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WRITTEN PODCAST RECAP: Bischoff on Wrestling – Eric’s thoughts on Samoa Joe, why WWE’s ratings are sinking, is Russo vs. Cornette a work? (Ep. 49)

Bischoff on Wrestling, Episode 49

Hosted by: Eric Bischoff, produced and co-hosted by Nick Hausman

Duration: 74 minutes, 20 seconds

Review by: Craig Elbe, @CraigElbe

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

Top Stories

-Vince Russo’s restraining order on Jim Cornette.

-Brock Lesnar vs Samoa Joe.

-Thoughts on Cody Rhodes winning the ROH World Title.

-WrestleCircus’s Twitch and tip, Gabe Sapolsky responds.

Timestamps

00:41-show intro.
3:00-Nick’s operatic weekend and wrestling similarities.
4:50-New t-shirts and Eric will call you!
6:30-IRW Network plugs.
7:19-Russo’s restraining order on Cornette, Eric’s recent offer.
9:50-Eric and Cornette post-Table for 3.
12:47-Political talk.
15:23-Joe vs Lesnar thoughts.
22:07-Cody Rhodes as ROH World Champion.
27:01-WresleCircus’s Twitch and tip, Sapolsky dust-up.
32:11-WWE’s show for India.
35:44-Mauro Ranallo to NXT.
38:13-MLW Radio podcast ads
40:05-iTunes reviews and tangents.
48:05-Mailbag questions.

Recap

00:41

Eric assured us we’re in the right and best place if we want to talk about wrestling. He introduced the show, himself, and Nick.

Nick informed us he and Eric are going to fulfill their promise, from last week’s show, of reading iTunes reviews. It was Eric’s idea. He’s a man of the people and wants to hear from them to give them want they want instead of them giving people what they want to give them. (I bet that’s many digs at many people throughout many years.)

3:00

Nick was in California for the weekend to see opera for the first time, the show featuring his girlfriend. A fan of all music, Eric would like to catch some opera himself. He couldn’t resist giving Nick grief for being the only wrestling podcaster who spent the weekend in California for opera.

Wrestling fan Nick was a tad trepidatious to see opera but found many similarities between opera and wrestling. Eric said every art form can be compared to wrestling in some way, without being judgmental in some cases.

4:50
Nick mentioned they have some new Bischoff on Wrestling t-shirts on prowrestlingtees.com. Eric is following Bruce Prichard’s advice and example and now calling people who buy his shirts.

6:30
Nick continued to plug the still in beta IRWNetwork.com and the newest shows that are up. They include Triple Threat featuring Shane Douglas, Eric’s cousin Scott’s show called Bischoff on Football (He’s a NFL scout), Capital Wrestling, and the overrun for this show where Eric talks with the promoter for Capital Wrestling, Matthew Ryan. There’s also WZ Daily that Nick does Mondays-Fridays.

7:19
Everybody has been slamming Nick on social media in anticipation for Eric’s take on Vince Russo issuing a restraining order on Jim Cornette. Eric’s one-word response was bizarre. It was fun and easy to get Russo to react but Eric is tired of talking about the guy; its entertainment value has evaporated. Now, Russo is in the delusional and pathological bizarro category. The way Russo has reacted to Cornette had Eric lost for words.

Nick spoke to the “everything is a work” mindset some wrestling fans have, that the anti-Russo Cornette, Prichard, and Eric would eventually go on something like a speaking tour. (I did not make that up. Nick was serious.) Eric gave finality and said nothing like that will ever happen. It’s not a work, bro.

Last fall, Eric was offered $5,000 or $7,000 by a Canadian promoter to do something in the ring with Russo. Eric turned it down, only for the reason of never wanting to do anything with Russo. He’s weird and depressing to be around. The promoter thought money was the issue, but Eric told the guy he doesn’t have enough money to get him in the ring with Russo.

9:50
Nick asked for any follow up from Eric and Cornette making a truce on their one-sided rivalry on Table for 3, and if there’s a chance he and Cornette will collaborate. Eric hasn’t talked to Cornette since WrestleMania weekend (presumably when they filmed Table for 3.) He didn’t get the impression one way or the other if Cornette wants to work with him. Eric would certainly have a lot of fun! He finds Cornette very funny and entertaining, and has been listening to Cornette more these last couple weeks for the Russo entertainment he bestows.

They’re two separate people who see things very differently, but also have similar views. That’s especially true about wrestling, but not everything. Eric thinks they are fundamentally similar and could have a great and challenging but entertaining time.

