From Something To Wrestle With… Bruce Prichard: Eric Bischoff in the WWE (Ep. 48) Air date: 5/26/17. This transcription comes from PWPodcasts.com Contributor Jeff Rush:
In May of 2002, Kevin Nash reached out to Eric Bischoff to give him a heads up that Vince McMahon was going to call and offer him an on-air role. Vince did, in fact, call the next day. What was the original idea?
“Definitely for the brand split. We knew we were splitting the brands. Vince knew that he wanted these two figureheads. The original, original idea was Shane and Stephanie (as GM’s), but he felt that had been done before, didn’t really want to do that, so we were just throwing out different names, different ideas, so that was the idea there if he was interested in coming in.”
Regarding Vince personally making the call, having had JR reach out to Bischoff in the past:
“Going back to the very first time when JR called, Vince wasn’t 100% behind that idea. He wasn’t like ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to have Eric Bischoff.’ His feeling was ‘Eh, see if he’s interested. If he’s interested, then I’ll talk about it, but right now it’s mental masturbation. I don’t know if the guy would be interested in coming in. Feel him out, see if there’s something there.’ Now, when he had a firm idea of what he wanted to do, maybe he felt like ‘well, JR couldn’t land him last time. I’ll do it. I’ll call him.’ The other part of that, frankly, on some of these things was Vince wasn’t always, I don’t want to say comfortable, but there were certain things that he didn’t share with everybody. So if JR was out there pitching something, then that meant the whole world may now about it, more people than Vince would want to know about it. Vince making the call, Vince finding out for himself one on one, it’s a different vibe, a different feel. Not everyone was included on that. There were people on the writing team that didn’t know.”
Did they ever consider bringing Eric in for anything other than on-air talent?
“Nope. It was ‘let’s bring him in as a talent, let’s see how he does, let’s get to know him and find out what’s there.’ He had a lot of baggage. Unequivocaly, that was ruled out. That was made clear to Eric, it was also made clear to us that he’s coming in as a talent only, he has no creative say so in anything. He’d be an on-air talent, that’s it.”
“People looked at Eric as the guy that tried to put us out of business. Eric was the one that was leading the charge on the WCW side that kicked our ass for a long time and was viewed as the enemy.”
But Johnny Ace also worked for WCW and was brought on behind the scenes in WWE.
“Johnny Ace wasn’t the one making the decisions to do all that. Johnny Ace wasn’t with the company when they were kicking our ass. Johnny Ace didn’t make those personal statements about wanting to put Vince out of business and put the company out of business.”
But if it was just business, and everyone else can say “we would’ve done it too” then why is he “the scum of the earth?”
“You’re talking about the boys. You’re talking about human beings here. We can, after the fact, you can look at it and say it’s business and you can get over that s**t. People do it every single day. But there were still people that just held a grudge. There were people that had been fired by Eric that were working in the company that were like ‘f**k him, I won’t work with him.’”
“There was no interest to bring him in in any role other than a talent role. Nobody knew him, from our point of view. I didn’t know Eric. Vince didn’t know Eric. Stephanie didn’t know Eric. JR had worked with him, didn’t necessarily have a positive view of him. Other than that, there weren’t a lot of people that had a lot of dealings with Eric. The one’s that did had a negative viewpoint of him and most of them were wrestlers and people that had worked for Eric and had a negative experience. So to protect Eric, as well, you bring him in as a talent, you put him on the same level as everybody else and you let him ease his way in versus ‘oh god, Eric Bischoff’s in charge. What the f**k? Is this going to be another’ – their viewpoint of what it was in WCW. It was just simply to protect him and to say ‘you know what, we don’t even want to discuss that yet. Let’s bring you in here, let’s see what we’ve got, see if you like us and we like you and then we’ll go from there.”
“I can tell you for a fact that, yes, Eric did enjoy being a talent, not having the pressure of having to worry about all the other BS.”
After Eric talked to Vince, Stephanie called. She told him he had a lot of heat with a lot of the wrestlers. “I’m not sure if you know what you’re getting into” she warned.
“That’s a, I’ll call it a McMahon-ism. But Vince always liked to hit you with s**t like that. This was probably Stephanie’s way of giving that message and to let him know that ‘hey, a lot of people hate you here. This isn’t WCW.”
Check back later at PWPodcasts for a full recap of the episode.