Eric Bischoff

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Eric Bischoff
Eric bischoff 2011.png
Eric Bischoff in 2011
Birth nameEric Aaron Bischoff
Born (1955-05-27) May 27, 1955 (age 63)[1]
Detroit, Michigan, United States
ResidenceCody, Wyoming, United States
Spouse(s)
Kimberly Bowman
(m. 1977; div. 1980)

Loree Bischoff (m. 1984)
Children2; including Garett Bischoff
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Eric Bischoff
Billed height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[2]
Billed weight185 lb (84 kg)[2]
Billed fromDetroit, Michigan[2]
Debut1981[2]

Eric Aaron Bischoff (born May 27, 1955) is an American entrepreneur, television producer, professional wrestling booker and on-screen personality. He is best known for serving as Executive Producer and later President of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and subsequently, the General Manager of WWE's Raw brand. Bischoff has also worked with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) where he served as Executive Producer of Impact Wrestling. With an amateur background in taekwondo,[citation needed] Bischoff also sporadically performed as an in-ring competitor, and is a former WCW Hardcore Champion.[3] He wrote an autobiography, titled Controversy Creates Cash, which was released in 2006 under WWE Books.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

American Wrestling Association (1989–1991)[edit]

Bischoff started in wrestling working for the American Wrestling Association (AWA) under owner Verne Gagne and would eventually become an on-air interviewer and host until the AWA folded in 1991. Bischoff at first worked in the sales department on the AWA's syndicated programming, and became an on-air personality virtually by accident and at the last minute. Larry Nelson, whom at the time was employed by the AWA as an announcer, was arrested under suspicion of a DUI.[4] Because of Nelson's sudden unavailability, Verne Gagne and his son, Greg, opted to recruit Bischoff (who initially had no desire to be in front of the camera) to fill-in on the interviews. Bischoff believed that the Gagnes thought that he would be a good replacement due to his immediate availability in the television studio, and the fact that he was already wearing a suit and tie.

During the gradual demise of the AWA, the company was unable to meet payroll, and Bischoff auditioned for an announcer's position with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1990, but was not hired.

World Championship Wrestling (1991–2001)[edit]

Arrival and ascent to power[edit]

In 1991, Bischoff joined World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as a C-show announcer, debuting at The Great American Bash. As an announcer, Bischoff reported to producer Tony Schiavone and WCW's Vice President of Broadcasting, Jim Ross. In 1993, after WCW President Bill Watts resigned from the company, Bischoff went to TBS executive Bill Shaw and WCW Vice President Bob Dhue to apply for the job of Executive Producer. Ross and Schiavone seemed to be the two top candidates, however, Bischoff was hired in Watts' place.[5] Schiavone remained a producer and commentator until the company's demise, but Ross was released from the company and went to the WWF.[6] Initially, Bischoff and Dhue worked together as partners, but frequently clashed over the direction of the company.

In 1994, Bischoff was promoted from Executive Producer to Executive Vice President, making him the boss of the entire company. Dhue resigned, as did event manager Don Sandefeur and junior vice president Jim Barnett. Bischoff convinced Turner executives to better finance WCW in order to compete with the WWF. He moved WCW production to Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida. Hulk Hogan, who was filming a show called Thunder in Paradise at Disney-MGM Studios, was approached by Bischoff and Ric Flair and signed to a contract with WCW. He also invested money in production values and increased the number of WCW pay-per-views (first 7 a year, then 10, and then once a month). The changes paid off, and in 1995, WCW turned a profit for the first time in the company's history. By 1997, Bischoff's official job title was President of WCW.

The New World Order[edit]

In 1996, Bischoff signed WWF superstar Scott Hall, better known at the time as "Razor Ramon". Two weeks later on Nitro, Hall was joined by Kevin Nash, better known as "Diesel", to become "The Outsiders". Bischoff intentionally depicted the duo as WWF rebels who were not under contract to WCW. To avoid legal action by the WWF, Bischoff in a worked interview at The Great American Bash, asked point blank if they worked for the WWF, which both Hall and Nash denied. The Outsiders expanded and became the New World Order when perennial fan-favorite Hulk Hogan aligned himself with the Outsiders in July 1996.

The nWo was depicted as a rival company engaging in a "hostile takeover" of WCW. Week to week, the angle grew more complex, with a mixture of main-eventers, mid-carders, executives, referees, managers, and announcers involved in various subplots related to the onscreen "WCW vs nWo" power-struggle. Led by the nWo storyline, WCW overtook the WWF as the number one wrestling promotion in America with Nitro defeating Raw in the ratings by a wide margin for 84 consecutive weeks. During this era, Bischoff moved from his role as commentator and joined the nWo as a manager. His television character, dubbed "Eazy E" by Hall ("Sleazy E" by the WCW commentators), became a dictator and egomaniac as the nWo boss. Bischoff also enjoyed some mainstream exposure at the time, appearing on the HBO series Arli$$ as well as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Ted DiBiase said in shoot interviews about Bischoff, Bischoff originally hired DiBiase to be the spokesperson and financial backer for the NWO, but when the NWO was getting to be a bigger storyline, Bischoff replaced DiBiase as NWO spokesperson to make things better.

Downfall of WCW[edit]

When the WWF rebranded their product as "WWF Attitude" and began to focus on new superstars such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick Foley, and The Rock, and made owner/longtime announcer Vince McMahon into a character, this eventually resulted in a ratings turnaround for WWF. On April 13, 1998, WWF finally ended WCW's year and a half run on top of the ratings war. Despite losing in the ratings to WWF, WCW continued to post strong ratings, attendance, and PPV buyrates throughout 1998. In 1998 WCW built one of its first homegrown superstars in Bill Goldberg, and gave him the WCW World Heavyweight Championship on July 6, 1998 at the Georgia Dome in front of 39,919 people on Nitro.

In early 1999, Bischoff promoted Kevin Nash to head booker. Despite Goldberg drawing at the box office and doing three shows in December/January that did nearly a $1,000,000 gate, the decision was made to end Goldberg's undefeated streak and put the belt on Nash. On the January 4 Nitro, at the Georgia Dome, Nash dropped the title to Hogan in a match that became known as the Fingerpoke of Doom, and the nWo was rebranded. By March ratings began dropping, and WCW began experiencing an endless streak of ratings losses.

Throughout 1999, Bischoff reverted to focusing back completely around aging WCW stars such as Hogan, Diamond Dallas Page, Randy Savage, Sting, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Nash, Ric Flair, and Sid Vicious. In an effort to improve ratings, WCW also began to focus heavily on several celebrities such as Master P., Chad Brock, Megadeth, Dennis Rodman, and Kiss. One of the last deals Bischoff structured was a deal with the members of the rock band Kiss to have their own wrestling character known as The Kiss Demon.

By late 1999, WCW began losing around five million dollars a month. Attendance, PPV buys and ratings were down significantly. On September 10, 1999, the decision was made to relieve Bischoff of power.

Replacement[edit]

On September 10, 1999, Bischoff was relieved of his management position with WCW by TBS Sports chief Harvey Schiller. The job title "President of WCW" was eliminated. He was replaced with WCW Vice President of Strategic Planning Bill Busch, who was named Senior Vice President (Handling the creative of the company with Brad Siegel handling the day to day ops). One of Busch's first acts in charge was the additions of former WWF head writer Vince Russo and his colleague Ed Ferrara (both of whom had worked on Raw when the show began to overtake Nitro in the ratings) to head up WCW's creative direction.[7]

In April 2000, Bischoff returned as an on-air character alongside Vince Russo to lead the heel faction The New Blood; Bischoff also worked on writing the shows with Russo during this time. Bischoff's last on-camera role in WCW was in July 2000 at the Bash at the Beach 2000 pay-per-view when Russo did a worked-shoot promo on Hulk Hogan.

Attempted purchase of WCW[edit]

On January 11th, 2001 with WCW facing major financial woes, Siegel accepted Bischoff's offer to purchase the company. Bischoff and a group of investors known as Fusient Media Ventures signed a letter of intent to buy the company.[8] However, the new head of Turner Broadcasting, Jamie Kellner then canceled all WCW programming from its television networks.[9] With no network on which to air its programming, WCW was of little value to Bischoff and Fusient (Bischoff: "It made absolutely no sense for us to do the deal under those circumstances."),[10] whose offer depended on being able to continue to air WCW programming on the Turner networks. With WCW programming canceled (and Viacom subsequently no longer objecting), the company's key choice of assets (tape library, trademarks, and selected contracts) were purchased by the WWF in March 2001 for a substantially lower price (approximately US $3.5 million) than what had been offered.

Post-WCW endeavors[edit]

Bischoff briefly served as President of Matrats, a youth-based wrestling company.[11]

World Wrestling Entertainment[edit]

General Manager of Raw (2002–2005)[edit]

Bischoff during his time with WWE.

