Cover shot ERIC BISCHOFF
Eric Bischoff is best known for serving as Executive Producer and later President of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and subsequently, the General Manager of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Raw brand. In the mid-80s, Bischoff entered the wrestling community as a “C-Team Announcer,” and a few short years later, he was President of Turner Broadcasting’s World Championship Wrestling. He signed Hulk Hogan and started Monday Night Nitro, created the nWo, and beat Vince McMahon’s Monday Night RAW head-to-head in Monday Night Wars 83 consecutive times.
He is a key figure in the Monday Night Wars between WWF and WCW which most would say was the peak of Professional Wrestling. Bischoff was at the centre of this ‘’war’’ which spiked TV audiences and created massive global interest. Eric Bischoff can now be heard on his weekly podcast 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff exclusively on Westwood One Podcast Network. The show features Bischoff and popular wrestling podcaster Conrad Thompson taking a deep dive into the highs and lows of Bischoff’s unparalleled success in the wrestling business.
Being a life long wrestling fan I do my best to not mark out while interviewing someone I grew up watching on TV. We chat about his old and new podcast, the tour, AEW, gimmick matches and who is the best in the business right now.
B: You had previously done a podcast before, “Bischoff on Wrestling”, which you had left. What brought you back to podcasting again?
E: Well I’ve always enjoyed podcasting. My first podcast, although it was an interesting experiment the chemistry, just wasn’t right between my co-host (Nick Hausman) and I. We got along great, we are still good friends and everything, but from a listeners point of view it just didn’t click. So I put it on hiatus and I wasn’t sure if I was going to bring it back or not. While I was on hiatus deciding what to do, Conrad Thompson called me, and asked me about doing a podcast with him. He was obviously very successful with [Something to Wrestle with] Bruce Prichard. So I listened to his ideas and his approach to it and liked what I heard. So I agreed to do another round, but I was going to do it with another co-host.
B: What made you go with Conrad as the co-host?
E: Well, it’s because he was having so much success with one of his other podcasts (Something to Wrestle). He was working with a very close friend of mine (Bruce Prichard), and his podcast was the #1 downloaded wrestling podcast in the world at that time. I thought Conrad has a good feel of what the audience want to hear and how to format a show.
B: The podcast focuses on the 83 weeks of the Monday Night Wars which is an era that has been talked about at great length. Was this your way of telling the definitive version?
E: No, it was really all Conrad’s idea. I was hesitant to do a retrospective of the Monday Night War era simply because I felt that after 20 years everything that could be said had been said. Everything that shouldn’t have been said had been said. It’s been covered so much I just didn’t think the audience would be interested in it. Conrad was the one who was very confident that he knew the audience was there, if it was presented in a new fresh format. I was reluctant at first but surprisingly we are doing very very well.
B: Now that you are touring, what have you been doing differently with the podcast?
E: The live format for a show is a real healthy mixture of humour. I don’t want to call it comedy cause I’m not a stand-up comedian, but wresting stories are inherently funny. There are so many hilarious stories that you don’t need be a comedian to have a good set. I would say the larger part of the show is the Q&A portion. Much like when Conrad co-hosts my show, he is asking me a lot of questions about specific details about talent, contracts or big moments in the industry. I open that up to the audience and invite them to come up and play co-host and see if they can be Australia’s version of Conrad Thompson. I hope when I walk away people say to themselves two things, #1 I’ve never laughed so hard and #2 I really learned a lot. If I can make people feel like they know more about the business when they leave than when they came in, and they had a great time doing it, I’ve hit a home run…or score a field goal depending on your sport of choice.
B: Now is a really interesting time to be a wrestling fan with a new war on the horizon with AEW (All Elite Wrestling owned by former WWE star Cody Rhodes and former indy tag team The Young Bucks). Their new PPV Double Or Nothing aired recently (25/05) did you give it a watch?
E: I have not, I will watch it this week now that I’m home. I was in Las Vegas (the PPV was held at MGM grand in Vegas) but I didn’t go over to the event for a variety of reasons. Mostly I just didn’t want to be around 13,000 wrestling fans as I had been around wrestling fans a lot that week already hahaha. If I would have gone, there would have been a lot of speculation and people would be writing stories that aren’t really true. I decided it was better judgement to avoid it hahaha. But I certainly will watch it, I have heard phenomenal things about it, all very very positive. I just didn’t want to have to answer a million questions.
B: Can’t blame you for that hahaha. The wrestling rumour mill never stops. Did anyone at AEW reach out to you for any advice?
E: No, Not at all.
B: With a lot of Australian talent currently on wrestling rosters around the world, have you had a chance to check any local promotions such as MCW (Melbourne City Wrestling)?
E: No I really haven’t, I don’t have time to keep up with US domestic wrestling. I have been to the UK on occasion and have been exposed to the UK product. But obviously I haven’t been back to Australia in 10 years or so, so I haven’t been able to sample it. But I look forward to it.
B: Are you watching much wrestling these days or does the podcast have you too busy?
