Eric Bischoff on whether the inmates were running the asylum in WCW

Nov 27, 2023 - by James Walsh

On the latest episode of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff talked about the problems with top WCW stars not working live events due to various excuses despite being advertised to appear, whether that was a case of them flexing their power and more. You can check out some highlights below:

On top WCW stars not working house shows: “I think it was a little bit of both [a misstep and the business evolving]. The reality is a lot of that top talent that was driving television — for example, Hulk Hogan — ’96, ’97, ’98, he wasn’t working house shows. It was part of his deal. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash. Yes, they worked some house shows but there was a limit at that point in time as to how many of those house shows they could work. You know, I think — I don’t remember what we had in their agreement. I think it was 150 dates a year perhaps. Kevin Nash could correct me on that, but I think it was 150 dates a year max, maybe 180.

“But then you take out 50 of those for television. You take out another 12 of those for pay-per-view. And that was Kevin and Scott, who did have 150 or 180 days in their agreement. Some of the other talents, Roddy Piper for example, Randy Savage, didn’t have that many dates in their agreement. So even if we wanted to put them on house shows, we had to be very careful about it. We had to manage it. Yes, they were driving television. No, we didn’t — a lot of that top talent we didn’t always include in house shows, and I think it did hurt our house show business. But you also have to remember that the reason I was able to attract some of that talent, the Hulk Hogans, the Scott Halls, the Kevin Nashes, who came in and almost immediately told me that the reason they were leaving wasn’t necessarily because of money. It was because they couldn’t keep up the schedule and didn’t want to. So we were a more comfortable place to work lifestyle-wise, but that did put a lot of pressure on us in terms of what we could and couldn’t do on live events. I don’t know that it was a mistake, I just think it was the state of the business that WCW was in.”

On whether the inmates were running the asylum by deciding not to work house shows: “No, I don’t think it was the inmates running the asylum. That’s a really cool generalization. You know, it’s an easy one to make for people that don’t know what was really going on. I think talent management was a big issue. I think the frustration among some of the talent that was beginning to kind of manifest around this period of time made it easy for talent to say, ‘Oh, my back hurts. I can’t work.’ ‘Oh, I twisted my knee last night. I can’t work.’ There were a lot of excuses amongst talent.

“And a lot of that again, it manifests as a result of morale, creative choices, talent sometimes working together to try to achieve an outcome. That kind of s**t happened. It happened in WCW. It probably has happened in WWE, and I dare say it’s probably happening to this day in AEW. You’re dealing with talent, and any time you’re dealing with talent, you’re dealing with egos. And you’re dealing with human beings that are fatigued, they’re tired, they’ve got things going on in their personal lives. There’s all kinds of reasons why things can occur that create a great opportunity for no-shows. It’s unfortunate, but it happened. But I don’t think it was the inmates running the asylum as much as it was the result of a lot of frustration that had been building up really towards the end of 1998. I think is a fair statement.”

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