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Notes on Eric Bischoff at Starrcast Downunder (13/04/2024)

By Mick Robson

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The following are notes on Eric Bischoff's stage show at Starrcast Downunder in Ballarat:

  • Bischoff recalls his previous experience in Australia with the Hulkamania Tour. He couldn't remember the year- "2006? 2007?" I helpfully yelled out, "2009!" He cracked, "Thanks! Now where did I leave my car keys..."

  • He mentioned WWE's recent trip to Perth and its main star, Rhea Ripley. Says he met Rhea in 2019 when he was hired by WWE as an Executive Director. Admits that he "didn't see it" with her, seeing her as a "subdued personality". Admits that he was wrong, saying that she came out of her shell and got comfortable with her character. "Like a moth that turns into a butterfly". (Not sure on the biology of that but we'll roll with it)

  • His favourite type of wrestling has an emphasis on characters and compelling stories. He notes that wrestling is subjective, comparing it to music in that everyone prefers different genres and elements of it. He believes that storytelling has taken a back seat over the past 20 years, as athletes have gotten so much better in wrestling due to advances in training, nutrition and rehab. Attributes the popular style today as beginning with the cruiserweights in WCW.

  • Bischoff credits WWE for rising up with its storytelling. Likens it to watching a movie, but watching the actors live.

  • Compares the Bloodline to the nWo- while the nWo may have been more significant in history, it 'doesn't compare to the Bloodline' in terms of discipline and nuances. The Usos emerged from it greater, and Sami Zayn found his groove. Sami is one of Bischoff's favourite performers, and says if you're a great performer, your size doesn't matter, you're magic.

  • Says he's close with Cody Rhodes, and Cody briefly thought he "was saying goodbye to his WrestleMania moment" when The Rock came back. Bischoff believes the angle required "reconstructive surgery", but "they did it masterfully".

  • The host, Bharat Sundaresen, mentions Reigns vs. Cody getting 4 and 3/4 stars from Dave Meltzer. Bischoff jokingly goes to leave, before saying that it was the little details and nuances that made it great. Praises the attention to detail- it's like great TV/movies. "Great matches like that can make the audience forget they're watching professional wrestling". They get sucked into the story and the emotion.

  • The conversation shifts towards the nWo. Bischoff says that what made the nWo work was a sense of "I know this is wrestling, but that's not supposed to happen!" Says they were the first to do backstage brawls, and says that the famous segment where Kevin Nash lawn darted Rey Mysterio into a trailer caused the cops to be called.

  • Bischoff with a great quote in the middle of the nWo stories- "you have three choices in life- you can be better than, you can be less than, or you can be different."

  • nWo- "I was disappointed in myself for not having the vision and discipline to bring closure to the nWo."

  • Bischoff credits himself for a lot of the early nWo ideas, such as Hall & Nash invading. When Hogan joined, it became more of a collaboration. Hall provided the edgy vibes and feel of the group. Feels that Nash didn't have as much impact as a contributor, but acknowledges that Hall and Nash were close, so you could never be sure where an idea originated from.

  • Konnan also provided a great vibe to the group with energy and credibility. Same with Sean Waltman (Syxx, X-Pac/123 Kid in WWE).

  • Business was booming and they were caught up in the nWo's success, so felt at the time, "why kill it?" Bischoff concedes that the group got too big and it diluted things- Makes a food analogy, "if you lose the balance, you lose the flavour".

  • Bischoff being revealed as the mastermind behind the nWo was a spontaneous call. Ted Dibiase was set to be the spokesperson for the nWo, but could never adapt his character to fit what the nWo needed. Naming Bischoff as the person behind it also helped fill the logic gaps in the story, such as "why are these guys allowed in the building?"

  • Bischoff's hair- went grey around 26. Started dyeing it in 1987, when he was 32. He eventually got sick of dying it, so booked a "hair vs. hair" match with Ric Flair. He needed to dye his hair every 5-7 days- "the grey streak in my hair made me look like Pepe Le Pew!" When he signed to WWE in 2002, Stephanie McMahon made him dye it again.

  • Stephanie McMahon- Bischoff likes her a lot. He also respects Vince McMahon- "I know that's controversial, I don't give a f**k." Does say that if what is being reported about him is true, that's despicable. He also feels bad for Shane and the kids. He doesn't know what Steph did or didn't know, but that the situation "broke his heart". Stephanie's WrestleMania 40 appearance "brought a tear to his eye". Bischoff hopes for closure to the situation so that they can be proud of WWE. "Whatever happens to Vince, he did it to himself. It's when your actions affect others, that's harder to accept."

  • AEW- in 2019, Bischoff was excited by the prospect of it. He was working for WWE at the time, but put the debut episode of Dynamite on in the writer's room. He says he was an early supporter of AEW. "The more wrestling there is, the better it is, the more people watch".

  • Doesn't agree with Tony Khan taking shots at WWE. He understands it, but says it only works if you're going to compete with WWE. Felt slighted by Tony saying that he wouldn't make WCW's mistakes, "Really, motherf**ker? I'll be taking notes". The comment about "if Ted Turner knew 1% of what I knew about pro wrestling, WCW would still be in business" by Tony pissed Eric off. But, he might as well "make money off him saying something stupid."

