Reo Rodgers, If You Will...
PHOTO CREDIT: WrestlingClassics.com
Bruce Prichard has re-invented himself yet again in the world of pro wrestling.
Whether it is as a producer, on-air performer, executive, head of talent relations, or now as a podcast host, Mr. Prichard has consistently evolved and stayed relevant as a personality in the wrestling industry.
A fan of all the old school WWE documentaries, Mr. Prichard was a mainstay, discussing all different situations and performers that he was privy to seeing. Being one of Vince McMahon’s right-hand men, the wealth of knowledge that he has is extremely insightful. I guess that’s why I’m a huge fan of the “Something to Wrestle With…Bruce Prichard” podcast on MLW Radio. Even if his co-host hates the way the WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Titles looked, Conrad Thompson and Mr. Prichard are a great combination discussing the history of pro wrestling.
As a kid, I can remember the first time I saw Mr. Prichard on television. He was displaying a very weird fashion statement. His attire was flashy. His aesthetic was unique. The voice he put on was strange, yet entertaining. I even know where I was the first time I saw Bruce Prichard portray REO RODGERS on WWF television.
What? Were you expecting Brother Love?
Believe it or not, I experienced Reo Rodgers as a kid before seeing who Brother Love was. 1993 was my first year as a pro wrestling fan, and I was enamored with all the current day wrestling. From Lex Luger slamming Yokozuna on the USS Intrepid, I watched Superstars and Wrestling Challenge every weekend at noon. And in November 1993, I remember seeing Reo Rodgers debut on WWF television.
Hindsight being 20/20, Reo was nothing more than a spoof of Dusty Rhodes. Down to the catchphrases, Rodgers was nothing more than a wannabe “American Dream”. Yet somehow, I found that Rogers was endearing. He was goofy. He was a stereotypical “gimmick” the World Wrestling Federation loved to utilize.
For years, I thought Reo Rodgers was around longer than he was. Yet, a 2 week stint was all she wrote for the young Texan, if you will. Here are the three top moments that existed for the short career of this character.
HIS DEBUT: 11/20/93 – Days after Jerry Lawler’s brief hiatus from the World Wrestling Federation due to legal issues, Vince McMahon needed a new color commentator and in a hurry. Quickly, WWF President Jack Tunney did an All-Points Bulletin to find a new broadcast journalist. After finding a taker, the man rode his horse from Texas all the way to Burlington, Vermont to make his booking. Arriving just after the start of the November 20, 1993 Superstars, Reo Rodgers parked his horse and walked into the broadcast area.
Reo was a very interesting performer. Wearing a baseball cap and having a Goose Gossage style mustache, Reo completed the ensemble with a trench coat, vest, blue jeans, and chaps. It was a very Texas style outfit suited perfectly for riding a horse. However, I maintain it was a lot to wear to broadcast in the Burlington Memorial Auditorium.
After trying to sell the fact that his family tree included Will Rogers, Roy Rogers (tremendous roast beef sandwiches) and Fred Rogers, Vince decreed that his cousin was actually Ginger Rogers. Reo then asked if she ever rode a horse. Regardless, throughout the episode it was Reo and Mr. McMahon on commentary. I thought it was a fun attempt at something different, which the broadcast team of McMahon and Rodgers was.
SHAWN MICHAELS AND REO VISIT “STU AND HELEN HART”: 11/21/93 – The next day, Reo and the recently reinstated former Intercontinental champion Shawn Michaels made the travel up to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Unbelievably, Reo made some great time on his horse to travel from Burlington, VT to Calgary within a day. Somehow, Reo and Shawn were outside Hart House and had a chance to meet the parents of the former WWF champion. Sadly, it was all a ruse and it was just two plants in a house mimicking the Harts. Watching ‘Stu’ play Super Nintendo was hilarious. For a quick in-and-out segment, on 5 days’ notice heading towards Survivor Series 1993 with the Shawn Michaels insertion, I thought it was funny. Reo was starting to quickly get underneath people’s skins.
REO’S ROUNDUP BETWEEN INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONS: 12/4/93 – The week after his commentary debut with Vince McMahon on Superstars, Reo was gone, apparently having some sort of accident riding his horse and replaced with “Sweet” Stan Lane. However, Reo, ever the trooper, made his return for a live arena version of Reo’s Roundup, an interview segment like never seen before. Surrounded by barrels of hay, Reo was flip, flop, and flying, preparing to interview his good buddy Shawn Michaels regarding Razor Ramon being a fake Intercontinental champion. Once “The Bad Guy” came out to the arena, both Razor and HBK went back and forth on one another. Ramon ultimately popped Michaels’ gum bubble with his toothpick, which in turn was thrown into the face of Rodgers.
It was fun to see Reo be utilized as the catalyst of the beginning of a rivalry, which would culminate into one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history with the WrestleMania X ladder match. Even as short lived as Reo Rodgers was, his legacy will always be this segment.
This was the last time anyone ever saw of poor Reo. He disappeared off back to Texas, never to be seen again. There have been no whereabouts on his horse that he rode in on.
Although, again, it was a Dusty Rhodes spoof, I thought Reo Rodgers was just over-the-top. Brother Love will always be Bruce Prichard’s television legacy, but I appreciated Reo. One day, maybe there will be mention of him on “Something to Wrestling With…”, or maybe not. Regardless, I give props to Reo Rodgers, if you will.