In 2002, Bischoff was hired by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, formerly WWF) to be the general manager of Raw. Although primarily an on-screen role, Bischoff had a wide range of contacts within WWE to whom he could pitch creative ideas.[12] He debuted as the first Raw general manager on the July 15 episode of Raw. He resurrected his characteristic brand of smarminess with the GM position, again playing the arrogant heel character he had employed as the NWO boss in WCW. During his debut on Raw he told the audience about how he was president of WCW, creator of the nWo and how he forced Vince McMahon to change the ways he does business.[13] Bischoff is the 2nd place of the longest reigns as general manager in WWE History, with 3 years in total. Former rival and former General Manager of WWE Smackdown Theodore Long surpassed Bischoff's record with a combined number of 6 years. Bischoff's wrestling innovations in WWE included the "Raw Roulette" and the Elimination Chamber, as well as feuds with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shane McMahon, John Cena, SmackDown General Manager Stephanie McMahon, and former Extreme Championship Wrestling owner Paul Heyman. At Taboo Tuesday 2004 Bischoff had his head shaved after failing to beat his (kayfabe) nephew Eugene. Bischoff then began a face turn after his head got shaved. He favoured face wrestlers such as Randy Orton, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho. Bischoff subsequently took a vacation after allowing Randy Orton's team to become General Managers for up to four weeks with every member being the General Manager once a week.

Bischoff began favoring heels again after then-WWE Champion John Cena, who was drafted to Raw in June 2005, refused to participate in Bischoff's vendetta against an impending ECW revival.[14] As a result, Bischoff "declared war" on Cena (citing disdain for Cena's rapping and "thug nature") and made wrestlers such as Chris Jericho and Christian try to take away the WWE Championship from Cena. In November, Bischoff aligned himself with Kurt Angle. Following several months of Raw and SmackDown Invasions, Bischoff lost to SmackDown general manager Theodore Long at Survivor Series 2005 after The Boogeyman helped Long beat Bischoff.

On the December 5 episode of Raw, Eric Bischoff was (kayfabe) "fired" as General Manager, when Vince McMahon tossed him into a garbage truck - following a "trial" where his history of unscrupulous actions were listed - and had him driven out of the arena. Bischoff then sat out the remainder of the year and spent the start of 2006 writing a book that would become Controversy Creates Cash. Bischoff was against writing a wrestling book initially, as he believes "most are bitter, self-serving revisionist history at best—and monuments to bullshit at their worst."[15]

Sporadic appearances and departure (2006–2007)[edit]

On September 25, 2006, Bischoff appeared on WWE TV for the first time in close to a year, and after being brought into the ring by Jonathan Coachman, he proceeded to promote his recently finished book Controversy Creates Ca$h (ISBN 1-4165-2729-X), giving a worked shoot on McMahon and WWE. During his segment, Bischoff stated, "Without Monday Nitro there would be no Monday Night Raw...without the nWo there would be no DX...and without Eric Aaron Bischoff there would be no Vincent Kennedy McMahon". After this statement, Bischoff's microphone was immediately cut off, and he was escorted from the arena by security.

A few days later John Bradshaw Layfield conducted a four-part interview with Bischoff, further discussing his book on WWE.com. During the interview, Bischoff discussed various topics, such as his true feelings towards Lex Luger, his thoughts on ECW promoter Paul Heyman, his decision of giving Kevin Nash booking power, and his overall reaction to the Monday Night Wars. The book was released on October 17, 2006 and became a New York Times best seller.

Bischoff was chosen as the special guest referee for the D-Generation X vs. Rated-RKO match at Cyber Sunday on November 5, with 60% of the vote. He then cheated DX out of the win, leaving Orton and Edge the victors. The next night on Raw, Bischoff was reinstated as General Manager for one night only. During his time as the GM on Raw, he restarted matches if he did not like the outcome. He also got revenge on Maria for her statement made in his trial the year before by making her face Umaga, forced John Cena to "take the night off," and banned DX from the building. He restarted the match between Jeff Hardy and Johnny Nitro for the WWE Intercontinental Championship after Hardy won by DQ. Bischoff restarted that match as a No Disqualification match, and Nitro took advantage of that using Melina to distract Hardy and striking him with the title belt. At the end of the show, DX interfered in the main event when Bischoff tried to help Edge and Randy Orton win the tag team title, and forced him to be humiliated by "Big Dick Johnson" as revenge for costing them their match the night before.

