idea himself and made it seem real when Kevin Nash put him through a table.
He also thinks that Ric Flair has little psychology in his matches. Bret says he puts him over as a hard worker who is all-action but what he does makes little sense, such as getting whipped over the turnbuckle a few times per match, as he always repeated himself. Bret says that Hogan had good psychology because his size was such that he could believably hulk up and overcome the odds.
Bret does not think there should be much difference in approaching the opening match to the main event, adding if someone is doing all sorts of highspots in the opening match its not going to effect what he is doing in the ring as part of the main event. He adds that you have an obligation to go out and give the best match you can but also not take away from what happens later on in the card.
On the psychology of working a good tag team match, Bret said its different than a singles match. He puts over The Brainbusters for having excellent psychology but also did a lot of stuff old-time classic teams did so he saw everything they did while growing and watching on TV. He also stresses the importance of working up to a tag and make sure its not overkill when it comes to distracting the referee. Bret feels that tag wrestling has lost a lot of luster and hopes they can resurrect the tag team division.
Bret says the heel should dictate the match and the only time the babyface really should have any say is if he’s the champion in order to protect the belt and the company or if the heel is really green and needs to be led then the babyface should lead the match.
On wrestlers ignoring crowd reactions, Bret said he was lucky to not get the “boring” chants for his matches but he never let the fans dictate the match or think they were pushing his buttons. He feels its okay to stick with what you know as long as you’re competent. Bret also says you have an objective to have the best match possible and can listen to the crowd to find out what makes them happy before going out but do not let them dictate your match.
Bret talks about when he broke into the business guys would call it in the ring. He also saw guys like Dynamite connect more complicated spots that require memorization and says a lot of memory skills are needed to do these sequences. He then talks about sitting with Shawn Michaels for a few hours and together mapped out their sixty-minute Iron Man Match and wrestling Terry Funk without talking to each other until they got in the ring where Bret followed Funk’s lead.
He thinks a babyface needs to be humble and genuine with a lot of “fire.” A person the fans believe is a nice guy with a good heart. Bret also thinks that if a babyface comes off as an asshole who pretends to be a hero then they will fail. His talks about his father telling him to always make sure to keep fans coming back and its hard work as people save money to come down and see the shows and buy merchandise so make sure you are nice to them and give them the time. Bret says he remembered going up to the babyfaces as a kid for autographs and always remembered those who refused to sign anything for himself or others. Bret adds that you cannot disappoint fans all of the time or you will lose them.
Bret says a good heel is someone who can keep a semblance of reality and has a good gimmick. He talks about loving the Mankind gimmick and how it could scare people and the whole thing came off as unique. He takes offense to what Flair said about Mick Foley in his book because Flair did the same thing each night while Foley could do many characters at once with brilliant psychology and you never knew what he would do next, unlike Flair.
On matches he had with his brother Owen, Bret said that he made sure that Owen did not do too many fancy moves or spots the fans would love because he was the heel.
Regarding promos, Bret said that he was sometimes given lines to say. He also talks about not being the greatest guy with promos but that he knew what he was talking about and once he knew the direction of his character it came easy. He gives examples of not what to do like saying you will guarantee victory then go out and lose. Bret talks about being reluctant about saying he would win a match in a promo when booked to lose and how fans perceived him as a terrible promo as a result.
Bret thinks that scripted promos are hurting the business because they do not come across as believable. He then goes into Terry Taylor, who he calls a nice guy, telling him what to say in a promo while in WCW as Bret thought why should he listen to someone who never drew any money in wrestling. He said the same about Eric Bischoff and others who never wrestled but that Vince is an exception because he grew up in the business and grasped the business.
He talks about his promos while feuding with Shawn Michaels in 1997. Bret said that he went over the line at points with hopes it would draw more money as everyone thought the heat they had was real. Bret said Shawn’s feelings were hurt at times but that he also went out and told him stuff he was going to say but claimed he was so believable he ended up working Shawn like he was one of the fans. Bret also claimed his idea was never to agitate Shawn to the point he would not want to do business and he was working the whole time and he was referring to Shawn’s character rather than his real-life personality then said they ended up “working a shoot” than “shooting a work.” He then says that if not for what happened at the Survivor Series, he never would have left the WWF and believed he would have talked Owen out of the Blue Blazer stunt that ended up taking his life. He adds that he never would have been concussed, which led to his stroke.
