wrestling / News

Eric Bischoff On Initial Discussions Of Buying WCW, How He Would’ve Changed PPVs, Scott Steiner As WCW Champion

December 22, 2020 | Posted by Blake Lovell

In a recent edition of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff discussed the initial discussions of buying WCW, how he would’ve changed the pay-per-view schedule, Scott Steiner as WCW Champion, and much more. You can read his comments below.

Eric Bischoff on the initial discussions of buying WCW: “The discussions weren’t as much about how to we pull the nose up on WCW and weren’t as much creative as it was about strategy. How do we find a home base, have the high production values, make it feel like a big show from a national perspective, yet find ways to reduce costs with regard to travel to the arena. Ticket sales didn’t justify traveling the show. So, we had to go back to a strategy I embraced probably around 1994 when I went to Disney, which was, ‘Look, we’re not drawing, we’re not hot. Let’s use our resources as efficiently as we can.’ Part of that was finding a home base.

“We were in early phase negotiations that were meaningful, but we hadn’t started dotting I’s and crossing T’s at this point with the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. They were seriously considering building us a big arena on top of one of their parking decks that would’ve held about 5,000-7,000 people. We would’ve been the resident attraction there. While we weren’t in that arena, Hard Rock would use it for smaller concerts. That plan was one we were developing. Another thing we were beginning to analyze was the talent. Who do we want to keep? Who can we afford to let go? What’s the status of their existing agreements and would they want to re-sign? There was a lot of that kind of analysis and strategic discussions as opposed to creative ones.”

On how he would’ve changed the WCW pay-per-view schedule: “We may have replaced some of them. We may have actually reduced some of them. One of the thoughts I had at the time was that when TV is hot and you’re running strong and when ratings and attendance and merchandise are strong – when everything is running at peak performance levels in your different business units – it’s OK to add a pay-per-view. But when things are down, it’s better to regroup, reassess the use of your resources, focus on what’s really working and what has the most likely chance to work and divest yourself of some of the legacy pay-per-views that really weren’t doing all that well maybe because of the time of year. For example, springtime can be a tough time of year, and the April pay-per-view can be tough. I know WrestleMania does so well, but that’s one of the reasons why a non-WWE pay-per-view tends to suffer in March and April and even into May. WWE and WrestleMania take such a massive amount of money out of the marketplace because of WrestleMania.

“Trying to compete during that time or even survive may not be the smartest use of resources. It’s different when you’re hot – WCW in 1997 or 1998, different story. But by 2000, I recall thinking through this process and probably would’ve eliminated March and April and would’ve considered May and use that time instead to reinvest in storytelling, to build up anticipation, and kind of go back to what worked with WWE. When you have fewer pay-per-views, you can do a much better job telling better stories for a longer period of time and get people more invested in those stories to when you did pay it off on a pay-per-view, it actually meant something. We were looking at reducing pay-per-views, but I don’t think I would’ve just wholesale renamed them to feel like I was starting fresh. There was value in Halloween Havoc, there was value in Starrcade. Even though I didn’t like the time of year for Uncensored, there was some value in that. Bash at the Beach had value.”

On Scott Steiner as WCW Champion: “It worked for me. I liked Scott at the time, I liked what he could do in the ring and his in-ring abilities were nothing short of amazing. His larger-than-life persona was hard to compare anybody to. The challenges I had with Scott were his consistency and personality. He was volatile in and out of the ring. He was capable of doing things outside the ring that could’ve brought great harm to the company’s reputation. That part was dangerous as your world champion. It was dangerous for anyone on television, but as your world champion, even more so. I liked it creatively, but from a business perspective, it was not without risk.

If using any of the above quotes, please credit 83 Weeks with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.