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Reviewed by KrusherKoxx
Controversy Creates Cash
Reviewed by KrusherKoxx
When I first heard that Eric Bischoff was going to be putting out a book, my first thought was ?Just another book on the biz, that will be filled with ax grinding, back stabbing, and dragging people through the mud, utter bullshit?. However, upon reading the book, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the restraint that Bischoff showed. In the first chapter, Bischoff says he wasn?t going to ?muddy? anyone?s name in his book unlike others. I thought upon reading that ?Yeah, I can?t wait for him to start slinging the mud?. Too my surprise, he never took a deliberate shot on anyone. Bischoff kept referring to the character he played; versus the ?REAL? Eric Bischoff and that the real Eric Bischoff is not ?out to get anyone?. I must say that I applaud Bischoff for taking the high road when so many others have chosen to use their ?BIOGRAPHIES? to sling mud left and right, and try and tear down the men that made them what they are in our eyes, the fans eyes, superstars. However I am getting off target, let me reel myself back in and focus on the task at hand, and that is Controversy Creates Cash.
The Early Years and Verne and the American Wrestling Association
Bischoff takes the first chapter to explain his childhood, and how at a young age a strong sense of work ethic was ingrained in him, and how later on while working for the AWA and WCW, that helped him. We also learn that he was a fairly good salesman, and that is how he got his foot in the door with Verne Gagne and the American Wrestling Association. He also spoke of how he was eager to take on new tasks and learning new things such as when he started to hang out with Mike Shields who ran the production trailer when Verne was holding matches out at the Showboat Casino in Las Vegas. From there, we learn that Bischoff was pretty much forced in his on air role as an interviewer due to ?Mean? Gene Okerlund defecting to the World Wrestling Federation, and that Larry Nelson didn?t show up one day due to being in jail. So Bischoff gets the gig only due to the fact that he is the only one in the building who is wearing a shirt and tie. Bischoff is scared shitless and is glad that his stint is short lived, or so he thinks. A replacement is brought in (NOTE: Who was the guy between Nelson and Bischoff?) and he stunk the place up worse then Bischoff does. Bischoff is brought back to the ?stick?. However Bischoff states that it is strictly due to economics since Verne is ?burning cash? to keep up with Vince and the WWF. I really enjoyed the details Bischoff went into during his AWA days mainly due to the fact that not a lot of the workers have had much to say about Verne and the AWA, and if they do have anything to say, it?s usually to take a shot at Verne and what a tight ass he was with his money, or how he would try to get his daughters married off to the talent, and how he pushed Greg (his son) to ?superstardom?. Bischoff talks about his audition with Vince and Kevin Dunn at the WWF trying to get a job before Verne closed down. Bischoff states that he didn?t give a very good audition and he was given a ?Thanks but no thanks? by Vince. So it was back to the AWA and Verne ?burning cash?. Eventually the cash runs out, and Verne closes down the AWA, which leaves Bischoff hunting for another job.
Bischoff states that he put together an audition tape and sent it to the then head of World Championship Wrestling?s Jim Herd. About a month goes by and Herd gives Bischoff ?the call?. During his time in Atlanta while ?auditioning? Bischoff discovers that Diamond Dallas Page is working for WCW as an announcer and that due to a previous run in with Page while both were in the AWA thinks that Page is going to ?Pearl Harbor? his chances at getting a job with WCW. Bischoff and Page patch things up, and Page actually recommends Bischoff. This is the beginning of Bischoff and Page?s friendship that lasts until this day. Bischoff states that during a lunch meeting with Herd that Herd wants him ?To put pressure on Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone. Let them know that there is someone here that can take over for them if they don?t tow the company line?. From what I?ve read in other books, Herd was the consummate asshole, and this does nothing but solidify those feelings. In any event Bischoff is considered the backup to the backup to the announcers? position. However, making upwards of seventy thousand dollars a year, and the fact that he had to file for bankruptcy, Bischoff could care less.
THE POLICTICS OF THE INNER SANCTUM
In early 1991, Jim Herd was fired from WCW and a Turner executive by the name of Kip Frey takes his place. Bischoff talks of how there was a sense of ?renewal? upon Frey?s arrival. However, the same ugly head is raised as before with Herd with talent lining up and trying to exert their political power. This is the meat and potatoes of the book ladies and gentlemen. If anyone knew what was going on behind the scenes, it?s Bischoff. Bischoff states that ?the sharks were circling from the day Frey started? and due to that fact, and the fact that Frey knew nothing about the sport and it?s inner workings, was overwhelmed and was shown the door in sixty days of taking over. The one good thing that Bischoff says that Frey made was the fact that there was now some sort of open communication between the Turner executives and those in WCW. Upon Frey leaving, the WCW brass (The Turner executives) brought in ?Cowboy? Bill Watts. Bischoff pointed out that Watts was for all intents and purposes ?out of touch? with how the wrestling business had, at that point evolved from the time that Watts was running the ultra successful Mid South Wrestling/Universal Wrestling Federation. Watts outlawed top rope moves, removed the ringside mats, and tried to ?legitimize? the wrestling business by making the product what it was when Watts not only wrestled, but ran Mid-South. Bischoff also talked about Watts undercutting the performers? salaries forcing many to either take a substantially lower income, or just cutting them altogether. However, I don?t agree with everything that Bischoff has to say about the Watts regime. Watts did bring something to the table that McMahon didn?t, and that was ground it out mat wrestling. However, the idea to make WCW Saturday Night a talk show with Jim Ross was preposterous, and that I have to agree with Bischoff on. Bischoff also talked about how Watts handles himself in the executive branch of the Turner empire, and that Bischoff feels to a certain extent that the ?dirt sheet writers? (in this case specifically being Mark ?I?m a big piece of shit? Madden) had an ax to grind with Watts, and that they purposely made sure that the interview got back to Turner brass. We fast forward from this point to Bischoff actually taking control of World Championship Wrestling. Bischoff talks in great length throughout the book that none of the Turner executives knew what or how to treat the WCW product, and how those in the executive branches continually under cut the WCW brand. Bischoff also talks at great length of the Turner mergers that would eventually be the death knell for the promotion. Not only does Bischoff discuss in great length and detail the struggles he had with Turner brass, but he also talks about the politics played out by ?the boys?. He paints Hogan out as a self serving egotistical bastard without having to actually come out and say it. He portrays Ric Flair as a whiney self-pity induced shell of a man, again, without actually having to put it in those exact words. Bischoff talks about the ?Loose Cannon? angle that he allegedly had discussed with Brian Pillman, and how Bischoff to this day wonders if Pillman worked him or not.
