Eric Bischoff, the Executive Vice President of World Championship Wrestling during its golden age, put his philosophy down in writing as Controversy Creates Cash. This biography essentially outlines Bischoff’s approach to booking: get people talking and rake in the money.
Unquestionably, Bischoff found great wealth and success with the nWo. Following their debut in 1996 and the unexpected heel turn of Hulk Hogan at that year’s Bash at the Beach, the nWo became the coolest thing in the entire wrestling world. WCW, which for years had been considered the Southern and poorly run B show to the glitzy WWE, was suddenly leading in ratings and winning the “Monday Night wars.” A lot of this success was due to the genius of Bischoff.
However, not everything Bischoff touched turned to gold. In an effort to turn the tide against the wildly popular Attitude Era of the WWE, Bischoff brought in former WWE head writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara. This ploy didn’t work, and Russo’s “Crash TV” style merely signaled the end of WCW. Bischoff’s brief tenure with TNA didn’t go much better.
As with any controversial figure, Bischoff has been both loved and hated. Some wrestlers have sung his praises and have given him credit for helping their careers. Others intensively loathe the man and blame him for ruining, or at least hampering their careers.
15. Loved: Sting
Besides Bischoff’s repeated claims that the botched finish at the main event of 1997’s Starrcade was his idea, there seems to have been little friction between Sting and Bischoff. During height of Sting-versus-nWo feud between 1996 and 1997, WCW turned their ace and franchise player into a dark, brooding figure that stayed quiet and stayed up into the rafters. Although Scott Hall apparently came up with the idea (which makes sense given Hall’s propensity to borrow movie characters as wrestling gimmicks), it was Sting who took the idea to Bischoff. Both men agreed, and thus the greatest moment in Sting’s illustrious career was born.
Sting’s loyalty to Bischoff may stem from his long-held desire to remain outside of Vince McMahon’s orbit. Whatever the case, Sting and Bischoff have spent a lot of time in the business together, both in WCW and TNA.
14. Hated: Chris Jericho
It may be hard to believe now, but the brass at WCW originally didn’t see too much potential in Chris Jericho. Although he received a substantive push based on his obvious athleticism (just watch the numerous nWo promos at the 1996 Halloween Havoc pay-per-view that awkwardly praise Jericho), Bischoff and others didn’t see Jericho as anything other than a Cruiserweight attraction.
The Jericho-Bischoff feud would later be used in two WWE storylines from 2005 and 2007, but its origins lay in the very real heat between the two in WCW. For the most part, Jericho accused Bischoff of only caring about the big name stars whom he had brought over from the WWE. Furthermore, Jericho has been on record as saying that it was Bischoff and Goldberg who squashed the potential feud between Goldberg and Jericho that seemed destined to break out in 1998.
13. Loved: Bubba Ray Dudley
Unlike everyone else on this list, Bubba Ray Dudley never worked with Bischoff in WCW. As such, it can be inferred that Dudley never got to experience Bischoff when, by his own admission, he was “drunk with power.” However, as Bully Ray, Bubba Ray Dudley was on top of TNA during the ill-fated time when Hulk Hogan and Bischoff more or less ran the company. While many have claimed that this was not only the time when TNA’s decline began, but also the exact moment when TNA’s uniqueness was swallowed up by a bald attempt to turn TNA into WWE-light, it’ unlikely that Dudley had many complaints about any of it.
Besides running Dudley as the leader of the Aces & Eights faction, TNA also put their world title on the tag team specialist twice during this time. Because of these decisions, Dudley told interviewer Sam Roberts that he would “have a beer” with Bischoff any time.
12. Hated: Eddie Guerrero
Like his close friends Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero felt that Bischoff held him back in WCW. After winning the United States and Cruiserweight Championship on multiple occasions, Guerrero floundered around between 1998 and 1999. His most notable storyline came with the creation of the LWO, or Latino World Order. This group is nothing more than an interesting side note in wrestling history.
Because of his size and because he was better known in Mexico, Japan, and in the small, but vocal fanbase of ECW, Guerrero was not seen as marketable by Bischoff and his underlings. Therefore, Guerrero took to the mic in WCW to craft both shoots and worked shoots to voice his displeasure. In almost all of these promos, Guerrero begged for his release from WCW. He ultimately got his wish in 2000.
11. Loved: Scott Hall
On May 27, 1996, Scott Hall, formerly known as Razor Ramon in the WWE, arrived unannounced on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro. Once joined by Kevin Nash, who was a World Champion in the WWE under the name Diesel, he not only helped to create The Outsiders, but also the nWo. Pro wrestling hasn’t been the same since.