Nick figured it’s 50/50 about whether people want to see Eric and Cornette discuss wrestling or politics. Cornette has a fire in his belly about the liberal movement. Eric is acutely aware of Cornette’s political thoughts, and if it came to a throwdown about who will cut the better promo, Eric already conceded defeat to Cornette. But, a great promo doesn’t mean a person would have all the facts. He added identity politics are so deeply rooted into everyone’s political awareness that nobody can convince anybody, with or without facts, that there may be a different way of looking at things anymore.

12:47
Nick and Eric talked politics and what Nick identifies with politically and what is in the media. Eric named some jokes of news networks and where and how he prefers to get his news. And for Nick too.

So much for an all wrestling podcast.

15:23
Nick brought up people questioning how strong Samoa Joe looked against Brock Lesnar from this past Monday night. Eric thought the segment was awesome. It made Joe look credible and created a mystique that’s hard to do in today’s environment, especially with WWE’s formula. There are many new and young WWE characters Eric likes but none have a level of anticipation where you don’t know what’s coming next. Joe is such a great character that has always brought intensity and believability. Lesnar obviously does as well. The fact WWE committed to Joe for him to be as credible and believable will go a long way to give Lesnar some of the better matches he’s had in a long time.

Nick painted WWE’s current scene of declining ratings with part-time champion Lesnar and asked Eric how much Lesnar’s part-time nature has contributed. Eric doesn’t think it has. The Universal Title doesn’t mean as much to most fans, possibly from the lack of the title being on the show and also defended regularly with Lesnar being part-time. It may be one reason, but ratings going down is much broader than any one performer.

Eric’s not sure what is causing the ratings slide, but obviously WWE isn’t giving fans anything to be excited about or giving them what they want. Part of it is seasonal; the numbers for every June for a very long time reflect a lack of television watching across the board. From year to date June comparisons, if the drop is 20-25% consistently, then self-analysis is warranted. A 5-10% difference is just a Nielson margin of error. He offered no numbers, he was just speaking generally.

Nick put out the possibility of WWE scrapping their original plans and putting the Universal Title on full-timer Joe to help boost ratings to capitalize on how he has emerged with strength and mystique in the Lesnar angle. To Eric, wrestling is more art than science. Eric has relied heavily on SARSA (basically a decision-making process with very specific data) in the past, but when it comes down to it, an open mind must be kept to notice what fans are reacting to. Getting so stuck on a certain direction and outcome, you could miss out on some possibilities for other potential opportunities along the way.

Perhaps, Eric hoped for Joe’s sake, this is one of those situations. If Joe was initially going to be used as a stepping stone for Lesnar on the way to Strowman and Roman Reigns, but now the fans are reacting favorably, WWE should shift gears to see what’s there. It may be better than the original destination.

22:07
Cody Rhodes won the Ring of Honor World Title from Christopher Daniels on the Best in the World pay-per-view that took place on 6/23. Eric is thrilled for Cody. He could have stayed in WWE and taken the easy route but did what his father would have done. Eric knew Dusty Rhodes well and Cody has Dusty’s same independent spirit. If he believed in himself and something, Dusty would take whatever risks to do it. Eric feels he knows Cody through Dusty without getting to know Cody, plus by what he reads about him. He’s sure Dusty has a big ol’ smile while wearing his beat up old cowboy boots and a pair of Wranglers, a dip in his mouth, and a beer in his hand.

Nick wondered if Cody as ROH Champion will bring meaningful attention to the company. Eric believes it will, and it is part of the fun for him with today’s independent wrestling. He is reminded a bit of the old territory system, except today there is widespread knowledge and ability to find information about each promotion. The more the top talent go to all the different indy promotions and expose them and the promoters, the healthier the scene becomes. It also helps wrestling in general.

Nick estimated there are at least 100 full time non-WWE wrestlers in the Unites States right now. Eric advised all those current and aspiring to be full-time indy wrestlers to do all they can to make every promoter they work for successful, and themselves in the process by going the extra mile. The healthier the indy scene gets, the more a promoter is willing to risk and run shows to create opportunities for you. Each promotion must cater to their specific region to find their niche and loyal audience. The harder the indy scene works to be and stay an alternative to WWE, the business will prosper over time. Eric mentioned WrestleCircus, Capital Wrestling, PWG, and Ring of Honor some as examples to what he’s talking about.