Turning Coal into a Diamond
When Bischoff took over World Championship Wrestling he was determined to make WCW a cash making conglomerate as Vince McMahon had done with the World Wrestling Federation. One of the ways Bischoff thought of turning things around was the signing of Hulk Hogan. Bischoff gives Hogan a lot of credit for turning around WCW. Although he also states that if it wasn?t for the birth of the nWo, the Hogan deal would have been a huge bust due to the fact that the WCW fan base wanted Hogan to fall flat on his face. Bischoff talks about filming the WCW shows in Orlando at Disney, and how that turned the tide both financially and product wise. Bischoff also talks about creating the Cruiserweight Division and how he counted on the Cruiserweights to quicken the pace of the shows. Bischoff also talks about his vision for Monday Night Nitro, and how the show came to fruition. Bischoff talks about signing Luger from the WWF, and how Luger came in at a lower salary then what he was accustomed to making. Bischoff also talks about signing other talent from the WWF most notably Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Bret Hart. I?ll discuss these three later on. Bischoff discusses the method of creating a positive work environment; even though we have read and heard others state that Bischoff was a tyrannical asshole. We also learn that under Bischoff, WCW had their first year of profit under his tutelage. Rather or not this can be substantiated, I don?t know, nor will we ever be able to find out, but I find it hard to believe that WCW was in the red for years and years, and then Eric ?The Magician? comes in and within a year they are in the black.
The Birth of the new World order
Bischoff discusses the formation of what really put WCW on the map in the nineties, and that was the birth of the new World order. Hall and Nash were both interested in coming to WCW due to their contracts being up with the World Wrestling Federation. Bischoff talks in great detail about the formation of the nWo, and specifically Hall and Nash. Bischoff talks about having thoughts of signing Scott Hall due to his ?chemical imbalances? but he also gave Hall credit for being a creative talent. I find it interesting that Hogan wanted to turn heel only after he realized that the nWo was going to be huge. Again, without overtly doing so Bischoff shows what an egotistical asshole Hogan really is. I was equally surprised to learn that Sting was originally going to be the ?third Outsider? that night. Bischoff also gives Hall credit for the nWo name, although Hogan still claims that it was he that coined the team name. Bischoff talks about how Hall, Nash, and Hogan really worked well off each other, and how the three of them consistently made the others raise their game to a higher level. Bischoff also writes that without Hall, Nash wouldn?t have been that much of an impact and the same holds true with Hall, that without Nash, Hall wouldn?t have been nearly as effective as he was. Bischoff also states that he wanted to create a second brand apart from WCW and that is why the nWo grew so large, and why they (nWo) were given a PPV (Souled Out). Bischoff states that the timing was rushed, and that if he had to do it again, he wouldn?t have rushed the ?separate nWo brand? idea.
The Real Death of WCW
Bischoff tells the readers that it wasn?t him, Russo, Hogan, Flair, or any other employee of World Championship Wrestling that killed WCW regardless of what the dirt sheet writers want you to believe. The death of WCW was due to the merger of Time Warner and AOL. Bischoff discusses at great length in the final chapters of the book the undoing of World Championship Wrestling, and how the promotion was killed by the ineptness of company executives trying to make the company run like any other business. You can sense the contempt that Bischoff still harbors towards the executives that ran Turner/Time Warner.
Back in Black
Bischoff talks about his return to wrestling as a member of World Wrestling Entertainment. If there ever was a ?full circle? story, it?s here. From his interview early in his career as an announcer and being rejected, to hugging Vince McMahon on national television to shocked and stunned viewers (and workers in the back). Bischoff states that he knew exactly what was expected of him, and how he never, nor does he ever want to be back in an ?executive? role with World Wrestling Entertainment. Bischoff states that he couldn?t be happier doing what he is doing know, and that is as part of the talent. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Overall, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. Whereas I can not say that I agree with everything that Bischoff said about certain people or events, I do have to give the man credit. The book actually made me change my opinion of Eric Bischoff the man. I was one of those fans back in the early nineties who laughed my ass off when I found out that Eric Bischoff was ?The Man in Charge? of WCW. I remembered him as a second rate interviewer with Verne Gagne up in the AWA. However, I can not say that about him now. Bischoff is without a doubt a very talented individual. If he wasn?t talented, or successful, he would have never made a run at Vince McMahon during the Monday Night wars. I also feel though, that Bischoff takes a little bit too much credit as do the majority of the guys that write autobiographies, so I?ll have to cut him some slack on that. As I said earlier, overall it is a very informative and insightful read. There are many things that I did not discuss due to the fact that I did not want to take away from the enjoyment of actually reading the book for yourself.
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