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WRITTEN PODCAST RECAP: Bischoff on Wrestling – remembering Bobby Heenan, meeting with Ultimate Warrior to join WCW, the infamous storyline that Eric regrets, which wrestler was a “parasite?” (Ep. 61)

Bischoff on Wrestling – Episode 61

Release Date: September 20, 2017

Recap By: Andrew Soucek, PWPodcasts.com Editor

Runtime: 1 hour 38 minutes

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

Highlights:

-Hulk Hogan brought in some of his friends to WCW as part of a “package” deal.

-Ultimate Warrior had a crazy amount of ideas for his character, but Bischoff appreciated his passion.

-The Giant was offered a 10 year/$10 million deal by the WWF.

-Eric provides details to where he planned to run Nitro had he purchased WCW.

-Eric’s Dave Meltzer rant.

Rundown

Eric introduces us to the show and notes they’re taping a day early as he will be in Minneapolis visiting family. Nick is very excited about this because he just read a section of Eric’s book that detailed his time in the area. Nick then talked about how drinking outside is one of his greatest joys in life and his co-host razzes him for a bit.

Nick reveals what they’ll be talking about for This Week in Bischoff History: Ric Flair’s return to WCW. “Oh cool!” Eric said. Uh oh…he didn’t know the topic? This might not go well…

4:00 – Bobby Heenan comes up. Eric calls him a “phenomenal figure. An icon in his own way.” Eric was a fan of his dating back to the ‘70s. He thought it was cool that they eventually go to work together. Their relationship was fun. He said they’d socialize after shows but didn’t spend a lot of one-on-one time together.

He thought Bobby was frustrated in WCW. While the company was on an upward swing, they were not the well-oiled machine that WWE was. Eric was largely reliant on freelancers. But then all of the sudden they’d be gone. They’d continually have to start over. Bobby may have thought of it as a step down. Eric doesn’t think Bobby respected him as much as Vince McMahon, nor should he have. Eric relays this to his time in TNA and finding it frustrating due to them not having the same resources he was used to.

Was there anyone in WCW that Bischoff wanted Heenan with on commentary? He thought Tony Schiavone did a great job with him. Tony is the ultimate straight man.

Did Bobby want to be a commentator in WCW? Or did he want to fill other roles? As far as Eric knows, just commentary. Bobby was in a great mood when things were good in the company, he was frustrated when things were bad.

Eric runs down Bobby’s bio. He didn’t graduate from high school. He had a sick mother he had to take care of. He ended up mowing the lawn of Dick “The Bruiser,” and got involved in the business and worked his way up.

What can Bobby teach other wrestling talent? He’s a classic example of learning the business from the ground up. It’s not just about your athletic ability or doing high-spots. It’s understanding psychology and getting your opponent over. Eric recalls Bobby’s time in the AWA. He says Nick Bockwinkel is one of the better heel interviews ever. He was believable and knew how to get heat. And yet, he had Heenan as a manager. This was so Heenan could get in the ring at events Ray Stevens or Bockwinkel didn’t attend.

Eric’s favorite memory of Bobby is Bockwinkel/Stevens/Heenan. For Nick, it’s Andre. Nick points out that you really can’t have a career like Bobby anymore.

Eric had seen Bobby about a year ago at a convention. While it wasn’t a long time, he was grateful to be around him.

20:10 – The return of Starrcade. Eric’s gut reaction? He think it’s a great idea. There’s a high nostalgia factor right now. He thinks Halloween Havoc should also return (hell yes!). Eric does think it’s weird that it’s only going to be a house show. They should take bigger advantage of it. Nick brings up people thinking Starrcade is being run to draw people away from WrestleCade. Eric thinks it’s a bit of a stretch. Though perhaps it could be true.

26:20 – Owens and McMahon. Did KO split open Vince with a headbutt? Eric thinks so. “It’s not that hard by the way, have you ever been head butted?” Eric asks. It’s the worst! Eric once headbutted a friend 30 years ago, missed, and broke the bridge of his own nose. It’s like someone sticking a cattle prod at the back of your head. It shuts you down. Eric then relays a story of headbutting his brother once after they went hunting. They were having fun and pretending they were bartenders at a local bar, then he gave him a headbutt. His brother bled like crazy.

What about the theory of McMahon cutting himself open earlier and Owens just re-opening it? Eric thinks it makes sense. He starts talking about Vince and admits he doesn’t know him very well. However, he believes Vince would hardway it. The man has no fear.

What kind of message does this send? “Why does everything have to be a freaking message?” Eric asks. He then basically cuts Nick off and said there was no message. (Nick did bring up an interesting point here, but was shut down. The message is that absolutely no one can bleed except the boss? There’s something to talk about in there but it wasn’t open for discussion).

