Eric Bischoff is seen around the wrestling world as a “genius.” I don’t put that in quotes because I don’t agree with the sentiment, I do it because during the course of this interview Eric actually states that he thinks genius is such a strong word to describe a man of his humble nature. Eric has been suspended for 30 days now, for failure to appear at WCW’s August Pay-Per-View Slamboree. Terry Taylor and Kevin Sullivan have taken over the reins of WCW in Bischoff’s absence and PWI was the first publication to catch up with the 42 year old Michigan Native:
Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI): Eric, I don’t want to beat around the bush. What happened at Slamboree? Why didn’t you show up?
Eric Bischoff (EB): Ha! I knew you’d get there, just not this quickly. I’ll tell ya what. Think about this; have you ever called in sick when you really weren’t and went out and had a “vacation day”?
PWI: I can’t say that I have, but I’m sure readers know what you’re talking about.
EB: Well that’s what happened. I did what I wanted to do. I still don’t see what the big deal is. I brought in the best writing staff money can buy and the best road agents in the world right now, what did I need to be there for? So I can pat everyone on the back and say good job? Look, I get it. I look really bad from all this, but I never ONCE got anything written about me when I was busy turning around the company this year. What about when I fired ½ of the staff and 1/3rd of the roster to cut costs?
PWI: There were articles.
EB: Articles?! Was my name in them?
PWI: You were mentioned.
EB: Was I? Because all the guys backstage there seem to think that I am just some “yes man” for Time-Warner now. I am the reason WCW has such a good outlook. Hell, in January we did some projections and figured that WCW would be out of money by March or April of 2001. That’s less than 3 years away! Do you really think the number 1 wrestling promotion on the planet could nosedive to the point of complete failure…. In 3 years? No way.
PWI: These projections were based on what?
EB: Market trends. Our target audience’s likes, wants, needs, whatever will all change and WCW wouldn’t be able to keep up with the ever changing market. Those contracts; Luger, Hogan, Nash, Hall would crush our ability to grow our production values and such. WCW was already crippled, even though she still looked like a beauty, so I took initiative and did the overhaul. Got rid of A LOT of good people.
PWI: This was your idea or….
EB: Well, it certainly wasn’t Ted Turner’s idea or Kevin Sullivan’s idea.
PWI: We’ve gotten quite a few letters, from WCW fan’s, wondering about that. What was the initial plan?
EB: I was watching what WWF was doing, really. Not for storyline ideas or anything, but seeing they took Steve Austin off the scrap heap and made him the hottest star they have, I see no reason we couldn’t do that and replace the older guys.
PWI: And you followed through by restructuring the contracts?
EB: Restructuring? Those were 100% all new deals. Those guys that resigned, they all did so under their own will. Most of them jumped at the opportunity, Hogan even. Granted his downside was more than anyone on the roster and he would only sign through the end of July.
PWI: How is your relationship with Hulk?
EB: Well, obviously he didn’t like the direction we were going, with him feuding with Chris Jericho. He still had some creative control stuff in his contract, and he decided that it was in his best interests to walk away. I’ve talked to him a little bit, here and there, but I don’t think he’s coming back any time soon. Hulk Hogan is better off away from WCW.
PWI: Some fans would argue that the opposite is even more true. Is WCW better off without Hulk Hogan?
PWI: Care to elaborate?
EB: 93,000. That’s all I’m going to say.
PWI: What do you think about the past month for WCW? Sullivan and Taylor have continued the company in the direction you were leadi-
EB: Let me stop you right there. I don’t want to get too much into that, because I’m not there. I’ll say this. I had plans and the writing staff knows those plans and if Taylor and Sullivan know what’s good or them, they will follow those guidelines. WCW is heading in Eric Bischoff’s direction. (pauses and sighs heavily) For the past 2…2 and a half years all I have heard is “Eric Bischoff this” and “Eric Bischoff that” “Genius”. Pfffft. I have done crazy things, INSANE business, but I’m not naïve enough to think I’m a genius. That being said, my reputation for building things, like Hogan-Sting or Flair-Hogan or whatever, Taylor and Sullivan better just keep the ship straight for my return.
PWI: And when will you be back?
EB: I was told 90 days. I’m home for 60 more days. It’s good though, I get to fish.
PWI: You said that you’re not naïve enough to call yourself a “genius,” care to elaborate?
EB: I have been doing this for the past 5 years, and in that time I have done some really cool stuff and made some crazy changes. Vince McMahon, as much as it pains me to say this, is a genius. He’s the gold standard. n.W.o. or no n.W.o.
PWI: I’ve got to ask about Shawn Michaels. He showed up at Great American Bash, any chance he gets in a WCW ring?
EB: Ha! Another dirt sheet rumor gone wild, huh? Shawn is a really cool guy, and he’s good pals with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. He came and talked to a few of us about the whole Texas Wrestling Academy and him working with Jose Lothario to train some Power Plant guys. Shawn agreed, even though his back is killing him. He’s still got a WWF deal, and honestly, I don’t need that drama. Him and Bret… pfffft. Not touching that, no matter what ratings it could get me.
PWI: Any nuggets of information you can give us moving forward?
EB: Things are going to change, quite a bit, and rather quickly.
PWI: That it?
EB: See you at Starrcade.