27:01
WrestleCircus’ Dive Hard with a Vengeance show on 6/24 was the first ever wrestling show to be live streamed on Twitch, which is a popular video game platform for gamers to stream their video games. Ahead of the show, Eric spoke with WrestleCircus owner and promoter Al Lenhart where he spent a lot of time explaining the Twitch arrangement to Eric. WrestleCircus was the first independent wrestling company Twitch sought for their service. From everything Eric has heard and read, it went very well, though he has yet to hear directly from Lenhart and his wife Lexi, who lends a great hand to the promotion. It’s a great step forward for a WWE alternative. Twitch also has a tipping feature that allows fans watching to give money to the performers, in the form of tokens that represent monetary value.

Gabe Sapolsky, on his personal Facebook page, wrote a post that there will never be a tip jar at one of his Evolve shows. Lenhart was alerted of the post, screen shot it and sent it all over social media to put down Sapolsky’s statement and to create goodwill for WrestleCircus. The result was a sh*tstorm on social media of back and forth between the them and others that represent each company.

Eric understands Evolve and WWE have a corporate relationship for Evolve to act as a franchise of sorts to WWE. WrestleCircus did something out of the box that will probably change the game but maybe not in a way that will benefit Evolve or other organizations that will align with WWE. Nothing stays the same in the world of entertainment. Many people like the Lenharts have been able to stay independent to take advantage of opportunities when others who are contractually obligated otherwise are not able to. Bad blood will be created but that’s the nature of the beast.

WrestleCircus did delete screenshot of Sapolsky’s post to quell the situation after there was some contentious talk of wrestlers not being able to be booked for both companies. The choice of sharing a personal post by Lenhart was something Eric loved. Nick had to ask but should have known better from Eric’s track record of dirty tactics. Eric did a Randy Savage promo impression from Lenhart’s perspective towards Sapolsky and others. It was decent but not as great as Bruce Prichard’s impression of Savage.

32:11
WWE announced a unique and localized show for India called WWE Sunday Dhamaal. Nick thinks it’s cool and may bring diverse cultural awareness to wrestling fans. Never being to India, Eric has watched some Bollywood type specials. He likens it to Japan, where he spent a lot of time in the ’90s. In those days, Japan had very little options for English speaking television. Different cultures’ programming when in the country is cool for Eric to consume, even in its native language.

Indian entertainment content has very unique vibe from what Eric can gather, and WWE clearly knows what they’re doing to create an international footprint. He’s sure it will be a good show and there may be some great content for the United States from the show. Nick predicted an endless stream of YouTube videos of WWE American Superstars doing Bollywood dances. Eric can’t wait to roll a doobie (shows his age!), grab some Fritos and watch it and it will be awesome! Nick thinks they should record a podcast while they’re both high. Eric gets too stupid when he’s high for that to be an option.

35:44
Mauro Ranallo has returned to WWE as NXT’s main announcer. Nick tried to remember the other commentator and came up with silent Percy Watson instead of the much better Nigel McGuiness. Eric picked up Nick’s unprepared nature in bringing up Watson and gave him warranted grief for it, but failed to add Nigel as the other person at the announce desk. They both failed.

Nick mentioned Ranallo is in NXT to maintain distance from JBL as to not replicate their previous issues. Eric thinks it’s great Ranallo and WWE mended fences and he got to return on his terms, and it’s a win/win.

38:13
There was an advertisement, read by Sean Mooney, for the new podcast called the J.J. Dillon Show on MLW Radio. The debut episode is out now and will drop every Thursday. It is hosted by Rich Bocchini, the former Rich Brennen from his WWE days when he called NXT, then briefly Smackdown before Ranallo was first hired.

Also advertised was Bocchini’s show with Mister Saint Laurent on Tuesdays, this show, Bischoff on Wrestling on Wednesdays, Marty and Sarah Love Wrestling on Thursdays, Kevin Sullivan’s Helluva Deal on Friday’s, Mooney’s own show with Hacksaw Jim Duggan on Thursdays. Mooney detailed each episodes’ top items for the current shows available at the time of this show dropping.

40:05 – iTunes Reviews and Comments

Eric had Nick read the reviews and comments for the show on iTunes. He preferred the negative and critical ones even though he does like his ego stroked! I will choose to skip this section as they weren’t newsworthy or pertinent to the show. Its purpose was for people to try to get it the top 10 best reviews to win a DVD signed by Eric or something along those lines.

