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Legends with JBL – Eric Bischoff (Part II) Report: Bischoff Talks Fall of WCW, Montreal Screwjob, DX Invasion, Russo, More

September 25, 2015 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.

WWE Network Presents Legends with JBL: Erich Bischoff (Part II)

-We close out Nitro week with Part II of JBL’s interview with Eric Bischoff. Part I was rather good and I expect more of the same as they get into the fall of WCW, and probably his WWE run. With that said, let’s get to it.

-JBL welcomes us to Part II and tells us we will be talking about the Fall of WCW and Bischoff’s reemergence in the WWE. He starts off asking Bischoff about his biggest regret in not leaving WCW when he was on top. He then brings up Montreal as a turning point in the war. He mentions that Bischoff said he never needed Bret to bring the WWF Title so there was no need for the Screw job.

-Bischoff talks about how he wasn’t going to do anything to the WWE Title because he wasn’t permitted to, and really he didn’t want to do anything with it. JBL brings up how Flair took the NWA Title to the WWF and Madusa dumping the woman’s title on Nitro. JBL mentions he was there that night and he knows that Shawn hated Bret. He then asks Bischoff if he would have done the same thing as Vince. Bischoff says it would be an easy decision in that he would have done the same as Vince if the circumstances were the same.

-JBL asks why they didn’t debut Bret the very next night on Nitro and why they waited until December. Bischoff says he doesn’t know if it was a mistake, but he knows he wanted Bret because they were launching Thunder in January. He didn’t want Bret on Nitro and wanted him as the face of Thunder.

-JBL says that he has heard from Sting that it wasn’t the same Bret in WCW that was in the WWF. Bischoff does say that Bret was a shell of what he was in WCW and he could tell by the way he interacted with other talent. He does think he was a broken man.

-They jump to Tyson being brought in for WrestleMania XIV and JBL asks Bischoff if he was worried about the emergence of the Attitude Era. Bischoff says they were still winning the war, and he was out taking flying lessons. He got a call that the WWF was bringing in Mike Tyson and Bischoff knew it would be big.

-JBL says that Mania 13 did the lowest buyrate in history of the show and the next year it did triple that amount with over 700,000. Soon after a McMahon vs. Austin match headlined RAW and they knocked off Nitro for the first time in nearly 2 years and then 2 weeks later DX invades Nitro. JBL asks Eric why he didn’t have a response right away and they talk about how the WWE spent a million dollars on a Super Bowl commercial (Super Bowl XXXIII, I believe). He admits the WWE was coming after them and even after the first loss, WCW was still competitive for the next 6-9 months.

-Bischoff says he knew they were in trouble because while the WWE was building momentum, the merger of AOL and Time Warner was causing internal issues. His budgets had been cut after being approved a year earlier. They had to increase house shows to help pay for Thunder. Eric says that Turner mandated Thunder being created even with Bischoff hating the idea. He says the company was maxed out with Nitro and it only made the schedule harder as they still had PPV, syndication, WCW Saturday Night and now another live show to go with Nitro.

-JBL brings up the creative book being given to Kevin Nash and Bischoff says looking back, it is easy to say it was a bad idea. At the time he was worried about fighting internal battles and they both agree Nash is a smart guy. He doesn’t think Kevin did a good job, but he also doesn’t think Nash was doing things for his own benefit. He puts over Nash as a smart guy and that he and Hall along with Hogan and X-Pac helped color in what the n.W.o would be.

-Back to the DX Invasion and JBL brings up how nobody knew what was going to happen. The WWE put some of their toughest guys in the parking lot in case WCW tried to show up at RAW. They had JBL, Ron Simmons, Blackman, and Shamrock among others and JBL jokes they were hoping WCW would send Haku so they could watch him fight Shamrock in what was sure to be the greatest fight ever. That would be awesome and shows the reputation Haku has with the boys. He asks Eric again why he never responded.

-They show footage of the DX invasion and again it should be noted they were in a jeep and not a tank. Bischoff said looking back now, he should have just let them in the arena. JBL says DX had a plan as they had a dummy tape just in case WCW tried to take the film off them. Bischoff jokes and says there was never going to be a gang fight because the boys didn’t really hate each other, and JBL agrees with him on that point.

