This was released in 2014
The Interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein
Disc One runs at two hours and thirty four minutes long
He talked about where he grew up just outside of Detroit, which he said was near “8 Mile.” He said it was a tough place to live but before it declined even further. He watched “Big Time Wrestling” as a kid and remembered The Sheik, Dick the Bruiser, and Bobo Brazil. Bischoff talked about moving a lot as a kid and seeing multiple territories as a result. He said that he never thought about being in the wrestling business as a kid.
Bischoff is asked about his career before wrestling as he says he had a profession that began with almost every letter of the alphabet. Before wrestling, he was a manager at a food processing company and even managed a karate school, even fighting at times. He said he had some fights on ESPN too but it did not pay the bills.
He actually met Sonny Onoo before he got into wrestling. They met on the karate tournament circuit as Bischoff said he was a great kickboxer and one of the best in the country in kata. One night, they were at a bar talking about their childhoods then came up with the concept for the “Ninja Star Wars” game. Bischoff ended up calling the AWA and got a meeting with Verne to try to get advertising. Bischoff said that the pitched went great and made a deal where he would everything and Verne do the promotion and split that 50/50. Bischoff said that was his first time doing a business like that and it wasn’t that successful but it was a learning experience and as a result, Verne gave him a job handling the AWA syndication. Bischoff had no experience in that but said that said he did sales before and just used the experience he had to sell. This was in 1987.
On Verne Gagne, he said that they were friends at that time and would go hunting together and spent Christmas together as well. Bischoff calls Verne the most stubborn person he knew and didn’t realize until the end that his ideas were not working. Bischoff also blamed the government in Minnesota for instituting imminent domain and taking part of his land, only offering him 25% of what it was worth.
He tells the story of how he got to become an interviewer. Larry Nelson got popped for a DUI and could not make it to TV that morning. Bischoff said that once a month Verne would fly everyone in to do promos in various markets and after Larry never came, Greg suggested to Verne that he (Bischoff) do them as he was good looking and was the only one who wore a tie. Bischoff said that he was uncomfortable and he did horrible.
About his friendship with DDP, Bischoff said that he found DDP loud and obnoxious at first. After a show they were at a corporate event and he said something to DDP, who said something back. Bischoff then saw him leaving in the parking lot and went after him but he left. Bischoff then went back inside and a had a drink and when he left he saw DDP again but they decided to let it go and the next day they talked and became friends.
He talks auditioning for the WWF in 1990. Bischoff talked about how he was in the AWA at the end and was going weeks without getting paid and when he did they were partial checks and that his house was foreclosed on and his car was getting repossessed and asked Verne if he could take the audition. He said that he did not get the job and remembers Kevin Dunn talking into his earpiece while he was in front of the green screen about stuff that had nothing to do with the mock interview he was conducting.
Bischoff got hired by WCW after sending an audition tape. At the time he had no money and struggled to feed his family. He got flown down to the Omni once a month for two days and made $85,000.
He was and still is friends with Teddy Long and recalls that on Friday’s they would go down to Casa Gallardo, a Mexican restaurant in Atlanta, to eat nachos and drink $3 margaritas.
On Jim Ross, Bischoff talks about how Jim Herd brought him in to keep JR and Tony Schiavone to “keep them miserable.” Bischoff said because of that, JR was not very personable at all but even still remained supportive. He said that Schiavone was quiet and a hard worker but also not very nurturing either. He puts them both over as being hard workers.
He had minimal interaction with the talent at the beginning of his WCW stint. Even still, he did not like Lex Luger from the first day he met him.
On the announcing differences between AWA and WCW, he said that Verne would yell at you and tell you what to do at times while in WCW there were barely any constraints at all and just tell you that you did a good job.
When asked why WCW was so mismanaged in the early 90’s, Bischoff said that you have in keep in mind that when Ted Turner bought them out from Crockett they were a bankrupt company that was already terribly mismanaged. Then he talks about how they tried to fix it with those same people at that time.
Bischoff talks about how when he got to WCW no one but Turner in the corporate offices wanted wrestling on the network, thus WCW never got all that much in terms of support.