  • Shocked by the stupidity of showing the CM Punk/Jack Perry footage on Dynamite- "they shot themselves in both feet, what did they hope to achieve?"

  • "Tony Khan doesn't have the ability to predict the audience". He books what he likes- he likes the action, he doesn't care about the story or the characters. "That's fine if you're not producing a TV show."

  • "He calls AEW a challenger brand. What are they challenging for? Because it's not eyeballs." Bischoff criticises Khan for his ego, stubbornness, and unwillingness to listen to other people.

  • "Tony wants so badly to be recognised as Vince McMahon, Paul Heyman, Eric Bischoff, but he doesn't have the skill set." Bischoff says that Khan is desperately trying to regain credibility. If he could have Tony Khan's ear, he would convince him to walk away from creative and "just be a boss".

  • On the Adam Copeland promo defending AEW- "they did a disservice to him having him do that." Bischoff feels AEW is not doing Copeland's legacy any good.

  • Admits he's made similar mistakes to Tony Khan. It drives him crazy that Tony is making the same mistakes- but it makes him money. Plugs his new podcast, Wise Choices.

  • Bischoff's early days- he worked for Verne Gagne, and worked for free for a number of months when Verne went bankrupt. He believed that if he walked away at that point, he might not be able to get his foot back in the door of the wrestling business.

  • Found the transition from announcer to boss to be hard, as it created resentment. He had to adjust from being friendly to being the boss.

  • One of Bischoff's biggest mistakes was "allowing latitude with talent". Hopes that TK will adjust from making that mistake.

  • Bischoff has more fun being honest- doesn't want to be known as "a phony fuck".

We go to the audience for a Q&A:

  • What's a time you felt goosebumps as a wrestler?  Wrestling Stone Cold in Montreal. Especially because it was Montreal, such a hot crowd. And the back story was real.

  • About his role as an Executive in 2019- was it a hollow move? Bruce Prichard had called him and asked, and he flew out to meet Vince. His role was to oversee the writing team and the brand, like a show runner. However, his role wasn't really defined as Vince was still there overseeing everything, which was really frustrating. He lasted 4 months on the job.

  • My question! Given your background in WCW, did you have any input for your on-screen authority figure character in WWE? Were there any changes that you made to promos/segments? Bischoff typically just received the scripts and stuck to them. Although there were two notable times when he did make changes- one was a segment where Bischoff was to join the Kiss My Ass Club. He went to Vince and refused, not because he was especially unwilling, but wanted to build up to it to mean something, rather than just throwing it out on a random Raw. The other was Bischoff's on-screen write-off in 2005- the script called for John Cena to hit Bischoff with the FU then throw him in the garbage truck. Bischoff felt it needed to be Vince- he had no heat with Cena.

Bischoff then goes on a side story about the weirdness of kissing Linda and Stephanie McMahon and having Vince direct both segments. "Pull her in really f**king tight and lay one on her!" Bischoff growls imitating Vince.

He says that Linda seemed really up for it, while Steph was like "are you f**king kidding me, Dad?" Linda was a better kisser, while Steph "had more to work with".

  • Thoughts on WWE current production? Bischoff credits Kevin Dunn for what he did for WWE production since the 80s, but also says "he became comfortable and stubborn, set in his ways". Some things drove him crazy, but overall they had a high production level. Now, it's improved and hard to criticise, although he feels "it's still too glitzy and perfect". Believes flaws makes the show feel a little more legitimate.

  • Which was worse- the Vince Russo led WCW or the Invasion? Bischoff answers Russo without hesitation. "He butchered it. I didn't find his style entertaining." Calls him a "worse Howard Stern", and the shock jock thing gets old quickly.

  • If you were to start up a promotion, what talents would you sign? Bischoff gives us one- Randy Orton. "Randy Orton is the best of the best, since probably Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels."

  • Thoughts on Triple H? As a young talent in WCW, Bischoff called him a GUD- geographically undesirable. Why fly in an unknown talent from Connecticut when I can get someone else locally? When Triple H went to WWE, he admired his craft in the ring, but wasn't a fan of his character work. "He legitimately is a student of the game". As an executive, Bischoff wasn't sure if Triple H could make significant changes. "Boy, was I wrong. He's doing a great job." He gives credit to Triple H for working under Vince for 20 years, with the stresses that would involve.

And that ends our recap on Eric Bischoff at Starrcast! As you might be able to tell from the amount of notes here, Bischoff was one of the most interesting and engaging speakers of the whole weekend. One of the highlights of the time in Ballarat to be sure.

Still to come in the coming days on the Arena:

  • The "TNA In The Rumble" & Bret Hart stage show reports!

  • Review of PWA's first Black Label event of the year, Ringmasters!

Until next time, take care.


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Image of Mick Robson, founder of The Arena Media

Mick Robson is a freelance writer from Australia. A lifelong fan of pro wrestling and MMA, he endeavours to bring that passion through his coverage in news, reviews and opinion pieces.

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