On March 5, 2007, Bischoff made a brief appearance on Raw in Phoenix, Arizona to give Vince McMahon his thoughts on the WrestleMania 23 match against Donald Trump. On December 10, 2007, Bischoff made his last contracted appearance with WWE on Raw for its 15th Anniversary Special, and was confronted by Chris Jericho, the man whom he fired on Raw on August 22, 2005.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling[edit]

Immortal (2010–2012)[edit]

In October 2009, Bischoff helped negotiate a deal among Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), Hulk Hogan, and himself.[16] He premiered alongside Hogan on the January 4, 2010, episode of TNA Impact! as part of an alliance to take over and rebuild the franchise. Behind the scenes, he was also appointed TNA executive producer.[17]

Bischoff at a TNA event in July 2010.

Despite being a heel when dealing with the likes of Jeff Jarrett, Mick Foley and Abyss,[18][19] Bischoff refereed his first TNA match at Against All Odds, favoring the face challenger Samoa Joe over the heel champion A.J. Styles in a match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. During the match, as part of the storyline, Bischoff punched out Styles' manager Ric Flair, after he interfered in the match, but the distraction led to Styles retaining his belt.[20] On the March 15 episode of Impact! Bischoff attempted to shave Mick Foley bald as a punishment for trying to help Jeff Jarrett in a handicap match the previous week, but was shaved bald himself, when Foley turned the tables on him.[21] At Lockdown Bischoff turned face by helping Team Hogan defeat Team Flair in the Lethal Lockdown match.[22] The next months Bischoff worked with Hogan, Jeff Jarrett and Samoa Joe against Sting and Kevin Nash, who claimed that they knew that Bischoff and Hogan were up to something.[23] During this time Abyss turned on Hogan and went on a rampage, which included attacking the TNA World Heavyweight Champion Rob Van Dam to the point that he was forced to vacate the title, all the while claiming that he was controlled by some entity, that was coming to TNA.[24][25][26] After he manhandled TNA president Dixie Carter on the October 7 episode of Impact!, Bischoff presented Carter with the paperwork that would have Abyss fired after his match with Rob Van Dam at Bound for Glory, which she then proceeded to sign.[27]

At Bound for Glory Bischoff turned heel with Hogan, as the two of them helped Jeff Hardy win the vacant TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Bischoff, Hogan and Hardy then aligned themselves with Abyss and Jeff Jarrett.[28] On the following episode of Impact! it was revealed that Bischoff had tricked Carter and the paperwork she had signed a week earlier, were not to release Abyss, but to turn the company over to him and Hogan. Meanwhile, Bischoff's and Hogan's new stable, now known as Immortal, formed an alliance with Ric Flair's Fortune.[29] On the November 4 episode of Impact!, Bischoff took part in his first match in TNA, challenging the concussed Mr. Anderson to earn his shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, only for Matt Morgan to take his spot and beat Bischoff to become the number one contender.[30] Dixie Carter returned on the November 25 episode of Reaction, informing Hogan and Bischoff that a judge had filed an injunction against the two on her behalf over not having signatory authority, indefinitely suspending Hogan from TNA.[31] On January 31, 2011, at the tapings of the February 3 episode of Impact!, Fortune turned on Immortal, explaining that they were not going to let TNA suffer the same fate as WCW.[32][33] Hogan, having won the court battle against Dixie Carter, returned to TNA on the March 3 episode of Impact!, declaring himself as the new owner of the promotion.[34]

However, on the May 12 episode of the newly renamed Impact Wrestling, Immortal lost control of the program to Mick Foley, who revealed himself as the Network consultant, who had been causing problems for Immortal ever since Bischoff and Hogan took over the company, however, this angle was aborted just three weeks later, when Foley left the promotion.[35][36] Also in May, Bischoff declared war on the X Division, after the legitimate firing of Jay Lethal, and on the May 19 episode of Impact Wrestling, wrestled his second TNA match, when he teamed with Matt Hardy in a tag team match, where they defeated Generation Me (Jeremy and Max Buck).[37][38] The storyline concluded on August 11, when the Network gave the division back to the original X Division wrestlers, after the success of Destination X, which saw Immortal's Abyss lose the X Division Championship to Brian Kendrick.[39] On October 6, it was reported that Bischoff had signed a contract extension with TNA.[40] On October 16 at Bound for Glory, after losing control of TNA back to Dixie Carter, Hogan turned on the rest of Immortal by saving Sting from a beatdown at the hands of its members.[41] Sting had won the match when referee Jackson James, who had earlier in the event been revealed as Bischoff's real-life son Garett Bischoff, reluctantly called the ring bell for a submission, which led to Eric hitting his son with a steel chair following the match, starting a rivalry between the two.[41] On April 15, 2012 at Lockdown, Eric and Garett captained opposing teams in the annual Lethal Lockdown match. Garett won the match for his team by pinning Eric, forcing his father out of TNA in the process.[42]

