For years Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon were rivals on screen, off-screen and everything in between.
With Bischoff at the helm of WCW and McMahon heading WWE, the pair did battle across wrestling’s great divide through much of the mid to late 1990’s. While WWE had been the biggest party in town for a number of years, WCW hit back in 1996 with the formation of the nWo. The group heralded the arrival of a new era in professional as WCW dominated WWE in the ratings for 83 consecutive weeks.
While the two companies traded barbs and the two men at the top thinly veiled shots at the competition, McMahon and Bischoff never came face to face. This was despite Bischoff’s best efforts as he famously challenged McMahon to a match at Slamboree 1998. As McMahon didn’t appear at the show, Bischoff instructed to referee to count the WWE Chairman out and declare him the winner.
With the Monday Night Wars over and consigned to history, Eric Bischoff arrived in WWE in 2002. Performing as the RAW General Manager, Bischoff butted heads with McMahon on numerous occasions on-screen before leaving the company in 2005.
Despite the two rivals being under the same roof, many fans were surprised that McMahon and Bischoff never met in the ring. While the pair were scheduled to meet in February 2004, Brock Lesnar quickly interfered rendering the match a no contest.
Reflecting on the potential clash, Bischoff laid the blame for the match not happening firmly at his own door.
Yes, there was money left on the table. I think it would have been a great opportunity. I think the reason it didn’t happen was largely because of me. I had let myself go physically, I wasn’t working out. I mean, I was in pretty decent shape, I guess, going back and looking at it. I didn’t look horrible on television, but I hadn’t really worked out in a couple of years by that point. I was no longer kickboxing. I wasn’t really doing anything physically. I’d jog every once in a while and hit the gym and lift weights, you know, a couple of times a year for a month or two. But as far as you know, staying in shape and being active, I really wasn’t.”
Expanding further, Bischoff explained that by comparison, McMahon was in tremendous physical condition. Notably appearing on the cover of Muscle and Fitness Magazine. This meant that a match between the two men in the eyes of McMahon, wouldn’t have seemed believable.
“I’m guessing, I don’t know, Vince and I never had a conversation about this, but had I been in better physical condition, which would have made it more believable, a story between Vince… Because at the same time, I was letting myself go by, not working out, not training, Vince was like on the cover of Muscle and Fitness Magazine. He looked like a million bucks, I looked like a fifty year old has-been. So I just don’t think the timing was right. Had it been 20 years earlier, 15 years earlier or even ten years earlier, I think it would have probably been pretty good. But I just think in Vince’s mind, it didn’t visually make any sense.”
Eric Bischoff later returned to WWE in a behind the scenes role as Executive Director of SmackDown in June 2019. However, the former WCW head honcho wouldn’t last long in the role, leaving the company just a handful of months later in October.