Bischoff talks about some of the guys in charge. He said Kip Frey was a deer in headlights and did not know anything about the wrestling business. He then said that Bill Watts was a bully who wanted to bring things back to the 70’s to make up for low ratings. He then said the talent started to work more conservatively as Watts made it more dangerous by taking away the mats on the floor. He said that Watts would do stuff like bring a gun to the Omni and put it on his desk to show that he is a tough guy. Bischoff said that Watts always had to prove that he was tough and feels that people who act like that are usually “pussies” and just overcompensating. He said that the Executive Committee was looking for any excuse to get rid of wrestling at the time and that Watts was basically doing just that for them. Bischoff then said that he heard through Bill Shaw that they wanted to get away from the old-school wrestling mentality and hire an executive.
On how he became the Executive Producer, Bischoff said that he had a grasp on how to run events and the television side, although not an expert, and knew the business from the wrestling side and decided to throw is name in the hat for the job, saying the worst that could happen was that he would not get the job. When asked, Bischoff said that Jim Ross got unfairly linked to Watts, who they wanted gone. Bischoff said that WCW picked him as he had a newer approach and saw what was wrong with the current product at that time. He said that Ross was miserable there and not just because he got the Executive job but said that he has talked to him and they are friends today.
He said that they needed better production values but before that they needed more fans in the building as if there is no one there to see the show, there is no point of improving your production values. He said that he believed by co-branding with Disney studios it would help change the perception of WCW with advertisers, sponsors, and the PPV company. The alternative to that was to continue booking TV tapings in arenas that fans were not coming too. He said that they always papering the house shows and said they would do that in a city of three times in a row then charge them to come to the 4th show and of course no one bought tickets. Bischoff said that it was actually more expensive to run the shows there but necessary to build the brand as wrestling fans are brand loyal.
About being second behind the WWF, Bischoff said that they were so far behind them that if it was a horse race they would have shot them for being so far behind. Bischoff said that he wanted fans to like WCW as much as other wrestling companies.
On switching to a monthly PPV model, Bischoff said that they had to in order to make a profit. He was also not surprised when WWF swtiched to that as he said they did it because WCW had success.
Bischoff is asked about getting Turner to spend money on talents like Bobby Heenan, Gene Okerlund, and Hulk Hogan. He first goes on about people want to tell a narrative about Turner having an open checkbook and that he used him like an ATM but the truth was that WCW was losing $10 million a year and Turner had not made a profit in any year since taking over. Bischoff said that he first cut costs and the first thing was to stop house shows as they lost money every time they went out of the door and Bob Dhue, WCW Vice President, wanted to do more house shows and Bischoff said how the fuck does that make any sense so he decided to stop all of the house shows until they built up their TV shows. Talent was pissed and dubbed him “Evil Eric” as that cost them money. Bischoff said that the people who wanted WCW to go away within Turner weren’t as angry when they were starting to break even. At that time, he went to Turner and Bill Shaw wanting to sign Hogan. After that went over well, they gave him more money to sign Okerlund and Heenan then they started to get more viewers, better PPV numbers, and started to run house shows again with more fans coming to the arena. When asked, Bischoff said that he never felt that Hogan was leveraging him during the process.
He also said that Ric Flair was critical of Hogan coming into WCW. Hogan trusted working with Flair according to Bischoff as he knew he could make him look good. Bischoff said that deep down inside he feels that Hogan is an honest and generous guy but at times can be very insecure.
Bischoff puts over Hogan for helping the WCW brand as he got them known as more than a regional Southern product. He said that while some of the crowds did not react favorably towards Hogan, he was phenomenal from the business side.
About Randy Savage coming into WCW, Bischoff said that Hogan called him up and wanted Savage in WCW. Bischoff said at that time they were profitable for the first time in WCW history. He then said not only was Savage coming to WCW but so was the “Slim Jim” sponsorship so as a result he basically got Savage for free. Bischoff liked Savage but said that he was very eccentric and insecure.
He is asked about Steve Austin. Bischoff said that he had a chip on his shoulder as the focus of WCW was on Hogan. Bischoff said that at the time he let him go and would do it today as well as it was the right move then. Bischoff then talks about how the Stone Cold character would have never emerged in WCW and he needed to leave the company to find his stride.