Under the leadership of Bischoff, Hall got a chance to correct some of the earlier mistakes that WCW had made with him. Namely, back in the early 1990s, Hall wrestled as The Diamond Studd, a gimmick that went nowhere fast. With Bischoff, Hall, Nash, and Hogan Americanized the UWFI invasion of NJPW and turned it into a cash cow. Although Hall would later battle his dependency on drugs and alcohol near the end of his WCW run, it was Bischoff and WCW who not only gave Hall’s his largest pay day, but also his greatest fame.
10. Hated: Roddy Piper
The feud between “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper is thoroughly under appreciated. After appearing at Halloween Havoc in 1996, Piper became heel Hogan’s first true foe in WCW. More importantly, it was Piper who ripped off Bischoff’s mask in order to expose him as a member of the nWo.
Behind the scenes, there was a lot of friction between Piper and the rest of the nWo. Kevin Nash in particular has noted in numerous shoot interviews that he smacked Piper in the face after the legend bad-mouthed him to management. Like other stars, Piper blamed Bischoff for believing too much in his own gimmick. Furthermore, Piper, Flair, Arn Anderson, and the other members of The Four Horsemen disliked the preferential treatment that Bischoff gave to Hogan and the nWo. Looking back, Piper certainly had a point.
9. Loved: Goldberg
WCW needed something to counteract the extreme popularity of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Although not a pure clone, Goldberg, a bald, no nonsense wrestler in plain, black trunks, certainly looked a lot like “The Texas Rattlesnake.” WCW got so behind Goldberg that Kevin Nash and others have claimed that they piped in fake “Goldberg” chants during his matches.
While Goldberg hasn’t talked about his appreciation for Bischoff at length, it’s clear that Bischoff had a serious hand in helping Goldberg to become a megastar. In 1998, Goldberg’s popularity rivaled that of Austin’s. On top of this, during Goldberg’s short and ill-fated heel turn in 1999-00, it should not be surprising that he allied himself with Bischoff and Vince Russo. Given his new status in the WWE, it’s unlikely that Goldberg will give many interviews praising Bischoff.
8. Hated: Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner is the antithesis of subtle. In order to vent his well-known dislike of Ric Flair, Steiner cut a blistering shoot promo on Nitro that accused Flair for being broke, fat, and a gimmick thief. In another instance, Steiner ripped Diamond Dallas Page on the microphone because of a backstage conflict involving Steiner’s use of PEDs.
When it comes to Bischoff, Steiner hasn’t held back from voicing his displeasure in shoot interviews. Steiner has stated that Bischoff and Hogan “ran WCW into the ground” and did the very same thing in TNA. In regards to the latter company, Steiner took to social media to lambast Bischoff for “disrespecting” wrestlers and for pushing his son Garett as an on-air talent. “Big Poppa Pump” essentially sees Hogan and Bischoff as a two-man conspiracy that has done untold damage to the wrestling business.
7. Loved: Kevin Nash
While “Big Sexy” found plenty of success in the WWE (he still holds the distinction of being the company’s longest reigning champion of the 1990s), his days in WCW not only made him more money, but also made him a much bigger name. Under Bischoff’s leadership, Nash and the rest of the members of the nWo not only ran roughshod over the more established, homegrown wrestlers of WCW, but they also finagled guaranteed contracts that promised some creative control. Kevin Nash used this second guarantee to make himself one of the company’s perennial top talents.
While he’s denied it several times, there’s evidence that Nash booked himself to be the man who defeated Goldberg’s undefeated streak. Nash also had a hand in the infamous “Fingerpoke of Doom” angle that many see as one of the turning points leading to WCW’s downfall. Nash certainly had a lot of power in WCW–power which Bischoff undoubtedly gave the green light to.
6. Hated: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
A full year before the nWo arrived on the scene, Eric Bischoff decided to let “Stunning” Steve Austin go. The reason? Bischoff saw very little potential in Austin. Despite being a multiple time WCW World Television, WCW United States, and WCW and NWA Tag Team Champion, Bischoff felt that WCW was paying Austin too much money for too little in return. More specifically, Bischoff and WCW had grown tired over Austin’s inactivity due to a serious tricep injury.
For Austin, this sacking pushed him over the edge. In ECW, Paul Heyman gave Austin plenty of air time to cut loose on WCW and Bischoff. In these promos, such as the “Monday NyQuil” parody, Austin vented his anger and openly told ECW’s audience that Bischoff had fired him over the phone. These promos show the beginnings of the “Stone Cold” character. In that sense, Bischoff had an unintentional hand in creating the biggest draw in pro wrestling history.
