Eric Bischoff is an American entrepreneur, television producer, professional wrestling booker, on-screen personality. Bischoff is best known for serving as Executive Producer and later President of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and subsequently, the General Manager of World Wrestling Entertainment's Raw brand. Bischoff has also worked with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) where he served as Executive Producer of Impact Wrestling. His story is extraordinary: In the mid-80s, Bischoff entered the wrestling community as a “C-Team Announcer,” and a few short years later, he was President of Turner Broadcasting’s World Championship Wrestling. He signed Hulk Hogan and started Turner Network Television’s Monday Night Nitro, created the nWo, and beat Vince McMahon’s Monday Night RAW head-to-head in Monday Night Wars 83 consecutive times. He is a key figure in the Monday Night Wars between WWF and WCW which most would say was the peak of Professional Wrestling. Bischoff was at the centre of this ‘’war’’ which spiked TV audiences and created massive global interest. Eric Bischoff can now be heard on his weekly podcast 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff exclusively on Westwood One Podcast Network. The show features Bischoff and popular wrestling podcaster Conrad Thompson taking a deep dive into the highs and lows of Bischoff’s unparalleled success in the wrestling business!
Hi Eric, thanks so much for taking the time to chat today, we really appreciate it.
My pleasure Steve, I look forward to it.
First things first, tell us how you are doing?
I'm doing very well, I'm very much looking forward to my trip to Australia, it's been while, I think about 10 years since I was last in your lovely country. So yeah, I'm very excited.
Take us back a bit to last time you were here, what exactly was that for?
I was in Australia about 10 years ago for the Hulkamania tour. We had Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair on the card and quite a few other people, but that was the last time I was there.
Very good. Your podcast 83 Weeks is doing very well and it's bringing here to Australia, it's no secret that it has taken off and become successful. Were you surprised at all or even perhaps a bit hesitant when first starting the podcast?
I was very hesitant, when Conrad first reached out to me and we started talking about it and he suggest doing a podcast that really focused on the Monday Night War era. My first reaction was me saying something along the lines of, "Hey Conrad, people have been talking about this subject for over 20 years now, there's been books written about it, there's been DVD's and you know like a million interviews about it. I think that people might be a little tired of it." But he assured me that they weren't and made sure that he had a format that he thought would be very interesting that would allow us to present that story in a much different way. So I went along with it, because really I had nothing to lose, and my expectations were quite low, and I was immediately surprised. By the second or third week we were the second most downloaded wrestling podcast in the world. So quite surprising yes, but also very grateful.
What's the difference between the format of your live show and an episode of your podcast for example? What can fans expect from 83 Weeks live and in person?
I think the biggest difference is that the live shows are interactive and the audience is just as much a part of the show as I am. That's what really makes it fun for me, every show is a little bit different and when I try to explain to people what they can anticipate, you know the wrestling industry and the stories that go with it are inherently funny. Wrestling is a very unique and I guess also bizarre world, and there's so many funny stories associated with it. But in addition to the comedy and the fun and the laughter from telling some of these really funny stories, we also get into a Q&A format with the audience. That allows me to open up the door a little bit and expose the audience to a side of the business that they've never really heard about before. My good friend Bruce Prichard has got a million great stories with his 30 or 40 years in the business, but he was primarily associated with talent, and he's got a lot of great stories when it comes to wrestlers and being on the road and things like that. I don't quite have that much depth and experience when it comes to the wrestlers like he does, but I've got probably more experience on the business side of wrestling than anybody other than Vince McMahon himself. So that gives me an opportunity to expose the audience to something that they haven't heard before in a way they haven't heard before, in addition to the laughs, the fun and the road stories that I do have. It's a combination of all of those fun things, it's also informational, and a lot of it is very improvisational and like I say, when the audience is really into it and they start busting my chops or if they've got questions, I love when that happens. I encourage people to do that and ask me the hard-hitting questions, because it allows us to have a really fun exchange, kind of like a bunch of friends going out for beers and arguing over football or rugby, it's that kind of fun. It's serious, but it's fun.
It sounds like a very relaxed and enjoyable environment. Can we perhaps expect some stories that you might not be able to talk about on the podcast?
Oh definitely, there's probably like 5 or 6 stories that I refuse to talk about on the podcast for a couple of reasons. But in a smaller and more intimate event like this I've got no problem opening up my box of ridiculous stories that nobody has ever heard on the podcast. I look forward to doing that during the show and it's a lot of fun.
You were featured on the Dark Side Of The Ring series that aired on Viceland recently. What was it like being a part of that?
It was really enjoyable. The production team did a wonderful job, and you know, I was grateful to be a part of something like that. When I watched it back, I think it was the episode about Randy Savage, and I was really impressed with it and I think they did just a fantastic job. It's a great series and I highly recommend it to anyone that is a wrestling fan, or even if you're not, that's how good it is and they tell a wonderful story.
Can you name a particular personality in the wrestling business that has been the hardest to deal with?
Oh man, that's so hard to say. At any given point, many of them have been difficult to work with depending on the situations. I think if I had to pick one, I would say either Bill Goldberg or Scott Hall, but for entirely different reasons. But those two probably gave me more grey hairs than anyone else ever did.
You've gone head to head with WWE and Vince McMahon in the Monday Night Wars for ratings, and you've experienced a tonne of success as far as competition is concerned. What do you think a company like AEW need to do so that they can become viable competition for WWE?
Well I think the first thing that any new company or any start up needs to realise is that they're not going to be competition for the WWE. Not this early at least. People have to remember that WWE has been around for about 40 years, and they're 3 generations old, they're also one of the most successful television properties in the world. They have over 25 million fans all over the world and it's taken them this long to get to this point and build up that audience. That's not to say that a new company couldn't come along and be successful, but being successful and being competitors are two different things. I see fans mentioning that this is the first time since WCW that WWE has had any real competition, and I don't want these people setting themselves up for disappointment. Because that might not happen anytime in the near future, but once again that doesn't mean that AEW won't be hugely successful or anybody else that could come along. When you invest a significant amount of money and you've got the right people backing a company with the right idea and the right vision, there's no telling what could happen. I just think that people need to understand that these things take time and experience, but I really do wish them all the best.
Do you ever get the itch to jump back in the creative chair or are you quite content with how well 83 Weeks is doing and getting to come to places like Australia for your podcast for now?
I do miss it. There are times, probably every other day, you know one day I'm quite satisfied not to be involved in the business and then the very next day I find myself wishing that I was. So it all depends on the day, but yes the creative aspect of the business I do miss quite a bit actually.
Eric Bischoff, it's been an absolute pleasure talking with you and we can't wait to see you here in Australia very soon.
I look forward to seeing you too and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you, I really appreciate it.
Get your tickets to 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff here - http://www.destroyalllines.com/tour/83-weeks-with-eric-bischoff/