They had some nice videos up of an interview with WWE broadcaster JBL interviewing Mr. Eric Bischoff. Here's a non-partisan review. With my personal opinions all over it.
Bischoff mentions in his book the DDP wasn't a guy who could hold the title a long time, but JBL points out that DDP held it a "bunch of times". Bischoff patently denies showing favourtism, as Bradshaw charges, and instead cites reliability as a factor. "I could count on DDP," Mr. Bisch intones, adding "Trust goes a long way with me." He points out that DDP would never be a "superstar", like Rock, Austin, Hogan, Triple H, or...JBL. No seriously, he said that. And Bradshaw DIDN'T FLINCH, as if to suggest he agrees with his placement in that category. Surreal moment, honestly. I (and any reasonable person) would say DDP was a much bigger star than JBL, and certainly moved more merchandise and had better matches and cut better promos and is probably less of a racist. I guess, in the twisted revisionist otherworld of WWE, being the Champ in their company outstrips being Champ anywhere else. Anyway, he saw DDP as a guy you could go to in the short-term and use as a transition. Odd, when he was in actuality, one of WCW's few homegrown superstars.
On Who/What Killed WCW:
Bischoff admits that many people think he, in fact, killed WCW. He didn't want to do the book at first because he didn't think his story was "all that interesting", and that wrestling books come off as "bitter" and engage in "finger-pointing" and he didn't want to come off that way. However, when he googles his own name and Wikipedia comes up and gets his birthday wrong, and gives him an educational background he doesn't have, he resolves to write the book because it was "time to clear the air". I would offer that if everyone wrote a book to correct Wikipedia inaccuracies, there'd be no trees left by the end the week. That being said, at least Wikipedia is responsible, however indirectly, for something I actually want to read.
"Who do I think killed WCW?" Bischoff posits: "I think AOL/Time Warner; the merger, killed WCW." Bradshaw asks him if he still thinks they'd be in business, if he thinks Vince would be working for him today, had that merger not gone through. He does this with a thinly-veiled tone that suggests he is asking something to which he has ready decided the opposite is true, which brings his journalistic credibility to about par with the major networks and Fox News. Bischoff responds, quite wryly, that he doesn't think Vince would be working for him regardless. "I think a lot of things would have had to happen to Vince McMahon before that would have ever happened." Eric eloquently establishes that he thinks certainly things that needed to be done, which he would have done if power hadn't been snatched out of his hands, would have changed WCW's fortunes.
What He Would Have Done Differently:
"For me personally? I wouldn't have gotten as close to the talent as I did...I think that was the single largest mistake that I made that I wish I could have done differently." Well, no argument here.
On Who in WWE Wasn't A Pro:
"Not one person in this company", Bischoff chastely states, disappointing me passionately. Come on, Eric. Ric Flair ATTACKED YOU FROM BEHIND in a GENUINE FIGHT! Ric even admitted as much in his book. Now, granted, you're not the only person Ric's done that to, but that doesn't mean it wasn't unprofessional. Man up!
On Paul Heyman:
JBL can hardly restrain the joy in his voice as he mentions the "vitriolic" things Mr. Bisch has to say about Paul Heyman in his book. "I was certainly an excuse for Paul Heyman," Eric says, and quite rightly I might add. "One of the things Paul did extremely well," bwhahaah, pun! Yes, Bischoff rules! "was paint me...and paint Vince McMahon...as the two evil big guys who were trying to put him being the little guy out of business. Nothing was further from the truth." Uh, I don't know if NOTHING is further from the truth, but he (Heyman) did probably exaggerate it. Bischoff ignores JBL's sophmoric lead-in saying that Eric basically thinks, based on what he wrote, that the ECW talent were "dumbasses"; Bischoff doesn't bite but says he does believe they were drinking Paul's "purple kool-aid". And he said that right. The flavour is PURPLE, it ain't "grape". Only homosexuals and scientologists call it "grape". That's my conclusion, not Eric's. Anyway, Eric goes further and says that the reason they drank the kool-aid is because "they were talent that quite frankly wouldn't have gotten an opportunity anywhere else." I agree, again. Sandman sucked really badly. And so did most of them. Shut up, they just did. In fairness, Heyman is "one of the most creative people I've ever worked around" and "in some respects he's got a better feel for this business than anyone I've ever worked with", but Paul Heyman, says Bischoff, is a liar and he doesn't believe a word that comes out of Paul's mouth. Y'know, the highest compliment Vince could pay Heyman was "clever". JBL adds that Paul only lies "when his mouth is open."
On Jim Ross:
"If I gave anybody the impression that I didn't think Jim Ross had a feel for the business..." Eric is interrupted by JBL, who puts words in his mouth, and if this was showertime, and Bradshaw had his way, you could replace 'words' with 'his wang' and 'mouth' with 'ass'. Eric plays it a little more diplomatic than he probably did in the book, one assumes, when he says that Jim Ross "no question...had a feel for the wrestling business in general" but not for where Bischoff felt it "needed to go". WCW needed to be redefined and transition away from the "southern...weekly territory" that was Jim Crockett Promotions. There was a negative perception and "we needed to change that". Jim Ross, because of his history, Eric thought, did not understand how to make that transition. Maybe, maybe not.
