83 Weeks With Eric Bischoff – Starrcade ‘94
Release Date: 12/24/18
Running time: 2:37
Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
- Eric admits off the top this show was horrible. He knew he was going to get his butt kicked by Conrad during this podcast.
- The card was held December 27th in Nashville. It did 8,200 fans for a $90K house and did a 0.65 PPV buyrate for a $1.68 million gross.
- Eric was generally pleased with these numbers. He had been executive producer for 8 months and they were still in a cost saving mode even though they had spent money to bring in Hulk Hogan.
Business of WCW
- During this time, business indicators were getting better. Sponsors were talking to them differently and revenues were growing. A lot of this success can be attributed to Hulk Hogan.
- Hogan’s first big show with WCW was Bash At The Beach featuring Flair vs. Hogan. Their rematch was at Halloween Havoc, which was the title/retirement match where Flair lost.
- Savage was signed and debut on the WCW Saturday Night Show prior to the PPV. He teases whether he’s going to shake Hogan’s hand or slap his face.
Eric Bischoff ‘General Manager’
- At around this time, Meltzer reports Eric took over the Office General Manager role in December taking over duties held by Bob Dhue.
- Eric has never held a title of Office General Manager, however, there were conflicts between Eric and Bob and issues they didn’t agree on.
- In ’93/’94, WCW was looking at all their finances to make sure they were making the best moves.
- House shows were a huge financial pit. This was under Bob Dhue’s umbrella. Eric was responsible for TV and when he started seeing some success, Bill Shaw (head of WCW at the time) invited Eric to meetings to hear what people were saying about their business units. Eric realized many of the people in these meetings didn’t have a plan.
- One of the pivotal moments was Eric suggesting they shut down house shows which was losing money which meant they could cut back on talent and travel. Eric said they should put all their money into TV to rebuild the audience. Because Bob was well liked at Turner, they gradually moved Bob’s duties over to Eric until Bob find a new position.
Buying a WWE TV Time Slot and Signing ex-WWE Talent
- WCW supposedly bought some WWE TV time slot in St. Louis and was looking at doing a PPV. This is a decision that would have been made in syndication and the cash commitment would have been $4,000 to $5,000 a month, which is similar to an infomercial. They would analyze how revenue this investment might bring in. Eric felt this had more anecdotal benefit than actual benefit (e.g. looked better with advertisers).
- In 1994, nobody was thinking about competing with the WWF, at this time, it was more about survival and increasing their position in the marketplace. Also, Eric and the WCW weren’t signing old WWE talent such as Hulk Hogan, they came to him but what they did realize was that they had a bunch of WWE talent on their roster and how should they take advantage of that.
- The Omni Thanksgiving show was cancelled a week prior to the event because they had only sold 285 tickets. Eric says in 1994, the WCW had been giving away tickets for so long they had pre-conditioned their fans to expect that. Eric names Gary Juster as well as Bob Dhue for these types of issues.
- Eric says Gary Juster was cut from the same cloth as Jim Barnett and very political. He also speculates Gary was talking to the dirt sheet writers but couldn’t prove it. Eric’s description of Gary Juster in his book was pretty stiff.
Montreal Rumors, Business in ’93 vs. ’94 and Buying A Network
- There was an idea of running a show in Montreal with Jacques Rougeau headlining against Hulk Hogan. Eric says someone had approached someone in their marketing department which is how Eric found out.
- Business was much better than in 1993, which in December, averaged 640 fans. In December 1994, they were averaging 2970 fans. The average gate went up 599% going from $6720 at the end of ‘93 to $47,000 at the end of ‘94. Ratings were down a little bit and that has some folks worried when there were rumors that TBS was going to buy NBC and would they be interested in a money losing property like WCW.
- Ted was making noise about buying a network but was also going to push WCW because he felt wrestling brought eyeballs and audiences to networks.
Randy Savage Signs
- Randy Savage was debuting on December 3rd, Saturday Night and there was questions around why he didn’t just debut on the PPV. The thought was that 3 or 4% of the people who watched Saturday Night bought the PPV who wouldn’t normally by the PPV that paid for itself.
- There were some legal issues with Randy showing up on WCW TV but that was more because Randy brought Slim Jim with him, which was a $750K revenue loss for WWE.
- There was a tour in Germany that had a bunch of bought shows. At the time, WCW did not have an international footprint.
- Even though Paul Roma was in the main event on many of these shows, nobody in Germany knows who they were and they were building from the ground up.