5. Loved: Diamond Dallas Page
According to some sources, Eric Bischoff and Diamond Dallas Page had a relationship that was more personal than business. After Sting joined forces with the nWo “Wolfpac” faction, the role of WCW’s lone knight fell on DDP’s shoulders. By any definition, DDP took the proverbial ball and ran with it. It was DDP who brought in Karl Malone, Jay Leno, and, unfortunately, David Arquette. It was DDP who, as WCW World Champion, provided the necessary antagonist to the nWo.
One of the more persistent rumors about why DDP got a huge push claims that DDP “loaned out” his wife Kimberly to Eric. In return, Bischoff would exchange his wife to DDP. While none of these rumors have ever really been verified, many wrestlers over the years have accused both men of using sexual favors to maintain their power in WCW.
4. Hated: Ric Flair
Before Eric Bischoff arrived in WCW, the undisputed king of the territory was Ric Flair. A longtime star of the NWA territories, “The Nature Boy” made Jim Crockett Promotions and the Mid-Atlantic territory his home starting in the late 1970s. From there, Flair started his legendary world title streak which has yet to be broken. All throughout the 1980s, the NWA and WCW was Flair country and it was very uncommon to see the big gold belt on anybody else’s shoulders.
Cut to 1994. Ted Turner, Eric Bischoff, and WCW bring in Hulk Hogan. Hogan is immediately set against Flair and ultimately defeats “The Nature Boy” for the WCW world title. For the remainder of his time in WCW, Flair would never again reach the same heights that he attained in the 1980s and early 1990s. Bischoff and Vince Russo turned him into a laughing stock and an over-the-hill geriatric On occasion, Flair would take to the mic to voice his displeasure about Bischoff’s booking, but Flair’s sad tale of decline further exposes the truth that Bischoff only really cared about the nWo.
3. Loved: Sonny Onoo
Only serious WCW fans remember Sonny Onoo. A villainous manager who almost always escorted Japanese talent to the ring, Onoo was coupled with puroresu and joshi legends like Akira Hokuto, Bull Nakano, Yuji Nagata, Kensuke Sasaki, Ultimo Dragon, and Masahiro Chono. Onoo also worked with the likes of La Parka and Psicosis. Many even claim that Onoo, who liked use his disposable camera to take tons of pictures, invented the selfie.
Besides serving as a reminder that one of the coolest things that WCW ever did was partner with New Japan and Mexico’s Triple A, Onoo also stands as a representative of how patronage and friendship can go far. In other words, because of his close friendship with Bischoff, Onoo always had a job. In fact, when Onoo was released in 1999, Bischoff was no longer with the company.
2. Hated: Bret Hart
Bret Hart is arguably Bischoff’s number one “hater.” The grumpy “Hitman,” who has never been shy about voicing his opinions, pretty much considers Bischoff one of the worst things to ever happen to pro wrestling. In numerous shoot interviews, Hart has labeled WCW under Bischoff’s watch as the height of “stupidity.” As for him specifically, Hart has claimed that Bischoff is not only dumb, but is also one of the dumbest men to ever take control of a professional wrestling federation.
Hart’s antipathy probably stems from the walking abortion that was his run in WCW. Despite being the biggest thing in wrestling following the “Montreal Screwjob” at 1997’s Survivor Series, Bischoff did little to sustain Hart’s momentum. Although Hart won numerous titles in WCW, including both the United States and World Heavyweight Championship, he never came close to reproducing the magic he had in the WWE. Again, the sad tale of Bret Hart in WCW is another reminder of how the nWo both revolutionized and damaged pro wrestling.
1. Loved: Hulk Hogan
Besides Eric Bischoff himself, Hulk Hogan is Bischoff’s biggest fan. It was Bischoff who made “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan such an unstoppable heel in WCW. It was Bischoff who usually sided with Hogan when the veteran star invoked his creative control clause. It was Bischoff who fed into Hogan’s ego by turning WCW into Hogan’s playground.
Later, between 2009 and 2013, Hogan and Bischoff essentially took over TNA in order to recreate the popularity they had in the late 1990s. Although they failed dismally, it’s clear to anyone with eyes that Bischoff and Hogan believe in their own talents and moneymaking potential. If Verne Gagne is the midwife of “Hulkamania,” and if Vince McMahon is the father, then Bischoff has to be considered the godfather of Hogan’s multi-decade success.
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