Eric Bischoff shared his plans for WCW in 2001, had his planned purchase of the company gone ahead in the latest edition of his 83 Weeks podcast.
“The discussions weren’t as much about how to we pull the nose up on WCW and weren’t as much creative as it was about strategy. How do we find a home base, have the high production values, make it feel like a big show from a national perspective, yet find ways to reduce costs with regard to travel to the arena. Ticket sales didn’t justify travelling the show. So, we had to go back to a strategy I embraced probably around 1994 when I went to Disney, which was, ‘Look, we’re not drawing, we’re not hot. Let’s use our resources as efficiently as we can.’ Part of that was finding a home base.”
The former WCW Executive Vice President planned to strip down the company to its bare bones and rebuild it from the ground up:
“We were in early phase negotiations that were meaningful, but we hadn’t started dotting I’s and crossing T’s at this point with the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. They were seriously considering building us a big arena on top of one of their parking decks that would’ve held about 5,000-7,000 people. We would’ve been the resident attraction there. While we weren’t in that arena, Hard Rock would use it for smaller concerts. That plan was one we were developing. Another thing we were beginning to analyse was the talent. Who do we want to keep? Who can we afford to let go? What’s the status of their existing agreements and would they want to re-sign? There was a lot of that kind of analysis and strategic discussions as opposed to creative ones.”
Bischoff planned to relaunch WCW with a special pay-per-view event in May 2001, called ‘The Big Bang.’ The name was chosen to highlight this was a new WCW. Bischoff explained his strategy regarding pay-per-views had his purchase been successful:
“We may have actually reduced some of them. One of the thoughts I had at the time was that when TV is hot and you’re running strong and when ratings and attendance and merchandise are strong – when everything is running at peak performance levels in your different business units – it’s OK to add a pay-per-view. But when things are down, it’s better to regroup, reassess the use of your resources, focus on what’s really working and what has the most likely chance to work and divest yourself of some of the legacy pay-per-views that really weren’t doing all that well maybe because of the time of year.”
The 65-year-old added:
“For example, springtime can be a tough time of year, and the April pay-per-view can be tough. I know WrestleMania does so well, but that’s one of the reasons why a non-WWE pay-per-view tends to suffer in March and April and even into May. WWE and WrestleMania take such a massive amount of money out of the marketplace.”
On whether he would have kept Scott Steiner as WCW World Champion, Bischoff concluded:
“It worked for me. I liked Scott at the time, I liked what he could do in the ring and his in-ring abilities were nothing short of amazing. His larger-than-life persona was hard to compare anybody to. The challenges I had with Scott were his consistency and personality. He was volatile in and out of the ring. He was capable of doing things outside the ring that could’ve brought great harm to the company’s reputation. That part was dangerous as your world champion. It was dangerous for anyone on television, but as your world champion, even more so. I liked it creatively, but from a business perspective, it was not without risk.”
Bischoff and Fusient Media’s joint bid to purchase WCW fell through in early 2001. Then-TBS Chief, Jamie Kellner removed all wrestling programming from the network, leaving WCW without a television deal.
That led to WWE purchasing all of WCW’s trademarks, video libraries and contracts of select performers, in March that year.
Bischoff would instead join WWE as the on-screen, Raw General Manager in July 2002. A position he held until December 2005.
You can listen to the full podcast here.
h/t to 411 Wrestling for transcript