Eric Bischoff Knew Marc Mero Had To Leave WCW For WWE When He Did

When 1996 rolled around, the WCW roster was packed to the brim, leading the likes of Marc Mero, Vader, Brian Pillman, Cactus Jack, Barry Windham, Ron Simmons, and 2 Cold Scorpio to make the jump to WWE. Among those departing, WCW boss Eric Bischoff was particularly interested in retaining the services of Mero, who had been largely portrayed as a flamboyant character — Johnny B Badd — but had the benefit of being a former golden gloves boxer, and as such, could have been repackaged accordingly. However, when Bischoff sat down with Mero to discuss a new contract, he realized that Mero was better off leaving for WWE, which had a surprisingly thin roster at the time.

On "83 Weeks," Bischoff recalled the conversation he had with Mero at Atlantic City Airport. "I wanted to keep him, but I think Johnny was pretty convinced that, in order for him to go to the next level, he had to move on," Bischoff said. "His exact words to me were, 'I think Vince McMahon can get me over, and I don't think I can get over here.'" Bischoff admitted that Mero was "not wrong" in viewing WWE as a greener pasture, acknowledging that WCW's roster was "crowded at the top" and that WCW wanted to showcase a different level of talent to enhance its public perception. As such, Mero was merely a casualty. "It was necessary to change the perception of WCW, by bringing in talent that Madison Avenue understood, the people at DirectTV knew. It was mandatory or WCW wouldn't have grown."

"I think Johnny, subconsciously or not, knew he wasn't going to get the push to reach the next level," Bischoff added. "And if anyone could get him over and to the next level, it would be Vince McMahon, who had established the fact that he could create stars. WCW had not yet been able to do that."