Prime Time Wrestling – The Audience Era

Prime Time Wrestling - The Audience Era

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but there would be no without Prime Time Wrestling. That’s not because the show was bad; it’s because the show was so fantastically awesome. It’s what led to me becoming a pro wrestling fan in the first place. It started with a British Bulldogs vs. Hart Foundation match. I’d never seen anything like it before, and fell in love with the action and psychology in play. It was, in a word, great. But for every Bulldogs-Hart **** classic, there were a half dozen or more Jimmy Jack Funk vs.. Tony Garea snooze fest.

And you know what? It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because of the greatest team in the history of pro wrestling:


And of course that would be Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon.

They didn’t spearhead my favorite wrestling show of all time, they were the hosts of my favorite TELEVISION show of all time.

Oh how I love these great, great men.

You know, I just grabbed a random episode of Prime Time from the archives I have here (and yes, I have every single episode since for whatever reason WWE Network apparently can’t be bothered to have them all) to introduce this induction. And just looking at that image made me smile and laugh. I could write a book about how awesome this show was (I’ve actually pondered what it would take to write The Prime Time Chronicles) because every single time I tuned in and saw Monsoon and Heenan I smiled, laughed, and had the time of my life. Back in the old VHS days, I would tape the show and not bother to record any matches; I just wanted to see Gorilla and the Brain bicker back and forth.

I mean, the image itself leads us right into a story about the show – look at it, and you know they are celebrating New Year’s. Holidays were a HUGE deal on Prime Time. So you got New Year’s (generally with Bobby being hung over while Gorilla yelled at him)…


….Thanksgiving with Pilgrim Bobby…


…Christmas (with WWF STOCKINGS!!!!!)…


…and Halloween, where the two played dress up every year.

moonsoonheenan4The one above had to be my favorite, and possibly the greatest overall episode ever. Not only did we get Bobby as The Genius and Gorilla as Brother Hate, we got Roddy Piper (dressed as the Brain!) knocking out the real Brother Love with a pumpkin. Upon waking up from his gourd-based slumber, Love proceeded to throw a tantrum, telling how he’d been hit with a BRICK. Everyone in the entire segment was absolutely phenomenal, and it led to the end of the show featuring a segment with Roddy Piper giving us, yes, you guessed it, HALLOWEEN TIPS.

(Yeah, it was Prime Time that gave us that classic WrestleCrap Radio bit.)


Should also mention that Piper had changed his outfit so he now resembled a weasel. Awesome.

That’s not even getting into the times when Heenan and Monsoon went out of the studio, traveling to such locales as…

…Busch Gardens (where Bobby’s wife showed up and his daughter stomped him on the foot calling him “WEASEL!” in uncredited roles!)…


…the OLD WEST (!!!!!) where the Brain tried his hand at ACTING and DIRECTING in a series of fantastic cowboy skits, and my all time favorite…


…TONY PACKO’S HOT DOG EMPORIUM, where the pair signed their buns (Heenan: “Gonna be hard to do without a mirror!”) which I say is unquestionably the funniest seven minutes of WWF television in history.

Ok, yeah, such a book may be a must.

How I absolutely, positively, loved this show.

So how on earth did it wind up here at

Apparently, the powers that be in the WWF decided the show needed to be monkeyed with and promptly took the simple fun of two guys you could tell were having fun together and thus being entertaining by themselves and bloated it with a bunch of…well, WrestleCrap.

On February 18, 1991, my favorite show ever died in front of a live, studio audience.

The show was a disaster from the first five seconds, as the iconic intro was gone.

Gorilla? Gone.

Heenan looking baffled? Gone.

And most importantly, Heenan carrying Monsoon around in a rickshaw?




In its place?

The most unflattering shots of Stamford, Connecticut imaginable, filmed as if it were done on someone’s home video camera as they were driving through town. It climaxed with an extended look at a bowling alley.

What, you thought I was kidding?

As idiotic as that looks, it sounded much, much worse, as we get a voice over explaining how we were in the entertainment capitol of the world, Stamford, Connecticut. Did you know it’s just 44 miles north of the Big Apple? YOU DO NOW! It was obviously meant to be campy and fun, but just wound up being kinda stupid.

It was a precursor of things to come.

Right off the bat, we see things have gone horrifically awry, as the Prime Time set has vanished and Gorilla Monsoon is nowhere to be found. Instead we get The Brain and Vince McMahon in the back, looking at what appears to be a 13″ black and white TV.


Also, it appears they are taking a leak.

No no, they’re just getting ready to go out.

Out where, you ask?

Out to a studio audience, which is compose of kids clapping and stomping their feet as if they were hepped up on goofballs. If the International Olympic Committee were to ever decide that paddle boating was a valid sporting contest, these geeks would win the gold.


Lord Alfred shows up, but it’s not to shill for Sugar Daddy (“the flavor which lasts a lifetime”) or Yipes Stripes (“share dare chew it blow it!”). No, he’s there to introduce THE STARS OF OUR SHOW! I won’t even attempt to peck out what his Lordship has to say, as I know I can’t do him justice, so yeah, click here.


The yuk yuks start with Vince telling us that we’re going to be getting a tour of Washington DC with Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush since it’s President’s Day. We are also told that the Bushwackers would be here to join us live in studio. Thrilling. So the boys toss it to the first match of the evening, a tag team battle royal!


Which is really boring.

The sole highlight is Roddy Piper calling one of the Nasty Boys “Nags”. Or maybe it’s “Knaggs.” Yeah, I like that spelling better. Again, though, I am not going to knock this show for terrible bouts, as the Monsoon-Heenan Prime Times always had oodles of crappy matches.

But they never had anything, ANYTHING, resembling the train wreck we are about to witness.

