Eric Bischoff has opened up on his conflicted feelings on WWE’s handling of the NWO in 2002 and revealed that he believes he had an opportunity to be the leader of the group.
Speaking on ‘After the Bell with Corey Graves‘, Bischoff said that it was a weird time for him because, while he didn’t like what he saw happening on-screen, he wanted the storyline to succeed because the New World Order was his creation.
“It was weird, there were two parts of me during that period of time. There was one part of me that was like ‘How dare you?! That’s mine! Oh my god, this is horrible!’ Then there was the other part of me that wanted to see it become successful because, well, it was mine and I wanted it to succeed. Maybe succeeding somewhere else and without me but nonetheless the idea of NWO, the fact that it could live on in WWE was exciting to me.”
‘Easy E’ then revealed that just before the original NWO, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash, appeared in WWE, he was given an opportunity to join the company.
“I’ve never really asked the question but I’m pretty certain that at some point right before that angle launched, I know I got a phone call, I got a phone call from Jim Ross. It was in July or June and Jim called me, Jim and I are very close now, but back then when the WWE version of the nWo angle was unfolding, I got a call from Jim Ross which really surprised me because of the tension in the relationship. Jim called me and he was very professional but very distant and basically offered me an opportunity to come in and join WWE as a part of a storyline.”
Bischoff believes the storyline on offer was the NWO invasion, and that if he had joined WWE, he would have been revealed as the person bringing them into the company. Ultimately, it was revealed that Vince McMahon was the person behind the group, something that Bischoff believes was a mistake.
“Jim offered me an opportunity to come in but the timing wasn’t right for me, it just didn’t feel right. Jim wasn’t being as forthcoming as I was hoping him to be to at least get me excited about it so I passed on it. I’m pretty certain it was shortly after we found out Vince McMahon was behind the whole WWE/NWO story. Had I decided to take that opportunity, I think it may have been revealed that I was bringing NWO with me into WWE. If I’m right about that, I think it could’ve helped a lot. I don’t think anybody bought into the story of Vince McMahon bringing in the NWO to ruin his whole company.”
The NWO made their WWE debut at No Way Out 2002, but the original trio broke apart at Wrestlemania X8, where Nash and Hall turned on Hogan following his loss to The Rock. The faction continued with the induction of new members such as Shawn Michaels, Big Show and X-Pac. Vince McMahon announced the dissolution of the group on the July 15th, 2002 episode of Raw, the same episode that saw Eric Bischoff debut as the Raw General Manager.
Bischoff will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the 2021 class on Tuesday, April 6th.
Credit goes to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.