Wrestling & MMA

Matches, live podcast at Pro Wrestling Day at Florida Panthers

Conrad Thompson and WWE alum Bruce Prichard (Brother Love) bring their highly successful podcast Something to Wrestle With to the BB&T Center, after the NHL Florida Panthers play the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) in Sunrise, near Fort Lauderdale.
Conrad Thompson and WWE alum Bruce Prichard (Brother Love) bring their highly successful podcast Something to Wrestle With to the BB&T Center, after the NHL Florida Panthers play the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day) in Sunrise, near Fort Lauderdale.

Conrad Thompson has gone from mortgage master to pro wrestling “Podfather” because of the popular Something to Wrestle With podcast he conducts with former WWE high-ranking exec and personality Bruce Prichard (Brother Love).

The unbeatable tag team grew their MLW Radio Network podcast so much they’ve hosted standing room live shows across the country. The duo recently did an event at Barclays Center in partnership with a Brooklyn Nets NBA basketball game. The Florida Panthers front office found out about the success and will look to replicate it by bringing Something to Wrestle With live to the BB&T Center in Sunrise as part of the Florida Panthers second annual “Pro Wrestling Day” on Saturday, March 17.

This is not a rib. Thompson promises a festive atmosphere with the event falling St. Patrick’s Day. That, and the fact one of the ticket packages includes food, unlimited beer, wine and soda.

“We are getting a rowdy hockey group who have been imbibing a little bit,” he said. “It will be a prime, rich environment.”

Past shows have featured its share of unannounced surprises like Eric Bischoff. With Florida home to many within the pro wrestling industry, who knows who might stop by to clear up any rumor and innuendo. Perhaps, former WWE broadcaster and local sports guy Craig Minervini will pay a visit to tell some Craig DeGeorge stories? Minervini works for Fox Sports Florida, which broadcasts the Panthers games.

“I’m sure we are going to be able to work something out, or certainly try to get someone,” Thompson said. “That is a weekend, so a lot of our WWE brethren are going to be on the road, but if there is somebody home that week, he or she. I’m sure we can convince them to come have a good time. That’s what the show is all about. Have a few drinks, have a few laughs.

“We have a set group of skits and jokes and stories that we can’t tell on the podcast and won’t ever be able to tell on the podcast. We will probably be sharing that with Florida for the very first time. We’ll also do some Q&A to allow fans to participate. I’m sure we will hit on some of the more iconic pay-per-view shows and WWE moments in history that happened in Florida.

“Probably, there will be some of what happened in TNA because so much happened in the Impact Zone there in Orlando. The WrestleMania events in Florida, Royal Rumbles in the state of Florida. Lots of history there. I’m sure we will hit some of the high points and have Bruce do some of his hilarious impressions to relive some of those funny moments.”

The popularity of Something to Wrestle With continues to grow through grassroots social media and good word of mouth. Typically, new episodes generate around 300,000 downloads the first week. By the end of the first month, that number can double. Last time Thompson checked, the Goldust installment is at more than 700,000. This show, and Thompson’s other project What Happened When with Tony Schiavone, have amassed such a following that events they cover will even rank high on WWE Network viewings. Episodes have become companion pieces whether the hosts are taking about a pay-per-view or doing a full-blown watch-along. The podcasts are evergreen, satisfying the clear demand for nostalgia, the industry’s beloved past.

In addition to running 1st Family Mortgage, the Alabamian essentially has another full-time job pouring over research, interacting on social media, promoting and then recording the podcasts. It’s a substantial undertaking, but he enjoys it because the shows strongly resonate. The podcast was even named a Sports Illustrated Podcast of the Year.

“It’s exciting when some of the guys who I enjoyed watching send me a direct message saying they enjoy the show,” Thompson said. “That is motivating to know people are listening, passionate about what we are doing and care. There are those small percentage of haters where nothing is ever good enough. It is what it is, but it has been overwhelmingly positive feedback. It’s encouraging me to want to do it and do more. On days like today where it’s a long mortgage day and the last thing I want to do is do research on a show from 30 years ago. Every time I check social media people are adding fuel to the fire. They want more, and they are digging it. It motivates me.”

