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Posted in: LOP Hall Of Fame
2017 LOP Hall of Fame Inductee: Eric Bischoff
By Mr. Tito
Mar 29, 2017 - 7:29:29 AM

Eric Bischoff
Class of 2017


Follow Mr. Tito on Twitter.com: @titowrestling

It is my distinct honor to induct Eric Bischoff into the 2017 LordsofPain.net Hall of Fame as voted by you, the LoP readers. Thank you very much for your time in considering the 2017 Class. Additionally, thank you to the Doc for being the the host of ceremonies as usual.

To me, Eric Bischoff was one of the greatest visionaries that the pro wrestling business has ever seen. After the product hit a peak during 1989-1990, wrestling was in steep decline due to an absense in quality, obsolescence, scandals, and within World Championship Wrestling (WCW), it had poor management in place that didn't allow them to fully compete with the WWE. Additionally, younger wrestling fans grew up and moved on... They would need something new and exciting to bring them back.

The early 1990s saw WCW having management problems from Jim Herd, who had multiple problems with key WCW talents, to Bill Watts, who put in too many rules that limited the product. Herd had significant problems with Ric Flair and caused an embarrassing exit of Flair during 1991 that left WCW bloody. During 1992, Bill Watts ruled the backstage with an iron fist and attempted to restrict things that were becoming common in modern wrestling (like restricting anything from the top rope). Watts ran into a few issues backstage and with the Turner organization that led to his untimely exit. WCW was in shambles...

Meanwhile, WWE ran into legal troubles while not delivering on bigtime match-ups with Hulk Hogan during 1991-1992. The Iraqi War being played out during Wrestlemania 7 and then the Sid Justice feud for Wrestlemania 8 underwhelmed... Then, Wrestlemania 9 which was one of WWE's low points. WWE was too reliant on Hulk Hogan during the 1980s that they didn't have a succession plan to replace him as top babyface. They tried with Ultimate Warrior but he flamed out during 1990. Bret Hart was a solid champion, but a draw like Hogan he was not. WWE tried to create cookie cutter babyfaces in "All American" Lex Luger, Diesel, and Shawn Michaels... Just wasn't working... WWE also had problems getting away from gimmicks and lacked realism. Lots of career wrestlers like trashmen, clowns, hog farmers, dentists, and then placing any tall or thick wrestler they could find against the Undertaker.

Pro wrestling was in decline during the early to mid 1990s and was in desperate need of something new. During early 1993, the top WCW management job became open after Bill Watts left the company after controversy. WCW play by play man, Eric Bischoff, applied for the job. Bischoff worked as an announcer with the American Wrestling Association (AWA) until it died and joined WCW during 1991 as the third string call man. Bischoff did his best as an announcer and filled in adequately for top shows when needed. But what Bischoff did during his years as an announcer was paying attention to details... He was observing how shows were produced, written, and how they were presented on television. He didn't just do his job as an announcer, as he aborbed everything that he could about television production and the wrestling business that he could. Bischoff applied for the top WCW job and presented himself well to Turner Broadcasting management. They were impressed by his interview and gave him the job! While the experience and educational background always matter, but it's how you present yourself that is often the difference maker between yourself and other job candidates.

1993 through early 1994 are considered rough by many critics... However, WCW was still recovering from wounds received during 1991-1992. First and foremost, Bischoff worked to reduce costs of WCW. Weak houses during the time caused the revenue streams to dry up. Bischoff countered that by reducing houseshows and employing larger television tapings. While many rip the quality of those Disney studio tapings and how you could know months' worth of storylines from the early versions of the internet at the time, it saved WCW a ton of money on production, talent, and live event costs. WCW's fortunes began to improve through 1994 to break even and it allowed WCW to take some financial chances. Bischoff built up his credibility as a company manager based on his financial success that it won him favor with Ted Turner to really begin to turn around WCW's fortunes.