Nick mentioned a popular request was a WCW vault-type show for the overrun where Nick watches a WCW show and jots down questions for Eric. Eric is open to it but would surely be stepping on the toes of Tony Schiavone and Conrad Thompson, although Eric could answer questions Schiavone doesn’t and wouldn’t know the answers to.

Eric had a kind of funny response to a review critical of the political talk on the show, while Nick wants to start a new political party for his generation called Fresh Start. Eric thought it was a feminine hygiene product and Nick countered there are enough douches in Washington so it wouldn’t be out of place. Eric made more jokes.

Eric wants ratings and reviews to be read every week on the show to encourage people to feel interactive with the show and to hear the constructive criticism.

48:05 – Mailbag Questions

This question asked Eric which wrestlers’ funerals he attended. He only went to Brian Pillman’s and Rick Rude’s. He had a bad experience at Rude’s funeral that made him realize him showing up at a wrestler’s funeral became too much about him to a degree instead of the deceased wrestler. He didn’t detail the incident.

This was a comment that corrected a comment Eric made, on the 6/14 episode of this podcast, about saying that Jesse Ventura sued Chris Kyle’s estate after he was killed. The fact was the lawsuit was filed prior to Kyle’s passing, and the trial was after his death. Eric stood corrected and appreciated being corrected.

Eric brought up a Jesse Waters interview of Ventura at a cannabis convention where Ventura went off and was entertaining on Waters when asked if he was high when he sued Kyle’s estate.

This question asked Eric if he remembers the first match he did play-by-play commentary for and what the experience was like. Eric doesn’t remember the match but it was in the AWA. He elaborated that play-by-play commentary is one of the most challenging aspects of a wrestling broadcast. You have so many things to juggle during the show, from making the story of a match and angle come to life, while not necessarily having your words match what’s happening in the ring. You also need to know when and when not to call in-ring action and how to make something out of nothing in addition to selling tickets and pay-per-views while promoting the rest of the card. Then you must leave room for the color commentator for them to get their stuff in.

Eric is grateful he was taught by Verne and Greg Gagne and a not well-known person that deserves recognition by the name of Mike Scheels. Scheels was instrumental in teaching Eric the basics, timing, and process of commentary. Verne taught him how to make his commentary believable and not lose himself in the moment, and not make it about himself but make it about the action in the ring. He had fun doing it and got to work with Lee Marshall, and Ralph Strangis who ended up as the Minnesota North Stars play-by-play announcer.

Nick plugged a commentary gig he picked up, calling a card for Black Label Pro on September 23 that features Matt Riddle vs “Filthy” Tom Lawlor.

This question was “who is the person that does the podcast intro?” It’s Eric’s buddy named Sam, but that’s all he said.

This question was what the business impact will be if WWE streamed Raw and Smackdown solely on WWE Network. Eric joked that is about a $600 million question. He would bet in the next two to three years the business implications will be more visible because that’s where streaming it’s going. He added it’s a lot of television licensing revenue to walk away from, but once the WWE Network reaches a critical mass that supports that decision, he’s almost certain it will happen.

Eric would like to know exactly when the licensing agreement ends to properly answer the question. Nick guessed two years, and he’s close; it’s through the third quarter of 2019. If in fact it’s two years, Eric said, WWE may get another cycle but he’s confident it will go to streaming eventually.

This question was who had the idea for the “I’m Back” entrance theme was for Eric’s WWE days. Eric doesn’t know and wasn’t part of the process when that song was chosen for him.

The question was if Eric was a fan of the movie Top Gun and if he’ll watch the sequel. Eric’s son Garrett probably watched Top Gun five times a day for two years when he was a kid when the movie came out on VHS in the late ’80s. He’s a big fan of the movie and Val Kilmer, who will play the lead part Tom Cruise did in the original film. He can’t wait for the sequel.

This question was if there are any transcripts of Bischoff on Wrestling. Nick slowly leaks the transcripts of this show on WrestleZone everyday about 10:30 Central time with quotes or tidbits from the show.

This question from a guy who wants to know how to get unblocked by Eric on Twitter. Eric told him to quit saying stupid sh*t.

This question was if unique viewers of the Monday Nitro replay factored into the rating at all. Eric said ratings are measured in 15 minute increments so they weren’t duplicated or aggregated to the next from one show to the next.

This question was Eric’s thoughts of Josh Matthews on Impact Wrestling as an announcer. Eric hasn’t heard Matthews in a long time but wasn’t a fan, and is a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10.