35:05 – Is the NFL running soft this season? Eric says ESPN is collapsing, a lot of people don’t care about the politics, which can be a turn off. A bigger part is that ratings across TV as a whole are going down. The Emmys are way down too. People just don’t “give a s**t anymore.” They have different ways to get their entertainment fix.

39:08 – Paige possibly returning to WWE. Is she too much of a headache? Eric questions her stability. However, she’s very young and was thrust into the limelight in a major way. He would be very reluctant to put her back on TV unless he was sure she was mature enough emotionally to handle it. He doesn’t think she’s there.

41:00 – Chris Jericho is doing a rock ‘n’ wrestling cruise ship. Eric would rather shoot himself in the foot than be stuck on a boat with anybody. He hates cruises and thinks you’re bound to get sick with something. He wouldn’t take a cruise on even the nicest boat in the world and if there was a suitcase full of money waiting for him in his room. He thought the WCW Bruise Cruises were a “dumbass idea.”

44:58 – Progress is running in Wembley Arena. Should more indy shows follow this model? Only if they have enough traction.

47:00 – This Week in Bischoff History. Nitro from September, 1998. Nick reads from The Observer for notes. Meltzer said the show at the time was disorganized and seemed to be written by Bischoff, Jason Hervey, Hulk Hogan, and Kevin Nash. Eric disputes Hervey having any part of the creative process.

Why did they go to three hours? It wasn’t their choice. The network wanted it. Producing an extra hour of content was relatively cheap, but the opportunity to create revenue went up 33%.  

Should there be Raw (Nitro) girls now? Eric thinks it’s a better decision to position women as athletes.

They kept cutting to Mike Tenay who was trying to get a scoop backstage. Why this approach? It felt less polished. It made it feel live.

Van Hammer vs. Alex Wright. Does Eric get the cult love of Wright? “No.” (He should!)

The Observer wrote a piece saying Ernest Miller should sue WCW for discrimination. “What a f***ing idiot,” Eric said about Meltzer. Eric brought Miller into the company, he had no interest prior in wrestling. It took weeks to talk him into joining the company. “The rest of this s**t is so stupid, if I keep commenting on it I’m going to get hot….he’s (Meltzer) a con artist, he’s a fraud…he’s just a leech, a parasite.”

Were there issues between Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart at this time? “Bret needs somebody to bitch about,” Bischoff stated. Bret hated Hulk until he had a chance to work with him. Then they became friends. When things didn’t go his way, he went back to hating him.

Was the t-shirt tucked into the jeans look fashionable back then? Eric says it was. Good to know!

During the episode, Eric stood next to a fan sign “Eric’s pen is bigger than Vince’s.” Did he seek that stuff out? No, just if something caught his eye.

What was it like working with Warrior at this time? “He was always excited. 24 hours a day.” To bring him into the company, he flew out to Arizona and met him at a resort. Warrior had a million ideas, but it was kind of hard to follow them. Eric enjoyed that passion. Someone like Bret Hart looked like they’d show up, looking like they hadn’t slept, and wait for you to tell him how they were going to become a star.

When Eric got home from the meeting, Warrior had sent him a 45 page fax of ideas that was waiting for him.

Nick asks if The Disciple was Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake? (Was this a joke, or a failure to use Google?) Eric said it’s not good to think about him. If he pops into your mind, lose it. It’s self-preservation. Beefcake was a “parasite.” Hulk is loyal and forced Bischoff to sign his friend. He was part of the package.

Eric puts over Billy Kidman and Juventud Guerrera as wrestlers. He thinks Kidman deserves a lot more credit as a performer.

What did Eric think of “The Flock?” He hated it. He didn’t like the grunge thing. He didn’t think people related to it. Nick did (so did I…it’s one of the reasons I got back into wrestling after missing out on it from about ‘93-’96). Nick said Raven didn’t seem to like him when they met. Eric says Raven didn’t like anyone.

Jackie Chan was rumored to be involved in a WCW pay-per-view. Eric jokes that he was booking the company at the time. Nick then moves along (damn, I wish Eric would have answered this as I remember reading in the Sporting News at the time that Chan was coming in but never knew why it didn’t’ happen).

Was Jimmy Hart another guy who was only there because of Hogan? “He came with the package.”

Should WWE do something like Nitro parties? Eric came up with the concept himself. They staged the initial ones, then within weeks people started sending them tapes. When some grad students from Brown University sent in a tape, Eric knew Nitro had hit the mainstream. However, if they did it today it would have to feel real. It could be a big success.

