Something To Wrestle With… Eric Bischoff in WWE
Release Date: May 26, 2017
Recap by: Jeff Rush
Highlights (full timestamps at the end)
– Insight on Bischoff’s 1990 audition with the WWF
– Bischoff was considered for roles in the Invasion and NWO storyline
– Bischoff and Ric Flair came to blows backstage in 2003
– Snoop Dogg punked out Kevin Dunn during a Girls Gone Wild taping
– How Bruce and Bischoff came to be close friends
– Who was the biggest proponent of the “Hot Lesbian Action” angle?
– The original plan for the Billy & Chuck marriage storyline
– The best thing to happen to Steve Austin’s career
– The Eugene character is based on an actual person
– How did Bischoff feel about Vince producing him to kiss his wife?
– The epic tale of Jerry Brisco’s 60th birthday
8. Vince offers mortgage advice
7. Weird Vince at weird hours
6. Vince is excited about his budding bromance with Eric Bischoff
5. Pat Patterson describes Girls Gone Wild
4. Vince wants adult-oriented entertainment on Raw
3. Jerry Jarrett produces an adult-oriented segment
2. Vince defends same-sex relationships
1. Vince produces Bischoff kissing Stephanie
What happened when hell froze over and Eric Bischoff came to WWE?
Eric got involved in the business doing cross promotion with his high school wrestling program with the AWA and Verne Gagne.
He had failed with his outside venture, Ninja Star Wars, along with Sonny Ono, but managed to move up the ladder quickly in the AWA. He was hired to do sales but filled in on camera when Larry Nelson missed a show.
Bruce describes his earliest impression of Bischoff as a “Ken doll in a suit.” Conrad says that’s a common description, so Bruce pushes forward.
“He looked like John Davidson, the show host. Remember him?”
“Well, the older folks will remember him-“
“Oh my gosh, he does.”
Having just Googled John Davidson, Conrad totally agrees. And you will too. Check it out.
Bruce moves on, talking about how he first learned of Bischoff when he’s interrupted by Conrad.
“How did I not put this together?”
“That he looks just like John Davidson.”
The revelation is hilarious and warranted. The similarities are uncanny.
Next, we discuss Eric’s early audition with the WWF. Bruce says Eric sent in a tape and they flew him in for an audition in Stamford. As part of the audition, he did play-by-play with Lord Alfred Hayes and also famously conducted an interview with a broom. Bruce says this is a bit they would do with everyone they brought in. It was to see how well someone could sell on camera in an impromptu setting, to see what kind of an imagination they had and what kind of a reaction they would get. Bruce says it’s the wrestling equivalent of “sell me this pen.”
When asked if he recalls anyone, in particular, doing well at this test, Bruce says Sean Mooney was one, though others did as well.
Eric didn’t get hired and instead turned up in WCW as a C-squad announcer. In short fashion, he would advance to Executive Producer, replacing Bill Watts. It’s noted that Ric Flair was an early supporter of Bischoff, referring to him as “the kid.”
A year later, Jim Ross is released, and Eric is promoted to Executive VP. Jim Barnett and some other members of the “old guard” would subsequently resign. Bischoff was seen as young and brash and they weren’t interested in being involved with his “new ideas.”
One of Bischoff’s first big moves is to begin filming shows at Disney studios. Bruce says he did not subscribe to the idea of studio produced wrestling, but that in hindsight it was a smart move. Production and travel was limited, the studio was filled with an audience and the company was tied to Disney. It was a win.
Shortly after taping in Orlando began, Flair helped Bischoff set up a meeting with Hulk Hogan. This took place while WWF was dealing with the steroid trial. Bruce says he felt this was a power play on Hogan’s part and was inevitable. Vince was ok with Hogan leaving. He says it hurt, but the WWF needed a rest from him, so it was ok.
WCW would hold a ticker tape parade to celebrate Hogan’s signing, then went directly to PPV. Hogan vs. Flair would main event Bash At The Beach ’94. Bruce says it was the logical place to go, they would’ve been foolish not to. Conrad presses Bruce why he feels they would’ve been stupid not to immediately run this match when WWF never ran a big show featuring what most considered a dream matchup at the time. Bruce says the WWF had other quality options back then, WCW did not.
