Eric Bischoff is enjoying this new phase of his life. The days in the pressure cooker of running WCW, and working in the many roles he took on in WWE and TNA Impact Wrestling are in the rearview. He has found the perfect balance.
However, the former television exec has been able to reflect on his experiences through a new lens thanks to his 83 Weeks and Strictly Business podcasts, as well as a recently released book, aptly titled Grateful. A collaboration with Nitro book author Guy Evans, and the perfect bridge from Bischoff’s best-selling autobiography Controversy Creates Cash.
For the WWE Hall of Famer, there are a few touchstones that brought him back into the familiar and unique world of pro wrestling. He thinks back to an independent show in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he picked up a booking days before the show. He asked himself, “Why not?” And so Bischoff put his dog in the truck and made the drive from where he lived at the time in Scottsdale, Arizona. There was a point the 67-year-old had second thoughts about going into the backstage area.
“When I walked into that building, I stopped for a second and looked around and saw 20-25 people, young wrestlers, young talent getting ready,” he said. “I was like a fly on the wall. It reminded me of how much fun wrestling can be. This reminded me of when I first showed up in the AWA.”
This nostalgic feeling continued during a panel he hosted between Sting and Hulk Hogan. A fan by the name of Amanda introduced herself and brought a tear to Bischoff’s eye hearing how she bonded with her late father over wrestling. She would later reach out to his wife Loree on social media going into detail that the only bonding time they shared was watching Nitro.
“She explained her father passed, and her mother passed. She had no brothers or sisters. She had no family. She asked my wife if I would be willing to step in for her father and give her way at her wedding,” Bischoff remembered. “I of course said absolutely. It really opened my eyes to how much professional wrestling can positively affect relationships.”
These instances get him thinking about his own childhood and watching the shows with his grandmother, Agnes. Podcasts, conventions, autograph signings, and other appearances reinforce that love that lured him into the business in the first place. Even today, Bischoff remains a fan.
The State of Pro Wrestling
When asked about what he is most grateful about the industry today, he responded that it remains “healthy.”
“You look at rights fees for WWE and AEW,” he explained. “ Look at the global footprint of WWE and how far the professional industry has evolved and become not only mainstream in terms of television and primetime. What we’re seeing on Fox network. Who would have thought 20 years ago we’d be watching professional wrestling live on Fox? It’s mind-boggling…It’s such a big step for the industry.
The same for AEW. I never got a nickel for licensing fees. I never got a dime. I see that now, and it indicates to me at least, that the professional wrestling product is so mainstream now. That it’s going to be here for a long, long time.”
Will WWE be Sold?
When you think about the rollercoaster ride WWE and its stock has taken in 2022, fact is the company continues to bring in boatloads of money. This despite Vince McMahon being embroiled in scandal, which ultimately led to the now-former CEO and chairman stepping away.
The current landscape in the market with these billion-dollar television contracts coming up combined with other financial data has caused the chatter of whether WWE were to sell to grow louder.
“I’d say right now it’s more plausible to me that the WWE would sell because Vince McMahon is no longer, at least visibly in the picture,” Bischoff said. “He is still in the picture as a majority shareholder, and guess what? He can still say no. It’s his company. It is possible even though Vince isn’t the CEO or chairman that Vince could step up and prevent a sale. I don’t know why he would do that at this stage of his life with the amount of money that would be involved
“What is there to gain from impeding an acquisition like that? I don’t know, but I don’t know Vince McMahon. I don’t know if too many people do. It’s plausible. It makes sense, which is why people keep talking about it…You can make a really strong story for an NBC, a Fox, or at one point Disney…but it makes sense. As long as it makes sense and people continue to project it, it’s probably going to happen. I don’t know though.”
On the topic of 2023 predictions, don’t expect to see Bischoff back as a regular figure on television. He enjoys the one-off or a few appearances when asked, as well as the work he does for WWE docs.
“I’ve had so much fun in my career and I’ve made acquaintances that I still consider to this day to be some of my closest friends,” he said. “I’ve got nothing but fond memories of me in the wrestling industry even though I went through times that weren’t so much fun. That’s part of the reason I wrote the new book. Even being able to look back at those miserable times, and find a way to be grateful for them. Lightens my load.”
AEW & Warner Bros. Discovery
Looking at the crystal ball, Bischoff can see good news when it comes to AEW and its television partners at Warner Bros Discovery.
“My prediction, not based on knowledge but on conditions of the market and where Discovery is at. And full disclosure, my daughter has worked for WarnerMedia for seven or eight years, so I have a little bit of an inside view. But I do think AEW will get renewed. I don’t think there will be a major increase in licensing fees. That’s just based on instinct and anecdotal information. I could be dead wrong.”
Another question that looms into the new year is if we will see CM Punk will wrestle again. After the controversial media scrum from All Out, the future of the Chicagoan and AEW remains in flux.
“I can’t imagine,” Bischoff responded when asked if he could see Punk back in the ring this year. “Who would want to hire that guy? First of all, I’d say he is a miserable guy. I’m talking about his character now. We’ve never spoken a syllable or face-to-face conversation. Every time I see him come out, the character comes out and he is morose. My daughter will even say every time he wins something, he breaks down crying.
“Look, Punk came into AEW with a tremendous mystique because of the ‘Pipe Bomb’ interview and walking out on WWE. Deep down inside, all of us want to give the bird to our boss and walk away and take this job and shove it sort of thing. That’s what Punk did and built up this mystique. He brought that to AEW, but I think once fans started seeing him and that mystique was gradually beginning to wear off, he wasn’t that interesting of a character to me. It’s subjective. Others may have found him more interesting. I don’t know.
I just know how I feel about it. I was losing interest in him. It’s like falling off a cliff. If I saw him wrestle one more guy I never heard of and have a match that was so close. This is your champion This is your guy who is larger than life. This is the guy that you are building your company around? Against some guy who works part-time at Walmart who comes in and takes him almost the limit.”
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