What we learned from: Eric Bischoff on Insight with Chris Van Vliet

Image credit: Simplecast

Eric Bischoff recently appeared on the Insight with Chris Van Vliet podcast. They discussed his time in WCW and TNA, his son getting into wrestling and his thoughts on Goldberg wrestling in 2021. Here are the most notable quotes from the show.

On how he first thought about wrestling:

“I started dabbling in front of the camera as a model. I did television commercials, I did print modelling and catalogue modelling. It’s not exactly television but it made me think about television differently. I started to think ‘well what if?’ ‘What if instead of doing a commercial?’ I stumbled into wrestling. I never planned on getting into the wrestling business, I was always a wrestling fan, but the idea of being involved in the business was something that wasn’t even remotely in my subconscious. Then Broadcasting was a manifestation of my early involvement of professional wrestling, and the rest is here we are.”

On moving to WCW:

“When I first broke into the business with the AWA and Vergne Gagne, I was in the office in sales and syndication. I was nowhere near the wrestling product or the production of it. Through a series of timing and coincidences, I ended up on camera as an announcer. I did that for a year or 2 with Verne and then he basically ran out of money and went out of business. For a period of time I was dead broke and I was working for a guy who was also broke. As a result I didn’t see a pay check for about 8 months. By the time I got hired by WCW as an on camera talent, I was so grateful for that gig I didn’t think about doing anything else. I was the guy who said if you want me to I’ll take out the trash at the end of the day. The rest of it just kind of happened naturally.”

On right place right time:

“I often say you can have all the talent in the world, if timing is working against you then it doesn’t really matter. Timing is so important. If Goldberg had come along in 1993, he wouldn’t have lasted 3 months. Rock came at a perfect time and found his real character at a perfect time, when wrestling was at a fever pitch. He had the right people to work with, the right character but he also had the talent.

On his feelings when WCW went out of business:

“No doubt. I don’t want to make this sound like I was angry or resentful, I didn’t like the way things ended because it ended on a bad note. I didn’t dwell on it, to me at that point in my life, my wife and I had talked about it. It was like OK that chapter is over. I would have rewritten the last part of it if I could but it doesn’t matter off we go. It took me a week to shake it off and decide that professional wrestling is in my rear view mirror. I was proud of it, I was grateful for it but I never thought that I would step back in it.”

On Eric potentially buying WCW:

“There was a letter of intent outlining the terms that had been negotiated between between Fusion media [the group Eric was with] and Turner Broadcasting. Everybody had signed off on it. Due diligence had been done, there was close to $1 million in legal fees. We had assurances from all of the top executives at Turner Broadcasting that it would go through. There was even a Wall St conference call announcing the deal publicly based on the letter of intent. My kids were young at the time, and I realized that once the deal was done, I wouldn’t see a vacation again for the next 5 years. The deal was due to close in the next month or 2, so I took my kids on vacation because I had a bit of time on my hands. We all went to Hawaii, thinking as soon as the plane lands back home we have about 2 days and off I go. While I was in Hawaii, I got the phone call saying that the deal was dead.”

On his future in wrestling:

“Maybe every once in a while [I will come back]. A couple of times a year I will appear on a TV show, I do it and it’s fun. I get to see people I’ve had relationships with for 30 plus years. I get to promote the podcast, and fans react to it in a positive way. But that’s it really. I don’t go to wrestling events and I only watch something if it’s interesting to me. I don’t block off my Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights for it. Also, I watch it differently to the average fan does. I’m not just watching the story, I’m watching lighting, camera cuts, sounds. I’m giving the show an autopsy, not watching it.”

On his son getting involved in the business:

“It shouldn’t have come as a surprise but it did. Wahoo McDaniel gave my son his first bump. Garrett was 4 years old and I took him to the AWA offices. Ray Stevens and Wahoo McDaniel were the bookers at the time. I took Garrett after work one day, we were all sitting around the lobby I think there was maybe a beer or two as well. Wahoo is playing around with Garrett and Wahoo picked him up by his ankle. Wahoo is holding my son upside down, and he slipped and let go, Garrett fell right onto his head. Into his teens, Garrett never said anything about wrestling. It wasn’t until I was in TNA that he said to me ‘Dad, I’ve always wanted to do this.’ I said ‘this is the first I’ve heard about it.’ He said ‘I didn’t want to tell you but I really want to do this.’ I told him great but if you’re going to do this you’ve got to do it right. I sent him out to Rikishi’s school, he lived in California to train. He then broke in as a referee.”

On feelings towards TNA:

“There’s a lot of resentment on my part towards TNA. Not necessarily the people, but more the missed opportunity. There was a moment in time while I was there that in my opinion TNA could have done what Bellator did. Viacom was in the mood, they were hungry and learned a lesson with the UFC, they were no longer interested in building other peoples brands. They didn’t want to own a brand but they wanted to own parts of it. I was a big advocate for that but I was met with all kinds of ridiculous resistance. That’s my resentment. I was going to make any more money, but it was such a golden opportunity that doesn’t come around very often. You hate to see somebody f**k it up. That aside, I had a lot of fun in TNA. The highlight was working with my son. Hulk Hogan is my best friend, and I got to work with Hulk, with Ric Flair, with Sting, Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, AJ Styles.”

On people’s view of AEW being like TNA:

“That’s stupid and ignorant, I mean that in the literal sense. People who say those things have no first hand knowledge or experience. They have theoretical knowledge based on their fandom. But they don’t really know what they are talking about. I think what AEW is doing is by no means ground-breaking but they are smart. Brining in former WWE talent with international brand equity and a fan base, what is wrong with that? If you have to rely solely on that I can see the argument. The wrestling audience is not one demo and it’s family viewing. If people today understood the challenge of building a primetime product, you have to appeal to a wide variety of people. If you bring in a load of young fresh talent, no one knows or cares about them. You have to build the relationship with the audience. AEW is bringing in equity with former WWE talent and scratching the nostalgia itch. But they are also simultaneously brining in new and fresh talent. The legends are not detrimental to the new stars.”

On superstars like Goldberg wrestling in their 50’s:

“Goldberg is doing it for the money come on. This is not love of the business or love to get out there and perform. In my opinion, sorry Bill, you and I aren’t close friends but we are friends. And if what I am saying Bill offends you then I apologise because I don’t mean it to but come on dude, do you think he’s doing it for the fun or do you think he’s doing it for the money? It’s smart it’s not a bad thing! I’m not putting it down. If I had the ability at Bill’s age, and look the way Bill did and someone gave me a 7 figure cheque to work 5 minutes come on! Lets be honest with ourselves and not bust anybody’s balls over this. Anyone would do it, we dream about that opportunity.”

On what he is grateful for:

“family, health, friends”

Eric Bischoff can be found on Twitter here.

The 83 Weeks podcast can be found here.

Full podcast audio can be found below:

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