Conrad Thompson, aka Conrad the Mortgage Guy, has gone from a wrestling fan and professional in the mortgage business to the co-host of two of the most popular wrestling podcasts in the game alongside Bruce Prichard and Tony Schiavone, plus a newer series with Eric Bischoff. He’s also the creator of wrestling podcast convention, Starrcast.
After Starrcast took place as a companion to All In on Labor Day weekend 2018, it was only natural that Starrcast II would go down before AEW’s Double or Nothing on Memorial Day weekend 2019. Tickets to the convention, whose growing guest list already includes the likes of Kenny Omega, Ric Flair, and, surprisingly, the Undertaker, went on sale yesterday morning, and Thompson expects them to, “go pretty fast.”
With Spandex spoke to Thompson about the Starrcast events, his podcast projects, his involvement with All Elite Wrestling, and more. That conversation is below and has been edited for length and clarity.
With Spandex: It seems like you’re involved in so many projects in the wrestling world. Could you give a rundown of everything you’re involved with right now?
Conrad Thompson: I guess it all started with the Something To Wrestle With podcast, which is a podcast I do Fridays at noon with Bruce Prichard. And then I added a show for Tony Schiavone called What Happened When? with Tony Schiavone, and then most recently we started 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff, so I have podcasts Monday mornings, Wednesday mornings, and Fridays at noon now. And then sometime last year I was silly enough to think that I should do a wrestling podcast convention and Starrcast was born in Chicago over Labor Day weekend, and we’re bringing it back for round two, this time in Las Vegas. And at some point last year after WrestleMania, Bruce and I did Something Else To Wrestle With over on the WWE Network, where we would examine one topic in long form, and the WWE Network would splice in clips, so it’s been a whirlwind couple of years. I’m not supposed to be here, but I am. I kind of call myself the Forrest Gump of wrestling.
Doing all these history-based podcasts, is there something you’ve been most surprised to learn?
Well, I think, you know, the biggest thing I’ve learned is not everything is as planned out as we fans may have thought. You know, a lot of times things just happen for very simple reasons and there’s not as much planning involved. It’s just sort of off-the-cuff and, you know, wherever there’s a real-life situation where someone’s sick or someone’s having problems at home or whatever… programs change and storylines change.
I think sometimes as the viewer I used to think, “Why are they doing that? Maybe they’re doing that because that guy’s little girl is sick, and he had to go home. Maybe they’re doing that because that guy turned an ankle.” And so that may not have been the original plan, but those plans changed, and they sort of had their hands forced because of an outside influence. So that type of stuff has always been interesting to hear how, the things I always wondered, “Why are they doing that? That seems stupid.” They really didn’t have a better option. A better option that we maybe all thought, “Well, why don’t they just do that?” wasn’t always readily available.
And with the newer podcast, what are people getting from the 83 weeks with Eric Bischoff that’s like a new spin on [WCW history]?
Well, with Bruce Pritchard you’re hearing from the man’s right-hand man. Of course, for years, for decades, he was Vince McMahon’s right-hand man. With Eric Bischoff, you’re hearing from the man himself. And so, because we’re talking to a guy who ran WCW, we’re not only just talking about storylines, but we’re talking specifically about the business of professional wrestling, why they did this business-wise. Not necessarily why they always did it creatively, but how are they trying to monetize it? What metrics were they looking for? What called him to make some of these decisions? So whereas a lot of wrestling podcasts talk about what happened creatively and from storyline standpoint, on 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff, we talk about what happened with the business.
And with Something Else To Wrestle With on the WWE Network, do you expect there to be more episodes of that?
Yeah, absolutely. I definitely think there will be more Something Else To Wrestle With with Bruce Pritchard, more content with Bruce in general on the Network. You know, there were so many years between season one and season two of The Edge and Christian Show – I don’t think that’ll be the case for this show – but it is normal, you know, that a show comes out, has thirteen episodes and then takes a break and comes back around the same time. Bruce and I expect to be back on the WWE Network later this year.
Okay, cool. And let’s talk about Starrcast… I was actually at the first Starrcast doing media stuff, and I’m wondering are there any things between the first and the convention you’re doing in Vegas that are going to be notably different, or is it going to be a pretty similar setup?
Well, I mean, it’ll be a similar concept, but the execution will definitely be different. You know, it was my first time promoting anything like that. I had never done not just a wrestling convention, but any time of live promoting ever, you know, so I certainly never had to organize that many people. And realistically, you know, when I first had the vision for Starrcast I thought, “Hey, if we could get six or eight hundred people, man, that would be incredible,” and we ended up having thousands upon thousands that were there, and it was a totally overwhelming experience, one that I was not prepared for.
I did not expect the massive response, and my infrastructure wasn’t what it could have been or should have been. That will be different this year. You know, I’ve hired a bunch more staff. We’ve got a bigger venue. As a result, we’ve got something to learn on now and a reference whereas before we didn’t know what we didn’t know. And so now I think, you know, last year was proof of concept. This year is going to be what I really imagined how Starrcast could be.
You’ve been at the two rallies or events that [AEW] have had since they’ve become a company. How did that come about that you were going to be kind of an MC for those?
It was just a total happy accident. You know, it was not in the original plan. I don’t have any aspirations to be involved in the wrestling business in that capacity. I’m just friends with Tony Khan in real life and Tony listens to my podcast and asked if I would do him a favor and come host the rally and I said “Absolutely,” but I didn’t really know what that really entailed until the day before.
So as a wrestling fan, I got very excited by it, and when they asked if I could be in Vegas… for the ticket rally, I jumped at the chance, but I don’t work for AEW. I don’t have a contract with AEW. I’ve not gotten a paycheck from AEW. I paid my own way there. It’s just me doing a solid for a buddy, and I know he would do it for me and he’s supported my podcast project for years and years, and, you know, obviously this is a much larger scale, and if he says “Hey, do you mind – ” before he finishes a sentence I’m like, “Yeah, absolutely, man. Whatever you need me to do.” It’s a thrill as a wrestling fan to even be a small part of any of that.
Okay, so it sounds like people maybe should not maybe expect to see you on screen at Double or Nothing?
No, I haven’t had any discussions with anybody about doing anything at Double or Nothing. I mean, I’m going to be at Starrcast, but, you know, if Tony wants me to come do something there I’d be happy to, but – I know there’s been a lot of people on social media who say, “Oh, Conrad should be color commentator or play-by-play.” I have zero experience with that. In fact, I would be terrible at it. I don’t think that’s what anybody needs in their life is me trying to call the match or sell the storyline. I don’t have any experience in that. There are so many other talented performers who deserve that shot, not me. I’m going to stick to mortgaging and podcasts.
Since you’re a fan who’s gotten involved closer to the wrestling business, is there anyone you’ve met that you had a way different impression of them in real life than just knowing about them as a fan that maybe surprised you?
Oh yeah, a lot of guys. You know, the number one that comes to my mind is probably Jeff Jarrett. Lex Luger is another one. Tully Blanchard. All of those guys, you know, I just absolutely hated before I met them because I only knew what I saw of them on television as their character. And they were playing bad guys, they were supposed to be hateable, but there was something about those guys that I just really didn’t like. But then you get to meet them and you’re just so shocked at how likable and personable they are and how charismatic they are. I mean, it would be impossible not to like those guys.
So those are probably the three biggest examples, and maybe, you know, I should bring Sean Waltman in the limb as well. Sean Waltman’s one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met and that wasn’t always his character on TV, so when you meet him in real life and you meet his dog and you really get to know his person and his heart it’s like “Oh wow, this is a really,” it sounds weird to say, but, “This is a really sweet person.” And you wouldn’t necessarily get that vibe, you know, with X-Pac or Syxx, but that’s who he is in real life. Those have probably been some of the examples of the biggest surprises I’ve had.