Conrad points out that King Of The Ring ’94 had 185,000 PPV buys, while Bash At The Beach had 225,000. It was WCW’s most successful PPV to date.
Many former WWF wrestlers, such as Randy Savage make the jump to WCW at this point, lured by guaranteed money and fewer dates. This was in contrast to the WWF’s policy at the time, which was the guarantee of “an opportunity” and nothing more.
All the hotels back in the day carried various Turner channels. Vince was convinced it was an act of aggression against WWF.
Bischoff was instrumental in WCW’s launching of Monday Nitro. The program quickly became competition for the WWF. Part of Bischoff’s strategy to beat WWF each week was to give away results of pre-recorded episodes of Raw. Bruce says he hated that they played dirty that way back then, but that it was brilliant and that he would’ve done the same thing.
Vince quickly begins to frame the situation as him being the underdog in a war against Ted Turner and his money. He didn’t single out Bischoff at the time because he felt no one knew who he was.
By 1997, Bischoff was president of WCW and was openly discussing his desire to put the WWF out of business. Bruce felt this made things personal and that they were now in a war. Vince was using this desire by Bischoff to “rally the troops” and stir the pot.
The guys discuss the fact that an NWO motorcycle owned by Eric Bischoff is currently available on eBay, with proceeds going to an animal rescue charity.
Bischoff challenged Vince to a fight in May of 1998. Bruce says Vince contemplated the notion, discussed it with Jerry McDevitt, but ultimately they knew it was a garbage publicity stunt. Conrad presses Bruce on who he thinks would win a shoot fight between the two. Bruce deflects and deflects before saying “probably Vince.”
Bischoff is sent home in September 1999, comes back to work with Vince Russo for a short time and, before you knew it, the game was up and WWF had won the war.
WWF discussed bringing Bischoff in at various times following the purchase of WCW in March 2001. Jim Ross called Bischoff in July 2001, at the start of the Invasion storyline. Bruce says Eric would’ve been the natural choice. Conrad questions the decision to have JR make the call instead of Vince. Bruce says he doesn’t think Vince was all that high on the idea of bringing Bischoff in then and that, ultimately, JR was head of Talent Relations, so the call fell to him.
The NWO invasion in 2002 was another instance when Bischoff was considered to come in, but he declined. Finally, in May of 2002, Vince called Bischoff and pitched having him be the GM of Raw following the upcoming brand split. Initially, they wanted the dueling GM’s to be Shane and Stephanie, but they felt they’d been there, done that.
Bruce emphatically states that there was no interest at this time in having Bischoff on in any regard other than as talent. He adds that Eric enjoyed the lack of pressure in not being involved any further.
Bischoff debuted on TV in July 2002. Stephanie, Vince, Kevin Nash, Heyman, Gewirtz, Bruce and one or two others knew he was coming in. Bruce took Eric’s past actions personally but tried to maintain an open mind at this point and wanted to do business. He only met him once before prior to this time and harbored no ill will. Hayes and Heyman were both opposed to having Bischoff in.
Things were kept pretty secretive the day Bischoff debuted. He was walked through the backstage area prior to his appearance on camera. From the way Bruce tells this story, the scene sounds very reminiscent of Andy DuFresne arriving at Shawshank, with wrestlers yelling things at Eric, such as “where’s his bag?” implying it had been s**t in.
Bruce says it was a crazy night. He was anointed to work with Bischoff and was with him pretty much beginning to end that day. He says Eric was professional.
Bruce was happy with the “holy s**t” moment they got from the live crowd when they introduced Bischoff as GM. His entire speech that night was scripted.
The idea with Bischoff squaring off against Stephanie as the Smackdown GM was an attempt at simulating the competition of the Monday Night Wars. Everyone was happy with the ratings out the gate.
Bruce notes there was a bit of deflation with Stephanie leading one brand. The writers wanted two new, impactful leaders, and not so much a “higher power” McMahon on one brand.
Conrad wants to know if anyone who had problems with Bischoff in WCW, specifically Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and Steve Austin, had problems after Eric joined WWE. Bruce says business was business, those guys were on the winning side, and nothing from the past was a big deal.
