Eric Bischoff first joined WCW in 1991 as a lesser-known announcer. This was following a tryout in WWE where Bischoff was asked to interview a broom during his audition. Obviously, Bischoff was not hired by the company but a chip was firmly placed on his shoulder.
The ambitious Bischoff would eventually make his climb to the top of the ladder in WCW. In 1993, Bischoff was made Executive Producer. In 1994, Executive Vice President. Then in 1997, Bischoff was named President of World Championship Wrestling.
The vision Bischoff had for WCW was to strip away its Southern feel and make the product more universal and what better way to appeal to the wrestling masses then by signing the biggest name in wrestling, Hulk Hogan.
With the addition of Hulk Hogan to the roster came a sense of legitimacy for anyone who doubted Eric Bischoff. The WWE faithful were suddenly forced to pay attention to WCW as the once down-home promotion just got real.
When Monday Nitro was launched direct opposite of Monday Night Raw, Eric Bischoff was the General chosen to lead WCW into battle against WWE as the Monday Night War was officially underway.
The early success of Eric Bischoff cannot be denied – his formula was working as more and more people were tuning in to WCW each week. Eventually, Nitro was consistently defeating Raw in the ratings battle. WCW was the top wrestling promotion – for the time being.
However, as it is well known, once you're on top, there is nowhere left to go but down. Which is the exact direction WCW was heading. The once great vision of Eric Bischoff had been clouded and this was evident while watching the product.
Once WWE managed to gain the upper hand on WCW, the war was near completion as Eric Bischoff was running out of ammunition. Meanwhile, his troops were old and broken down and napping in the trenches instead of fighting the enemy on the battle field.
Eventually, WCW went out of business but their fight was valiant. Perhaps things would have worked out differently had Bischoff made some wiser decisions. In this article, we will take a look at that very subject.
These are the top 10 biggest mistakes made by Eric Bischoff:
10 Misuse of Ric Flair
Upon the arrival of Hulk Hogan, WCW would provide wrestling fans with the dream match that WWE failed to delivered when they had the opportunity: Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair. The match that the entire wrestling world was longing to see would take place at Bash at the Beach 1994 and was for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
Hulk Hogan – in his debut match with the company – would defeat Ric Flair that night and become the new face of WCW. The road ahead for Flair was rocky as for some reason or another, Eric Bischoff would constantly misuse The Nature Boy who was suddenly positioned in the middle of the card. The marquee in WCW no longer read “Ric Flair.”
The personal animosity between Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff worsened when Bischoff filed a lawsuit against Flair for no-showing Thunder. This would keep Flair away from WCW for months. Despite what Bischoff thought of Flair, the fans had not tired of The Natch. The WCW audience wanted to see Ric Flair as his connection to WCW was certainly more organic than that of Hulk Hogan.
9 Too Many Old-Timers
During the Monday Night War, Eric Bischoff would frequent the WWE nursing home in search of talent, signing names like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Lex Luger, Ted DiBiase, and even The Ultimate Warrior. While this worked for a while, fans were eventually bored with watching the same old guys wrestle the same old matches.
Meanwhile in WWE, a crop of young, fresh-faced talent was being turned out for its audience. Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H. These were some of the the names quickly making the rounds in the wrestling community. While WWE was growing up, WCW was simply aging.
Side Note: we realize how we just mentioned the misuse of Ric Flair but such a circumstance does not apply with The Nature Boy as Flair was never a WWE creation brought in to rekindle past glories.
If you recall watching Monday Nitro, then you may recall that certain swagger of Eric Bischoff. The way he walked down the aisle each week, smiling and gushing over his ratings dominance. Taking signs from the fans and holding them up in front of the camera. Signs that read: “Vince Fears Bischoff” or “Vince Worships Bischoff.”
WCW was winning, that was a cold hard fact but Eric Bischoff was allowing this success to go to his head. One night on Nitro, Bischoff was lowered to the ring on a motorcycle while wearing a crown and declaring himself “king.” This was completely over the top and showed just how cocky Eric Bischoff had become.
The “king” was sure enjoying himself but was too blind to notice his impending doom as Eric Bischoff would soon be dethroned.
7 nWo Expansion
The New World Order were once the coolest faction in professional wrestling. The original grouping of Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hollywood Hogan was something completely different and had drawn the attention of millions.