E: Well I’ve got a lot of other things I do, the podcast is the least time-consuming part of my life. I still produce television & feature films, I travel a lot and do a lot of these tours. I will be in Australia in June as you know and then as soon as I come back I’m doing 30 shows in 30 nights. From the west coast of Canada to the east coast of Canada. It doesn’t leave a lot of time to watch wrestling.
B: Would you ever consider getting back into the business, behind the scenes or as an on screen personality?
E: You know I don’t think being an on camera personality would really make much sense for me any longer. I’ve been doing this for 30 years, I’m not sure the audience wants to see me back again, in that role as a general manager. The audience would have fun with it for a couple of weeks and I would have fun doing it for a couple of weeks, but it wouldn’t be long before the audience would be saying to themselves and each other “Man we’ve been watching him do the same stuff for 20 to 30 years”. I don’t think being on camera would make much sense for me, but behind the scenes, sure. There are many aspects of the business I miss. I miss the creative side, I love creating new opportunities within the wrestling business and leveraging the core strength of what the property can be. For example in movies, cartoons or action movies, a lot of things WWE have been doing for quite a while, I loved that. I miss working with young talent who are trying to find their voice as a character, and learn how to do a really great interview or promo. It’s an art form that’s hard to teach, mostly because there is not a lot of great people around to teach it. That’s one thing I miss doing, but I don’t miss the travel. If I never have to get on another jet more than once a month will be a week too soon for me. Never say never, the right opportunity changes ones perspective on just about anything. it all just becomes an opportunity that would or wouldn’t be.
B: Speaking of the creative side you are usually credited with the creation of the elimination chamber. How did that come about?
E: No I actually didn’t! That’s a really funny question you have asked, people assume that all the time hahaha. At the time it was created by somebody else, I think it was Triple H that probably had as much to do with it as any one person did. At the time I was the general manager and of course as the general manager I took credit for it, but that was my on camera character taking credit for it, that wasn’t really me taking credit for it.
B: Staying on the topic of stipulation matches, what is your all-time favourite?
E: Ahhhh Turkey on a Pole Match hahaha. That always brings back such fond memories hahaha. It’s an interesting question, you know in the wrestling industry, stipulations like that are what I refer to as a gimmick match and I have never been one for gimmick matches. My sensibility when it comes to storytelling in wrestling, I love a really great basic story. A basic story for me is a good guy and a bad guy, a character you really like and a character you don’t. I like to see the character I really like be at an extreme disadvantage, everybody loves a good underdog. I want to really believe in that character’s struggle to overcome whatever limitations or challenges or whatever it is in his or her way to reach their ultimate goal. That’s a great basic story telling premise right there. I love a heel who gives you a believable truly unlikeable heel that makes you forget you are watching scripted entertainment. As a grown man who has his own plane and a pilot’s licence so I’m fairly educated hahaha. But when a good character can make me believe and make me forget I’m watching wrestling and I get so sucked into the story, cause I really believe in the heel (Bad Guy), and I believe in the baby face (Good Guy). That to me is a great basic story and it doesn’t need stipulations that sometimes dilute (the story) and often because they are trying to camouflage they don’t have a good basic story.
B: I agree with you, that a simple story makes the best story. So I’m guessing it wasn’t your idea to put Buff Bagwell’s mum on a forklift for a match? (If you don’t know it look up Judy Bagwell on a pole)
E: HAHAHAHAH No, that wasn’t me hahaha.
B: In regards to the current baby faces and heels, do you have any favourites from the last few years? Especially when it comes to promos and in-ring storytelling.
E: I think one of the most fascinating characters to emerge in the last months or years is Becky Lynch (WWE’s current Raw women’s champion). For me it’s a personal choice, but the reason I really like her character is it really begun to emerge in social media. She found her voice, and found a way to connect with compelling content 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Her social media content has a really dangerous edge to it, it was really really good. That made me interested in her and I started following her on television as a result of that. Then as I started watching her on television, much like Steve Austin, she’s got this not quite a heel not quite a baby face, probably more of a baby face I guess. But she’s this badass take no prisoners take no names kick ass kinda character the audience really loves, and it’s been fascinating watching her.
B: In this day and age it seems like social media can really help get a character across, but I find it can also be the flipside of that too. Would you agree?
E: Definitely, and I’m seeing more and more people, high profile people in the business, really beginning to learn how to use social media. Instead of ‘hey look at me, I’m out fishing with my kids’, or ‘I’m in a new restaurant’ or ‘look at me and my expensive sports car’ they are starting to use it as a story telling device and a character building device, not just ‘hey look at me’ kind of thing. I find that really interesting as people get bette and they will, they always do. As people get better, smarter and more creative in how they use their social media, I think it will only enhance their characters on camera. Much like Becky Lynch did.
B: One last question with Everyday Metal being a Metal music lifestyle website we are curious as to what your favourite entrance song is?
E: Oh I would have to pick my own from Starcade 1997. I used music from the soundtrack desperado and the name of the song was White Train (By Tito & Tarantula). It was a really badass song. Once in a while I will come across it and it takes me right back to Washington DC and all the crazy stuff I was doing on that particular PPV.
B: Our time is up, thank you so much for the chat and we look forward to seeing you in June.