This question was when Vince chooses to sell up, or WWE has to go to someone else, will it go to Shane, Stephaine, Hunter, or someone else. Eric answered it will definitely stay in the McMahon family, and Stephine and Hunter have been getting groomed for about a decade for those roles. From a visible management perspective, that seems to be what Eric would bet on. Operationally, while Shane is part of the family, it will be the Steph and Hunter show.

Nick’s gut tells him it will be like UFC did, and sell WWE will sell to Disney and Stephanie and Hunter would assume Dana White-type roles. Eric isn’t sure but doesn’t want to suggest he knows Vince McMahon at all. He never got privy to Vince’s head and his long term philosophical business approach. Everything he’s heard from his friends who have worked closely with Vince is that he sees it as the family business, so Eric’s gut tells him the lineage means a lot to the McMahon family.

Nick countered, big trucks full of money mean a lot too. Eric figured both could happen because they have their own network, domestic and international licensing, and merchandising.

Eric was part of only one business transition/takeover/buyout, and said they sound great at first, then the new owners come in and try to figure out what they just bought and how to run it and makes changes. In Eric’s estimation, it never works out and didn’t for the AOL/Time Warner merger. A lot of the entities of the Turner organization prior to the two mergers didn’t stay or it wasn’t what they thought it would be. Short-term it is great when the transaction is made and the money changes hands, but when you’re passionate about something and it’s part of your heritage, then you realize long-term there’s no chance of passing the business down generationally.

Nick remembers a similar question posed to Bret Hart when he did a podcast with him. Bret thinks it’s more important to the McMahon’s to have the authority to have autonomy than any dollar amount.

Nick asked Eric if there’s a chance Bellator overtakes UFC in the market. Eric is a friend of Bellator President Scott Coker and doesn’t think it will happen in the short-term. He’s known Coker since he was about eight-years-old and has always noticed how pragmatic Coker is while watching his rise to the level he’s at. He is the slow and steady wins the race type and isn’t like Vince McMahon. He’s more like a surgeon that won’t do anything premature. Long-term, with his approach and Viacom on his side and building his successes slowly and steadily, Eric thinks Coker will be in a position to overtake UFC.

Right now, there is WME and IMG and many Hollywood actors and investors that want to sit front row at the UFC and Bellator events. UFC will have a lot of influence, but when the cart starts to tip, the shift will show the effects of having top heavy management, especially when management doesn’t understand the business they’re in. That will create an opportunity for a guy like Coker and his approach and steady growth.

Nick plugged IRWNetwork.com and for us to be on the lookout for some big announcements coming in July.

Craig’s Conclusion

This show had some decent parts, but overall lacked focus and strayed to politics too much. Eric made great points about Samoa Joe and how WWE isn’t giving fans anything they want. He also hit the nail on the head about indy wrestlers and promotions needing to be as unique and independent as possible. It’s very accurate to say the indy scene thrives on all the synergy he talks about and suggests. I think we’re all lucky to be alive for the period of wrestling that’s available to us and I love that a guy like Eric is helping the scene grow with this type of advice. It may seem basic to some, but it bears repeating for the novice fans and aspiring wrestlers.

Nick was a dud again, but what else is new. Besides the very good comments he made, Eric was also in dud-ville. I can’t believe either one of them didn’t know Nigel McGuiness is one of the color commentators for NXT, especially since Nick only remembered the mute that is Percy Watson! He also revealed a lack of preparedness when Eric gave him a hard time about being flippant about Watson.

As far as the other topics, nothing was all that notable. The mailbag questions Nick chose were god-awful and don’t need to be asked. Nick doesn’t have a great track record here but this was the worst batch in a very long time.

Nick and Eric had better chemistry but the generation gap is always too obvious, and not in a good way. The idea Eric has about reading ratings and reviews can go either way at the rate Nick chooses things like that. Time will tell, but I sure won’t bet my shiniest penny.

Score: 5 out of 10. Largely missable show with just a bit of good stuff and too much political talk, again, on a wrestling podcast. I will only praise political talk if has any pertinence to wrestling, but it hardly ever does, nor should it.

About the Author:
Craig was bit by the wrestling bug me when he was about three-years-old. It fell off a couple times but always found its way back. Now that he’s 34, that bug is here to stay. He can be seen air drumming at any stoplight in Green Bay, or heard yelling at the TV about his Packers, or WWE of course! He’s always enjoyed writing, so he hopes you readers enjoy what he provides! Check out his Talking Smack reviews on PWTorch.com, follow him @CraigElbe on Twitter and have a chat!

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