The eventual addition of The Giant was a nice touch as having the largest man in the locker room on their side added to the intimidation factor of the nWo – but that's where the line should have been drawn. The greatest stables consist of a tight-knit group of guys – something along the lines of an exclusive club.
Eric Bischoff should have never aligned himself with the group nor should he have allowed the massive expansion that followed. The group itself would split into separate factions and the original focus was soon lost as well as fan interest. The nWo should have remained exclusive.
6 Kevin Nash as Booker
In professional wrestling, the “booker” is the person in charge of assembling and determining the card for each event. Eric Bischoff once thought that assigning this role to Kevin Nash was a good idea. Nash had been around the business for a long time but was unqualified to book.
One of the most infamous moments in professional wrestling came as a result of Kevin Nash and his booking ability when on the January 4, 1999 edition of Monday Nitro; Kevin Nash would defend the WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Hollywood Hogan.
Nash had recently won the title from Goldberg – snapping his undefeated streak in the process (another bad move) and was set to take on his former ally in a massive main event match. What happened next has been dubbed the “Fingerpoke of Doom” as Kevin Nash allowed Hollywood Hogan to defeat him with a slight poke to the chest. Terrible decision.
5 Spoiling Mankind's Moment
The “Fingerpoke of Doom” was not the only mistake made on January 4th, 1999. That same night on Raw, Mick Foley would capture his first WWE Championship by defeating The Rock. However, the show was not live as it had been per-recorded.
When Eric Bischoff learned what was going to air on the WWE side of things, he would instruct WCW announcer, Tony Schiavone, to give away the results and spoil the big moment. The idea of Mick Foley as WWE Champion was made to sound like unadulterated trash.
However, this ploy would backfire on Bischoff and WCW as within minutes of this announcement, many viewers would switch the station and tune into WWE.
4 4, Main Event Giveaways
Eric Bischoff became obsessed with the ratings and beating Vince McMahon – so much so that he was willing to give away Pay-Per-View caliber matches for free on Monday Nitro – providing a sense of desperation on Bischoff's part who desperately wanted to put WWE out of business.
The biggest main event giveaway came in the form of Goldberg vs. Hollywood Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on the July 6th, 1998 edition of Monday Nitro. This was a huge moment for WCW as a new face was finally going to represent the company as champion.
Obviously, with such a high profile match, WCW gained another ratings victory over WWE but in the process devalued their Pay-Per-View structure. Goldberg winning the championship was inevitable but the match went down with little build or hype. WCW could have made millions of dollars from this match had it been executed properly.
3 Misuse of Young Talent
While Eric Bischoff was dealing with geriatrics, a group of young wrestlers were flying under the radar in WCW – unnoticed and unappreciated by their boss. Wrestlers like Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio were overlooked by Eric Bischoff.
The inability to create new stars was a huge problem in WCW as Bischoff was relying too much on the past and placing little focus on the future. Vince McMahon on the other hand was churning out new superstars and providing a brand new feel in WWE.
Eric Bischoff should have provided his younger talents with the platform they needed to get over. Perhaps then, they wouldn't have jumped ship to WWE.
2 Guaranteed Contracts
Eric Bischoff definitely had better bait during the Monday Night War than Vince McMahon – hooking superstars with Ted Turner's money and offering them guaranteed contracts. Which paid performers even if they didn't perform and allowed then to only work a certain number of dates.
These guaranteed contracts would lead to problems when WCW launched Thunder – a new show they were hoping to get over but quickly became known as the “B show” in WCW. The contracts Bischoff handed out would allow talent to decline performing on Thunder as Monday nights were “where the big boys played.”
Guaranteed money and a limited schedule would ultimately prove disastrous for WCW's new show as it was headlined by what was perceived as the second-string roster.
1 Creative Control
The biggest mistake made by Eric Bischoff was allowing too many talents to have complete creative control over their character and storylines. This would halt the advancement of new talent and often times place WCW programming in a state of disarray.
Hours of storyline ideas could easily be tossed out the window if Hulk Hogan didn't like the angle – and just like that plans would have to change. The guys in WCW began going into business for themselves, placing their interests ahead of what's best for the company.
Over in WWE, the roster was working like a well-oiled machine while along the way, WCW lost the concept of teamwork.
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