wrestling / TV Reports

411’s The Failed Relaunch of WCW Report: Eric Bischoff Discusses His Failed Attempt To Buy WCW in 2001, the Big Bang PPV, More

June 1, 2019 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Eric Bischoff

-The WWE Network just keeps pumping out new content and that includes the latest episode of WWE Untold. This is the 3rd episode in the series following the ones about WWECW and Sting’s Mania debut. For this episode the talking heads will be discussing Eric Bischoff and Fusient Media’s failed attempt at buying WCW in 2001.

-Run Time: 19:44

-The group providing their thoughts this time: Eric Bischoff, Jeff Jarrett, Booker T, Jeremy Borash, Shane Helms, John Laurinaitis, Brian Bedol (Fusient Media Investor), and 2001 recorded comments from Brad Siegel.

-Bischoff calls the era (the rise of WCW) the most exciting of his life and Booker T says they were all like rock-stars. Jarrett says that was his first go round in WCW, but things had changed when he went back in 1999.

-Bischoff calls WCW dysfunctional at that time and Borash says it was the wildest 2 years of his life. Helms talks about all the rumors of different people buying the company. It seemed like it was going to be Bischoff buying it out right.

-The idea was to do a PPV on May 6, 2001 called The Big Bang. It was the first step in the creation of the New WCW. Bischoff said he knew they wanted to do the show, but he had no clue who was going to be on it or what it would look like.

-This is WWE Untold!

-Bischoff says he got a call in the summer of 1998 and was asked to come to a meeting. There were people at the meeting he had never seen before and these people were telling him how he was going to fix WCW. These unfamiliar faces were executives for Time Warner and it sparked a change in the fortune of the company.

-Bischoff was soon out and Booker talks about Russo coming in and making every match a gimmick match. We get a Judy Bagwell on a forklift mention. Bischoff says Russo was hired on the belief he saved the WWF. They found out in only a few months that Russo was full of crap and Bischoff was called and asked to return. Eric says the company he loved died in 1998, but he felt he could make a difference and could work with Russo.

-Booker says he had a sick feeling in his gut that the company was going to go under. They show some production blunders by the WCW crew and Jarrett calls it a mess. Bischoff talks about the Bash at the Beach saga with Russo and Hogan. He makes an offer to buy WCW and they laugh at him, but soon they ask him if he is serious.

-It took some time, but Eric got backers with Fusient Media and specifically Brian Bedol. Brian said it sounded like a good investment if the deal was right. Jarrett says that he first heard of it from his dad and didn’t believe it. Brian mentions that Turner was desperate to sell and the agreement included having a show for 10 years on Wednesday Night on TBS. Bischoff mentions the sale was for $67 million dollars and an agreement was made.

-They actually have the recording from the press conference announcing the sale on Jan 11, 2001. Brad Siegel (former President of Tuner Entertainment) and Brian Bedol discuss the sale on the recording and this is fascinating as I never knew it got this far.

-Bischoff says they were focusing on their strategy with the relaunch and they knew they weren’t going to be able to travel the show like they did with Nitro. Bedol talks about having a relationship with Hard Rock in Vegas and they reached a handshake agreement to create a venue for WCW. Johnny L talks about Eric telling him things were going to be moving to Vegas and Bischoff says it was great having someone like Laurinaitis on board to help with in ring finishes.

-Johnny L says everyone was on edge because nobody was sure what their role was going to be in the new company. Bischoff wanted to go on hiatus for 3-6 months to build hype for the relaunch and the Big Bang PPV. The emphasis this time would have been more on pro-wrestling and Bedol mentions they were going to use tons of pyro and explosions like used in action movies.

-Jarrett says he never saw documentation about The Big Bang, but he had heard the name and liked it. Helms didn’t like the name as it basically says WCW was nothing as that’s where Big Bangs come from. Booker says he never heard of the name until just this minute.

-Bedol was excited with the creative plan and likes to think it would have worked. Bischoff says the creative team and process would have been streamlined. He knows they lost a lot of their audience, but there is a hardcore WCW audience and they always had that built in for them. Jarrett was more concerned with the transition and wasn’t sure if they were going to rename things or bring in new people.

-Bischoff says they were a week away from closing and once it happened he was going to go back to working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. He knew he would see his family less, so they decided to take a vacation to Hawaii. While he was there Bedol calls him and tells him “it’s done.” Eric was thrilled as he thought he meant the deal was signed, but that didn’t happen. Instead the deal was dead as Jamie Kellner took the Wednesday Night spot away and instead of being guaranteed for 10 days, Turner/TW now had a 60 day out. That was a deal breaker for Bedol and that ended things.

-Jarrett and Booker put over how much Eric did for them. Bischoff says it wasn’t personal and it was a decision by Kellner that they no longer wanted wrestling on the network. It didn’t matter if it was WCW or whatever else, they just didn’t want wrestling.

-Just a few weeks later, Vince McMahon buys WCW and we get a simulcast between RAW and Nitro. Shane says nobody knew what was happening and he wasn’t sure until Shane McMahon walked into the room.

-Borash tells a story of an unnamed WCW worker having the idea to go out with a bang and rush the ring during the simulcast to attack Shane McMahon. Borash says it was about 51/49 that the guy was going to go through with it and he knew security wouldn’t stop the guy as him being out there would have made sense. So they are standing at the go position and he tells the guy not to think about it as it is not worth it.

-Booker truly believes WCW would be here today if it was ran properly. Jarrett thinks the company ended when God wanted it to and he spent the summer on a lake with Borash and that is where the idea for TNA was born. Helms says it has worked out great for him as WWE gave him The Hurricane and calls it the best thing to ever happen to his career. Johnny L also agrees it all worked out the way it was supposed to and Bischoff is also happy with the way it ended. Wrestling is bigger now that it has ever been and Nitro still lives on to this day on the WWE Network.

-This show is becoming a favorite of mine and I hope they continue producing these. I found this one enjoyable thanks to getting perspective from a nice assortment of people who would be on different levels in WCW at the time. I loved getting Bedol’s thoughts as he is outside the wrestling cocoon and really has no reason to lie or slant things. Everyone else seemed honest about what they knew and didn’t know. It is fascinating to think about how things would have changed had the deal gone through and WCW stuck around a bit longer with only a Wednesday Night show.

-As always thanks for reading.

article topics :

WWE Untold, Robert Leighty Jr.