Eric Bischoff, to this day, is still one of the most polarizing figures in the history of wrestling. It's not an exaggeration to say his time as president of World Championship Wrestling, which resulted in the only true head-to-head competition WWE faced in the past 30 years, changed the business. While he's been in and out of the business since his time at WCW came to an end, his latest venture into the podcast world has him reliving the 1990s.
Bischoff, who is coming to Jimmy's Famous Seafood on Saturday night with cohost Conrad Thompson to record a live show of his podcast “83 Weeks,” wasn't sure he even wanted to do a podcast when the idea was first presented to him.
“I was a little hesitant to do it, because in my opinion, I was concerned that the whole Monday Night Wars era was done to death,” Bischoff said. “There's been DVDs produced, multiple books published. It's been discussed for nearly 20 years. My concern was, 'What the hell are we going to talk about that hadn't been talked about?' I expressed my concern to Conrad early on.”
However, Thompson assured him that not only was there an audience for it, he would be able to dig up enough research to both navigate the storylines of the Monday Night Wars as well as delve into the business side of the product to make the podcast different from anything else. There certainly was an audience for it, as the first episode debuted as the second-highest-rated podcast, just behind another Thompson production, “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard.”
While the show provided Bischoff, 63, an opportunity to explain many of the twists and turns of the 83 weeks that WCW was on top of the Monday Night Wars, it also gave Bischoff a chance to relive aspects of it, particularly the on-screen storylines.
“I don't remember a lot of what we did as well as the audience does,” Bischoff said. “We saw one today, actually, from June of 1997 when Sting repelled out of the ceiling, came down, saved Diamond Dallas Page, hooked him up and he went right back up into the ceiling with Sting. I forgot all about that until I watched it this morning. I was shocked.”
The details of the storylines that Nitro featured during that time period is something Bischoff had never realized resonated so much to the fans. As he explained, he was so focused on what was happening backstage on the business side that sometimes the importance of what happened on-screen wasn't completely felt by him.
“A lot of the questions [from fans] are just obscure detail, or at least to me seemingly obscure. It wasn't a big deal to me, but evidently it's a big deal to the audience,” Bischoff said. “I'll be honest — when Conrad said that he wanted do a show about the Fingerpoke of Doom, I was shocked. 'Are you kidding me? Is that worthy of a two-hour discussion? Really? Maybe 20 minutes and we'd have it covered.' It surprised me that there was that much detail and that the audience would find that interesting.”
When not doing the podcast, Bischoff has been involved in other entertainment entities as a producer. While he's been reliving the time period through the podcast, Bischoff said there are aspects that get him wondering about the business again.
“There are aspects of the industry that I do miss,” Bischoff said. “I miss the creative process. I feel like I'm better at it now than I've ever been, as a result of the great ideas I've had and the really horrible ideas that I've had. The combination of the two give you a baseline of good experience. I've learned more about storytelling and creating characters since I left wrestling than when I was doing it. That part of the business I do miss to a degree. I miss working with talents, particularly really young talent, in terms of finding their characters on the microphone. … When it comes to teaching a really young talent, directing young talent and helping them get their confidence and their technique down to be comfortable going out there and spending minutes on the microphone, that I do miss.”
While he does miss that, he's not sure if he's ready to get back in the business. While companies like Lucha Underground, Major League Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling have found their ways on to smaller cable companies, Bischoff isn't sure if that's the best way for the wrestling world to be going.
“There's no real revenue being created by those small television opportunities. That wouldn't get me excited [to make a return to wrestling],” Bischoff said. “What would get me excited is I firmly believe that television as we know it is going to go the way of Blockbuster. … However, if someone could get involved with a major streaming platform, that could get me excited.”
Bischoff also wouldn't hesitate to discuss the current business practices of companies around the business, including WWE. Of course, WWE's decision to go to Saudi Arabia for Crown Jewel was highly controversial and drew mainstream coverage. However, Bischoff said he doesn't necessarily believe that should be the case.
“You're talking to the guy who took WCW to North Korea in 1995 when North Korea was off-limits to U.S. citizens,” Bischoff said. “In the case of WWE, they're bringing over American entertainment. They're showcasing what it is to be the best there is in what you do in the United States. For whatever reason, professional wrestling translates around the world. Showcasing the WWE, it's not going to change the world overnight, but it does get you a little bit closer.”
What's in store for people who head to Jimmy's on Saturday night? Bischoff said they'll be sharing stories about some of the many WCW events that happened in Baltimore, including when Bischoff was powerbombed off the stage by Kevin Nash. He also said there might be a secret special guest stopping by.
You can find more information about 83 Weeks at Jimmy's Famous Seafood by clicking this link: https://www.jimmysfamousseafood.com/event/83-weeks-live-11-3/
Questions? Thoughts? Email me or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout