83 Weeks – Eric’s WWE Debut
Release Date: November 12, 2018
Running time: 1:29:28
Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
WWF Comes Calling
- July 15th, 2002 Raw – Eric makes his debut on Raw.
- Prior to joining the WWE, Eric had been invited to work on a show called Matt Rats. It was an athletic, high-flying type show geared towards a younger demo (teens, pre-teens, early 20s). Eric visited the set but it didn’t work out.
- Eric was also approached by a company called Battle Management who represented MMA fighters but that did not work out either.
- Fourth of July Weekend, 2001, the WWE was a handful of days away from the invasion angle. John Taylor called Eric to let him know WWE wanted to speak with him.
- J.R. contacted Eric to let Eric know about the invasion angle. At the time, Eric had plans that weekend and couldn’t do it.
- At this point, Eric felt that wrestling was behind him and he was going to work on other TV projects.
- When J.R. initially contacted Eric, he didn’t really tell Eric what the plans were and there was also still some bad blood on J.R.’s part who thought Eric fired him from WCW. If J.R. had let Eric know or shown a bit more enthusiasm, he would have gone to the WWE that weekend.
- When Eric figured out what the angle was, he felt bad. He thought he could have made it work well.
WWF Comes Calling Again
- In May 02, Kevin Nash told Eric there was a rumor Eric might be getting a call from Vince and asked if Eric might be interested if that happened. Eric didn’t think it would happen but said he would be interested.
- Vince called Eric but wasn’t overly excited about the call. He admits to being really curious and deep down was hopeful they could work something out.
- Eric knew that his wrestling story didn’t end like he wanted it to. He felt, going to the WWE would allow him to write his last chapter in his story.
- Eric said he didn’t have any expectations of the call. But when Vince called and said if the shoe had been on the other foot that Eric would have called Vince, Eric knew he wanted to work with them.
- The call with Vince was the opposite of the call with J.R. Vince was sincere. During the call, Vince asked if there was anything Eric wouldn’t do and Eric said the only thing he wouldn’t do was move to Connecticut.
- Eric wrote in his book that it felt like he knew Vince his whole life even though they were only on the phone for two minutes. Eric is a pretty good judge of character and his read of Vince was that Vince was genuine and a good guy. Vince did not need to put Eric at ease but he did.
Keeping Eric’s WWE Appearance Secret
- There was a conspiracy theory that Vince’s call may have had to do with the formation of TNA, however, this wasn’t the case. In fact, Eric had been offered a job by Jeff and Jerry Jarrett which Eric already turned down.
- At one point, Eric called Vince to let him know there were leaks in his organization because people knew he and Vince were speaking.
- He asked Vince not to tell anyone that didn’t need to know and Eric went so far as to fly himself in at his own expense. Someone could have seen Eric’s name on a travel document and mention it offhand. Eric knew this was a big opportunity with the potential of a huge impact if they could keep it quiet.
- The only people Eric talked to were John Taylor and Stephanie McMahon. During one conversation, Stephanie called Eric and warned him that he had a lot of heat and that a lot of people weren’t going to be happy to see him.
- In retrospect, he was treated well at the WWE so he’s not sure who Stephanie was talking about.
- Regarding this perceived heat – Eric didn’t really care. It was a non-issue for him and didn’t matter.
- Before his debut Eric was staying at a few hotels but not the same hotel as the boys were staying at. Someone slipped a script under his door for him to memorize.
- He said it was a relief to be just talent. He was so anxious to go out there to pull off the surprise, he didn’t care what the script said but he was going to make it work. His job as a talent was to perform to the best of his ability.
- Eric said he would have not been as confident if this had been leaked.
- When Eric saw the script he thought it was a lot of copy. It was an 8 minute promo, which was a long time. They wanted him to perform it word for word so he had to get to work and learn that script.
- He was taken to the building in a limo but stayed in the limo. A lot of guys such as Steve Lombardi and Bruno were trying to peak in the limo to see who it was.
- Eric says in his book he was excited to get in front of a crowd again. The debut exceeded his expectations. There have been two times in Eric’s career where Eric has been involved in a scene where you can literally feel the shock in the audience.
- When Vince announced Eric and they hugged and even a minute into Eric’s promo, the crowd was still in a state of shock. Eric thought they had sucked the wind out of the audience’s lungs with this but it was a delayed response.
- The only other time he’s experienced this was during the Chuck and Billy Wedding story when he pulled the mask off (and 3 Minute Warning crashed the wedding).
- Before going out on stage, Vince came to the limo for a pep talk and about what they were going to do. It was Vince’s suggestion that they hug which was a good idea because it was good heat.
- Stephanie was the one who escorted Eric to gorilla, however, they make a wrong turn and ended up in front of 20 wrestlers. The look on their faces was priceless. There was shock, disbelief and anger.
- Both Vince and Stephanie asked Eric if he was nervous. He was excited but not nervous. He also doesn’t buy that Stephanie took a wrong term. She knew what she was doing. The looks he remembers most were Arn Anderson and Ric Flair who had the ‘what the f*ck is he doing here’ look.
- Right before Eric came out, they showed a Booker T interview backstage and Eric was shown on camera. Eric may not have done it that way if he had been producing but there was no right or wrong way to do his debut.
- Eric was a little pissed off at himself because he dropped the ball on locating and working towards the hard cam as well as he should. That said, he knew he nailed the promo and didn’t change a word which is what he was most proud of.
- There were a series of vignettes backstage where Eric met Flair and Big Show. Eric knew he was on display to some degree. He met Linda and Shane and they were really nice and made him feel welcome. Kevin Dunn went out of his way to welcome him. Undertaker was also gracious and genuine when he met Eric.
Next week, they continue with Eric’s first year
Rating – 8/10
Another solid podcast that I wasn’t sure I wanted to listen to but glad I did. I’m also glad they decided to split up this topic into multiple podcasts. This was an easy listen and I liked hearing about all the behind the scenes stuff. Looking forward to the next part of this podcast. Definite recommend.
Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to www.pwpodcasts.com. One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.