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Eric Bischoff Recalls How Jay Leno Got Involved With WCW, Bischoff And Hogan Taking Over The Tonight Show, Pitching Idea For Leno To Wrestle At Road Wild 1998

August 29, 2020 | Posted by Blake Lovell
Jay Leno Tonight Show Image Credit: NBC

In the newest edition of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff discussed how Jay Leno got involved with WCW, pitching an idea for Leno to wrestle at Road Wild 1998, Bischoff and Hogan taking over The Tonight Show, and more. You can read his comments below.

On Jay Leno getting involved in wrestling: “Alan Sharp gave me a call and said ‘Hey, I just got a call from a guy by the name of Gary Considine who’s the executive producer at The Tonight Show.’ I say ‘OK, what’s he want?” He says ‘Well, Jay wanted to get involved, wants to do something in wrestling.’ I say ‘Get the fuck out, really, Jay Leno?’ So he gave me Gary’s number and I call Gary right away. We hit it off on the phone. So I said ‘Gary I’ll tell you what, I’ve got family here and friends coming up, but I’m gonna jump on a plane and come out and see you.’ It was too big of an opportunity not to react to it immediately. Next day, I jump on a plane and fly out to LA and met Gary at NBC Studios and in walks Jay Leno. Jay was so down to earth, the nicest guy you ever, ever wanna meet. The minute he walked into the room, you felt like you’ve known him your whole life. He’s just a genuinely good human being.”

On pitching Leno the idea to wrestle and have Bischoff and Hogan take over The Tonight Show: “I said ‘Would you wrestle?’ And he goes ‘Yeah, I’ll wrestle.’ So I said let me go back home and think about this for a day or two and come up with an idea that would make sense. But let me come up with something different that would really get this ball rolling because we didn’t have a lot of time. This was first of July and the pay per view was August 8, so it’s not like we had weeks and weeks to figure this out. So I go home and think about it and go what if Hulk Hogan and I take over The Tonight Show? What if we take Jay Leno and Kevin Eubanks – the guy that had the band – what if we throw him off the set? And what if we do it like the nWo would do it where it feels real and believable? There’s no comedy, nobody’s gonna laugh. This is the exact opposite of what anybody watching The Tonight Show would ever expect. I thought if I could sell that to Jay Leno, I could sell anything. I’m talking about throwing the host of one of the most watched, most successful shows in the history of television off his set and take over his desk. I went back to LA, and Jay went ‘That’s awesome, we can make this work.’

On stressing to Leno the importance of The Tonight Show angle: “I say ‘Look in order for this to work – it’s late-night comedy talk, but what we’re about to do is not late-night comedy talk.’ It’s going to throw people off, so you need to know that and expect that. Secondly, in order for it to work for WCW, there can be no laughing. We can’t be tongue in cheek here. It’s got to feel as real and believable as it can. Otherwise, if he’s hee-hee and haha and everybody gets the tongue in cheek joke, it’ll be good for The Tonight Show, but it won’t be good for WCW. Your security cannot know. Make sure the ones with guns are somewhere else (laughs). And Jay, you’ve gotta take this seriously. I say ‘The minute you crack a smile, the minute you show your teeth, it’ll ruin everything.’ So they agreed and we pulled it off.”

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

article topics :

Eric Bischoff, Jay Leno, Blake Lovell