Eric Bischoff Recalls Meeting KISS’ Gene Simmons For the First Time in WCW
On the latest edition of his 83 Weeks podcast WWE Hall of Famer Eric Bischoff spoke about his meeting with rock’n’roll superstar Gene Simmons from the band Kiss, and the planned gig they had in line for an episode of WCW Nitro. Highlights are below.
Recalls the first time he met with KISS front-man, Gene Simmons:
I remember specifically the first time I met Gene. We sat down and immediately we’re talking about a long-term plan. When I met Gene, the very first time was at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Rodeo Drive,” Bischoff began by saying. “It was like four o’clock in the afternoon and I had never met Gene. Frankly, wasn’t a big fan of KISS. I certainly knew of them and had a lot of friends who were, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea… I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know that Gene didn’t drink at the time. I find out pretty quickly afterwards, but I walked in and there was nobody in the bar… It was just Gene sitting back in the corner in the Beverly Hills Hotel. It was a really cool, classic Hollywood hotel. They had booths throughout the bar, in the back looking out over the courtyard, and they have these super high backs to the chairs. It was a big, kind of semi-circle booth that Gene was sitting in. There’s was a 20-foot ceiling and Gene had stacks of KISS merchandise stacked up almost all the way to the ceiling all around that booth. Must have been $3,000 with of merchandise stacked up, and there was Gene sitting at the table by himself waiting for me, he got there early, he’s sitting there waiting and I thought, ‘wow this is f***ing cool. I wish there was somebody here to see me hanging out with Gene Simmons,’ but to my disappointment, there was nobody there but the bartender who wasn’t paying attention. We had a great meeting. The idea really wasn’t to have KISS make an appearance on Nitro. That came about after. It was Gene being interested in wrestling. He saw the potential for characters in licensing and merchandising.
On how the meeting went:
The whole idea for the meeting was ‘how do we bring KISS, the KISS brand into this world of professional wrestling and successfully create a line of merchandise that we would have ended up splitting on a 50/50 basis?’ It was merchandise that was going to be created specifically for WCW and KISS. So it would be different than the rest of the KISS merchandise that he already had out there and making a fortune off of. We were going to create characters that were part of the KISS Army, and, ultimately really cap it off with a pay-per-view on December 31, 1999, at the turn of the millennium. So there was a long-term plan. It did not happen all at that meeting. It was the initial meeting, let’s agree to find a way to create a line of merchandise. Well, we know if we’re going to create a lot of merchandise, we have to have some long-term plans creatively in place to sustain it, because you don’t just flip a switch and all of a sudden start selling merchandise. That happens over a long period of time. So that was the essence of our discussion in that first meeting.