Dedicated listeners include Zack Ryder, Dolph Ziggler and even those outside the industry like rapper Wale and music mogul and producer Rick Rubin. Thompson doesn’t know if Vince McMahon has personally listened, but he does know he is aware of the show and its success.

“I do know it has been a topic of conversation in the office and certainly in the locker room,” he said. “I would say the lion’s share of the locker room listens to the show or has listened to the show. It’s kind of cool to know the people are still interested in what we are talking about. That’s not usually the case. Those guys usually want to be as far away from the wrestling media as they can. Though because the topics of conversation are things they grew up on and made them a fan, they really dig it.”

Thompson’s visibility has grown beyond being locally known thanks to advertising his mortgage company on the radio and television in Alabama and Tennessee the last decade. Fans at wrestling shows throughout the United States will now spot him and are excited to meet him.

“When we did our show at WrestleMania this year, I got off the plane and there were autograph seekers at baggage claim just waiting to take photos with wrestlers. There were also those who wanted to take a photo with me. It’s just ridiculous to me because I’m a fan. It’s not unusual to be recognized, but it is unusual to run into people in another town and they want their picture with me. It’s not something I anticipated.”

Thompson’s adventure into podcasting began working with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Fast forward a few years later, Thompson not only stands atop the genre’s podcasting mountain, but he will officially become part of the Flair family. The WWE Hall of Famer let the cat out of the bag on Twitter that Conrad got engaged to his daughter Megan. Knowing what his future father-in-law has endured health-wise, Thompson admits it’s a miracle he is alive and has a second chance at life.

“Lots of people say they are going to take a second chance seriously,” he said. “You always wonder how long it’s going to last, but with Ric Flair, he has made a believer out of me and his entire family. He is a different person pre-health situation and now. It’s almost unrecognizable who he was and is today. I’m happy at his transformation for not just himself, but his children and friends. His life is just a thousand times different, and all for the better than it was just a year ago.”

Even though Thompson is having fun with the podcast, mortgages will always be the bread and butter. He finds it to be the greatest blessing as it has provided for his family. The parents, sister, cousin and uncle are all a part of the business. The 30-something entrepreneur believes the company is making a difference helping other families become homeowners and get rid of their debt situation. He is also a realist, knowing podcasting won’t last forever and people will always need a place to live.

With two shows doing well, Thompson is open to more if the concept and host is right. A Jeff Jarrett, Eric Bischoff or even a Paul Heyman in the driver seat intrigues him. However, he believes the next frontier for what he is doing is adding more video elements.

“I did see the podcast being successful. That’s not because of me. That’s because of the stories that Bruce has and can tell a story,” Thompson said.

“If you put Bruce in the right light, Bruce is the most entertaining person in the history of wrestling in that format. Podcasting was made for the Dutch Mantell’s, the Jim Cornette’s, the Bruce Prichard’s and the Paul Heyman’s. Those guys are natural story-tellers with 30, 40, 50 years in the business. I definitely knew it could be the biggest. At the same time, I don’t think I imagined an NHL team would reach out to do a podcast.

“That an NBA team would reach out to do something. Those types of opportunities are not something imagined would have some cross-over, mainstream appeal. We are very grateful and working hard to grow it as much as we can. I think the next level for everyone in the genre is going to be video. I’m looking to see what Bruce and I can do with that for the next 12 months.”

- Tickets ae available for the Florida Panthers “Pro Wrestling Day” on Saturday, March 17 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, near Fort Lauderdale. Pucks drops at 2 p.m.

Before the game, Coastal Championship Wrestling will provide mat action. Following the game, Bruce Prichard and Conrad Thompson deliver their live Something to Wrestle With podcast.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit

https://www.nhl.com/panthers/tickets/wrestling.

- Pro Wrestling on the Web and Social Media

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/fighting/

Twitter: @jimmyv3

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