wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: How Many Piper’s Pit Knockoffs Have There Been?

August 2, 2020 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Roddy Piper Pit

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This week, we’re going to do something that we very rarely do . . . and the reason we very rarely do it is that there’s a pretty vocal group of this column’s readership that hates it.

What are we doing?

We’re devoting the entire column to one question, not because I planned it that way but rather because I started writing an answer, and, before long, I realized that it was eating up virtually the entire space that I like to give one of these columns.

So, who is the man who asked the question that spawned entirely too many words? It’s none other than Murmurdamadman:

How many talk shows or interview segments has WWE had since Vince McMahon bought the company? What are they, and were there any when his dad owned the company?

Vincent Kennedy McMahon (or, as he reportedly hates to be called, Vince McMahon Jr.) acquired the company that would eventually become WWE in 1982, and I was not able to find record of a regular “talk show” style segment in the promotion prior to that. However, in the VKM era, they have become a staple of the promotion, as I was able to find record of 31 of them over the years. Here’s the rundown, in roughly chronological order:

1. Rogers’ Corner: “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers was the first WWWF Champion, and he was also the first host of a WWF talk show segment in 1982. It wasn’t the flashiest thing in the world, but it started the formula that gave us so much more.

2. Victory Corner: Though it was known for many years as WWF Magazine, the official publication of the World Wrestling Federation was originally called Victory Magazine, and Victory Corner was an effort to promote the mag on television, featuring its editor in chief Robert DeBord interviewing wrestlers.

3. Blackjack’s Barbecue: This one was a bit of a head-scratcher for me, because, even though he was a legendary wrestler, it’s not like Blackjack Mulligan was renowned for his prowess on the microphone. However, for whatever reason, he was given his own interview segment in the form of Blackjack’s Barbecue, which aired a time when he really was not doing much else of note in the promotion.

4. Piper’s Pit: This is where it all took off. If you’re reading this column and don’t know how iconic Piper’s Pit was, you need to stop right now, go to YouTube, and spend the next couple of hours going through the back catalog in order to earn your wrestling fan bona fides back. Though it wasn’t the first segment of this nature, its immense popularity is what lead to the WWF giving every wrestler with a certain level of charisma their own interview segment.

5. The Body Shop: Though he has all the personality of Roddy Piper, Jesse Ventura’s Body Shop never really reached the same level that Piper’s Pit did, though it was totally serviceable.

6. Magnificent Moments: This was a short-lived fill-in for the Body Shop, as “Magnificent” Don Muraco took over the reigns during the summer of 1986 when Jesse Ventura was off in Hollywood filming Predator and/or The Running Man. You never really hear this one talked about because, well, not much of note happened.

7. The Flower Shop: Speaking of fill-ins for wrestlers who were away, when Roddy Piper was on a hiatus from the WWF, “Adorable” Adrian Adonis took over Piper’s Pit and turned it into the Flower Shop, which the apparently-homophobic babyface Piper didn’t care for when he returned to the Fed, helping along the build for the match that the two men had at Wrestlemania III.

8. The Snake Pit: Given his reputation as one of wrestling’s greatest talkers, you’d think that Jake “The Snake” Roberts would be a natural for his own Piper’s Pit-style segment, but not many people seem to remember that he actually got one in the form of the Snake Pit. Perhaps the only thing that I can say about this one is that I’m pretty sure that WCW bought the set off of the WWF so that they could use it for the Dungeon of Doom’s vignettes.

9. Missy’s Manor: This one is a bit of an historical oddity. Of course, it’s the first time on this list that we’ve seen one of these segments hosted by a woman. It’s also the only segment on this list that never actually aired anywhere, as apparently those involved in WWF television production didn’t care for Missy Hyatt’s performance and made sure they never saw the light of day. Fortunately for fans of obscure wrestling history, Missy herself leaked all of the segments on to YouTube.

10. The Brother Love Show: I feel like the Brother Love Show doesn’t get a lot of press from modern fans, but, if you look back on it, there were quite a few memorable moments that occurred on the show, including the debut of Paul Bearer, the face turn of the Big Boss Man, Rick Martel taunting a blinded Jake Roberts, and, perhaps most notably, Earthquake squashing Hulk Hogan in 1990 to really ramp up their feud. Who knows, with Bruce Prichard apparently back in creative power in WWE, maybe we’ll see a 2020 reboot of Brother Love’s program.

11. The Barber Shop: Everybody who was a fan of wrestling in the early 1990s remembers Shawn Michaels putting Marty Jannetty through the Barber Shop window, though there are likely some younger fans who know of that bit of wrestling lore in passing without realizing why there was a barber shop window at a WWF show for Michaels to put Jannetty through. The answer is that Brutus Beefcake hosted his own interview segment with that title, or at least he did until Sid Justice decimated the set.

