Eric Bischoff can only sing praises of WWE's business model; however, the notes aren't as sweet when it comes to the creative team.
Bischoff spearheaded World Championship Wrestling for well over a year of ratings supremacy against WWE (then known as WWF). The booker, television executive and wrestling personality had his longest stint with WWE between 2002 and 2007. Speaking with CBS Sports, Bischoff praised WWE's production value and business savvy while noting how much the stock price has jumped in the last year, but he argues its creative process is limiting greater potential growth.
"It would be story structure. It would be taking a more pragmatic approach to story structure. Actually, discipline would be a better word than pragmatic. It would be first recognizing that a good story has to have structure. It would be no different than shooting a movie that doesn't have a script blocked out and not really knowing what the end of the movie is. You couldn't be in the movie business that way. You couldn't produce television shows that way. You can't even write a book that way. I think with WWE because of the sheer volume of products that they produce globally every week, it only creates a more significant need for a more disciplined and well-thought-out story structure.
"That's part of the flaw with WWE creative, at least in my opinion, is that there's such a sameness to everything. OK, one show is red and one show is blue, and there's different names on the roster, but the look and feel, the story-telling technique, or lack thereof, everything feels so familiar and has felt so familiar for so long. I think it would need to be de-sanitized. The WWE is such a perfectly executed live production that it doesn't even feel live anymore. It feels like you're watching a feature film. I think with wrestling because of what it is, an arena-based event, you want the viewers at home to feel like their part of that event. Sometimes overproducing that show can take that away from the home viewer."
Check out the full interview with Eric Bischoff below.
Recent years have seen the rise of WWE's first true competitor since the WCW days, All Elite Wrestling. Bischoff has made a handful of appearances in AEW, most recently in May 2021. But his relationship with AEW owner Tony Khan appears to have deteriorated after Khan stated former WCW owner Ted Turner didn't possess 1% of his own wrestling knowledge, and if Turner did, WCW would still be on the air.
On his "83 Weeks With Eric Bischoff" podcast, Bischoff called Khan's comments "uninformed" and "ignorant."
"We were friendly and cordial. Mutual respect there. All that good stuff. It wasn't until recently, I was asked a question and I responded and it caused, I'm guessing, hard feelings from Tony," Bischoff said. "I tried to call Tony and he didn't call me back. Someone told me, who Tony was complaining to, about how upset he was about the things that I said. He said, 'Hey, why don't you give Tony a call?' I said, 'Sure! I'm not mad at Tony.'
"I don't carry grudges. It doesn't change the way I feel about Tony, I just had to express my opinion and react to something Tony actually said that involved me and I took as being disrespectful of my accomplishments and even more disrespectful, and quite frankly, ignorant, with relation to the comment he made about Ted Turner. That's what I reacted to. But I wasn't angry with Tony. When my friend said to give him a call, I thought, 'alright, I'll give him a call.' I left a message and I haven't heard back so, evidently, he's a little pissed off. But that's OK."
Bischoff and Fusient Media had expressed an intent to purchase WCW, which was facing financial woes, just prior to its collapse in 2001. The group ultimately was not able to raise funds quickly enough to purchase the company before Vince McMahon and WWE swooped in to make the purchase in a move that gave WWE decades of control over the professional wrestling landscape.
According to Bischoff, the plans were in place for most of WCW's top stars to remain had his group been able to make the purchase in 2001.
"Hulk Hogan would have been involved. Bill Goldberg likely would have been involved. Sting, a lot of the top names that you were already familiar with at WCW," Bischoff said. "Not all of them, by the way, but most of them would have likely been involved. There is another group within that list that would have most likely have been involved. But to be honest, we didn't really have much of a chance to formulate a creative strategy during the period of time that we were trying to acquire WCW. Most of our energy was focused on raising $67 million, which was the price tag at the time."