Eric Bischoff


Eric Bischoff

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Eric Bischoff official website

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Bischoff doing cut edge promos and interviews in TNA Wrestling - Jan 2010

Eric Bischoff comes to Australia, working on Hulkamania Let The Battle Begin

Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart (Celebrity Championship Wrestling)

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As I approach the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of my career in the sports-entertainment industry, I can’t help but reflect on the changes (good and bad) that have impacted the business. I started my career in syndication/sales for an organization in Minneapolis known as the AWA in August of 1987. My transition from an obscure “office” position to an on camera host for the company’s daily program on ESPN and in syndication was an unlikely event that truly defined the phrase “right time…right place”.

Being in the right place at the right time isn’t always simply coincidence. Indeed, in many respects it’s really all about passion, instinct, commitment, risk and…ok-a little luck. I believe that sums up my move from the AWA to Turner Broadcasting in 1991 and my subsequent path that began with me as an on camera talent at Turner Broadcasting, and ended in 1999 as President of Turner/Time Warner’s WCW division. During this period I had the opportunity to take a fledgling division of Turner Broadcasting that happened to be a personal favorite of Ted Turner, from a money losing-content producing lost leader (from a corporate point of view) to a $300+ million dollar leader in the industry that had ABC Television up at night wondering how to shore up the male audience that was making “Monday Nitro on TNT” their preferred destination during the NFL season. It was a tumultuous ride, and one that I wouldn’t have missed.

Now as a partner in my own production company (BISCHOFF-HERVEY ENTERTAINMENT), as well as MONEYMAKER GAMING and BLISS BEVERAGE, I have the opportunity to enjoy the creative process of developing television content, as well as applying much of the brand building experience and knowledge gained during my tenure as an executive at Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner.

And every so often….I get to turn back the clock and play the evil villain on WWE’s “Monday Night Raw” on USA Network! (Credit: Eric Bischoff official website)

Eric Bischoff - Controversy Creates Cash

The Book

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 (WCW). 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. Now, fans can hear Eric’s side of the story in ERIC BISCHOFF: CONTROVERSY CREATES CA$H (Pocket/WWE Books; October 17, 2006) a no-holds-barred look at his career and life. Eric Bischoff will discuss the things that he did right and all that he did wrong as he helped shape the sports entertainment industry into the billion dollar business it is today.

Bischoff has kept quiet while industry “pundits” 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 ERIC BISCHOFF: CONTROVERSY CREATES CA$H, 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 World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc (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 Monday Night Raw. 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 hate.

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 ERIC BISCHOFF: CONTROVERSY CREATES CA$H.

(Book summary provided by Simon & Schuster)

 

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World Championship Wrestling (Turner)

World Championship Wrestling (WCW) was an American professional wrestling promotion which existed from 1988 to 2001. In 1988, Ted Turner bought the promotion from Jim Crockett. Turner, and later Time-Warner, owned WCW until 2001, when it was purchased by its former competitor, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) (now World Wrestling Entertainment).

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, it began as a regional promotion affiliated with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), named Jim Crockett Promotions until 1988, when Ted Turner and his Turner Broadcasting purchased the promotion, renaming it World Championship Wrestling. From 1995 onwards, WCW began to turn the corner economically, largely due to the promotion of Eric Bischoff to Executive Producer, the hiring of Hulk Hogan, the introduction of Nitro and the resultant Monday Night Wars, the New World Order and other innovative concepts.

However, numerous problems led to the company losing its lead. Its fall from grace has been heavily documented within the industry. The promotion was purchased in 2001 by former competitor Vince McMahon and the then-WWF. (Credit: Wikipedia).

 

History

Early usage of the name

Although the name "World Championship Wrestling" had been used as a brand and television show name by various promotions affiliated with the NWA since 1982, (most notably Georgia Championship Wrestling and Jim Crockett Promotions) it was not until five years later that an actual NWA-affiliated promotion called World Championship Wrestling appeared on the national scene, under the ownership of media mogul Ted Turner, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jim Barnett, who had worked for the World Championship Wrestling promotion in Australia, came to Atlanta in the 1970s during an internal struggle over the NWA Georgia territory. Barnett wound up as the majority owner of the territory, and he wound up using the name for the territory's television program.

Leadership and booking
While initially the new company was called Universal Wrestling Corporation, very shortly following the purchase the decision was made to utilize the familiar "World Championship Wrestling" name for the new promotion. The company went through various changes in its leadership and booking during the following years. Some people, like Jim Herd and Kip Frey, were completely lacking in wrestling experience; others, like Bill Watts and Ole Anderson, had extensive wrestling experience, but were so entrenched in the old territorial methods of promotion that they were ineffective at building WCW's audience.

