UNION — A former WWE superstar and head trainer — responsible for training Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Edge, and countless others — will spend this Saturday in Union.
Dr. Tom Prichard wrote the book on pro wrestling — literally. He is the author of “A Pro Wrestling Curriculum: A Complete One-Year Training Curriculum and Guide for Beginners and Seasoned Pros.”
The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) website — WWE.com — currently features a profile of Prichard, in which he is praised for his accomplishments as a trainer.
“A smart, tactical competitor who wasn’t afraid to mix it up, Tom Prichard has long been admired for both his abilities in the ring and his skills as a trainer to the Superstars of tomorrow,” the website reads. “Working in WWE’s developmental system, the experienced grappler has played a key role in the grooming of future legends like The Rock, Edge and countless others.”
Prichard was the first coach/trainer for the WWE (then WWF) developmental system which began in the summer of 1996. Some of Prichard’s first students included current WWE superstar Mark Henry, a power lifter who was sponsored by WWE in the 1996 Olympics.
“Then there was a young, brash, cocky kid who had a pretty successful college football career and had some pro experience in Canada with the CFL,” Prichard recalled. “His grandfather and father had been wrestlers, and he decided it was time he entered the family business. His name was Dwayne Johnson. Dwayne had that ‘it factor’ and something electric about him from the start.”
Prichard said he has never taken full credit for training the superstar who became known as “The Rock” and is now a bona fide movie star.
“Everyone saw Dwayne as a star one day, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted how big of a star he would eventually become and transcend pro wrestling,” Prichard said.
Prichard was involved with the WWE’s developmental system from 1996-2004 either as a coach/trainer or as a manager, overseeing the process from WWE’s corporate office in Stamford, Conn. Prichard returned to WWE in 2007 for a five-year stint as a trainer.
Before his time as a trainer, Prichard was successful as a wrestler himself throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He was part of a tag team known as “The Heavenly Bodies” with Stan Lane — and later Jimmy Del Ray — managed by Jim Cornette. Prichard later teamed with Chris Candido (they were known as fitness fanatic cousins Skip and Zip) in a team known as The Bodydonnas, which won the WWE Tag Team Championship at Wrestlemania XII.
This Saturday, Prichard will teach a seminar for advanced wrestlers during the afternoon, and he will make an appearance and greet fans at the Trans-South Wrestling event which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Union County Fairgrounds. This will be Prichard’s second appearance in Union as he taught a seminar for wrestlers (at any skill level) in May.
“You could tell this wasn’t somebody who did this just for fun or as a hobby — he was a real professional,” said TSW referee Tracy Rash. “I can’t wait until this Saturday’s seminar. I feel like I’ve learned a lot since the last one.”
Rash said everyone who participated in the last seminar got a great workout, but a lot of time was spent showing a few beginners the absolute basics.
“Most people don’t realize how much really goes into pro wrestling,” Rash said. “I didn’t realize it until I got in there as a referee. This Saturday will be different because it’s only for advanced wrestlers. Beginners will learn a lot, though, just by observing.”
Rash joked that he hopes to impress Prichard with what he has learned, since Prichard scolded him in May for not knowing some of the basic terminology for maneuvers.
Prichard said he is who he is and won’t apologize or make excuses.
“I love professional wrestling,” Prichard said. “I cared and still do about the people who are in the developmental system and want to break into the business. Every coach or trainer has their way of doing things. It doesn’t make it right or wrong. It makes it this way or that way. Nobody’s perfect. I think I have a pretty good track record training some of the top talent in the business today.”
In addition to Prichard’s appearance, this Saturday’s Trans-South Wrestling event — which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Union County Fairgrounds — will feature Deon Johnson, Peter Kaasa, Hunter Thompson, Amanda Rodriguez, Kameron Kade, Chase “Cauliflower” Brown, Dirty, and many more. Advance tickets are available at Buffalo Pawn & Gun.