On Free Tickets:
Doing the shows at Disney was needed. Before those days, "We'd put up an arena, we've have thirty, forty, fifty, sixty wrestling matches in the course of an evening, doing four weeks worth of television and thirty-seven winos would show up at ringside." He thought it was better to do the co-branding with Disney, because the audience, "whether they were wrestling fans or not, at least they were sober, and at least they were paying attention to what was going on in the ring." Can't argue with that. I miss Worldwide, seriously.
On Kevin Nash:
JBL asks why Eric stuck with Kevin Nash and gave him the book. A good question. "It might be high on the list of things I wished I wouldn't have done, quite frankly." Does every North American wrestling promoter say 'quite frankly' ever other sentence, or is it me? Bischoff defends the move saying he was burnt out of ideas, which is nice admission. Lord knows Vince has been since the Andre the Giant/John Studd haircutting angle. "When Kevin cares, Kevin is one of the most creative people I've ever been with." This doesn't mean he was the best peformer, and Jesus Lord, was he ever not, but yeah. That's why.
On the Open Chequebook:
He didn't have an open chequebook. "That's your perception." Ooh, catty, but I likes! He rightly points out that when he overtook the operations of Atlanta it was a twenty-four million dollar a year operation losing ten million. JBL comes back saying that because they were TV content it "didn't matter what they drew". The WWE company line is really, really coming through strong here. This is the same tripe Vince was spouting years ago when he was whining like a bitch-newbie in prison that Turner had a vendetta and wanted to put him out of business. Bischoff is intelligent enough a man to field these questions and show the absurdity of their ignorant thrust. He insists he had to turn WCW around before he got to loosen the pursestrings. Bill Shaw had come in with a mandate that Eric "will turn a profit". He proved himself first.
On Overpaying Wrestlers:
"When Lex Luger left WCW he was making in excess of five hundred thousand dollars a year, he came to WWE to improve his financial situation, not to take less money. So it's not like I'm the only person who paid Lex Luger more than he was worth." OUCH! EAT IT, VINCE! Man, why is Bischoff so much more well-spoken and quick on his feet than McMahon? When Eric brought Lex back, he paid him a fraction of what he was earning in WWE, and a fraction of what he had previously earned in WCW. I did not know that. Lex never struck me as the type to take a chance on a big idea over takin' the big cash. Eric points out that he used Lex to launch Nitro, and really, that's quite correct. The shock of Luger's appearance set the tone for Nitro and in many ways, the Monday Night War itself.
On the difference in Main Event Quality:
Eric admitted that "Stone Cold Steve Austin delivered a different type of a match than guys in the nWo did," (though no less repetitive or predictable, I say) but "that's not the only reason people buy pay-per-views". He mentions they grew an audience, and that this was due in great part to the fact that they offered something no one else was offering in terms of their storytelling.
I thought Bischoff came off very well in this. He was very quick on his feet, he admitted mistakes and deflected unfair generalizations, although he did back down on a couple points I wished he wouldn't have, as I noted above. It would have been interesting to hear his thoughts on why he treated Flair as he did, and if in fact he did treat Flair as horrifically as Flair claims in his book. I'd also liked to have heard some Warrior insults. I have engaged patience, but it's not working, and I want someone to make fun of him again. JBL as wrestling journalist is tough to take, but if he's doing commentary for the long-term this is a natural step, though one I would scale back, as JBL lacks the verbal capacity to be effective in this role. Calling a match probably doesn't require perfect grammar, but interviewing someone probably does and rightly ought to. End of the day, it was the best thing I've certainly seen on WWE.com and Bischoff had the balls to make it less of a fluff piece than it could have been. Like him or hate him, Eric Bischoff deserves his place in wrestling history as someone who fundamentally changed the industry on scale second only to Vince McMahon, the same industry which even today would not exist as it does if not for Bischoff's vision over a decade ago.
This took forever. THANK ME WITH RESPONSES AND THOUGHTS. And zip over to WWE.com, it'z still up!
(edited by Hogan's My Dad on 29.9.06 1718) It hurts to be a wrestling fan.
Originally posted by Hogan's My DadMan, why is Bischoff so much more well-spoken and quick on his feet than McMahon?
I'm gonna guess that it's because while Eric had to hone his diplomatic-skills while answering to Verne Gagne, Ted Turner, AOL suits, and the like, Vince hasn't really had to answer to anyone for a very long time.
"You know what you need? Some new quotes in your sig. Yeah, I said it." -- DJFrostyFreeze
Well I'll re-iterate the usual complaint heard about the Invasion angle: that the "top tier" stars of WCW weren't involved. Since the angle, Vince has bought in Flair, Hall, Nash, and Hogan. Why not have them there from the start?