Dr. Tom Prichard, co-host of Inside the Ropes’ Wrestling University Podcast, has spoken out about his run with the World Wrestling Federation in the mid-nineties as heath fanatic, Zip.
As a member of the popular Heavenly Bodies alongside Jimmy Del Ray, ‘The Doctor of Desire’ made a name for himself in both Smokey Mountain Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation as a reliable hand in doubles action.
The Heavenly Bodies had carried The Steiner Brothers to a tremendous bout at SummerSlam 1993 and did the same over the next few years for the likes of The Smoking Gunns. However, after taking the act elsewhere in 1995, the Bodies split and Prichard returned to the WWF in time to compete on Skip’s team at that year’s Survivor Series.
Though he appeared in full Heavenly Bodies regalia, plans were afoot to place Prichard with Chris Candido’s Skip in a serious tag team after the fitness character had peaked in singles action and a short-lived union with Rad Radford fell flat.
Cutting his trademark locks and dying what remained bleached blonde to match his new partner, Prichard was rechristened as Zip as The Bodydonnas were born. Despite the look which still rings in the memory of long-time fans to this day, Skip and Zip did capture the WWF Tag Team Championships and added to a depleted division ruled by Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith.
Now, Tom Prichard has spoken to Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful about the gimmick, how it came about and just how much he detests it looking back:
“Well, let me say this—Zip really wasn’t Tom Prichard at that point. It was a horrible time in my life, horrible time in my career. I think it was more of a rib on me. They’ll never admit it. But, it was everything that I wasn’t. I can tell you it was not fun and that’s why I tell people all the time, ‘If you can’t get into it and you’re not connecting with the audience and feel good about what you’re doing, it’s not gonna work.’ So, it wasn’t me. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t even do my best. Because it was such a horrible gimmick to me. I was not Zip. I played the part of Zip. That’s not what you gotta do. In this business you can’t play a part. You have to be authentic. You have to be the part. That’s what we talk about when we watch these old matches. We talk about the difference between today and yesterday. Yesterday these guys were not playing a part. Bruiser Brody was not playing Bruiser Brody. He was that guy 24/7. Sometimes with the volume turned up. Sometimes you had to turn it down. But, guys like Wahoo McDaniel, Jack Brisco, Terry Funk—they were those people. They were authentic characters. I hate that word ‘character,’ but they were authentic. They were the real deal. When you met them on the street, there was something about them. They were special. These days everybody looks the same—not everybody looks the same—but, most guys are monotone, and look the same, in a variety of ways if that makes any sense. They’re just going out and doing moves for the sake of doing moves, whereas there’s no emotional feeling and no authenticity. With the Zip character, just to tell you, that was terrible for many reasons.”
With his Heavenly Bodies partnership headed for their best before date, Prichard explained how Zip was pitched to him and how he wasn’t looked upon fondly behind the scenes:
“It was a time after the Heavenly Bodies were done in WWE. My partner, Jimmy Del Ray and I were thrown together after my first partner, Stan Lane just decided to quit. He wasn’t making a lot of money and he didn’t like coming from Charlotte, North Carolina to Knoxville to Smokey Mountain. So, we got Jimmy Del Ray. We had a couple shows, pay-per-views there. Then, Jimmy decided to be Jimmy and didn’t want to come back. So, it was one of those things where I said, ‘Hey, if there’s any opportunity, whatsoever…’ It was pitched like this, ‘Well, would you like to cut your hair, dye it blonde and be a Bodydonna?’ I said, ‘Absolutely not,’ and they said, ‘Okay.’ Click. I said, ‘Oh. Wait a minute. Hold on.’ At that time, once again, you have to have the right mindset and you gotta think positive. There was not a whole lot of positivity going on back then for me.”
With the gimmick coming at the very end of his career, Prichard admits that he didn’t approach it with everything he should have done. But would he have done anything differently if he could have the time again?
“When I came into it, I came into it with all the wrong way of looking at it and the wrong attitude about it. It was a disaster. That’s how I know and that’s why, when I talk to people about stuff like that, I can tell them. You have to have this mindset. You’ve got to think positive. You gotta believe. You gotta know what you want and you gotta know who you are. So, it was pitched as, ‘Well, if you want this, this is what we have. If you don’t, we got nothing for you right now.’ I understand that. I just wasn’t ready to stop wrestling at the time. But, man, when I got in that situation, I almost wish I would have, quite honestly.”
Though The Bodydonnas didn’t reach the heights Prichard and Candido would have liked, they are fondly remembered as one of the more reliable and colourful teams of the pre-Attitude Era by those who grew up watching them.
Credit for the interview and transcription: Fightful