12. The Funeral Parlor: Paul Bearer was introduced on the Brother Love Show, and then, coincidentally, he wound up being the guy who essentially took the Brother Love Show over, replacing Prichard as the WWF’s most esteemed heel interviewer circa 1991. During his run on the show, Bearer oversaw such moments as the Undertaker locking the Ultimate Warrior in a casket, Sensational Sherri announcing she had become the manager of Shawn Michaels, and Bobby Heenan unveiling the “real” World Heavyweight Title belt to the WWF.

13. Reo’s Roundup: In a bit of trivia that will be sure to impress your friends, Bruce Prichard was the first person to host two different interview segments in the WWF, as he not only had the Brother Love Show but also took on the persona of Reo Rogers, where he did an odd Dusty Rhodes impression. According to Prichard on his podcast, he had long done the Dusty impression backstage, and Jerry Jarrett, who was involved in WWF creative at the time, thought it should be turned into a full-blown character – over Prichard’s objection.

14. The Heartbreak Hotel: In 1994, Shawn Michaels became the host of the Elvis-inspired Heartbreak Hotel, complete with a sleazy neon sign, heart-shaped bed, and Christmas Story leg lamp. Though Michaels did a fine job in the role, there weren’t too many memorable segments here. Probably the first thing I remember when thinking of the Heartbreak Hotel is its role in the Mortal Kombat-inspired WWF video game In Your House, in which Michaels’ over the top finishing move saw the Heartbreak Hotel set fall out of the sky and smash his opponent.

15. The King’s Court: Though I haven’t done a real statistical analysis to figure out which of these shows was the longest running or produced the most episodes, I’d guess it’s the King’s Court, which, though it hasn’t run consistently the whole time, had its first appearance in 1994 and popped back up on WWE television as recently as last year. Any show that features William Shatner showing up and performing a monkey flip on Jerry Lawler in order to promote his new TV series on the USA Network has to be a winner.

16. Undercover with Sunny: Undercover flew under the radar, as it was exclusive to Shotgun Saturday night and only aired on a couple of occasions. I honestly debated whether to include it on this list, because many segments differed from most of the other segments here in that Sunny typically did not conduct an interview but instead laid in bed (perhaps a reupholstered version of the Heartbreak Hotel bed) and informed fans about kayfabe “gossip” from behind the scenes of the WWF. However, she did conduct at least one interview, so I’m keeping it on the list.

17. The Love Shack: Speaking of short-lived, when Mick Foley was the heel version of Dude Love that was feuding with Steve Austin, he once had his own segment referred to as the Love Shack, during which he sat on some groovy inflatable furniture and cut a promo while a couple of women in bikinis danced in front of his lava lamp. Despite the segment not recurring all too often, it got its own theme song penned by Jim Johnston (separate from Dude Love’s regular theme), which, as the kids today would say, slaps.

18. The Highlight Reel: I suspect that some people may want to fight me on this, but in my opinion the Highlight Reel, hosted by Chris Jericho, is the most memorable and noteworthy WWE interview segment since the original run of Piper’s Pit. What’s particularly interesting about this one is that, as most readers will know, Jericho is constantly reinventing himself, and he was able to keep the Highlight Reel running across a variety of his different personae. Perhaps the most memorable moment on almost a decade of Highlight Reels was Y2J smashing Shawn Michaels’ eye into the obscenely expressive Jeritron 6000, in a moment reminiscent of HBK’s Barber Shop turn on Marty Jannetty which gave us a kayfabe explanation for Michaels’ naturally lazy blinker.

19. Cafe de Rene: Rene Dupree is a guy who probably could have had a much better career in WWE if he had just been called up a few years later. Unfortunately for him, he made TV when he was still a teenager, and the result was a national audience watching him go through awkward growing pains that were better left for developmental. One of those was Cafe de Rene, a short-lived interview segment that never quite clicked. More recently, Dupree has used a variant on the name for a YouTube series, “Cafe de Rene Raw.”

20. Carlito’s Cabana: Carlito Caribbean Cool was part of the same class of early/mid-2000s midcard washouts that gave us Rene Dupree, though he was somewhat more successful than his French Canadian counterpart, including in his own interview segment, Carlito’s Cabana. Somewhat ironically, perhaps the highlight of Carlito’s career came in an WWE interview segment, but not his own, as he got the honor of confronting Stone Cold Steve Austin in Piper’s Pit at Wrestlemania XXI.

21. The Cutting Edge: Given Edge’s reputation for being a great talker, it seemed like a natural fit to give him one of these segments, but, despite Edge’s vocal prowess, this never managed to create the same volume of memorable moments as Piper’s Pit or even Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel. Edge probably should have just stuck with live sex celebrations.

