Former WCW Executive Producer, Eric Bischoff revealed the reasons why the WCW BattleBowl concept was not a success on his latest 83 Weeks podcast.
BattleBowl was a two-ring Battle Royal, wherein 10 wrestlers competed in each ring. The winner of each ring squared off with each other until there was a victor.
Dusty Rhodes created BattleBowl for Starrcade 1991 and was his attempt at devising a marquee match suitable as an annual attraction for WCW’s flagship event.
On the concept, Bischoff said:
“Dusty had a different way of looking at things, and he was looking for that Starrcade, he was looking for that WrestleMania, he was looking for that big event that could become a tentpole… I don’t think Dusty was the long-term strategic storyteller that he probably would’ve liked to have been. Dusty thought in terms of the next big event, the next big headline… The majority I think of Dusty’s creative thought process was probably dedicated to what’s the next big huge hit we can conjure up and create.I think BattleBowl was an example of that.”
On why BattleBowl did not work, Bischoff explained:
“In my opinion, lack of story. Go back and look – even though WWE business was down at this time, this was at a period of time when WWE was probably recognized for telling such great stories. They weren’t weekly stories, they were long-term stories.”
“In WCW, we were relying probably too much on the exhibition, the big match, the gimmicks – Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal, and BattleBowl. I’m guilty of it too – World War 3. Those are all examples of let’s just have this super big event, but how do we build a story to support the big event? What’s the foundation that people are investing in in order to see the payoff at this big, special event?… You always wanted that big tentpole, highly-promotable event that captures the audience’s imagination like a BattleBowl, but if you didn’t have great story that people were invested in going into it, it was just an event. At this point, WCW’s track record of events that really didn’t mean that much was a big part of the problem.”
BattleBowl returned at Starrcade in 1992 and had its own pay-per-view centred on the gimmick in 1993 before it was quietly shelved. It returned as a one-off in 1996 before the gimmick was retired permanently.
You can listen to Bischoff’s 83 Weeks here.
h/t to 411mania.com/wrestling for transcription.