The bright lights of WrestleMania are a dream come true to many wrestlers. It is perceived as the pinnacle of a wrestling career. For Dr. Tom Prichard his WrestleMania moments were cool, but not career defining.
Prichard had the opportunity to hype up the crowd at WrestleMania 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 20, 1994. Jimmy Del Ray and Prichard were a well-known team on WWE television and in the Smokey Mountain Wrestling territory as the Heavenly Bodies. Del Ray’s slimy robe removal at the start of matches always provoked thunderous boos.
It was at the 10th anniversary of WrestleMania that the Heavenly Bodies faced off against the Bushwackers.
“We were on the pre-show, but it was really cool to be in Madison Square Garden for WrestleMania X,” said Prichard. “It’s Madison Square Garden and you hear so much that it is the world’s most famous arena. Then I got there and I’m looking at it and I get it, all these stars perform and I’m looking backstage and I go out and look at it. It is an awesome place, but it is an old arena. It has that feel, when I watched it on TV for a basketball game, performance or a concert, then I realized that I’ve been there, seen it live and because it is in New York, because it is where it is, I get it. It was one of those classic arenas. It was very cool and it wasn’t lost on me that it was Madison Square Garden at all.”
A moment that did impress Prichard was a chance meeting with movie star Burt Reynolds. Reynolds had been brought to the event as a ring announcer and happened by the Heavenly Bodies backstage. “We were watching backstage and Burt Renyolds actually passed by and we had wings on,” said Prichard. “They wanted us to wear wings on our ring jackets for Heavenly Bodies. Burt Reynolds looked at our wings and said, ‘Nice guys. That’s nice.’ So, you know just seeing people like that, just rubbing up against people like that backstage at Madison Square Garden.”
The in-ring experience was a bit of a letdown for Prichard. Sure he was excited to be a part of such a big show, but the crowd was not on his side. Even with the win over the veteran duo of the Bushwackers, Prichard did not find the joy in the moment.
“I’ll tell you what did sink in,” said Prichard. “We went out and heard the fans tell us that we shouldn’t be there. Madison Square Garden has some brutal fans. They just tell ya, they don’t care. They just didn’t let up on us, so when we got out there it was kinda like ‘F you.’ That is just how it was. I get it because we weren’t in a position and there were issues going on behind the scenes so it just … don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to discount it, I wish it could have been better and that is my fault and I accept all responsibility for not making it a great situation. I could have made it greater.”
Two years later Tom Prichard made a return to the big stage of WrestleMania. The Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California hosted the 12th edition of the WWE’s big event, WrestleMania 12, which featured the historic 60-minute Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.
Prichard had joined up with Sunny and Chris Candido to become the Bodydonnas. Candido was known as Skip while Prichard underwent a dramatic change that renamed him Zip and his long, curly brown hair was sheared off and replaced with a blond crew cut.
The Bodydonnas and the Godwinns faced off in the pre-show to decide thenew WWE tag champions. In the end Prichard (Zip) added a world championship to his impressive wrestling resume.
“You know what?” said Prichard. “Here is the thing, I am very grateful and it is cool that you’re in the history books, it really is, but the thing about it is it is in the history books as Skip and Zip. You know it was bittersweet because there were a lot of things going on not just in my life but in Chris’s and Tammy’s life and the backstage stuff so the reality is it was kinda cool but at the same time look at the teams that were in the tournament and look at what happened at the end of the match. We were working with the Godwinns, which were great guys, but it sure wasn’t the Hart Foundation and the Bulldogs. I know the level it was at and we all do, it should have been an honour, it should have been bigger than it was, but it was like the tag team division back then was not red hot, it did not sell T-shirts or sell arenas out.”
While Tom Prichard as a wrestler didn’t make a big mark on WrestleMania, Dr. Tom, the trainer, certainly did; just consider some of the names he had a name in training: Mark Henry, Heath Slater, Curt Hawkins, Trent Baretta and some guy who “only” main evented five WrestleManias: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.