Eric Bischoff has been called pro wrestling's most hated man. He's been booed, reviled, and burned in effigy. Fans have hurled everything from beer bottles to fists at him. Industry critics have spewed a tremendous amount of venom about his spectacular rise and stupendous crash at World Championship Wrestling. But even today, Eric Bischoff's revolutionary influence on the pro wrestling industry can be seen on every television show and at every live event.
Bischoff has kept quiet while industry "pundits" and other know-it-alls pontificated about what happened during the infamous Monday Night Wars. Basing their accounts on third- and fourth-hand rumors and innuendo, the so-called experts got many more things wrong than right. Now, in Controversy Creates Cash, Bischoff tells what really happened.
Beginning with his days as a salesman for Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association, Bischoff takes readers behind the scenes of wrestling, writing about the inner workings of the business in a way never before revealed. He demonstrates how controversy helped both WCW and WWE. Eric gives the real numbers behind WCW's red ink -- far lower than reported -- and talks about how Turner Broadcasting's merger with Time Warner, and then Time Warner's merger with AOL, devastated not only WCW but many creative and entrepreneurial businesses within the conglomerate. Bischoff has surprisingly kind words for old rivals like Vince McMahon, but pulls no punches with friends and enemies alike.
Among his revelations: How teaming with Mickey Mouse turned WCW into a national brand. Why Hulk Hogan came to WCW. Why he fired Jesse Ventura for sleeping on the job. Why Steve Austin didn't deserve another contract at WCW, and how Bischoff's canning him was the best thing that ever happened to Austin. How Ted Turner decided WCW should go head-to-head against Raw on Monday nights. How Nitro revolutionized wrestling. Where the New World Order really began. How corporate politics killed WCW. And how he found his inner heel and learned to love being the guy everyone loves to despise.
Bischoff brings a surprisingly personal touch to the story, detailing his rough-and-tumble childhood in Detroit, talking about his family and the things he did to cope with the stress of the high-octane media business. Now a successful entertainment producer as well as a wrestling personality, Bischoff tells how he found contentment after being unceremoniously "sent home" from WCW.
Love him or hate him, readers will never look at a pro wrestling show quite the same way after reading Bischoff's story in Controversy Creates Cash.
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World Wrestling Entertainment
June 04, 2007
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Excerpt from Eric Bischoff by Eric Bischoff
"Give Me a Big Hug"
East Rutherford, N.J., July 15, 2002: I'm sitting in the back of a stretch limo in the parking lot of Continental Airlines Arena, waiting to make my appearance on a televised wrestling show. I've been on television hundreds of times before, on hundreds of wrestling shows, but tonight is going to be different -- very different.
Tonight I'm appearing on the show I almost put out of business. And the person pulling open the car door to welcome me is the guy I almost forced into bankruptcy: Vince McMahon.
Could anyone have predicted this day would come? Never! But that's the thing about wrestling. There's a saying in our business: Never say never.
"How are you feeling?" Vince asks.
"Not at all. Excited."
Vince looks at me for a second, like he's not quite sure he believes me. We go over what we're going to do onstage.
This is only the second time in my life that I've met Vince McMahon face to face. The first was more than a decade before, when he said hello to me after a job interview in Stamford. I didn't get the job. I didn't deserve it.
The history of pro wrestling might have been very different if I had.
The funny thing is, I feel as if I really know Vince well. We're like two soldiers back from a war; we've been through the same battles, albeit on different sides.
"Here's what I'd like you to do," Vince tells me. "When you hear me announce the new general manager of Raw, and you hear your music start to play -- come out, acknowledge the crowd, shake my hand, and give me a big bear hug! And milk it for all it's worth. . . ."
He gets out of the car. Inside the arena, the crowd is hopping. They've been told Raw is getting a new general manager, one guaranteed to shake things up.
There's an understatement for you.
If you're a wrestling fan, you probably know that Raw is World Wrestling Entertainment's flagship Monday-night television show. You probably also know that Vince McMahon is the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, better known as WWE.
What you may not know is that almost everything that makes Raw distinctive -- its two-hour live format, its backstage interview segments, above all its reality-based storylines -- was introduced first on Monday Night Nitro, the prime-time show I created for the TNT Network. For nearly three years, my company World Championship Wrestling, kicked Vince McMahon's ass. Nitro, WCW's flagship show, revolutionized wrestling. The media called our conflict the Monday Night Wars, but it was more like a rout. Nitro beat Raw in the ratings eighty-something weeks running.
Then Vince caught on to what we were doing, and the real battle began.
Unfortunately for me, and the wrestling business in general, the fight wasn't really between WCW and WWE, which was called World Wrestling Federation at the time. In fact, the real battle was between WCW and the corporate suits who took over Turner Broadcasting with the merger of Time Warner and then AOL. That was a fight I was never capable of winning, though, being stubborn by nature, I didn't realize it until it was nearly over.
Stephanie McMahon pops her head into the limo. Stephanie, Vince's daughter and one of the company's vice presidents, has come to take me in to the show.
Ready? she asks.
She stares at me a second, probably convinced I'm lying. I'm sure she thinks I'm a train wreck. The auditorium is packed with people who hate my guts, or I should say hate my character's guts.
Not too many people bother to distinguish between the character I play on television and who I really am. Worse, a lot of people think they know who I am because of what they've read on the Internet or in the "dirt sheets," the newsletters that cover the wrestling business for fans.
Wrestling fan sites are generally populated by people with too much time on their hands, who have very little real insight into what's going on in the wrestling business. A lot of them create their own stories and realities just to watch other people react to them. As a result of that, there's a lot of misinformation floating around out there about a lot of people, not just me.
Which is one of the reasons I decided to write this book.
The truth is, I hate most wrestling books. I read a sentence, a paragraph, sometimes a page, then quit. They don't take a serious look at the enterprise. Most are bitter, self-serving revisionist history at best -- and monuments to bullshit at their worst. A lot of the guys who write them seem desperate to have the last word on everything. Rather than telling people what we're really all about, they refight old battles that everyone but them has forgotten. They come off like whiners, complaining about everything.
That's not me. I've had some bumps and bad breaks.