Scotty Riggs Talks The Monday Night Wars, Working For Eric Bischoff, Rise And Fall Of WCW
WWF wasn't even doing any live TV until they came to senses with Raw. They were live one week and they would taped the next. So, it wasn't a continuous thing. But they were n the USA network and they were the flag ship show. Just like Saturday Night was WCW's flag ship show.
When Nitro and Raw started going head-to-head, it was just the right time and the right place. It just re-energized the business.
WrestlingINC: What was it like working with Eric Bischoff during that period? I've heard wrestlers say good things about him and a lot just say that he was increasingly hard to work with during that period.
Riggs: The strange thing about Eric is that he was the first one to give me my first deal, my first contract with WCW. That was after working for about three or four months without a contract. They brought me in August of 1995, finished it up in [November] of 1995. So, about three months went by and I was still working without a contract. A couple of guys actually went up to Eric and said, 'Eric, this kid's working without a contract.' I actually talked to Kevin Sullivan about it and I got a raise and a one year deal.
After that was when they started doing the nWo thing. Eric came up to me at a TV and I was once again working without a contract. There was a rumor going around that I was leaving and I don't know where it came from. It was untrue but it was rumored that I was leaving WCW to go to WWF at the time to be part of their Light-Heavyweight thing they were trying to start doing.
Eric Bischoff came up to me at a Nitro and said, 'Hey, I know you're working without a contract. I appreciate your loyalty. I want to reward you for that.' So, he gave me a three year deal with a pay raise every year. It gave me security and it gave me balance in a sense and I felt better at home in WCW than if I were to leave there and go re-establish myself and find myself not sure of what they were going to do with me. So, in one sense, Eric did some good things for me, business-wise.
When it came to the wrestling side of it -- as soon as Eric became a personality on TV in wrestling, it seemed like he really started to lose his focus. He started worrying a lot more about his own persona on TV than he did about business. He took care of some business things -- he did his business meetings and everything else -- but instead of handling everyone else business-wise, his whole thing became: we've got to beat Vince. We've got to beat Vince. Whatever it took him to do that, he was going to do. That's where he lost his focus.
Instead of beating Vince, just keep doing what you've been doing and keep the show that you've got different and creative. Just like it's been. That's when all these ex-WWF wrestlers came in. Instead of being viable, different option, we became WWF-lite. They were hiring everybody in the world to be on these two live shows with Nitro and Thunder. Five hours a week of live programming. It just got to a point where it became more of a personal vendetta for guys getting back at Vince, instead of having a different style of wrestling.
Bischoff hired Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara. Those guys came in and you could tell this was those guys trying to get back at Vince for firing them. We hired them. When things started going really, really down hill was when those guys came in and it was their crash TV style. Bischoff bought into it instead of being his own mind like he was at the start of it. He got lost with worrying about his persona [instead of] the creative process.