Backstage roles and lawsuit (2012–2014)[edit]

After Lockdown, Bischoff did not appear on TNA Impact Wrestling and focused on his backstage roles. In October 2013, Bischoff was sent home by TNA to sit out the remainder of his contract, which expired in early 2014. In May 2015, Bischoff, his son Garett, and his business partner Jason Hervey sued TNA for unpaid salary.[43] During an interview in August 2016, when Bischoff was asked what went wrong with the company he said: "I try to put them both out of my mind so I couldn’t tell you. No comment. I’m in the middle of a lawsuit with them so I can’t really comment." When asked about positive memories during his time with TNA he stated that he did not have any.[44]

Returns to WWE (2016–2018)[edit]

In 2016, WWE released a DVD about Bischoff, with the documentary portions also airing on the WWE Network.[45] On March 21, 2017, Bischoff was announced to induct Diamond Dallas Page into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31.[46] On the January 22, 2018, episode of Raw 25, Bischoff made a guest appearance on the show, during a segment with other former Raw general managers.

Television production career[edit]

Bischoff, with actor Jason Hervey, ran his own production company, Bischoff-Hervey Entertainment, which primarily produced reality TV shows, through 2017. They produced a live Girls Gone Wild pay-per-view event from Florida in 2003 with WWE and another pay-per-view about the Sturgis, South Dakota motorcycle rally in 2004. They also executive produced the VH1 reality shows Scott Baio Is 45...and Single, Scott Baio Is 46...and Pregnant, I Want To Be a Hilton, and Confessions of a Teen Idol, along with the CMT show Billy Ray Cyrus...Home At Last. Bischoff-Hervey Productions also produced a wrestling reality show called Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling in which ten celebrities were trained to wrestle and one celebrity is voted off weekly. Bischoff also appeared as one of the "judges" on the show. In November 2009, Bischoff helped produce Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania tour to Australia. Bischoff, also has a show in development with Food Network called "Food Fight" where pro wrestlers take on celebrity chefs in cooking and then tag-team with them in a wrestling match. In January 2013, Bischoff and Hervey produced the television series Hardcore Pawn: Chicago.

Video game production career[edit]

In 2013, Bischoff-Hervey Entertainment acquired an ownership interest in MX Digital, company that produces and distributes online and mobile games in Europe and North America. Among the company's first released games were Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania, which debuted on SkyVegas in November 2012.[47] Their next game, The Hoff, featuring actor-singer David Hasselhoff, was released widely in Europe in February 2013.[48][49]

In early 2014, his online-gaming company announced a deal with actor Dan Aykroyd to launch a Blues Brothers online casino game in Europe.[50] Later that year, MX Digital launched their games on Facebook, under the moniker "MX Casino". Slot-machine-style games playable upon launch as a Facebook app included "socialized" versions of Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania, as well as a similarly Facebook-friendly version for David Hasslehoff's, The Hoff. Also debuting in October of that year were a batch of new celebrity-themed games, this time starring the likes of Dennis Rodman, James Dean and Chuck Norris.[51]

Personal life[edit]

Before getting into professional wrestling, Bischoff had a number of occupations. He acted in a training video for bank employees regarding fair lending practices, owned a successful landscape construction company, worked as a veterinary assistant, competed as a professional kickboxer, and ran a butcher shop, where he sold meat via van delivery. Hulk Hogan would famously refer to this time in his life during his heel promo at the end of the 1996 WCW pay-per-view event Bash at the Beach in Daytona Beach, Florida, saying, "If it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis."[52]

Bischoff lives in Cody, Wyoming; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Los Angeles, California with his wife, Loree. He has two children: son Garett (born April 20, 1984); and daughter Montanna (born November 1985).[53] Garett, under the ring name Jackson James, made his debut for TNA Wrestling on November 7, 2010, as a referee at Turning Point, before later becoming a wrestler under his real name.[54]

On May 5, 2011, Eric Bischoff announced that he was starting a brewing company in Cody, Wyoming. Their first beverage, called Buffalo Bill Cody Beer, featured the tag line "The Spirit of the Wild West".[55]

On July 27, 2016, Bischoff premiered his first podcast show, Bischoff on Wrestling, on MLW Radio. After October 17, 2017, he quit the show due to being short changed on money. In April 2018, Bischoff returned to podcasting with 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff alongside co-host, Conrad Thompson.

Bischoff is close friends with fellow WWE alumnus Bruce Prichard.[56]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

References[edit]

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