If you haven’t already heard the news, Eric Bischoff is bringing his 83 Weeks podcast down to Australian shores for three shows in June, with the ‘No Brag, Just Facts’ tour kicking off in Marrickville on Friday the 21st; if you didn’t get to see Bruce Pritchard’s visit not too long ago, you would most definitely kick yourself if you missed this as well!
Getting to speak to Bischoff himself was an opportunity this long time WCW fan was not going to pass up, considering one of the saddest days growing up was when the WCW folded and became property of the WWF. First topic of conversation was about why Bischoff decided now was the time to take his podcast on a live tour and after quipping “it was a couple of things, but quite frankly the success of the show is the main reason”, Bischoff explained how “we’re almost one year old and over the course of the last twelve months, this show has become increasingly popular all over the world. We’ve done a couple of live shows here in the States and they’ve been very successful. Plus whilst there are wrestling fans all around the world, the market for professional wrestling in Australia is one of the better ones and always has been; so when the opportunity came up, I couldn’t have been more excited to do it!”
When asked if he could remember the first time he found out they had beaten the WWF, Bischoff gladly points out “oh I remember it very clearly, as it was a very important moment; the thing that stands out the most to me, was the phone call I got as soon as we found out! Our show was on a Monday night and the Neilson Ratings were released to the public generally 3:30-4pm on the Tuesday; as soon as they were released, I got a call from Ted Turner himself congratulating me. That was a very big moment in my career!”
Touching further on that initial night that the WCW rated higher than the WWF, it was time to pick Bischoff’s brain and find out if he could remember what took place on that most wonderful evening; after initially replying with “Absolutely not!” and letting out a chuckle, ischoff explained how “I’d have to go back, do a little research and then go to the WWE network and watch the show. Not only was it a long time ago, you have to also realise during that period of time until now, I’ve produced over five thousand hours of weekly television. It all kinds of runs together and has become one big blended up period of time, so I really would have to go back and watch the Network. I mean, I don’t think I could tell you two weeks after it happened what happened on the show” before closing with another heartfelt chuckle.”
When asked what he was most proud of during that 83 week reign over the WWF, Bischoff quipped how “that’s a very good question, as it’s easier for me to reflect back now and put things into their proper context”, before taking a moment to think before he could go into greater detail:
“I think what I’m most proud of during that period of time was the innovation that we introduced into the wrestling product. If one goes back and looks at the WWF prior to Nitro and prior to the N.W.O, they had been doing the same thing for many many years; plus their characters were very cartoonish, as they had been geared towards children. Their product was somewhat stale, as their ratings were flat, their business was flatter and prior to the Nitro, they were on a downward trend, financially and every other way. When Nitro came along, I introduced a lot of very, very innovative elements into the product, including going live every week; hat was something we did first, that the WWF was forced to follow! We introduced more reality, allowing wrestlers to use their own names and the stories were more reality based, opposed to being conscripted for ten-year old children; after a year or two of getting their butts kicked, the WWF eventually started doing the same thing. I introduced both the Cruiserweight division and as well as the luchadores, both of which were something and unique to the WWF. There were so many things that we introduced on Nitro that the WWF I don’t want to say were forced to copy, but they were forced to follow and that’s really what I’m most proud of. The amount of innovation that we still see today as a matter of fact and many of the changes we innovated and forced the WWF to adapt to, are still very prevalent in the WWE programs to this very day! I mean, my fingerprints are still all over that show even though I’m not producing it and I’m very proud of that.”
Taking time to discuss the other side of the coin, the topic of conversation was moved onto whether there was anything during that 83 week period that Bischoff wishes was done differently; Bischoff was quick to express “I know this sounds like a cop-out, but the answer is no. I’m not suggesting that I didn’t make mistakes, or I didn’t over/under estimate some of the choices I made, because clearly I did. Anybody who’s in the creative process or the business of creating entertainment, must know it’s inevitable that you’re going to make choices/decisions you’re going to regret later down the road…it’s just the nature of the beast. I don’t think about things though, nor do I think about all the great things that we did either; I don’t like to live in the past; unless I’m doing an interview, or it comes up as a topic at a live show/on my podcast as that’s what our podcast is all about and I break them down. My nature is not to look back and regret anything as not only can you not change the past, but regret is a negative thing that I tend not too much time thinking about!”
Bischoff jokingly quips how “this will sound like a self-help talk show!” before taking time to deliver some very wise words for anyone who might be wanting to do something new, but are a little hesitant to take that initial leap:
“I tell my children not to be afraid to fail! I personally think that one of the things that holds most people back is a fear of failure; plus you can’t be afraid to fail. When you make a mistake, whether it be in your personal or professional life, failure is an opportunity to grow if you look at it that way. When you’re afraid to fail, you’re not allowing yourself an opportunity to grow and not only become wiser, but to also have that field of view that allows you later on in life to make better choices and decisions. I’m a big fan of taking big risks and often things might not go my way; but when it comes to choosing between taking a risk and failing or taking no risks at all, I’ll always take the big risk and risk failing!”
Bischoff further explained how “about two years ago, somebody reached out and offered me a job. We had started negotiating and whilst I ultimately decided against taking the job as it didn’t fit into my lifestyle, we had discussed compensation. One of the things I made clear was “I’m not asking you to pay me for my success; I’m asking you to pay me for my failures, as my mistakes are far more valuable to you than my successes! You can look back at my successes and think you can do that, but most people don’t understand what went into the choices/decisions that were unsuccessful.” I mean, everybody wants to repeat success and never repeat failure; I often look at my failures/mistakes and what I’ve learnt from them to be my most valuable asset!”
It is no secret that during the 83 weeks the WCW reigned superior to the WWF, the heel faction of the New World Order (N.W.O) was a major driving force! Of course during the time, the N.W.O also went through their own turmoil as it split into two factions: the original N.W.O and the N.W.O Wolfpack. Taking time to touch further on the N.W.O splitting up, Bischoff explained how “the splitting of the N.W.O really came about, as it was a necessary evil so to speak! The N.W.O had run its course to a degree and we needed some fresh creative, to create some fresh conflict, to create some fresh matches and we needed to make the N.W.O look vulnerable. Keep in mind, the idea originally was the WCW vs the N.W.O and the N.W.O dominated the WCW for a good year, year and a half; that’s when it became time to create a crack in the armour of the N.W.O so to speak. That internal division was the crack in the armour that from the creative point of view, was created to give the WCW a little bit of momentum and a little bit of hope. That way the fans who wanted to see Sting, Ric Flair and all the tried/true WCW guys make their comeback; in order for WCW to make a comeback, there had to be some vulnerability on the part of the N.W.O”
Drawing the interview to a close, Bischoff let it be known “I’m going to be auditioning for an Australian version of Conrad Thompson! This means I’ll actually let some fans get up on stage with me and play Conrad’s role, so they can bust my balls and challenge me on some of these things; let’s see if anyone can take his spot, so make sure you do your research and come with your best ball-busting attitude!” before letting fans know “you’re going to hear a lot of stories that you’ll never hear on the podcast, you’ll probably walk away knowing more about the professional wrestling industry than you did before you came and you’re going to have a hell of a good time! I’d say half the show is comedy and the other half is story-telling and talking about the business of the business, so you’ll get a little bit of everything.”
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