“Easy E” Eric Bischoff is back in the WWE.
Along with Paul Heyman, Bischoff is now an Executive Director for a company that was once his greatest rival. Bischoff brings years of experience to a WWE product that desperately needs a shot in the arm. With AEW looming as competition, Bischoff knows a thing or two about stepping up with fresh ideas.
There are lots of ways that Bischoff has changed the wrestling world. To mark his return to WWE on SmackDown Live, here are five of the biggest ways Bischoff changed the wrestling world.
1. Igniting The Monday Night Wars
The most fondly remembered time in wrestling history kicked off because Bischoff wanted to go head-to-head with the big guys. With him at the helm, Bischoff convinced Ted Turner to let WCW have a spot on Monday nights to go up against WWE’s Raw. To the surprise of many, Turner agreed. Thus, the Monday Night Wars were born with WCW Nitro.
The creation of the wars led to stars jumping between WWE & WCW more frequently. Lex Luger debuted in WCW on the first ever Nitro to join stars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. More stars would switch sides, and we’ll touch on two of the biggest ones in a bit. Without the start of the Monday Night Wars, there’s no guarantee WWE or WCW would have pushed their product to the limit. Without Bischoff’s daring idea to compete directly by broadcasting on Mondays, there is no guarantee either product would have hit the peaks they did.
2. Exposing The World To Lucha Libre
Now don’t get this confused – Eric Bischoff did not invent Lucha Libre. He wasn’t even the first one to bring them to the United States. Paul Heyman and ECW had him beat there. However, the WCW stage was where many luchadors and cruiserweights had the biggest chance to shine and steal the show.
The cruiserweight division in WCW was the meat of the show, often having standout wrestling performances while the main event had more story-based angles. Bischoff helped bring in latin stars like Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera, La Parka, Psicosis, Eddie Guerrero and more. Combined with the might of other cruiserweights like Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho, WCW made a faster and more athletic style of wrestling mainstream.
3. The Creation of the NWO
Two acquisitions changed the course of WCW. One heel turn changed the outlook of the whole wrestling industry. Bischoff’s creation of the New World Order, the NWO, was one of the best booking ideas in wrestling history.
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash jumped ship from WWE to WCW in March 1996. They were portrayed as an invading force, there to take over WCW. At Bash at the Beach 1996, the duo became a trio when Hulk Hogan unthinkably turned heel and joined Hall & Nash. As the NWO, the trio would make heels in wrestling cool. They were a shock to the system of professional wrestling that made WCW must see television. Bischoff’s brainchild gave WCW a huge advantage in the Monday Night Wars.
4. The 83 Week Winning Streak
All of these reasons combined into a stream of hits for WCW. The peak of WCW was also the peak of Bischoff and the creative team. Between the NWO, the cruiserweight division, and the genuine belief that anything could happen on the show, WCW won the ratings war against WWE for 83 consecutive weeks. This stretch of dominance is now the name of Bischoff’s podcast with Conrad Thompson looking back on his WCW days.
Bischoff helped usher in an air of unpredictability and reality to the wrestling product. While WWF had felt childish and cartoonish, WCW was the show that was actually raw. Sting was in the wings waiting to attack NWO in a long-burning storyline. Goldberg debuted and was on fire with his unbeaten streak. Everything that Bischoff touched turned to gold, and gave wrestling fans memories that will stand the test of time.
5. The Downfall of WCW
Unfortunately for Bischoff and WCW, there were also bad times. In January of 1999, Bischoff told announcer Tony Schiavone to spoil the results of a pre-taped WWE Raw. Mick Foley was going to win the WWE Championship on Raw that night. Schiavone remarked that “that’s going to put some butts in the seats”. Unfortunately for WCW, he was right. Close to 300,000 fans switched shows to watch Mankind win the top title. It was one of the first signs that maybe Uncle Eric had lost his Midas touch.
As 1999 rolled on, Bischoff struggled to find the creative spark WCW once had. Instead he turned to old reliables, such as Hogan, Savage, and Roddy Piper. Their time as the top draws had passed, and it led to an even wider divide between WCW and WWE in the ratings. Celebrity partnerships didn’t garner casual viewers to the WCW product. By the end of 1999, Bischoff was gone and WCW was not long to survive. His business decisions by the end financially handicapped the brand, while his creative decisions didn’t attract new interest. Bischoff was at least partly responsible for the downfall of WCW, and the long-term dominance of WWE we see today.
Now Bischoff has a chance to make real change once again. What changes will he make, and will they be successful? Will Vince McMahon give him the freedom to make the changes he wants to see? Only time will tell if magic will strike once more for Eric Bischoff.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @EvanGomes_. Thanks for reading!