When asked about Pat Patterson having the reputation of being a great “finish guy,” Bret said he had the ability to see a match and how it will play out as it runs through your head. Bret also claims to have this ability too. He also talked about being a referee and helping his dad book Stampede for several years before joining the WWF, who had no clue about everything he knew about wrestling.
Bret said the best way to go about psychology is to go out and run a match through your head as you were a fan in anticipation of the match. He uses an analogy of Spiderman and you do not want to see him automatically destroy his foe but rather have him get roughed up a few times before getting the upper hand.
He talks about his matches against Ric Flair after beating him for the title. Bret said that they were having good matches before he was the champion but as the challenger, Flair was dominating the matches and not giving him a comeback so Bret went to Vince. Bret also said Flair would take advantage of people that way.
On working gimmick matches, Bret said you need to make sure to involve the gimmicks or environment. On “getting color” Bret calls anyone who just goes out and blades a “mark” and that you should get color when the situation calls for this as he thinks anyone in the first few matches of the card that blades is an idiot.
When trying out for the WWE, Bret said your goal is to show them what you do well and not embarrass yourself or expose that you need more experience.
Bret talks about his match against Tom Magee. He told him to follow his lead and signaled for Magee when to do his comeback. Bret also said that Magee got a big head after their match and thought he was good when in reality he was very green then no one was able to get anything out of him ever again.
Feinstein then asks Bret a question he forgot to ask in his previous shoot interview and that is if the rumor of him wrestling Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania 2 was true. Bret confirms that it was but it got switched for some reason.
Bret talks about how it is important to utilize the referee in the match when you are the heel.
He is asked about AJ Styles and calls him pound-for-pound one of the best wrestlers today. When asked about Teddy Hart, Bret says he has to careful not to hurt himself by doing dangerous stuff before he reaches his prime. He says you want to have a good back when you are 35 and not end up like the Dynamite Kid and stuck in a wheelchair.
On Vince McMahon, Bret says he has nothing bad to say about him and enjoyed doing the DVD with the company and credits the WWE for doing their best to make him happy.
Bret goes back to Shawn Michaels and said that he probably worked too hard in creating “pretend heat” between them with what he said during the period Shawn went home after “losing his smile” but thought they had an understanding it was about business. Bret also said Shawn was never honest with himself and they could have done great business for a long time. He then says the difference between Shawn & Triple H and himself is that he’d never screw someone over if asked by Vince McMahon. Bret also said that Hogan was wrong in saying he was not one of the boys, stating Hogan had a star on his dressing room and never had anything to say to the younger talent and basically blew everyone off after WrestleMania VI, where he stopped being “one of the boys.”
Final Thoughts: This was a very good interview. The hook of this series is that its all about wrestling psychology and the inner-workings of the business. I felt this interview encompassed that. Bret is a good interview subject as he never dodges questions.
I thought some of the most interesting stuff he said was about Shawn Michaels, stating Shawn had no idea he was trying to create what appeared to be real-life “heat” in an attempt to draw more money. The rest of what Bret said about psychology made sense as well. And sure, at times he was full of himself but that is to be expected.
Overall, I recommend this interview. Bret gives a lot of insight and it did provide a look into the business and how he operated as a wrestler.
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Next week’s shoot interview recap will be the Kayfabe Commentaries 1990 WWE Timeline as told by Bruce Prichard.
Here is my schedule for the next several days:
Friday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 2/18/90
Saturday: Mid-South Wrestling 10/28/82
Sunday: WWF Madison Square Garden 2/19/90
Monday: WWF The Main Event 2/23/90
Tuesday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 2/24/90
Wednesday: EVOLVE 86 6/24/17
Thursday: Kayfabe Commentaries Timeline Series: 1990 WWE as told by Bruce Prichard