Eric Bischoff and later, Vince Russo
While Eric Bischoff has received much criticism for some of his mishandlings while he acted as WCW Executive Producer (and later, WCW President), Bischoff combined an understanding of wrestling (albeit without as much of a respect for the old Georgia/NWA legacy) with a willingness to make changes that were needed in order to help WCW become more visible in the eyes of the media and advertisers. These changes including moving some television tapings to Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, and signing both main-event performers and young stars from around the world.

Some of the creative freedoms that Bischoff granted main-event level talent helped to bring the company down, as main-event level talent were less than cooperative in helping rising stars fulfill their potential, a staple of the industry. Once Bischoff was relieved of his duties in 1999, Vince Russo, a former writer for the World Wrestling Federation, came on board to become the lead writer of WCW. Russo did not last long in his position, but in April 2000, WCW opted to bring Russo and Bischoff back in hopes that the duo might re-spark interest in WCW.

The two, however, did not get along well and Bischoff left the company after Russo, in the course of an in-ring promo, made comments about Hulk Hogan which many felt were derogatory.

Acquisition by the World Wrestling Federation

As 2000 came to a close, a number of potential buyers for WCW were rumored to show interest in the company. Ted Turner, however, was still in charge of Time Warner prior to the final merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2001, and most offers were rejected. Eric Bischoff, working with Fusient Media Ventures, made a bid to acquire the company in January 2001 (shortly following the AOL/Time Warner merger), and it appeared that WCW would continue.

One of the primary backers in the WCW deal backed out, however, leaving Fusient to take that offer off the table while it attempted to bring a new deal around. In the meantime, World Wrestling Federation began speaking to the new AOL Time Warner about acquiring the WCW brand. Jamie Kellner was handed control over the Turner Broadcasting division, and deemed WCW wrestling to be out of line with their image. As a result, WCW programming was canceled on both TBS and TNT, leaving Vince McMahon's company, which at the time had an exclusive deal with Viacom, free to acquire the trademarks, video libraries and a few contracts.
During the sale, WCW was in litigation, with various lawsuits pending, and AOL Time Warner still had to pay various performers their guaranteed deals, as many had contracts directly with the parent company, and not with WCW. Since Vince McMahon only acquired select assets, the company that was once WCW became known as Universal Wrestling Corporation once again; its only purpose now, however, was to deal with old contracts and lawsuits.

Overview

At the outset of WCW's existence, as well as with the promotions that came before it, the company was strongly identified with the Southern style of professional wrestling (or rasslin'), which emphasized athletic in-ring competition over the showmanship and cartoonish characters of the WWF. This identification persisted into the 1990s, even as the company signed former WWF stars such as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. WCW dominated pro wrestling's television ratings from 1996 to 1998 (84 straight weeks) mainly due to its incredibly popular New World Order storyline, but thereafter began to lose heavy ground to the WWF, which had recovered greatly due to its new "Attitude" branding. Repetitive story lines, questionable booking issues, and corporate restrictions eventually led the promotion to begin losing large amounts of money, leading to parent company AOL Time Warner selling the name copyrights to the WWF for $2.5 million in 2001. Shortly after the purchase, Vince McMahon purchased the entire tape library for an additional $1.7 million, bringing the final tally of World Championship Wrestling's sale to $4.2 million.

WCW started out as a regional promotion in the late 1980s focusing mainly in the Deep South. WCW started growing nationally a few years later, which led to its rivalry with the WWF. Even though WCW folded in 2001, its legacy lived on in the WWF. The WWF kept the WCW United States Championship, the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, the WCW World Tag Team Championship, and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Eventually, with the exception of the Cruiserweight title, the titles were unified into their WWF counterparts. In 2003, now known as the WWE, the company resurrected the United States title to be competed for exclusively on SmackDown. When Hulk Hogan came back to the WWE, the WWE kept his Hollywood nickname. In 2004, the WWE brought back the The Great American Bash pay-per-view and also in 2009, released Starrcade: The Essential Collection as a three-disc DVD set. WWE is planning to release a DVD set chronicling the history of WCW called The Rise and Fall of WCW.

 

History of the WCW World Championship

The World Heavyweight Championship that has recently been carried by such greats as Batista and Triple H got its start in WWE back in 2002. But its prestigious lineage can actually be traced back all the way to George Hackenschmidt and 1904. For years, it was known as the NWA Championship; then when WCW pulled out of the NWA in the early 1990s, Ric Flair was recognized as the first-ever WCW Champion. Since that time, top names such as Hulk Hogan, Ron Simmons and Bret Hart carried the championship prior to WCW's demise. (Credit: World Wrestling Entertainment)

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