Bischoff Discusses the Renegade and If He Was a “Cosplay Ultimate Warrior”
On the latest 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff was asked about the infamous Renegade character in WCW and booking him to beat Arn Anderson for the WCW TV Title. The Renegade was Richard Wilson, who made his debut under the gimmick in March of 1995 as a clear take on the Ultimate Warrior. Hogan even introduced him as the “Ultimate Surprise” and “the man that’s gonna bring Hulkamania into the 21st Century.” With Jimmy Hart as his manager, Renegade copied Ultimate Warrior’s mannerisms and moveset and beat Anderson for the TV Title at Great American Bash 1995. However, after the real Warrior appeared in magazine interviews and dispelled the illusion that he was Renegade, fans lost interest and WCW put a stop to his push. He lost the title in September of that year at Fall Brawl and was verbally buried on camera by Jimmy Hart in November.
Renegade bumped around the lower card through 1997 before eventually being released. Sadly, Wilson took his life in February of 1999, depressed about his release and seeing no prospects elsewhere.
Highlights of the discussion are below, along with the full podcast:
On booking Renegade over Anderson for the title: “What year was that, when did that happen? [June 1995] June, okay. So I think in June of ’95, Ric Flair was booking, number one. Not Eric Bischoff. And I’m not putting this on Ric, okay? This is — I’m sure Ric didn’t want to do it either. I’m sure Arn didn’t — REALLY didn’t want to do it, and guarantee you Arn had a conversation or two over a cocktail with Ric about it. And I guarantee you Ric didn’t want to do it.”
On Hulk Hogan’s influence on Renegade’s push: “But let’s not try to avoid the, you know, elephant in the room. That was very much a Hulk Hogan-influenced decision. And looking back on it now, I understand what Hulk was trying to do. He was trying to recreate some of the success that he experienced when he was in WWF. I get it. His view and his take, and his perception on characters, and what could work and what couldn’t work was highly influenced by the things that had success when he was in WWF previously. I understand that.”
On Renegade being just an Ultimate Warrior ripoff: “Quite obvious that Renegade was, as you put it, the cosplay Ultimate Warrior. He was that character that you know, I think from Hulk’s point of view, [he] hoped that the audience could get behind. The miscalculation there is not different really than what we were talking about earlier with the Four Horsemen [reunion]. You can’t recreate something that was, no matter how popular it was for how long a period of time or how short a period of time. You can’t recreate it with a lesser-than character. You could dress it up the same, you could have similar music, you could have a similar finish, you can do all the things that you can do to try to recreate lightning in the bottle, but you won’t. You won’t be able to, it’ll always be perceived as less than, simply because it’s not original. And in Renegade’s case, you know — the man is no longer with us, so I’m gonna be as elegant as I can be here, and respectful as I can be here. But the man didn’t have — not that Ultimate Warrior was necessarily a world-class technician either. But I think when you have somebody as young and green and certainly [laughs] I don’t how else to say this other than awkward in the ring. And not only that, now he’s pretending he’s the Ultimate Warrior, or trying to recreate that.”
On the failure of the gimmick: “It just was a bad decision, it was a bad creative choice. Again, not putting it on Ric. Ultimately I should have probably taken more control of that situation. I was trying to avoid getting involved in creative at that time. I didn’t really get involved until ’96. But it was what it was, and it was influenced greatly by Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart … it was what it was, and man. If I was Arn Anderson I would still resent Eric Bischoff for not being able to stop that train.”