He is one of the most controversial individuals in the history of North American professional wrestling. Eric Bischoff would probably not view such a description as an insult, because, as he once put it, controversy creates cash. Bischoff began his professional wrestling career by earning a simple-enough role that did not bring with it any real authority. From there, as fans of the industry know, Bischoff went on to become the most powerful individual within a company and unquestionably one of the most powerful men in the industry during the “boom period” and the “Monday Night Wars” of the 1990s.
Bischoff did what nobody else was able to adequately do in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He challenged WWE Chairman Vince McMahon by making World Championship Wrestling direct competition of the WWE. To his credit, Bischoff made WCW the biggest wrestling company in the world and there was even a time where one would have been wise to believe that Bischoff and WCW were going to defeat McMahon and the WWE. That, of course, did not happen, and WCW's downfall was one that was quick and ultimately permanent. In the end, it was Bischoff who had to accept a position working in World Wrestling Entertainment.
It is interesting to think that there is a whole generation of wrestling fans who missed out on the 1990s and thus were not around to see Bischoff serve as a true authority figure for a company. Those fans may not, thus, fully understand why Bischoff was such a big deal and why some who follow the product in 2016 are still so fascinated in reading about Bischoff. All indications, as of the posting of this piece, are that Bischoff is finished with trying to run a national wrestling promotion. One has to wonder, though, if he would be a benefit to the WWE or to a different organization in today's market.
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15 Early Life
Well before he became known as one of the biggest names in the history of the wrestling industry, Eric Bischoff was born in Detroit, Michigan. Pro wrestling was not something that was necessarily in his blood at an early age, as, per Slam Sports, he attended the University of Minnesota. According to that website, Bischoff earned a degree in the Sciences of Television, Radio and Cinema. While lessons that Bischoff learned in college likely helped him after he broke into the industry, his long-term future was not something that was born immediately after he left college. Bischoff very easily could have gone down one of several different paths.
14 Other Careers
Bischoff's prior careers before he broke into the wrestling industry have been discussed in multiple interviews and they were even mentioned in on-air WCW segments. He was involved in a landscape construction company that achieved some success. Fans who recall when Hulk Hogan turned heel and had a role in forming the New World Order faction probably remember Hogan referencing how Bischoff had sold “meat from a truck.” There was some truth in those words from The Hulkster, as Bischoff did, for a time, manage a butcher shop and, thus, sell meat from a vehicle.
13 Wrestling Break
Bischoff received his first break in the wrestling industry from Verne Gagne when Gagne was running the American Wrestling Association. The future head of WCW eventually became an on-air talent and an interviewer while working in the AWA. Bischoff received that job, according to an interview given by Larry Zbyszko back in 2004, because AWA announcer Larry Nelson had been arrested and accused of DUI. The AWA was not long for a world dominated by McMahon and the WWE, and so Bischoff had to make plans for his future outside of that company.
12 Bischoff's First WWE Stint
Yes, it is true that Bischoff had an opportunity to obtain a job as an announcer in the WWE in 1990. Bischoff has spoken about this during interviews. It was not meant to be at the time, however, as the WWE passed on hiring Bischoff as an on-air talent. Just think that one decision made by the WWE helped change the face of pro wrestling in the United States. Had Bischoff been hired by the WWE in 1990, it is likely that WCW never would have become a massive company and a threat to the WWE. Wrestling as we know it may not even exist had the WWE hired Bischoff in 1990.
11 Bischoff's WCW Start
After the WWE passed on hiring Bischoff to be an on-air talent, Bischoff received a chance to work as an announcer with WCW in 1991. Bischoff clearly impressed those behind the scenes, as he applied for and won the job of executive producer in 1993. It would take only another year for Bischoff to be promoted to the role of vice president. By 1998, Bischoff was serving as the president of WCW. You may not love everything that Bischoff has done for the wrestling industry, but all should be impressed with how Bischoff went from being just a guy on the WCW roster to the man running the entire company.
10 Monday Nitro
Bischoff has spoken in interviews, including some that were produced for WWE specials, that he came up with the idea of WCW directly competing with the WWE on Monday nights. Any doubts that Bischoff may have had about Turner Broadcasting wanting to put wrestling on Monday nights were erased when he was given the time slot for what became known as Nitro. That idea and the meetings that followed helped make WCW more than just a promotion known to pockets of wrestling fans who had, in the past, followed the National Wrestling Alliance and southern wrestling territories.
9 New World Order
The idea of the New World Order faction of former WWF wrestlers “invading” WCW was a concept unlike anything that many wrestling fans living in the United States had ever witnessed play out in a promotion. This was not something that just randomly came to Bischoff's mind, however, as he had been able to keep track of a similar invasion-angle that had played out in Japan. A wrestling company “borrowing” something from a different organization is nothing new. The “Attitude Era” of the WWE was clearly influenced by storylines and matches that were featured on Extreme Championship Wrestling shows of the time.