First, Eric Bischoff was able to convince Hulk Hogan to work for WCW... Think about Hogan during 1994. He was a loyal WWE wrestler from 1983 through 1993 but he left the business in some shame following WWE's legal problems. Hogan seemed content on attempting to become a film and television star. But, with some help of Ric Flair, Bischoff was able to convince Hogan to join WCW. It was a major gamble as Hogan didn't come cheap and wanted creative control. However, Bischoff took the risk because he needed a tentpole superstar that will draw in fans beyond the Southern WCW fanbase. Additionally, Bischoff knew that other wrestlers might follow Hogan and they did... Soon, "Macho Man" Randy Savage followed Hogan into WCW during late 1994 after the WWE tried to convert him into an announcer full time. Eric Bischoff gave two of WWE's former greats once last chance to shine...

Then, during mid 1995, Bischoff was asked by Ted Turner on what else he needed to compete with Vince McMahon and the WWE... Bischoff, on a whim, joked that he needed a new Prime Time show that ran up against the WWE on TBS. Turner was inspired by the suggestion and gave Bischoff a prime time spot on the growing TNT channel instead. After all, Ted Turner gave Bischoff a longer leash based on how successful Hogan's signing was for the company and how WCW's finances improved under Bischoff's leadership. WCW Monday Nitro was born and as opposed to WWE's Monday Night RAW broadcast, it was LIVE and marketed heavily on "anything can happen". This was emphasized on the very first show when Lex Luger quickly jumped ship and joined WCW. Luger's appearance on the very first Nitro sent shockwaves across the wrestling industry and instantly put Nitro on the map. Real competition against the WWE was finally here and Ted Turner was now very willing to spend money on talent.

And that he did... But it was incredibly SMART free agent signings. First and foremost, he picked Extreme Championship Wrestling clean of many of its international and traveled superstars. In were Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, eventually Chris Jericho, and many great Mexican Luchador greats like Rey Mysterio Jr., Psychosis, Konnan, Juventud, and Bischoff encouraged those Luchador talents to encourage other wrestlers to join. Bischoff also utilized WCW's past relations Japan to bring in various top talents from there as well, but it was Bischoff's close eye on the Japanese market that presented him with an incredible creative idea.

He saw an invasion like angle performed in Japan during early 1996 and along with the recent WCW signings of Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Kevin Nash (Diesel), he constructed an angle in WCW where "outsiders" fresh from their WWE runs would "invade" WCW. It was genius. Hall and Nash appeared without names and were presented as if they were still employed by the WWE. They assaulted WCW wrestlers at will and they had the wrestling world legitimately fooled as if they were appearing on the WWE's dime. It took a lawsuit filed by the WWE to finally prompt Hall and Nash to admit that they were NOT working for the WWE at Great American Bash 1996 but to enforce that Hall & Nash still had dangerous intentions, they attacked Bischoff! Hall drilled Bischoff in the gut while Kevin Nash powerbombed Bischoff off the stage and through the table platform set up nearby. This was mid-1996 and you didn't see that kind of high impact violence on mainstream wrestling television. Bischoff took one for the team and allowed for Hall/Nash to keep up their outsider momentum beyond the WWE invasion hype.

The promise of a "third man" to join Scott Hall and Kevin Nash at Bash at the Beach 1996 created excitement during mid-1996, but who could it be? Rumor had it that could have been Sting or possibly the free agent Bret Hart... But then, Bischoff and the WCW creative team came up with a better idea. How about Hulk Hogan turning heel? By early 1996, Hulkamania was running a bit thin with WCW fans. Following Uncensored 1996, Hogan was granted some time off to presumably film some Hollywood projects. That time off allowed for Hogan to recharge but also gave Bischoff opportunity to reconsider the character. Placing him with Hall & Nash was genius and I can only imagine how much Bischoff had to sell the idea to Hogan. It would to be the master stroke move to extend Hogan's peak years by another 2 years as "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan. Together, Hall, Nash, and Hogan formed the New World Order (nWo) stable that had a brand that everyone wanted to buy. The nWo was cool and Hogan was electric as a heel for the first time in about 15 years.