22. The Peep Show: In a bit of kayfabe sibling rivalry, Christian Cage was given his own answer to the Cutting Edge shortly after the former show’s debut, with it being dubbed the Peep Show after the host’s nickname for his fans. Eventually the two shows would merge into one in the mid-2010s, as Edge and Christian, now both retired, combined force to host a handful of installments of what was called the “Cutting Edge Peep Show.”

23. The Abraham Washington Show: There’s a chance that you don’t remember this one, because it existed mainly on ECW on Sci Fi, which wasn’t exactly doing gangbusters in terms of viewership around this time. Developmental wrestler Abraham Washington was called up to the main roster not to wrestle but instead to host a wrestling interview segment that knocked off late night talk shows more than most, complete with cushy furniture and Tony Atlas playing the role of Ed McMahon. The show was 86’ed when ECW was canceled, and Washington himself was canceled when he made a Kobe Bryant rape joke while managing the Prime Time Players.

24. Matt Striker’s Classroom: Another short-lived segment that existed primarily on WWECW, former teacher Matt Striker took to the ring to teach fans a “lesson.” This wasn’t set up as an interview segment as much as it was Striker being obnoxious, but it typically resulted in another wrestler entering the ring and confronting Striker, so it functioned like all of these other segments. The show’s most memorable moment was also the one that ended it, with Viscrea re-debuting as Big Daddy V and laying out the Boogeyman, with Striker being revealed as V’s new manager.

25. Miz TV: One of these days somebody will send in a question that will allow me to go on a long diatribe regarding my thoughts on the Miz. Needless to say, I’m not a fan, as I have a hard time remembering somebody who has been pushed so long and so hard despite having nothing that makes him stand out. He’s not bad at anything, per se, but he just seems like another part of that Carlito/Dupree class that should have phased out after seven or eight years but never did. If you think I feel any differently about his interview segment, Miz TV, you’re wrong.

26. The Dirt Sheet: Hey, look, it’s the Miz again. The Dirt Sheet, which Miz hosted alongside tag team partner Johnny Nitro, started as a web series on WWE.com but grew in popularity to the point that it became a segment on WWE’s traditional televison programming. The original version of the Dirt Sheet was Miz and Nitro riffing on current events in the E, but when it made the transition from web to television it became a pretty standard interview segment, even when rehashed during the tag team’s current reunion.

27. The VIP Lounge: Again, WWE went through a phase in the mid and late 2000s where, if you were an up-and-coming heel with a certain level of charisma, you got yourself a talk show segment, and Montel Vontavious Porter was not immune to that phenomenon. I will say that I rank his segment as being a bit more successful than Miz TV or Carlito’s Cabana, in part because the VIP Lounge served as a backdrop for some of Porter’s top notch feud with Matt Hardy and in part because one installment of the show allowed Michael Hayes to cut his first full-blown promo in years and years, which was an awesome return to form.

28. The Ambrose Asylum: Though they seemed to be over-introduced for quite a while, WWE did go on a run of not introducing new interview segments for a while, but that ended in April 2016, when Monday Night Raw authority figure Shane McMahon ordered that there would be no more Chris Jericho-hosted Highlight Reels and that the “show” would be replaced a new segment hosted by Dean Ambrose, who hung out on a minimalist set featuring his beloved ficus, Mitch. Unfortunately, as with many interview segment props, Mitch met an unfortunate end when he was shattered over his owner’s head.

29. The Kevin Owens Show / The Sami & Kevin Show: I feel bad for Kevin Owens, because the powers that be in WWE couldn’t even bother coming up with a creative name for his interview segment, which ran between 2017 and 2020. Heck, even the boring, WWE magazine-inspired segment from the 1980s did better than that. Things didn’t get much better when a one-off version of the show added Owens’ sometimes-ally, sometimes-rival Sami Zayn, as the title just became the equally generic “Sami and Kevin Show.”

30. Truth TV: Originally a takeover of Miz TV, veteran wrestler R-Truth snagged his own interview segment in 2018 after roughly two decades in the wrestling business. Though there were not many “episodes” of Truth TV, it became known for its seven second dance breaks in the midst of otherwise serious interviews, one of which featured the McMahon family.

31. A Moment of Bliss: It should come as no surprise to people who read this column closely that I don’t watch a lot of current WWE and haven’t for several years now. However, I pick up bits and pieces here and there, and one of the true highlights for me among what I’ve seen is the interplay between the tag team of Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Their relationship feels remarkably genuine, which is a welcome change of pace in a pro wrestling environment in which everything else is over-scripted and over-produced. The Moment of Bliss interview segment is a perfect vehicle to get more of that interplay on my YouTube screen, so I’m all for it.

And that does it. Thirty-one WWE interview segments over the years, and that doesn’t include all of the similar segments that have popped up in other promotions over the years, since our question limited things to the E. However, I still feel that I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention other bits like A Flair for the Gold, The Danger Zone, or even Jim Cornette’s Louisville Slugger.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].

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Ask 411 Wrestling, Ryan Byers