Todd Keneley is a former Impact Wrestling commentator and also worked on Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling show. Keneley was the ring announcer for the show and he recalled when actor Todd Bridges lost to Dennis Rodman in the finals of the show when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast.
"The fix was in, 'Rodzilla brother' was a member of the NWO so he had a little bit of an edge when it came to the voting, if you know what I mean. But Todd Bridges was doing sunset flips off the top, he was doing dives and he was extremely athletic," recalled Keneley. "If you go back, I think the most amazing thing of that show was that some of the matches that those celebrities ended up having were really entertaining. I remember Dustin Diamond and Danny Bonaduce having a Falls Count Anywhere match that could be on any show today and be entertaining. It was great!
"Todd Bridges, especially athletically, would really push. He was doing flip dives to the outside against people that may or may not be able to protect him. He just went for it and it was great. Butterbean was a lot of fun too and he was hitting the big splash. It was a good time. Everyday showing up to work there was like being at a fantasy camp. It was great."
Keneley called Bridges the "Work Rate MVP" of that show even though Bridges referred to himself as Mr. Not-So-Perfect. Keneley also remembered a segment in which comedians from outside of wrestling were brought in to teach celebs how to cut promos.
"They had brought in comedians in Brad Williams – and Brad loves wrestling – and he was one of them and some other comic. They were supposed to teach the talent how to do promos. But basically, they had the talent cutting shoot promos on each other's acting careers and talent started getting pissed. They're like, 'We know what you're trying to do and we're not gonna do this' so they were gonna walk out of the segment," said Keneley.
"I was in the control room because I was taking daily notes and working behind the scenes too. I'm like, 'Oh, it's not about that. A promo is about selling tickets and selling an event and putting the other guy over but putting yourself over a little bit more. It's about the characters, not about their real life.' I remember one of the producers called in Eric Bischoff to the control room. Eric walks in and the producer goes, 'Hey Todd, tell Eric what you just told us.' So I kinda run it down and Eric goes, 'That's it. You're doing it. Go to work – it's your segment.' [Laughs] and he just threw me into the ring with them to do promos and we salvaged the segment. That was a crazy experience on the show but a lot of fun."
Keneley's work with Hogan's show, as well as on Hogan's Australian wrestling tour, helped pave the way for him joining Impact..
"It was October 2012; I came in right after Bound for Glory and was there through June 2013. My last show was Slammiversary 2013 which had Kurt and AJ when AJ was doing his loner thing and the main event was Sting and Bully Ray for the title," Keneley said before talking about a missed opportunity with WWE led him to Impact.
"After years and years of putting the work in and having good opportunities along the way and having close calls with WWE – they had flown me out three times and never pulled the trigger. I had an audition for WWE backstage at a SmackDown and I called three matches with Taz. It went really well and I did stand-ups with Taz and they flew me back. Me in my ignorance said, 'Oh I've got this – I already auditioned.' But when I got back there, they put me through the paces again and they put me in the studio where I froze up. So that always was a huge weight on my shoulders.
"It was almost similar to the UPW thing how Impact happened. I got a call – I had done Florida Championship Wrestling and done Hulk's tour in Australia and worked with him and Bischoff and everybody. So, I get a call from Eric and dealt with Bruce Prichard. Bruce said, 'Hey, can you be here on Thursday? We wanna put a little audition together.' So, I get into Orlando at the Impact Zone and they have me go to the creative meeting. They say, 'Hey everybody, this is Todd Keneley. He's calling the first hour with JB.' So, I get there and I find out I'm calling the first hour with Jeremy Borash. I called the first hour live and stayed on from there. Then three weeks later on a PPV, they ditched that and put me with Tenay and Taz. It was challenging at first but I learned a lot from them. I'm sure they weren't crazy about some guy being thrown in and changing their chemistry. And three-man booths are tough but I think we ended up being a solid team."
He recalled how stacked the TNA roster was at the time and how over the Aces & Eights faction was. Keneley thought that he would stay at TNA/Impact for years but it ended up just being a few short months.
"It felt big time and I'm thinking to myself, 'This is it. I made it. This is gonna be my career, hopefully, for 10+ years.' I was so eager to be there and I was proud of my work. But we took the show on the road at the time and that comes with a lot of cost and expense. It wasn't long after that that people started getting cut or released and I was one of the first to go," said Keneley. "So, it was disheartening and people always go, 'Ahh, are you bitter about it?' No, because what a great ride and great experience. I never thought I'd get to call a Sting match and I called several. Kurt and AJ and all those guys. It was a great time to be there because it felt big time. It was fun too because I had a couple of months to get my feet wet and go to the Impact Zone and have that familiarity. Then I had the experience of being on the road too with bigger crowds and arena crowds. I think we had 11,000 people or so at Lockdown in San Antonio at the Alamodome. So, it was great being in that environment and it was a lot of fun."
Many WWE Superstars like Daniel Bryan, Drew Gulak and Timothy Thatcher passed through a United Wrestling Network promotion at some point. Keneley, one of the commentators for UWN's Championship Wrestling From Hollywood, was asked if WWE has talked to UWN about buying their archives.
"I know it's definitely been discussed in the past. I don't know how serious those talks got or if it's still in flux. But I know there's definitely been talks because more and more talent that's there has come through our ranks and we've got some really intriguing matchups with them early in their career. And it's quality footage as a lot of times you'll see early stuff of these guys and it's super grainy or shaky handheld. Our stuff is well produced even back in the day," said Keneley. "So, it's quality stuff and I'm sure they'd want to get their hands on it. I'm sure if the deal was mutually beneficial then David Marquez and the decision makers in our company would entertain it. But for whatever reason it just hasn't happened yet, which for now is to our benefit as we're able to utilize it during this down time effectively."
For more information regarding the United Wrestling Network please visit UnitedWrestlingTV.com. You can follow Todd on Twitter @ToddKeneley. Todd's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.