Eric Bischoff was one of the most influential men of the 1990s in professional
I know very few details of his life prior to joining the AWA--Hulk
Hogan has claimed that he worked at one point packing meat in the back
of a truck, this claim may be true or total balderdash. He is, however,
a black belt in several martial arts disciplines.
Bischoff joined the American Wrestling Association in the 1980s as
an all-purpose gopher for AWA owner Verne Gagne. He reputatedly
did such menial tasks as fetching coffee and mowing Gagne's lawn, leading
to many "lawnmower boy" jokes later in his career. He was eventually
promoted into a third-string announcing position. With the AWA falling
apart in front of Gagne's eyes, he handed over the booking reigns to Bischoff--still
a junior announcer with no booking experience or skill--who proceeded to
drive the AWA into a bigger nosedive than it already had been in.
The product under Bischoff became so awful that the AWA's television program
started filming in a closed studio with no crowd. He made Larry
Zbyszko the AWA World Champion, and when Zbyszko was embarassingly signed
away by World Championship Wrestling while still holding the belt, the
AWA folded pretty collapsed on the spot as Gagne filed for bankrupcy and
folded the AWA after more than 30 years of existence.
He was hired by WCW in mid-1991 as a favor to Diamond Dallas Page,
a good friend of Eric's. He worked as an announcer from that point
until early 1993, when Bill Watts was fired by the management for daring
to have original ideas and going against the administration. The
rational thing to do would've been to give the reigns to Tony Schiavone,
longtime loyal WCW employee and announcer, but the job was inexplicably
given instead to Bischoff. His job title would fluctuate from "President
of World Championship Wrestling" to "Executive Vice President of Operations"
to various other on-air and off-air titles, but suffice it to say after
1993 Bischoff was primarily the one in charge of booking WCW.
Also suffice it to say that the product WCW put on in 1993 was the worst
in any promotion, ever, since the beginning of time. I will attempt
to gloss over it to keep my sanity: Cheetum the Evil Midget. Cactus
Jack gets amnesia and becomes a homeless ex-sailor residing on the streets
of Cleveland. The Shockmaster. The Shockmaster.
The Shockmaster. The "WCW International World Championship".
The Disney tapings. The complete mistreatment of the Hollywood
Blondes, arguably the best tag team of the 1990s. Paul Roma joining
the Four Horsemen. It is no coincidence that many of these events
appear on The All-Time Worst Moments of Professional Wrestling, and I'll
leave it at that.
Bischoff finally gave booking power to Ric Flair in late 1993, who
proceeded to give WCW back some respectability by booking some, y'know,
angles that made sense.
Things were looking up until mid-1994, when WCW management decided "Hey,
enough of that silly 'rebuilding' and 'respectability' crap, let's just
hire HULK HOGAN and let him do whatever he wants!"
And so, Bischoff took the book back from Flair and ran with it once
again. Or, more correctly, Bischoff was in Hogan's back pocket from
that point on--the two became good friends and Bischoff began to rarely
take advice from anyone else. So, many of Hogan's friends--Jim Duggan,
Randy Savage, Brutus Beefcake--were brought into WCW and immediately
given big pushes. Hogan won the WCW World Title within weeks of entering
the promotion and would hold it off and on for the next two years with
Bischoff's blessing. One prob--the fans actually started booing
Hogan as a result of increasingly cartoonish and superheroesque angles.
More on that later.
In 1995, WCW owner Ted Turner wanted a show on Monday nights to oppose
WWF's RAW is WAR broadcast, and Bischoff is credited for coming up with
the WCW Nitro format.
In 1996, Nitro was expanded to 2 hours. Shortly thereafter, at
Bash in the Beach '96, the nWo angle was kicked off when Hulk Hogan
turned heel to counter his diminished reaction and joined with Kevin Nash
and Scott Hall to form the new faction. This immensely popular
angle would cause WCW to vault ahead of the WWF in the Neilsen ratings--the
WWF wouldn't beat them again until April 1998. Bischoff has claimed
the nWo as his own great idea, although it should be noted that he had
extremely little to do with its formation: Paul Orndorff is generally
credited with coming up with the original invasion angle and Terry Taylor
thought up most of the details.
Bischoff gloated often about WCW's rating dominance, saying many things
that would come back to haunt him when the WWF pulled ahead again in 1998--mostly
due to Stone Cold Steve Austin, a former WCW wrestler whom Bischoff thought
never would be a major player in the industry. He fired Austin over
the telephone back in 1995 after Austin injured himself. He should
consider himself lucky--others got their pink slip through Federal Express.
Citing dismal ratings and poor decisions, Eric was fired by the management
in September of 1999. Kevin Sullivan booked temporarily until Vince
Russo and Ed Ferrara defected from the WWF and took over. THAT
failed horribly, and Bischoff was hired back to co-book with Russo in April of 2000.
The company was sold by Turner to the WWF in March 2001, ending Bischoff's
association with WCW for good.
Bischoff was one of several celebrities accused in mid-2001 as having
been part of certain illegal doings at The Gold Club, an Atlanta strip
club. Eric allegedly paid for a stripper to come back to a hotel
room and perform sexual acts with his wife. Patrick Ewing is the
most famous of the alleged customers. (The trial is currently