Mid 1996 through Mid 1998 saw World Championship Wrestling (WCW) become the #1 pro wrestling company in the world and becoming extremely profitable as a company. Turner Broadcasting, which would eventually merge with Time Warner corporation, saw a new revenue stream that they never thought of having before. Thanks to the older stars now acting in different roles, WCW was able to draw many older WWE fans' eyeballs onto their products. Want to see more of the Mega Powers colliding? Watch WCW! Want to see Hogan and Piper finally settle their score? Watch WCW! Want to see longtime WCW staples Lex Luger and Sting challenge Hulk Hogan? Watch WCW! Bischoff was able to revitalize many older assets of the wrestling industry and extended the careers of many WCW greats. Furthermore, he used the hook of the older WWE stars to introduce you to many great new talents on the midcard.

How about that Cruiserweight Division? Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, Psychosis, Ultimo Dragon, and many others... Bischoff created a new brand of wrestling that was able to create excitement on the undercard of any show. Furthermore, the STACKED talent roster from the ECW/Mexico raids along with other free agent signings allowed for the Television, United States Titles, and the Tag Team Titles to matter. When you tuned into 2 hours of Nitro or 3 hours of a Pay Per View, you saw great action with every title division mattering. 1997, in particular, had a mixture of some of the best midcard wrestling combined with the strong storytelling of the nWo angle. It was magic and Bischoff's story as a manager and executive should be the story of legends.

Now, from here, I could talk about the "Death of WCW" because after WCW peaked during the highly sold Starrcade 1997 Pay Per View, things were heading downhill... But even after the disappointment of the conclusion of the Hulk Hogan vs. Sting feud, Bischoff was able to keep fan interest during 1998 alive by pushing a new star: Bill Goldberg. Goldberg was a homegrown talent and was the fresh superstar that WCW needed to liven things up. However, Goldberg was still new to the business... If he wasn't squashing a wrestler, he could get exposed on his inexperience on longer matches. That's why I consider Diamond Dallas Page a miracle worker from his Halloween Havoc 1998 match-up against Goldberg. Bischoff and WCW's Creative Team tried to push Goldberg as the newest star in wrestling but he couldn't pull through in the ring. Same problem exists today... Notice how he's wrestling short matches in the WWE?

Wrestlers today should be incredibly thankful for the GUARANTEED money that Bischoff heavily introduced into the wrestling industry. In order to sign Hogan, Nash, Hall, Savage, Piper, Hennig, and others, Bischoff had to "show them the money". Before, money was not guaranteed and Vince McMahon was able to force his wrestlers to work more dates just to earn something decent. But if you were injured... The Hall and Nash signings changed the business forever... However, those big guaranteed contracts came at a price... Much like top NBA/NFL/MLB players who earn the highest salaries have some say in their organization, top paid wrestlers do too. Everyone with a big contract had a say in the process and thanks to increased Time Warner corporate interests now digging deep into WCW's pockets, they further enabled the dominance of WCW superstars in the creative decisions backstage. Bischoff, sadly, became a victim of his own success. He made the great signings and made many former WWE superstars famous again, but with time, it caused too many chefs in the kitchen.

That and WWE rose like a phoenix and became great again... "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Degeneration X, the Rock, and the Attitude Era were born in 1997 as a breath of fresh air for that company. WWE was creating brand new fans and was also luring away WCW's fanbase. When the older WCW wrestlers and Bill Goldberg's stars started to fade, WCW was in trouble... WWE got stronger while WCW was running out of ideas to be interesting. It's like a band who puts their heart & soul into their first 3-4 albums but struggles creatively after that. Bischoff changed the wrestling industry, made it better, but ran out of steam through 1998 and left the company by 1999. He briefly returned during 2000 but the damage of big guaranteed contracts and poor creative decisions during 1999-2000 caught up to the company. That, and AOL/Time Warner was ready to move on. During early 2001, Bischoff was shopping WCW to investors and appeared to have a deal to buy the company. However, AOL/Time Warner cancelled all WCW wrestling programming and they couldn't get a better television deal. That's when WWE and Vince McMahon swooped in and bought the WCW franchise from AOL/Time Warner for maybe less than $5 million. Amazing.