Bischoff is asked about several behind-the-scenes guys. He got along with Zane Bresloff and said he could milk as much as he could from the individual markets. He didn’t care for Gary Jester and said he was like a “potted plant.” He liked Craig Leathers (director) and put him over for always being able to work under pressure. He liked Harvey Schiller and said he was a great buffer for the corporate side. Bischoff likes Dusty Rhodes a lot but also said that his ego problems with Flair got to be too much. Bischoff said that he relied a lot upon Kevin Sullivan at the beginning but that they have different ideas. He said “no comment” when asked about Sharon Sidello (Head of the PPV Division, also rumored to have played Fifi the Maid on the “Flair for the Gold” segments but that was played by Wendy Barlow). He said that DDP was instrumental in bringing in Hall and Nash and acted as a liaison of sorts with the talent.
He is asked about the meeting that led to Nitro starting. He said that he was pitching an idea to Turner to work out a TV deal in China, who asked him what did they have to do to be competitive with the WWF. Bischoff said that WWF was in primetime while they were on 6pm on Saturday night. Turner then said to give WCW two hours on Monday night and Bischoff said that everyone’s jaw dropped when it was announced.
Bischoff’s first move was that he locked himself in a room and thought of how he was going to make this work. He said that if he failed, it was over as all of the hard work would be going down the toilet. He then said that he had to become different in order to beat the WWF, not to copy them.
His concerns about going head-to-head were how to beat them by doing the opposite of what they were doing, like aiming at the 18-34 demographic instead of kids and going live instead of being taped. Bischoff said he came up with this after writing down a list of everything the WWF was doing.
On why he kept himself on the air as a broadcaster, Bischoff said he was decent at it but also knew what he needed to sell.
When asked why he hired Steve McMichael as an announcer to break up the monotony and to have a crazy character.
Bischoff never saw the appeal of bringing Luger back to WCW and had no idea of how to use him and never trusted him, either. Sting persuaded Bischoff to hire him back so he called Luger and gave him a $125,000/ 3 month contract but when he came back he was a different person and it ended up working out. He talks about his surprise return was instrumental in setting the tone for Nitro and how anything could happen live.
About getting negative feedback for giving away RAW results live on air, Bischoff said that both management and talent did not like that and thought it was stupid.
Rob asks him point blank about Vince McMahon’s comments about Bischoff trying to hurt the WWF instead of helping his own product. Bischoff said that was false and puts over Vince for when he worked there but says that is Vince’s perspective as to what was going on and that his people were telling him that. Bischoff does state he was trying to be #1 but it was all about appealing to the audience and getting them to shift their viewing habits.
He also calls out the comments about stealing talent from the WWE and the narrative they are trying to portray. Bischoff calls it hypocritical seeing they did that in the 80’s. He also said that the company still holds resentment towards him for that.
Bischoff wanted Nitro to go on early so he could give away results in order to create controversy.
About the ratings, he would get occasional calls from Turner and his guys giving him brief congratulations.
On the “Monday Night War” Bischoff said that the fans did not get into that until the WWF acknowledge WCW on air. He also said that Turner thought the Billionaire Ted sketches were funny.
He is then asked about Nitro going to air sometimes while the show was still being written. Bischoff said that it happened sometimes then brings up a “Business Week” article about Vince who said that he writes RAW that way today. Bischoff said that sometimes people come up with better ideas and that you make a change if that is the case.
When asked about bringing in Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Dean Malenko, Bischoff said that most of the guys looked and wrestled the same so in order to stand out you had to be different. He saw these guys from working in Japan and knew they did stuff the heavyweights could not do so he wanted them to be the “human car crash” part of the show.
About Benoit, Bischoff said he was very intense and quiet. He felt that Eddie was very cautious of people and at the time was wondering if he made the right decision in leaving Japan. He then said that Malenko was quiet and professional.
Rob asks him about moving a TV taping and if it was intentionally trying to screw over ECW in Philadelphia. Bischoff said that he does not recall but also said that at the time he was doing a lot of “aggressive shit.”
On WWE resurrecting the ECW brand in 2005, Bischoff said he never understood why that happened. He then said looking back, ECW was a show that got low TV ratings and did small PPV buyrates but had a passionate fanbase. From a business perspective, it was awful, but never understood how the WWE would bring back the passion they had into a sterile environment.
