Eric Bischoff commanded World Championship Wrestling through the Monday Night Wars and dominated the timeslot for 83 weeks before WWE finally won a ratings battle. The former WCW President recently opened up on his 83 Weeks podcast about some of the star power WCW enlisted from outside the usual bubble of the professional wrestling business.
Dennis Rodman's name was extremely popular during that time and Bischoff addressed a rumor that The Worm sued WCW for unpaid fees. The pay-per-view model at the time meant money traveled slowly which Bischoff said contributed to not only frustration, but also a constant cycle of receiving accounting almost a year after the fact.
"There was no lawsuit with Dennis Rodman," Bischoff said. "There may have been an issue with Dennis that Dennis may have very well like most people wanted an accounting. He may of had a difficult time accepting that accounting and if you go back to this time in '97, '98, '99 even the accounting for pay-per-views was freaking horrible. You have to understand how it works."
Bischoff explained that at that time pay-per-view companies relied on the local cable systems to report the numbers and distribute payments. It was said that by the time WCW got the money for pay-per-views, "typically we weren't getting a full accounting for almost a year -- probably longer -- after an actual pay-per-view took place."
Rodman was said to be upset about how long it was taking to get paid, and Bischoff explained the transfer of money from pay-per-views was a "painful extended experience," but Bischoff assured that it never got to the point where there was any animosity or settlement.
Transferring funds can be an arduous process, but Bischoff explained how they had to make it work. He also addressed the rumor that WCW paid $500,000 for KISS to perform for the Turner-owned professional wrestling company while explaining that the deal they had in mind for KISS had a greater gameplan.
Bischoff said he was notified that KISS frontman Gene Simmons wanted to meet with him and he was unsure what the Simmons wanted to talk about. Their meeting took place at the bar in the Beverly Hills Hilton early in the afternoon. Bischoff found Simmons sitting in a booth in the back of the establishment surrounded by "every known piece of KISS merchandise at that time, I mean it was like walking into a section of Toys R Us," Bischoff said.
"We got along, we talked," Bischoff said. "He explained to me that he had approached WWE I believe, we didn't get into that conversation too much, but he had an idea. His idea really was to create a KISS line of wrestling characters because he had an extensive licensing and merchandising business model."
Bischoff said WCW was starting to build momentum in the licensing and merchanding department and KISS had an amazing presence in that marketplace. Simmons invited Bischoff over to his house the next day to see his operation and they agreed to work together.
"That was really the beginning of what was supposed to end up being -- not just paying Gene Simmons $500,000 to do a pay-per-view -- but we were going to do a joint co-licensing agreement where WCW was going to draft -- or 'get the rub' as they like to say in the wrestling business -- off Gene Simmons' toys and merchandise line because we sure as f--k didn't have one, not as big as we needed and certainly not as big as his.
"It was also going to be part of what in my mind was going to be a pay-per-view on December 31st, 1999 called 'New Years Evil.' KISS coming out and playing and doing all the stuff at the MGM Grand that we did was a part of a much bigger plan."
Bischoff said the plan was to lead to a "massive pay-per-view at the Fiesta Bowl," but they couldn't make the final product come together. The idea would have capitalized on the public fear that Y2K was going to bring "the end of the world," as Bischoff said, "I wanted to use that as a basis for that pay-per-view because we were hurting for cash."
The plan was to have a wrestling ring in one end zone and a stage for KISS on the other end of the Fiesta Bowl's stadium. The New Years Evil pay-per-view would have alternated between KISS and professional wrestling throughout the night.
"That pay-per-view I think could have been one of the best pay-per-views possibly from a revenue point of view that would have been done up until at the time," Bischoff said.
New Years Evil didn't become a reality, but WCW did have dealings with another music group with a passionate fan base and members who paint their faces. The Insane Clown Posse worked for WCW briefly and Bischoff still can't figure out why.
"I have no idea," Bischoff said when questioned by co-host Conrad Thompson about how ICP arrived in WCW. "I can't even make s--t up about this, I wish I could. I wish I was fast enough on my feet to put this heat on somebody else.
"At the end of the day, I approved [ICP]. It wouldn't have happened if I didn't. Who the f--k convinced me that this was a good idea? You know I wish I could think of that person so I could honestly put the heat on them but I can't.
"Nothing against them, at the time they were kind of a thing. You know if you go back and look at some of the stuff I was doing you know Dennis Rodman, KISS, you know Gene Simmons, Insane Clown Posse... there were a lot of things that we were doing to try and get the attention of an audience other than an audience we already had. You know you produce a show -- especially a wrestling show -- you know you have two choices. You can keep preaching to the same choir especially the ones that are leaving and hope they come back. Or you can look for another audience than you're trying to preach to and use it to build your audience."
The West Texas Rednecks included Curt Henning, Bobby Duncum, Jr., Barry Windham, and Kendall Windham. The stable used a country Western band gimmick and had an entrance song called "Rap Is Crap." At the time, as they battled against Master P's No Limit Soldiers and Public Enemy, the WCW stable was getting a good response thanks to their anti-rap music theme song.
Bischoff said WCW was made to pull The West Texas Rednecks' entrance music due to public backlash concerning the fear of racist themes.
"There was some blowback internally from Turner corporate standards and practices," Bischoff said. "You know we had to react to what we had to react to."
If you use any portion of the quotes in this article please credit 83 Weeks with a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription