todd pettengill
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Todd Pettengill On How He Got Hired By Vince McMahon, Adjusting To Backstage And Kayfabe

Todd Pettengill was a recent guest on Prime Time with Sean Mooney and the former WWF interviewer spoke about how his career got started, saying Vince McMahon found him after hearing him on the radio:

“Vince listened to me on the radio and then called me out of the blue. He said, ‘Listen, what do you know about wrestling?’ I said ‘Absolutely nothing,’ and he said ‘Perfect, how’d you like to audition to host a show?’ That’s how it started, he really wanted someone with an outside perspective, someone who comes in and learns it as they go.”

Pettengill talked about how tough it was preparing to go to the studio in Stamford, and recalled his initial trip and time in front of the cameras:

“It was hard, you can’t really cram that amount of knowledge into a two day period. Vince called me on a Tuesday and then scheduled me in to meet him on a Thursday. They sent a town car, which was a thrill for me at the time. They brought me to the studio, and everybody was the nicest to me immediately. Vince put me on ice for a minute, so I was just sitting and looking around, I had no idea what to expect.

I opened the door and saw that shadow right out of a movie, it was distinctively Vince McMahon. He walks in and shakes your hand with that 100 pound grip and says “How ya doing, pal?” He threw me a bottle of water and started rolling the cameras, telling me I had to sell it to him in two minutes flat. I riffed on it, hit the countdown, and he seemed impressed.”

Todd started with WWF as a backstage interviewer and host of WWF Mania, but ended up making his WrestleMania debut at WrestleMania IX, which he said put into perspective how big wrestling was:

“Here we are in Vegas, we’re outside, 1000s of people, and I’m in a toga. I think there was a Bill Clinton lookalike, I know we had a couple of those. And that was big, man, I mean. You realize the magnitude of what you’re doing. You see that you’re going to be in a toga, and I’m like ‘What the hell?’”

Pettengill added that while he was around the WWF talent every day, he snever adjusted to calling them by their real names. He said he always stayed in character as far as kayfabe terms, which is something he still does today:

“My whole vernacular with these guys was, and I do it to this day, was to never call wrestlers by their real names. For me, I had to stay in that moment. There were a lot of guys who would switch when they’re not on camera, but for me, it was always ‘Hey, Hulk!’ For me, I had to stay completely in character, I wasn’t smart enough to distinguish everyone.”