Regarding the “One Night Stand” PPVBischoff said that he never understood the ECW product but had heat with their fanbase and ended up having a blast on the show. He said he loved the heat he had on the show. While working with the Dudley’s, he suggested that they threw him in the garbage at the finish as the crowd would love it and they did.
Bischoff said that the nWo idea was the culmination of the realism in wrestling that he saw in Japan. He said that the real motivator of the angle was that both Hall & Nash were getting revenge from being mistreated in WCW then leaving for the WWF, only to come back to WCW to seek revenge on the company. He did realize that he had something great in this angle. He also added that he knew he was going to have a 3rd member but did not know exactly who would fill the role at first. Later on he did confirm that if Hogan refused to turn heel, they were going to go with Sting as the 3rd member.
About today’s wrestling, Bischoff said that the current audience has been saturated with reality and that the animated, 80’s style of programming will not work.
Back to Hogan turning heel, Bischoff said that he wanted Hogan to turn six months before he did but Hogan refused. Bischoff recalled that he was at Hogan’s home and pitched an idea but Hogan said that he had to pick up his kids and that he would never understand his character without walking in his boots. Months later while on the set of “Santa With Muscles,” Hogan called up Bischoff and wanted him to come on the set. Hogan had been watching Nitro and told Bischoff that he should be the third guy in the nWo. Bischoff also said that Hogan knew the crowd reaction he was getting at the end of his face run was horrible but was not willing to risk his character until they had a great idea. When asked, he does not believe the nWo would have taken off if Sting was the one who turned heel because it would have been as shocking. Bischoff said there will probably never be a moment like that in wrestling again.
He talks about the night of the “Bash at the Beach” show. Bischoff said that he kept Sting around that night as the background plan because he was not fully convinced Hogan would show up as he was volatile at the time. Sullivan ended up staying with Hogan in order to keep him calm.
When asked if it was a mistake to put him in the nWo, Bischoff said that does not recall who came up with the idea. He knew he had heat and didnt think it was a giant leap for him to be put in the role.
He thinks that the Vince McMahon character was heavily influenced by what he was doing, citing that Vince went from suits to dressing in jackets.
Bischoff said that his outlook on life never changed but had more pressure as WCW got successful. He said he could have come across as arrogant but in reality was just extremely busy.
On not allowing Flair to take time off to see his son wrestle, Bischoff said that it was a game of chicken between the two as Flair basically told Bischoff to give him what he wants or else. Bischoff said that he did not want to give him the time off because he would have to do it for everyone. Bischoff said that he did not feel good about the situation but had to set a precedent.
When asked, he said that all of his major stars were not happy and it was impossible to keep them all pleased and said the pressure and difficulties of dealing with these strong personalities might have made him seem arrogant to others.
Bischoff is asked whether or not DDP’s success was important to WCW. He first talks about how he loves him but that DDP’s success was not that important to WCW. He said it was important to him and after a while it was beneficial to WCW but there was a whole roster of guys that got over huge and he was floundering for a while. He also said it was not fair for those to say that the only reason he got over was due to him being a friend.
On whether or not the lucahdores were disrespected, Bischoff said that from there perspective sure but that their roles on the show were to provide the “car crash” aspect again and said they made more money than ever. When the show got more popular, they demanded more money and wanted to be in the main events.
About Rey Mysterio, Bischoff said that he was an incredible performer but the American audience does not have the same appreciation for the mask than the Mexican audience and figured since he was a good looking guy the fans would then react more to him when he was selling. Bischoff said that he understands where Mysterio was coming from today and did not mean to disrespect him by removing his mask and notes that was not his intention at all.
Rob asks him about an incident when he reportedly threw coffee at Eddie Guerrero. Bischoff said that he did not throw it at him but he threw it on the ground and some of it landed on Guerrero. He doesnt remember the specifics but they were arguing and he got pissed off and threw it on the ground. He said that Guerrero could be forceful at times.
Final Thoughts: Good stuff so far. Bischoff has been open and seemingly honest here. He does not have an agenda but does want to shed the truth on the “narratives” that have been going on about him during his WCW run. Beyond that, he was willing to expand on his answers and kept a calm demeanor throughout the whole disc.
So far, I recommend Disc One and will have the Disc Two review up tomorrow at noon.