Eric Bischoff has discussed his often tempestuous relationship with Vince McMahon and what would have happened if McMahon answered his challenge to a match at Slamboree 1998.
The World Wrestling Federation and WCW were at the height of the Monday Night Wars in 1998 with both sides taking plenty of shots at their competition any chance they got. In a much-replayed scene on WWF’s Monday Night Raw, DX led by Triple H launched an ‘invasion’ on a WCW show that was being held in Norfolk, Virginia. With the WWF literally planting their tank [or jeep] on WCW territory, WCW President was ready to fire back – by challenging WWF Chairman Vince McMahon to a match on WCW pay-per-view.
At Slamboree 1998, Bischoff took to the ring and seemed ready to fight. However, when McMahon didn’t show up, Bischoff ordered the referee to begin the match and count McMahon out giving him the win.
Eric Bischoff explained:
“I wanted to f*ck with Vince’s head. I wanted to p*ss him off as much as I could to try and get him off his game. And I didn’t know Vince at the time – I don’t mean to suggest I do now either but I know him a lot better now than I did then. He’s a very complicated dude and fascinating at the same time. But everybody that I knew that worked closely with him at that time that I challenged him said that me challenging him on television would drive him batsh*t crazy and I liked that. When you’re driving somebody crazy they don’t think clearly. It’s kinda like the Sun Tzu ‘Art Of War’ approach to combat professional wrestling.”
“When you can get somebody so off their game that they’re making emotional decisions instead of strategic decisions, you have the advantage. I thought OK, everybody around me that knows Vince McMahon well is telling me that me challenging him will drive him crazy, that was the main reason I did it. And the second part of it was, it was a great way to shove the DX storyline down their throats and make them gag on it. But it stopped the whole invasion thing as well, it could have been a coincidence. But the real reason I wanted to do it is I wanted to f*ck with Vince’s head.”
While Eric Bischoff was having the time of his life, there were those in WCW more concerned about what would happen if McMahon decided to take up Bischoff’s offer:
“It was one of the most fun moments I’ve ever had in wrestling, and I’ve had some fun moments but as far as just having a blast, it was so much fun. It was so much fun. There were people that all the way up until the day of the event were convinced that Vince was gonna show up. I thought ‘Great!’ I was excited about it. I even went so far – because it got fairly serious, the morning of the pay-per-view my head of security came and said ‘Ok boss, what should we do if he shows up?’ ‘Show him to his f*cking dressing room, that’s what you do. What else would you do? Make him wait outside in the parking lot? No, let’s have a dressing room for him, let’s make sure there’s enough room, he’s gonna probably bring a couple of people with him. Let’s make sure there’s refreshments in the dressing room, treat it like you would treat anybody else.'”
“As it got closer to show time a couple of people that were close to me, Hulk [Hogan] being one of them said to me ‘Brother, he’s kind of a badass, what are you gonna do if he shows up?’ I said ‘I’ll do what I have to do, we’ll get in the ring and we’ll see how it ends.’ At one point Doug Dillinger, the head of security came over – and nobody wanted to say to me ‘What do we do if he kicks your ass?’ Everybody was dancing around that. But [Dllinger said] ‘Hey boss, what happens if it doesn’t go as good as you hope it’ll go?’ I said ‘Do you mean if I’m getting my ass kicked? Just let me get my ass kicked. If it gets to the point where it looks like it’s gonna be permanent injury like I’m gonna lose an eye or worse, go ahead and send in security. But otherwise, just let it go.'”
Losing the fight to McMahon may not have been at the forefront of Bischoff’s mind but he goes on to say, he has been on the receiving end of some beat downs throughout his life. On this occasion, Eric Bischoff could have had a giant weapon at his disposal to stop McMahon.
“I don’t wanna sound like a tough guy but I’ve had my fair share of both amateur and professionally competing, I wrestled throughout high school and I wrestled throughout college. I was a bouncer in a bar in downtown Chicago for a while. It’s not like I’ve never had my ass kicked before. I kinda know what it feels like. But here’s what happens if someone’s beating the hell out of you, they get pretty tired pretty quick. So as long as you can just endure it, cover up as best you can, and just let them punch themselves out and eventually they gotta quit. So as long as it doesn’t look like it’s gonna be permanent injury, just let it go. Big Show came up to me and said ‘Boss’ – I got along with him but I wasn’t like close friends with Paul Wight – but Paul said ‘Boss if you want me to be kinda standing by…’ I said ‘No Paul, we’re good. Hang around the curtain and if it looks like it’s gonna be permanent, feel free to step in and stop him but otherwise let it go.”