By late 1998 WCW’s stranglehold in the Monday Night Wars began to wain. As a result, Eric Bischoff did what had initially worked to get WCW atop the ratings and that is recycle old WWE stars.
One of those was The Ultimate Warrior who dropped “ultimate” when he joined WCW. While Warrior provided a momentary bump in ratings for Nitro, his first segment on the show is often ridiculed today.
Bischoff relived Warrior’s WCW debut on his podcast, 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff.
“There was a lot of anticipation,” Bischoff said about Warrior’s 20 minute promo getting a high rating. “Look, Warrior had a lot of equity built up with the WWE audience. He was a known commodity. Nobody would have ever expected-with all of the heat between him and Hulk Hogan-nobody would have expected him there. There was this built-in, natural, promotional effort without having to expand any promotional effort on our part. It was automatic. The wrestling audience wanted to see what the hell is going to happen when these two come together because there was so much natural heat and story in the WWF.”
Warrior’s appearance was exciting because it was so unexpected, but his opening promo was generally panned by critics. He rambled on for over 20 minutes, both confusing the fans as well as Bischoff and Hogan who were in the ring and targets of his promo. Bischoff says it didn’t take long to realize that bringing Warrior in was a mistake.
“On his first Nitro appearance was when I knew I was in trouble,” Bischoff stated. “Everything else that happened after that was a decree of how bad it was going to be ultimately. When he first showed up and we walked through it and blocked it, everybody had a good idea of what the first promo was going to be. We knew that we had 8-10 minutes. Again, we had flexibility. We worked for the television company that owned us so there was a little room for margin of error when you are on live. But that first promo going back to his first appearance on Nitro, it was scheduled to only be 8-10 minutes, and somewhere along the 20-22 minute mark when Hulk Hogan and I were staring at each other in the middle of the ring and asking what the f**k he is talking about.
“We were completely lost, and so was the audience, and director, Craig Leathers is screaming in my ears, we were going so far over that even the margin for error that we had built in that the first promo that Warrior had shot went beyond 20 minutes. For a promo, I don’t care who it is, that is a long promo. Everything that happened after that was confirmation that it was going to be really bad.”
Warrior would only have three matches in WCW with the final one coming at Halloween Havoc in 1998. Nitro would defeat Raw in ratings the following Monday night, but that would be their last victory in the Monday Night Wars. Warrior would depart WCW two weeks later and Raw would defeat Nitro every Monday night until WCW was purchased by WWE in March 2001.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.