That brings us to Ric Flair. Flair was not happy to be working with Bischoff again, following their history in WCW. Conrad reads excerpts from Flair’s book describing his feelings on the matter. In March 2003, Ric approached Bischoff backstage and things got physical, with Ric getting the upper hand before it was broken up. Bruce was away the night this happened and got a call from Jerry Brisco notifying him of the situation. When he got back and talked to them both, he says everyone had moved on. He feels Ric needed to get his frustrations out and when he did, it was all good.
We then talk about Bischoff’s ties to Girls Gone Wild. Bischoff was friends with the guy who created it. Eric convinced Vince to get involved in a co-promotion of a taping they were doing. Snoop Dogg was involved, and this is where we get a great Bruce story.
Kevin Dunn is running the production of this shoot. Snoop arrived late, emerging from a limousine with smoke billowing from the doors and windows. Dunn is upset that Snoop has missed all the rehearsals for the taping. He tries to explain to Snoop what he needs from him, and all the while, Snoop is puffing on a cigar, staring off into the distance. Kevin is getting increasingly upset over Snoop not acknowledging him. Finally, without ever looking at Dunn, Snoop says “hey mo**erf**ker, just because I ain’t looking at you don’t mean I ain’t hearing you. I got this s**t.” He then walked off. Two members of the crew called Bruce within minutes of the situation, freaking out about how awesome it was, that Kevin Dunn was totally punked out by Snoop.
Bruce tells a story about Eric taking over production of a promo involving Tyson Tomko that he was initially handling. He had to step away for personal reasons. Afterward, Vince came in and praised Bruce for the segment and Bruce told him it was Bischoff’s doing, not his. He marks this as a turning point in his relationship with Bischoff, where he earned his trust and the two became friends.
We move to the time when Bischoff created a World Championship and gave it to Triple H. It was the old “big gold belt” from WCW that was used for this.
Late that month, Bischoff introduced “Hot Lesbian Action” on Raw. It was cringey then, it’s cringey now, and Conrad acknowledges as much. The punchline for the segment was Bischoff’s new protégés, Three Minute Warning, coming out and squashing two women who were making out in the ring. Bruce says this was a far-fetched pitch someone made backstage and Vince just went with it. TNN released a statement denouncing the airing of this segment.
Meltzer reported that Vince felt he had hit the next big thing with this segment. Bruce says Vince did love it, but that he was in the minority with that opinion. People tried talking him out of it, but the more that happened, the more determined to see it through Vince became.
Up next is the wedding of Billy and Chuck. Bischoff was dressed in disguise as the officiant of the wedding. Bruce says no one knew Bischoff was playing this role and didn’t realize it until he unveiled himself during the segment. He notes the makeup people that did Eric that night were the same ones who did Mrs. Doubtfire. Pretty crazy nugget there.
Foolishly believing something progressive was happening in WWE at the time, GLAAD got on board with the angle, They were upset when, in the end, Billy and Chuck admitted they weren’t really gay. The guys don’t dwell on the creative direction that followed, but you may recall several weeks of Billy and Chuck playing uber-studs after this, hanging out at ringside and judging bikini contests, etc, showing off how cool and masculine they actually were. It was brutal and, fortunately, died a quick death.
Anyway, Bruce maintains that Vince really intended to follow through with having Billy and Chuck get married, but decided against it at the last second. Bruce feels the hang up was that the two guys had potential to be singles wrestlers and didn’t want to pigeonhole them into a literal marriage. Whatever.
A few months later, storylines have Bischoff attempting to bring Steve Austin back to the company in an attempt to impress Vince. Bruce discusses the shoots they did in Texas where Eric was courting Steve. Bruce was worried Austin wouldn’t be happy to work with Bischoff, but that was no issue. Austin felt that getting fired by Bischoff in WCW was the best thing that could’ve happened to his career. Bruce says filming the scenes in the bars in Texas was great fun.
Taboo Tuesday 2004 is up next. It was Vince’s concept. He wanted people to help determine match stipulations. Bruce says the votes were a shoot, no gimmicking.
Eugene is introduced as Bischoff’s nephew. He was based on an actual special-needs person named Eugene who helped his dad set up the rings in Pittsburgh. Bruce says he was loved by everyone.
Bruce says they had to handle a special needs character very carefully, that heels would want to refer to him in derogatory, offensive terms, and they wouldn’t go there. He says Nick Dinsmore had fun with the character and the writers enjoyed coming up with material for him.