Most people like to point out WCW's demise as a knock on Eric Bischoff... To me, it's like an NFL team to rolls the dice on the free agency in the short-term in order to get burned hard long-term on the Salary Cap. Those NFL teams attempt to win now by risking the future... That's what Bischoff did. He needed superstars to help carry WCW and from 1994 (when he signed Hogan) through the first half of 1998, WCW had major success. He was able to draw with major former WWE talents in their early to mid 40s having one last run with their bodies. Everybody thought that Hulk Hogan was done with by 1993. Nope. Vince tried to put Macho Man Randy Savage in the announcer's booth full time during 1994. WCW got about 6 more years out of that guy. Rowdy Roddy Piper? WCW got him back in the ring and wrestling Hogan repeatedly for bigtime drawing Pay Per Views.

Those older superstars, however, couldn't carry the Pay Per Views. If you watch most Pay Per Views between 1996-1998, they are very strong on the midcard yet the main event is often disappointing. I believe that the Starrcade 1997 disappointing main event between Hulk Hogan vs. Sting was the last straw for many fans as were some of the early 1998 Pay Per View headliners. There just wasn't a means for much of that younger ECW/Luchador talent to challenge for any of those main event spots. Many of the midcarders grew impatient and bolted to join the WWE. Bischoff tried to mask problems during 1998 and 1999 by staying in his comfort zone with the nWo angle but it was too late... Creative ideas were tapped and they added too many wrestlers to the group. It was over...

What Eric Bischoff did to CHANGE the industry, in my opinion, outweighs how WCW ended. Remember, he was trying to save WCW during early 2001... He tried in TNA years later, but think about what I said about the musicians putting out their best materials for the first 3-4 albums and then struggle afterward. Bischoff was in his mid to late 50s by then.

But let's look at what he ADDED to pro wrestling while running World Championship Wrestling (WCW):

- LIVE Television Show on Monday Night
- Guaranteed Contracts for Wrestlers
- Pushing Corporate Money into wrestling, which provides more capital to pay for wrestlers
- Introduced Luchador wrestling to a wider audience
- Cruiserweight Division
- Showing how to extend the careers of major superstars from the past
- Ending the non-stop jobber matches on televised shows
- Signed a video game deal with THQ to reinvent wrestling video games for the better
- Successful cross-overs of NFL/NBA sports stars into pro wrestling to draw money
- Merchandising with the nWo brand
- Making Monthly Pay Per Views successful

If you watched WWE from 1992-1996, you're very thankful for Eric Bischoff. His innovations for WCW caused Vince McMahon to change his business model and push wrestlers that Vince normally wouldn't push. Sure, several of those were WCW castaways like Steve Austin, Triple H, and Mick Foley... But that's the price Bischoff paid to sign Hulk Hogan and there's no denying how successful Hogan was during 1996-1998 as "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan. Besides, I'd argue that Bischoff did each of those 3 wrestlers a favor... Telling Foley/Austin that they couldn't cut it or that Triple H should only be a tag wrestler was their best medicine. It made them extra hungry to prove themselves when they joined WWE.

Wrestlers should THANK their lucky stars for Eric Bischoff for introducing corporate money into wrestling and creating guaranteed contracts.

And that WWE General Manager character introduced during 2002 was GREAT! Make no mistake about it!

Congrats to Eric Bischoff on his LoP Hall of Fame induction, as our LoP readers thought highly of him for this year's class. He definitely deserves to be in any Hall of Fame beause of the way he essentially "saved" the pro wrestling industry and pushed WWE to be better.

By the way, if you don't believe that Eric Bischoff should get into any wrestling hall of fame... Then you should just observe who is the WWE Universal Champion right now... Bill Goldberg, an original homegrown talent that Eric Bischoff made into a star that WWE is using 16 years after WCW closed its door and 18 years since Goldberg's 1998 peak. How about that?

Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow and Tweet me @titowrestling or login in below to post comments.

© Mr. Tito and LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com - 1998-2017

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