What was Eric’s relationship with Arn Anderson? Generally fine. If Arn had his choice, he would have probably preferred to have worked with someone else.

The Observer said The Giant was trying to leverage himself into a bigger push or raise as the WWF had a lot of interest in him. Eric says that’s probably true. He remembers The Giant saying Vince offered him a 10-year deal worth $10,000,000. Eric says that’s double what he was willing to pay. He didn’t even try to match it or talk him out of it.

Scott Hall’s alcoholic angle was going on at this time. How did it come up? It was based on reality. Eric regrets this storyline. It wasn’t entertaining and it was a weak attempt to try and make sense of reality in a fictional world.

During the show, JJ Dillon comes to the ring with Chris Benoit, Arn, Dean Malenko, and Steve McMichael. First, why wasn’t Flair on TV at the time? Ric and Eric had been going through a lot of legal “crap.” They were both guilty of taking extreme positions and things escalated.

Was the WWF trying to make a play at the time for Ric? The Observer reported it. Eric says no, though ask Ric. He was under contract so if the WWF did it was to their detriment.

Who wanted Benoit, Malenko, and Mongo in the Horsemen? Eric doesn’t recall but thinks it felt natural.

What was it like confronting Flair in the angle with the hot crowd? “Magic.”

How much was Michael Buffer paid per show? Eric doesn’t remember. Nick ribs him and asks if it a million per appearance. Eric starts getting a little hot over this rumor.

There was a Goldberg/Sting match on the show. Nick asks for Eric’s take “don’t even remember it.” (Major missed opportunity here from the co-hosts. Booking Sting in a huge match like that with zero build was giving away a major pay-per-view main event, would have been interesting to hear why this was done)

1:26:40 – Mailbag

Has Eric ever visited Jay Leno’s garage?

He never did. He wishes he would have.

How does getting band music for theme songs work?

You go to a licensing agent and make a deal with the publisher.

Will The Rock be the next president?

Eric doesn’t think so. He thinks people are sick of celebrities and running for office. He says he wants to curb stomp Al Franken and calls him a piece of s**t.

Who’s the next big talent? Who’s the next big flop?

Eric isn’t going to go there. (I thought “nothing was off limits,” as the show’s synopsis reads)

Who’s going to win? Braun Strowman or Brock Lesnar?

He wants Braun to win but thinks Brock will. He thinks Brock is amazing but is kind of one-dimensional. Nick mixes up running “roughshod” with “ricksha” and Eric takes him to task for it. He says to imagine Braun Strowman pulling a ricksha to a Chinese buffet. Might be the funniest Bischoff on Wrestling moment I’ve heard in my limited experience.

Was there ever any plan to have Kevin Sullivan as the Heavyweight Champion in WCW?

Eric laughs at this and goes back to the ricksha. He does a Chinese man impression…which was uh…kind of offensive.  But no, Sullivan as a champ. Never.

Is there any locations Eric would have liked to have run?

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino when they were in negotiations to run shows there under the Fusient buyout. Nick had never heard of this idea (he hadn’t? I mean, he’s the co-host of Bischoff on Wrestling!). They thought having a regular venue in Vegas was a solution to saving money and creating entertaining TV.

Was the Immortal stable always the plan in TNA with Hogan/Bischoff taking over?

“We didn’t make any decisions in that company. It was Dixie Carter and her mommy and daddy. Hulk Hogan and I didn’t take over. We were paid by Spike TV and Viacom to be there.” He doesn’t recall if the Immortal stable idea was the plan all along.

Eric chides Nick for bringing them down with a TNA question. A few plugs and they’re out.

Review: 7/10

Good insight on Bobby Heenan from Eric’s perspective as his former boss. Filling in some of his pre-wrestling history was a nice touch to help get to know the passing legend better. The show also had an entertaining take on Brutus Beefcake and a pretty epic rant on Dave Meltzer.

Another plus was the entertaining This Week in Bischoff History segment. It was easily the best one so far, even if they barely covered the memorable Ric Flair angle that the episode was built around. However, Eric actually remembered the angle and he had interesting insight on a variety of wrestlers. I was fearful for the segment due to him sounding surprised that it won their poll but it turned out pretty strong.  

However, the recurring flaw of interesting stories and angles not being covered continued. The Sting/Goldberg match should have been called out, as should have the Jackie Chan note. Oh well. 

Also of note is that last week Bischoff used the word “retard,” and this week he did a stereotypical Chinese man impression. Can’t say I really enjoy that stuff and I imagine it has to be a turnoff to some listeners. But Eric would probably tell me to lighten up…and then call me a mean name. 

For more, check out our archives of Bischoff on Wrestling

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