-JBL then mentions that Vince almost did take Eric up on his challenge to face him at Slamboree. Eric says that he wishes he did and that it would have been awesome if he did. Bischoff again talks about how people (Hogan) told him that Vince was going to show up. He says Hogan was concerned about Eric’s safety and couldn’t understand how Eric was so calm. They go over Bischoff’s credentials as a fighter and mention that Vince is strong and fearless. Bischoff says he didn’t care as even if Vince beat his ass it would have been a great time because it would have been on a WCW PPV.

-Now the battles are going back and forth in 1998 and they are building to Hogan/Goldberg on Nitro. JBL says it was Hogan’s idea and he wants to know why Eric didn’t put the match on PPV. Eric says his mold was to use PPV quality matches on Nitro and that was his way to make noise again. He says the revenue wasn’t the problem and it was the ratings.

-JBL brings up the Halloween Havoc situation where the PPV went long and a lot of people didn’t get a pretty damn good DDP/Goldberg WCW Title Match. For whatever reason I got the entire PPV and had no clue people didn’t see the Main Event. Bischoff says that was just the timing of the show and he thought they would make it in the allotted time and it ended up being a disaster. He says there was no way to give money back, and JBL talks about the Beware of Dog PPV where the lights went out and Bischoff jokes that he did that to the show. He says that he knows he was blamed by someone for turning the lights out on the show and JBL tells the story of how Mick Foley was under the ring and he was worried he kicked something to make the lights go dark.

-Speaking of Mick Foley as JBL segues to the historic Jan 4, 1999 episodes of RAW and Nitro. They play the footage of Schiavone giving away the result of Foley beating The Rock for the WWF Title. They cover that it wasn’t anything new for Bischoff to give away the results of RAW, so he didn’t think that was anything different from what he had always done.

-They don’t dig much deeper into it than that and jump to how new executives at Turner (outside of Ted himself) were upset that WCW was making money. Once they finally started to falter and when Ted lost some power, it was their chance to get WCW off the books.

-He asks Bischoff if he was burnt out and he says he hated it at that time. He would have preferred to go out under his own terms, but on Sept 10, 1999 at 10 AM he was let go by Harvey Schiller. He immediately went to Montana and fished.

-JBL brings up the idea Bischoff had for a PPV featuring Kiss on New Year’s Eve to play off everyone’s fear of what would happen when Y2K hit and it was his plan to get WCW back in the black again. The powers to be didn’t want to run with that idea and instead hired Vince Russo. He asks Bischoff if Russo was that bad and Bischoff says he was worse.

-JBL brings up the Judy Bagwell on a pole and Viagra on pole matches and you can see the disgust on Bischoff’s face. He never believed Russo was the man that saved the WWE and calls the work he did horrible. He knew that when he saw The Radicalz on WWE TV that WCW would be calling him back and sure enough they did though it was to work with Russo.

-Nash was a Russo fan and he put Bischoff on the phone with him a year prior to coming to WCW as he wanted out of the WWE. Bischoff wanted it to work and he says Russo is very personable and knows when to say the right things. He says it didn’t work well and JBL brings up the Bash at the Beach 1999 fiasco with Jarrett laying down for Hogan. JBL tells the two different sides and how Russo had one story while Hogan and Bischoff had another story.

-He asks Bischoff what the true story is and he says that if Russo said that Hogan and Bischoff were in on it then he is a liar. He says there is a document in an Atlanta court house that is a settlement between Turner Broadcasting and Terry Bollea that will prove Russo is lying.

-Bischoff continues by saying his father passed away a few weeks prior and that while he was in Minnesota they were going over creative for the PPV. Bischoff had final say and what Russo was sending him was pretty horrible. At the same time Bischoff was pitching his idea to Hogan. The idea was for Hogan to leave with the WCW Title and stay off TV with it until October. They were going to crown another Champion and just before a WCW Title match at a PPV in October, Hogan was going to return and claim to be the real champion and there would be a unification match (hmm, that sounds familiar). Bischoff says that was the creative that was approved by Brad Siegel, who was the real boss. Bischoff got to the arena late and Russo had already started the creative meeting. They then got into a battle over what they wanted to do. They brought in Hogan as he legit had legal, ultimate creative control and the two sides were at an impasse.

