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Eric Bischoff Explains How Turner Broadcasting Executives Sabotaged WCW in the Late 1990s and Wanted WCW Gone

September 15, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Eric Bischoff

– During the latest 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff discussed the Turner Broadcasting executives who he believes were responsible for sabotaging WCW in the late 1990s and ultimately getting the programming off Turner Broadcasting before the company was ultimately sold off to WWE in 2001. Below are some highlights.

Eric Bischoff on Vicky Miller’s role in sabotaging WCW: “Well, Vicky Miller was — I’m not sure if she was part of the Turner Executive Committee or not, but she was certainly at that level. She was the head of Turner Finance. She had a relationship with Bill Bush. I’m not going to suggest it was a close relationship, business-wise. They didn’t interface on a daily basis. But he was in fact a report to her. Keep in mind that Bush didn’t report to me. You know, finance was a separate — it was a dotted-line relationship to me in WCW. A dotted line meaning if you looked at a corporate flow chart, a dotted line means they worked together, and we had that in-house relationship. But his actual report to status was up to Vicky Miller. The two areas in WCW I did not have control over were legal and finance. Those were kept separate, and for good reason by the way. So, the finance side of things was totally out of my direct control, and Bill did have a reporting — I don’t know if he reported directly to Vicky Miller or a guy by the name of Harry Anderson, who might’ve been one step below Vicky Miller, But either way, Bill reported up to Vicky Miller, and as such, [he] had more of a relationship with her than I did.”

“In retrospect, I don’t think Bill was trying to get me in front of Vicky Miller knowing I would hasten my own departure by doing so. I don’t think that was his motivation at this point in my life. But Vicky Miller was also, in my mind, the source for a lot of the budget cutting. There was no conversation with me for Vicky Miller or anybody, ‘Hey, Eric. If we cut your production budget by $200,000 — I know we approved it. I know it’s been allocated to you already, and I know that you’ve got all these increased production obligations that had been forced upon you, but we need to reduce your production budget by $200,000 or $250,000. Would that have any kind of an adverse impact on your business?’ Those kind of conversations didn’t happen. I got a freaking memo. Be advised, we’ve reduced your production budget by $250,000. Well, great! I’m already operating on fumes. Now, how am I supposed to deliver the product? Well, you go figure that out. That was the kind of leadership, I guess, or communication at least, that I was getting from Vicky Miller. And I tried to plead my case to her. And the response was, ‘Well then, go figure it out. I don’t want to do that. Just go figure it out. Well, you know, as I said in the book, ‘Well, great. I’ll go work on winning the lottery. See if that works.’ So, it was very frustrating. So, there was no desire on my part to sit and have a rational business conversation with someone who clearly didn’t WCW to survive.”

Eric Bischoff on how there was no one at the executive level to protect WCW at Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner once Ted Turner’s power was neutralized: “And I still think to this day — and I can never prove it. It’s my opinion, and I think it’s probably shared by a lot of people, but if you really step back and you study WCW and the politics associated with WCW within Turner Broadcasting from the day it was acquired to the day it was sold off, there was one guy who wanted it in the company. Not two. Not three. Just one, and that guy was Ted Turner. During the course of the acquisition/merger, whatever it ultimately became, Ted Turner all of the sudden woke up one day in a corner office realizing he had no influence. And that’s from Ted Turner himself. I’ve heard that interviews. I’ve read that in magazine articles where he was quoted as saying as such, that he didn’t realize he was being shown the door in the course of the merger acquisitions between Time Warner and AOL.”

Eric Bischoff on the executives who had it out for WCW: “Well, everybody around him did. Those people, the Steve Cases, the Jerry Levins, Steve Hires, the players, they all knew it. They were the ones who created the architecture to let it happen. And once Ted Turner was neutralized, and his influence was neutralized, and I’m sure Ted Turner had other things on his mind than WCW. That was probably a part of it, but once Ted was neutralized, those very same people who from 1988 or 1989 or whenever it was acquired what was left of the NWA and renamed it WCW to the day it was sold off to WWE, those same people were chomping at the bit to unwind WCW because they had taken a run at WCW every six months, or at least once a year from the day it started to the day it left. There were constantly people trying to convince Ted Turner to unwind WCW; Scott Sasso among them, Brad Siegel among them, Vicky Miller among them, probably Terry McGuirk at a time or two, who was Ted’s right-hand man at the time. There were a number of people who were trying to convince to unplug WCW. From the very beginning, they didn’t want it. Now, the only reason WCW was still around for me to take over is because Ted steadfast about WCW and its value to Turner Broadcasting. He didn’t care if it lost money. He believed in the programming.”

“If you go back and learn about Ted and his strategy and how he built Turner Broadcasting, it wasn’t always about the return of investment over a short period of time. He believed in owning content and owning distribution. By the way, that’s a model that’s working for a lot of people right now. But Ted believed in it firmly. He believed that while wrestling may not generate the revenue it probably should in its timeslot, for example WCW Saturday Night, because advertisers just didn’t really like wrestling, didn’t want to be associated with it. He knew that it brought eyeballs. And he knew that he could promote other shows to those eyeballs that wrestling brought. So, Ted was the guy.”

Eric Bischoff on how the dirt sheets didn’t realize what was happening: “And once the executives around Ted and his sphere of influence realized that Ted no longer had the ability to focus on WCW or that he was becoming neutralized, they came in and starting in ’98. This didn’t happen in two or three months like dirt sheet writers like to presume because, ‘Oh, Eric Bischoff lost $8 billion in the last two months! Now, all of the sudden, Turner Broadcasting was coming in and demanding answers!’ No, brother. This was a setup that started happening probably in July or August of 1998. That’s when I saw the handwriting on the well. And it just became increasingly more challenging as time went on. And they became increasingly more aggressive as far as picking our bones throughout 1999 and definitely into the first to the second quarter of 1999, it became almost unbearable.”

“So, I’m not saying that this was like a plan, like a bunch of executives got into a war room and said, ‘OK. This is how we’re going to finally get WCW off the books. But I will tell you that I believe a lot of WCW’s problems were caused in no small part by the opportunistic nature of the people who wanted it to go away anyway. They couldn’t wait for it to fail. WCW couldn’t fail fast enough for them. They were probably pissed in 1997 and 1998 that it was doing as well as it was. I promise some of them were. They hated it. They wanted that real estate. They couldn’t stand the fact that WCW Monday Nitro on TNT was one of the highest rated programs on the TNT Network. They f***ing hated it. Why did they hate it? Because those two hours of television on primetime on a Monday night, that’s where they could bring movies. Those were the projects that the people that were programming TNT, they wanted TV movies in those spots. They wanted to attract better talent; actors, actresses, directors, producers. They wanted that real estate to grow their entertainment brand. They didn’t want to give up two hours for wrestling, regardless of how successful of it was. It didn’t serve their purpose. So, those were the people that when I say they couldn’t wait for WCW to fail, I guarantee you I’m right about this.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.

article topics :

Eric Bischoff, WCW, WWE, Jeffrey Harris