If there is anyone who can help reconcile WWE divas Nikki and Brie Bella, it’s Jerry Springer, right?
Viewers will get their answer when the talk show icon appears live on the “Monday Night Raw” season premiere 8 p.m. EST, Sept. 8 on USA Network during an intervention segment with the twin sisters.
Springer, whose nicknames include the “Ringmaster,” was recently contacted by the company for the latest chapter in the family storyline. The controversial figure behind the “Jerry Springer Show” will do his part.
“I hope I can bring some understanding or be a spark that can be lit and make the sisters come together,” Springer said, as if he were in his TV studio with microphone in hand.
“Who knows? The way I operate is I don’t have any preconceived notions because until I hear them talking and answer some of my questions, I’m not going to have a suggestion. I can’t go in with a canned answer because until they talk to me about it, I’m not going to have a response. I’m going to listen first and go as we go. I can imagine, knowing what ‘Monday Night Raw’ is, it will be a little bit over-the-top. That’s fair to say, and it’s not going to be because of me.”
Springer isn’t afraid to face an audience filled with thousands of rabid wrestling/sports entertainment enthusiasts.
“I’ve been doing this forever, so I’m comfortable in front of a crowd,” he said. “I can’t tell you I was nervous about that. I just want to make sure I don’t get hurt.”
He has witnessed his share of fights and drama on his own show for more than two decades. The 70-year-old television personality looks forward to being part of the Bella Twins saga.
“When I was growing up, they didn’t have television,” Springer said with a laugh. “It was a different era when I was a little kid in the late 1940s and early 1950s in New York. I don’t know if it was national, but they certainly had wrestling on. When it was on, all the kids would watch. Those were the days of Antonino Rocca and Ricki Starr and Haystacks Calhoun.
“I don’t know if anyone remembers those names, but they were huge stars back then. We used to play wrestle and that kind of thing. We would pretend we were some of these stars. As a kid, I grew up watching. I don’t watch a lot of television now because I work in the business and don’t get to watch a lot. I certainly understand its attraction. My guess is a lot of the fans of WWE also watch my show. We probably have the same audience.”
He isn’t far from the mark, even though the WWE product has shifted to PG these days.
“It’s pretty much the same,” Springer said. “I recognize some of the people in the crowd. So it’s escapism. That’s basically it. It is entertainment and escapism with good guys versus bad guys with no real consequence. It’s not like fighting a war. It’s an entertaining form of escapism.”
There is one interesting connection between Springer and WWE. Ring announcer Justin Roberts was on the former mayor of Cincinnati’s show many moons ago. The particular episode doesn’t ring a bell to the “ Sultan of Salaciousness.”
“Here’s the thing, I never know who any of the guests on my show are,” Springer said. “I’m not allowed to. I’m just handed a card as the show starts with the names of the guests. All I do is ask, ‘What’s their story?’ Then I’m supposed to make jokes. I never know who the guests are or what they’re stories are. I’m supposed to ask questions that you would ask sitting at home watching and make jokes.
“There is no script to our show. I don’t remember his episode. In fairness, we’ve done 4,600 shows. We do three on Mondays and two on Tuesdays, so sometimes if you ask me who guests on the second show were, I may not know. There are just too many people. You figure there are 10 guests on a show at least. We’ve done 4,600 shows. That means we’ve had 46,000 people on my show. That’s a nation. I don’t remember that show, but it doesn’t mean it turned out to be a bad show. It’s just one after another after another.”
This won’t be the first time Springer has stepped into a WWE ring. He served as guest host of Raw in 2010. His “Superstars Most Intimate Relationships” portion of the program featured a Bella Twins tussle.
“Well, unfortunately I’m a reason for why a lot of fights start,” Springer said. “What I remember is and the thing I was most taken with was when you meet these people in person, they are incredible athletes. Beyond being entertainers, this is clearly something you shouldn’t try at home. They are not just big and strong, but they are mobile and acrobatic. It’s pretty hard not to be impressed with these physical specimens. Don’t think for a second there are a bunch of clowns up there playing around. They are really athletic.
“…They all were so nice. I certainly appreciated it. I realize, for better or for worse, my show has been part of pop culture for the last 25 years. Everyone was around taking pictures, and they were nothing but nice.”
Springer’s show was at its peak of popularity in the 1990s. WWE was also enjoying some of its biggest success with the “Attitude Era.” The content for each received backlash for its adult content and risqué subject matter.
“It was a little bit different because wrestling has always been what wrestling is, but what happened on our show was kind of new,” Springer said. “We never had the kind of stuff happening on our show on talk shows before. That is what was the surprise, as American television prior to when we came along in the 1990s pretty much was upper middle class white people. They were well scrubbed people living in the suburbs in nice apartments, whether it was ‘Friends’ ‘Seinfeld’ or ‘Frasier.’ It was always these good-looking upper middle class white people.
“Then along came our show and all of a sudden there were people who prior to that had not been on television before. That’s what was shocking initially. People started saying some really derogatory terms about [the guests]. They were called trash and seen as not worth anything and things like that just because they were from a lower income. There was this kind of snobbishness about it, but over time television became more democratized. So now television has thousands of alternatives, but all kinds of people get to be on it and not just the rich and famous.”
He can see a double-standard.
“Wealthy people and famous people are doing the exact same things that people on my show do, but we never call them trash,” Springer said. “We can’t buy the magazines quickly enough to read about what they’ve been doing and who they’ve been sleeping with and those kinds of stuff. If it’s someone not particularly, let’s say good-looking, wealthy or educated, then all of sudden we think that’s horrible. We’re not being totally truthful with ourselves because I can tell you the amount of money someone has doesn’t define their morality and worth.”
Sounds like one of Jerry’s signature final thoughts.
Will we hear one on Raw?
WWE is pulling out all stops for its season premiere of “Monday Night Raw” 8 p.m. EST Sept. 8 on the USA Network. Jerry Springer hosts an intervention with the Bella Twins. Chris Jericho battles Bray Wyatt in a steel cage, and Roman Reigns squares off against Randy Orton in a SummerSlam rematch and more.
“Monday Night Raw” is the longest-running, weekly episodic program in U.S. prime-time TV history and is the most-watched, regularly scheduled programs on cable, airing live every Monday night on USA Network. Each week, it is rated one of the most socially active shows on cable television and continues to be a must-stop for celebrities to reach WWE’s TV audience and its more than 400-million social media followers.
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