That would be when Nancy and Barbara show up on screen. And by that I mean two guys wearing what appear to be Spitting Image puppet masks against a green screen image of the white house. This while “Mean Gene” Okerlund does a goofball speech about…well, nothing. I mean, yeah, we get a couple of timely (I guess) jokes (I guess), but really, it’s just…nothing. Here, you take a listen and be the judge.

Back to the studio we go, as Vince threatens us with more Nancy and Barbara throughout the show. But enough of that. Vince puts on some granny glasses (ummm what?) as we debut a new segment:



Here we get stories of the Rolling Stones bassist (?), Patriots’ owner Victor Kiam (???), and how specific foods and drinks reflect your mood. What this has to do with pro wrestling, sports entertainment, or honestly anything at all, I have no idea. Pretty sure it was just a platform for Bobby to launch into one liners, but even he seems baffled at the concept.

Can’t say I blame him.

Oh, I should also note that Vince taps his cards repeatedly. You know, like a real live anchorman would.

As I look at that GIF above, and I watch the rest of this show, all I can think is seven years later, Vince would be the hottest heel in the business and would transform himself into a legitimate, honest-to-goodness billionaire.

The past two minutes as I have been trying to type that sentence, my head is just instinctively shaking “NO”.

But we got MISTER MCMAHON and the business changed forever.

Again, just seven years after we got THIS.


Yes, discussion of wallets hurting your lower back.

And again my head shakes no.


The next segments, featuring Roddy Piper talking up Virgil and then a VIKING match, aren’t making it any easier. It also doesn’t help matters that the commentary duo for that match is, in fact, Bobby and Gorilla…who are no longer the hosts of this show, I remind you. I will say, in the interest of fairness, just having them together in this one match means this show is now not the worst ever. This would be solely due to the fact that Monsoon asked, and I quote, “I wonder where he parked his boat?”

Oh how I miss Gorilla Monsoon.


Before we go back to the studio, we get Okerlund and Hacksaw Jim Duggan at Toys R Us! Gene shills and shills as only he can, telling kids to blitz the store and buy title belts, wrestling rings, POWER CYCLES, and MACHO KING PUZZLES!!!! The skit concludes with Duggan slamming his 2×4 on Gene’s foot, causing Okerlund to jump up and down in pain while he exclaims that we need to HOP ON DOWN to Toys R Us.


Thankfully (or not!), Okerlund heals up in time to get us back to Washington DC, as we get a primer on the US Capitol building.

As Gene babbles on, Barbara and Nancy ‘fight’. Oh boy.

Remember when we did that induction years back of Barrack vs. Hillary? Remember how horrible that was? I can say without hyperbole that skit was literally one gazillion times better than what I am watching tonight for you kids.


Somewhere in here, we get a Hulk Hogan promo, as he hypes his upcoming showdown with Sgt. Slaughter at WrestleMania VII. During the interview, he talks about how he’s concerned that Slaughter may be planning to, and I am simply reporting the facts here, drown us in oil, shoot Scud missiles at our homes, and kidnap children as prisoners of war. But don’t worry – Hulk’s going to make sure that doesn’t happen!

Yeah, I can’t believe this failed to sell out a 100,000 seat arena either.


The Bushwackers join us for a weather report next. Because, you know, COMEDY. So these two nitwits yell at each other for a good five minutes. And it’s all just as funny as this. Which is to say not at all. To be honest, I don’t even know if it is supposed to be funny. As I just edited and saved out that clip, I am thinking it wasn’t. I mean, I didn’t laugh. There were no jokes at all that I could detect in there.

Maybe it was supposed to be a legitimate weather report.

And it goes from bad to somehow even worse as we get ANOTHER segment with Barbara and Nancy, this time outside the Lincoln Memorial. Now they are sword fighting for some reason as our 16th president rolls his eyes.

At the risk of pounding it into the ground, Prime Time Wrestling is the show that made me a wrestling fan. I’ve not watched this reboot version of it since it aired originally because I was so mad when it happened. But I’ve matured in the past quarter of a century. So I was sure, 100% positive, I would not be as upset as I was the first time I saw it. It could not be as bad as I remembered it being. And it’s not.

It’s worse.

Like so much worse that it is unfathomable. Seriously, think back to the worst WWE comedy you’ve ever, ever seen, and whatever you just imagined is so much funnier than this it’s not even comprehendible.

And I am getting just as angry as I did back then. Maybe more.

Perhaps this next segment will soothe my soul.


And maybe, just maybe, it can, as it is PICK THE BRAIN, wherein we get questions for Bobby. Shockingly, the questions are so completely idiotic that even he can’t save things. I mean, seriously, one of the questions is, “Dear Brain, here’s a real problem for you – my husband’s feet stink! What should I do?”

Again, the whole essence of why Gorilla and Bobby were so great together is that they didn’t TRY to be funny, they simply WERE funny. Gorilla didn’t ask Bobby stupid questions that no one would ever ask. He would present things, generally concerning, get this, WRESTLING, and Heenan would just riff off it. It was natural comedy.

And he and Monsoon were the best ever at it.

It wasn’t the Bushwackers “modeling” (which we got next)…

…and it sure as heck wasn’t crap like this…

…or this…

…the punchline of which was that we were told the ladies get along “swimmingly”.


Despite fighting with each other on all the segments we’d been forced to endure throughout the prior two hours, they show up together and throw water on Bobby.

With the Good Lord Above as my witness and I am not making this up, that was the main event of the show.

Y’all can get angry about your favorite stars not being pushed, or the so-called Divas Revolution being turned into a complete farce. It all pales in comparison to this. Seeing something that I loved so much being trampled upon.

Try as he might, Bobby just couldn’t save it.

And sadly his daughter wasn’t there to stomp on the producer of this show’s foot!

Discuss This Crap!