Bruce then talks about Bischoff arranging a vacation for him and his wife. Bruce used a prized vehicle Eric had lent him for this trip, that Bruce promptly killed.
Conrad then asks about the times Vince booked Bischoff to kiss Linda and, separately, Stephanie. The Linda kiss was filmed in McMahon’s house. Bruce says Eric was super uncomfortable doing this angle. In Stephanie’s instance, Bruce says she was completely repulsed by Bischoff and not into the idea. He says that made it way more fun for him. Conrad points out that this took place during a Halloween episode of Smackdown (I would like to point out this is the same episode that saw John Cena dress up as Vanilla Ice, based on Stephanie hearing him freestyle rapping on a tour bus. This would begin his transition from white meat babyface on the verge of being future endeavored to Chain-Gang Cena, to The Champ). Stephanie was dressed as a witch, and Bischoff was dressed as… Vince McMahon.
Awesome line from Conrad: “Do you think when she was dressed in a witch outfit, she cursed your WWE career?”
Bruce then gives an insane impression of Vince producing a scene where his daughter makes out with his former professional rival. I was listening to this part of the show on my headphones walking down the street, laughing, no doubt, like a total psycho. It’s hilarious.
In the buildup to One Night Stand 2005, Paul Heyman, Vince, and Bischoff held a debate. It seemed like a gloves off moment at the time, but Bruce says it was completely scripted.
We then discuss Eric being removed from television. Bruce says it was intended to be temporary. This leads to an insightful piece on Brian Gewirtz. Bischoff described him at the time of this situation as being timid. Bruce notes that Gewirtz “grew up a lot” during his time with the company.
Bischoff was dumped into a garbage truck at the close of his final Raw as GM.
They talk about Bischoff’s ability to rub people the wrong way. Bruce says he is very direct and to the point and this doesn’t always sit well with some.
Bruce loved working with Eric in WWE because he kept to himself and worked on his computer or read. He didn’t fraternize much.
In 2006, Bischoff returned to Raw to promote his book, Controversy Creates Cash. Bruce says the book project was part of the original plan when Eric was brought in.
Bruce then tells an incredible story about Jerry Brisco’s 60th birthday. Eric was on his way back to promote the book and through a text exchange with Bruce, learned it would be Brisco’s birthday. He mentioned jokingly to Bruce “Wow, Jerry’s 60. Maybe I can take him now.” Bruce passed this info on to Jerry and fanned the flames for a few weeks. Over the course of that time, a couple celebrations were held for Jerry’s birthday. The last one happened when Eric was in for a television appearance. After the show, a group of guys went out to celebrate – Bruce, Jerry, Eric, JBL, Cena, Coachman, and maybe a couple others. This was at the airport Radisson in Tulsa, OK. The guys cleaned the bar out of bottled beer, then moved on to draft. After it was late enough, Bruce decided to bring up the text from Bischoff a few weeks earlier.
“Feeding the likes of John Cena and John Layfield that tidbit of information is like feeding steak to hungry dogs that haven’t eaten in a week.”
Bischoff backed off and backed off, but eventually slipped up and questioned how tough Brisco could really be at the age of 60. Bruce says they immediately started moving furniture out of the way.
Jerry went to take Eric down, and Bischoff just sat down. Bruce points out that this would’ve scored a point for Eric in an amateur match since Jerry couldn’t do anything with him. He then mentioned to Jerry that Bischoff had scored a point on him. This made Brisco livid.
“For some reason, Eric stood up again. And when he did, he went down about as fast as he stood up.”
At this point, Conrad mentions that just two years ago he saw a two-time NCAA Champion half Jerry’s age get double-legged in a bar by Brisco and dumped on his head. That would be in 2015. Brisco would be past 70 at that point.
So Jerry has Eric down and is cupping his hands over his face and slapping and smothering him. Just when Eric was about to pass out, Jerry would let up and let him get a gasp of air, then start it up all over again.
Bruce then mentions a time JBL was in a similar position. Brisco had him down and was telling him to tap out. JBL humored Jerry and said “I tap out Jerry, I tap out”, to which Brisco responded, “tap out like you mean it, pu**y.”
Bruce then taunted Eric with that same line as Eric was on the ground, scrambling for his life.
No one should mess with Jerry Brisco.
Bischoff was instrumental in bringing Bruce into TNA a few years later.
Bruce says his legacy in wrestling is being the guy who knocked Vince off the pedestal for a while as well as creating the NWO. Conrad thinks he deserves more credit than that. Bruce says you can’t overemphasize how huge it was that he beat Vince for a couple of years and how many things that changed.
The show closes with some Twitter questions that focus, amongst other things, on Three Minute Warning, Bischoff’s matches with both Vince and Shane, the Elimination Chamber, and a pretty crazy story about Mae Young putting a fish in her pants.
Rating – 10/10
This episode is an example of Something To Wrestle With at it’s finest. The groundwork is set with the subject matter – the leader of the opposition to the WWF during the Monday Night Wars joining the team. Not only is the backstory informatively analyzed, but details of the mentality backstage during this transitional period are also given. Conrad and Bruce had the chemistry clicking in this episode as well. There were moments where tempers almost flared, but they mostly managed to bring out the best in one another. If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you know I’m going to give a high rating to pretty much every episode. But what made this one a 10/10? Subject matter and content aside, this show contained two crucial elements required for an episode of STWW to get a perfect rating: 1. One or more laugh out loud impressions. This show had some good ones, but listening to Vince encourage Eric to “get you some” while producing him to make out with his daughter was ridiculous. 2. Bruce tells an epic story. Bruce has a great memory and relays details of his time spent in the company in every episode, but only once to you get a story on the level of Jerry Brisco’s 60th birthday. From the historical figures involved in the casual setting of the story to the hilariously unintentional way Eric gets himself into this predicament, it’s pure gold. These two components more than made up for the lack of Stu Hart impressions, which are almost guaranteed to give any episode a perfect rating. Go out of your way to download this installment.
6:22: Alone With My Baby Tonight Kazoo instrumental
12:46: Show begins/Bischoff background
15:01: Early Bischoff WWF audition
18:28: Bischoff climbs the ladder in WCW
23:42: Taping at Disney
26:41: Hogan meets with WCW
28:47: Hogan vs. Flair
30:12: Wrestlers jump ship to WCW for guaranteed contracts
32:12: Launch of Monday Nitro
34:54: Giving away Raw results
36:31: Vince targets Ted, not Bischoff
39:21: Bischoff focuses on putting WWF out of business
42:43: Bischoff challenges Vince to a fight
44:44: Bischoff’s final years in WCW
45:12: WCW Invasion
49:45: Bischoff joining WWE
53:53: Bischoff’s role and reputation
59:31: Bischoff’s Raw debut
1:10:08: Brand Split
1:16:25: Ric Flair
1:23:23: Girls Gone Wild
1:27:36: Bruce earns Bischoff’s trust
1:31:25: Bischoff hands Triple H the Big Gold Belt
1:33:53: The Infamous HLA angle
1:42:20: Billy and Chuck wedding
1:48:53: Steve Austin Returns
1:53:53: Taboo Tuesday/Eugene
1:58:44: Bruce and Eric vacation together
2:00:24: Bischoff kisses Linda and Stephanie
2:07:57: Bischoff debates Heyman and Vince
2:09:01: Bischoff gets written off TV.
2:12:55: Bischoff’s natural heat
2:15:10: Controversy Creates Cash
2:17:04: Jerry Brisco’s 60th birthday
2:25:04: Spot appearances on Raw
2:26:23: Bischoff joins TNA
2:26:55: Bischoff’s legacy
2:29:55: Bischoff’s Hall Of Fame chances
2:32:06: Three Minute Warning
2:32:58: Bischoff’s relationship with Hogan
2:33:26: Bischoff’s music
2:34:52: Mae Young Bronco Buster
2:37:59: Bischoff-Vince match
2:38:50: SummerSlam match vs. Shane
2:43:08: Elimination Chamber
2:44:29: Jerry Jarrett mini-rant
2:45:52: Bruce does Back In Black
2:53:05: Punjabi Bossman Remix
For more, check out last week’s episode of Something to Wrestle With.
Also, check out Eric Bischoff’s take on this episode on Bischoff on Wrestling.