8 Bischoff's Friend and Neighbor
A common criticism of Bischoff during his time running WCW was that the company did not, under his watch, do enough to push new stars who had not made their names working in the WWE. An example of a star that WCW did make is Diamond Dallas Page, who was that company's version of “The People's Champion.” It has, over the years, been alleged that Bischoff only went out of the way to push Page to the top of main event cards because he and Page were friends and even neighbors in real life. To his credit, DDP had a ton of charisma and also an awesome finishing move The Diamond Cutter) and he should have gotten over with fans regardless of his relationship with Bischoff.
7 Bischoff Was Jumped by a Fan!
Eric Bischoff may not have been the most brilliant mind in the history of professional wrestling and his announcing skills could have used some work during the 1990s. The man should be praised for being able to draw real heat from fans when Bischoff was working as a heel and the head of the New World Order. During an edition of Nitro, Bischoff and several of his henchmen were preparing to attack former wrestler and then-WCW announcer Larry Zbyszko. One fan, trying to play the role of a hero, attempted to legitimately jump Bischoff from behind. The fan was restrained, although we have reason to believe that Bischoff could have handled business on his own.
6 Bischoff is Actually a Black Belt
Remember those WCW vignettes during which Bischoff talked about how he was a real black belt who could hold his own against wrestlers? There was truth to that. Bischoff, in older interviews, discussed how he first became involved in martial arts during his younger days in the 1970s. Did Bischoff ever have the goods to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship? Probably not, as he became far too busy running a company and pursuing other ventures to continue training. One has to believe that it was his training that did lead to Bischoff believing that he could call out and then beat his main competitor in a real fight.
5 Bischoff versus McMahon
It was during what is now an infamous moment of WCW television when Bischoff openly challenged Vince McMahon to show up to a WCW pay-per-view, where Bischoff and McMahon would engage in a real fight. According to a story that Vince Russo told in 2015, McMahon seriously contemplated accepting the challenge and showing up at the WCW show. The reason that McMahon did not appear, per Russo's words, is that the WCW pay-per-view in question supposedly occurred on the same day that Stephanie McMahon, Vince's daughter, was graduating from college. McMahon and Bischoff fighting in a WCW ring would have been a legendary segment (and also great business for WCW).
4 Bischoff a Champion
If you are anything like us, you either forgot about this title change or you had given up on WCW television by the time that it took place. Terry Funk was the WCW Hardcore Champion when he defended that title in June 2000 against Bischoff. Bischoff, with the help of several other wrestlers, earned the pinfall and his one and only championship (as far as we know) during his wrestling career. WCW was a mess in just about every way in June 2000 and the company would be out of business less than a year after Bischoff notched that win over Funk.
3 Bischoff and Shawn Michaels
Back in 1996, when Bischoff and the WCW were raiding the WWE and signing talents such as Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, some fans just assumed that “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels would be the next wrestler to jump ship from the WWF to WCW. Bischoff talked about this in the fall of 2015 during an interview with “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Michaels was somebody that Bischoff and the WCW front office had on their radar, per Bischoff's words, but HBK didn't want to breach his contract. When his contract was finally up, he was out injured, so he couldn't make the switch anyway.
2 Bischoff Versus Flair
It is nice that Bischoff and Flair can have friendly discussions nowadays. That was not always the case. Bischoff and Flair had many arguments while the two were in WCW and the two were working for the WWE in March 2003 when Flair confronted the man who was once his boss. Flair has claimed that he slapped Bischoff so hard that Bishcoff dropped his cell phone. The two were separated before things became too over-the-top, and neither Bischoff nor Flair were seriously punished by WWE officials because of the incident. Bischoff and Flair have since worked together on several occasions, including in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.
1 Bischoff and TNA?
It is hardly a secret that TNA Wrestling has seen better days and that the company is in rough shape as of May 2016. Some remaining fans of that company may see Bischoff, who has a history with TNA, as somebody who could resurrect and/or re-brand that organization. Bischoff was asked in April 2016 via Twitter if he would have any interest in buying TNA. His answer, in three words, was “not a chance.” Bischoff has been a worker in the past, and so maybe he was merely sending out a smokescreen. Then again, Bischoff is also a smart businessman and buying TNA in 2016 would be a risky and maybe even a silly business decision.
Sources: http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/Bios/bischoff.html, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0083888/bio, http://411mania.com/wrestling/that-was-then-5-27-06-the-new-world-order-in-1996/, http://www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/news/2013/0928/565930/ted-dibiase-sr-talks-eric-bischoff-copying-nwo-angle/, http://www.wrestleview.com/news2004/1097303950.shtml, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyeDQCOoF1o, http://www.wrestlezone.com/editorials/549865-mcmahon-vs-bischoff-almost-happened/2, http://www.wwe.com/videos/terry-funk-vs-eric-bischoff-wcw-hardcore-championship-match-june-5-2000, http://www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/news/2015/1001/602213/eric-bischoff-talks-never-signing-shawn-michaels/, http://camelclutchblog.com/real-backstage-fights-between-pro-wrestlers-2/
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