- Alex Wright – goal was to take local talent, integrate them into WCW storyline and align them with top WCW talents to get the rub. When they promoted in the local markets, they would be promoting a local hero who made it big in WCW.
- Wrestling works internationally and always translates. It’s a simple format that everyone can understand.
- Eric said they were going to get TV in Germany and the promoters in Germany were willing to work with the WCW because they had Hulk Hogan.
- There was a rumor that WCW was talking to Bret Hart after he had lost to the WWE title to Bob Backlund but Eric says this never happened.
- The PPV sold out 3 hours early. It also marks the end of the Honky Tonk Man in WCW. Eric fired HTM for trying to hold up Eric because he didn’t want to lose his belt to Marc Mero unless they revisited his contract.
- Dark Match Arn Anderson/Bunkhouse Bunk beat Brad and Scott Armstrong .
- The opening segment of the PPV shows all the storylines leading up to the PPV, a video of Hulk Hogan getting a PWI award and Randy Savage’s interview from the Saturday Night Show. Eric had a hard time watching this opening from the beginning. It was poorly formatted.
- Vader wins the US Title beating Jim Duggan. Eric thought the match was better than he expected. It wasn’t a great match technically but the fans liked it. Vader had a reputation for being hard to work with but he worked well during this match and sold like a rock star for Duggan.
- Alex Wright beats Jean Paul Levesque. Eric thought it was fascinating to watch this match given what Triple H has become. Triple H had some great fundamentals playing to a bigger audience even that early in his career.
- Eric wasn’t a fan of Paul Levesque. He was a good technician but not a character. Additionally, Triple H lived on the east coast and it was expensive for Eric to fly him in.
- Eric felt Alex looked much better than Paul. The male stripper/dancer gimmick killed him.
- Johnny B Badd retains the TV title beating Arn Anderson who was taking HTM’s spot. Eric thought it was a great match from a producer’s perspective. Johnny B Badd looked good in this match due in large part to Arn Anderson calling the match.
- Nasty Boys beat Harlem Heat by DQ. Meltzer felt this was match of the night. Eric thought the match was a little long especially for a brawl. Eric says the crowd reacted to this match more than any other match on the card.
- Mr. T beats Kevin Sullivan. Dave Sullivan is in the audience dressed as Santa Claus and hits Kevin with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone which allows Mr. T to score the pin. Eric says this match is so bad it should be a classic. Eric doesn’t even know how to react to Mr. T’s nightcap which is one of the goofiest gimmicks he’s ever seen.
- Also we’re three or four matches into the card and Jimmy Hart has been on the card 6 times already. By the time the show is over, Jimmy Hart will have had more camera time than anyone on this PPV.
- Sting beats Avalanche by DQ. During the match, there’s a ref bump and interference by Kevin Sullivan. Hogan comes to the ring to make the save which may have taken away from the match. Eric says this was a bad choice because it would bore the audience. The fans will have already seen Hogan even before his match.
- In storyline leading up to Starrcade, Hogan was attacked by masked men during matches with Ric Flair. The masked man is revealed to be Brutus Beefcake. Brutus says Hogan used creative control to book Beefcake which Eric admits is a horrible mistake. WCW was trying to keep Hogan happy which is why they agreed. That said, Hogan thought he could draw money with Beefcake and this booking was not done out of greed. At the end of the match, Savage runs in to save Hogan.
- The moment between Hogan and Savage could have been done better. Eric felt it was too subtle and the moment was too drawn out. It could have been much bigger.
- Vader and Harley Race challenge Hogan to a match. Meltzer felt this was one of the worst WCW PPVs and Eric agrees with that assessment.
- Wade Keller reported Hogan was rumored to lose the title match to Beefcake but Eric says that is not true.
- Meltzer reported WCW lost $3.5 million in 1994 but should be higher because Hogan’s salary did not come out of WCW but from Turner Home Entertainment. Bischoff vehemently disagrees with this and calls this a lie.
Rating – 7/10
Right off the top, this podcast was about an hour and half of business talk and about an hour of talk of the actual card. Eric really went into the weeds on the business side of things talking about Bob Dhue, Gary Juster and buying TV time slots. That said, I enjoyed this podcast a lot…probably more than I should. I am totally fascinated by the business side of wrestling and Eric is really good at explaining that topic. If this is something you’re interested in, have a listen. If you’re only interested in the wrestling stuff, skip the first hour and a half. Overall though, definite recommend from me.
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.