-They decided to let Siegel know they were at this point and he made the final decision, as the boss, to go with Bischoff’s plan. Now we get footage of Russo shooting on Hogan at the PPV after Hogan had already left the building with the title. It was a tremendous shoot even though most of the crowd had no clue what was happening.

-Back to Bischoff as he says he and Hogan jumped on a plane to get to Tampa and they were celebrating the angle. By the time they landed they had 50 texts and calls telling them what Russo had down and they were dumbfounded. He says Hogan is 4-5 million dollars richer now because of what happened and jokes that really Hogan’s wife is 4-5 million dollars richer now. Sad, but true!

-From that point forward WCW continues to spiral out of control and it looked like Bischoff was going to jump in and save the company one last time. He asked Siegel to sell him the company and he promised he would find someone to buy the company. The deal looked to be done as they had nearly $70 million to buy the company, but Jamie Kellner said they could have the assets but not the tv. In a mind blowing statement, JBL mentions that the company was making over $300 million only a few years prior, and Vince ended up buying it for a little over $4 million dollars including the tape library. Damn!

-He asks Bischoff if he cared that Vince bought it and if it was a tough time for him. He says he wasn’t invested as emotionally or mentally anymore and was just like it was someone who had died 50 years earlier.

-Now we get to Bischoff debuting in the WWE and JBL says he thought it was cool to have Bischoff in the company. He says that it was one of his favorite moments and that it only took a three minute conversation with Vince. He knew it was going to be a blast and that from the moment he hugged Vince that night to the night Vince threw him in a garbage truck it was a blast.

-Looking back, JBL wants to know if Bischoff would change anything. Again, he regrets not leaving in 1998 and he says that he has always had loyalty to his bosses, and that cost him in 1998. JBL then asks Bischoff if he would want one more run and if misses it. He admits to missing it and he says he would never want to work 60 hours a week and travel 5 days, but he would like to be engaged in a property as hot as WCW was back then. He feels he understands things on a corporate level better and that he also thinks he is much better on the creative side. He misses working with talent and he feels his strength was in being able to teach guys to produce promos. He doesn’t miss the travel or stress and that overall life is good for him right now.

-JBL starts talking about Tesla and how he was a genius and that Bischoff is a lot like him in that Tesla had a lot of his ideas taken by Edison and used on a greater platform. He brings up the Power Plant and now WWE has the Performance Center. WCW was using guys in motion pictures and the WWE has their own film division. He created a lot of reality based angles and WWE used them as well. He asks him if he thinks about how much of an impact he had on the business. Bischoff says he has a healthy perspective and that he knows that a lot of what he sees he knows where it started. He admits that Vince did things on a greater platform and did them better, but he knows his place in history. He didn’t create the Attitude Era and JBL says it was done as a response to what Bischoff had done.

-He asks Bischoff if he finds it ironic that the WWE is now family friendly and are being stuck in same shackles that WCW was stuck with in the late 90s. He does see the irony and JBL asks him if he watches RAW and he says he does check in on from time to time, but he doesn’t watch a lot of television for his own personal enjoyment.

-JBL then thanks Eric for joining him and says that when the idea of the show first came up, Eric was one of the first people they had in mind as a guest.

-Well that ends Part II and I found this to be even more fascinating than Part I. JBL did a hell of a job with the interview and came off as extremely knowledgeable. Bischoff did come off as a guy that has matured and is very comfortable in his own skin and with his place in the history of the business. I also appreciated the fact that JBL did give Bischoff credit for what he had accomplished while in WCW and in the WWE. Highest recommendation for Part I and II and I am pretty excited to see who they have lined up for future episodes. Thanks for reading!

article topics :

Eric Bischoff, JBL, WCW, Robert Leighty Jr.