The act of WCW poaching talent from WWE reached its peak during the Monday Night Wars and the start of the nWo. Apart from the three founding members all making their names in WWE, several other wrestlers who joined the group were also best known for their time with WCW's chief competition.
One of those names was Ted DiBiase who was the fourth member of the nWo and acted as their manager and spokesperson of sorts. DiBiase was retired from in-ring competition and he never seemed to be a good fit in the nWo, or WCW as a whole. Eric Bischoff discussed DiBiase's time in nWo and why it didn't work for both sides.
"Ted DiBiase was probably the worst idea when it came to casting the nWo," Bischoff said on his 83 Weeks podcast. "It has nothing to do with Ted DiBiase; we have touched on this before, I love Ted DiBiase. He is a great guy. We see each other on the road, we hang out and have dinner. He is a gentleman and a pro, but yours truly, in a poor, decision-making mode, cast him as one of the talking heads to kind of lead the nWo.
"It is just bad casting; I don't know how else to say it. It has nothing to do with Ted's talents or ability. It had nothing to do with his credibility. Had nothing to do with anything other than being a bad fit. Now, Michael Wallstreet [IRS] was another example of that and there were others we can talk about any of them."
DiBiase lasted just a couple of months in his role with the nWo until Bischoff replaced him with himself as the talking head of the group. After making a face turn and managing the Steiner Brothers and then Ray Traylor, DiBiase left WCW in 1999.
The creation of the nWo may be Bischoff's final legacy in WCW, apart from the company going out of business. Bischoff says that the nWo wasn't just a hit on tv and in ratings, but it also helped bring life to WCW's struggling merchandise sales.
"It was anemic, and non-existent," Bischoff said of WCW's merchandise sales prior to the nWo. "It was so bad that it almost didn't even make sense to bring in a staff or hardware tables and displays. It was so bad that it almost didn't even make sense to sell it. That is how bad it was.
"What I have said in the past from the business aspect of WCW, especially early on, when we have talked about why WCW didn't offer a revenue share like the WWE did so the talent didn't have a big guarantee, they had guarantee contracts. One of the reasons for that was that we didn't have any revenue to share with them. You couldn't offer Hulk Hogan $20 a week plus 50 percent of merchandise, or you couldn't offer a Roddy Piper $20 a week plus 25 percent of merchandise because we didn't have any merchandise revenue to share.
"Now all of a sudden because of the nWo merchandise and the nWo angle, [that] is what catapulted WCW into, not only the merchandise category in terms of live events like we are talking about here where you are selling your t-shirts or whatever other attraction we had at the time, but from a licensing point of view for gaming and other types of license products, it all came about as a result of the nWo. To kind of put it into perspective, if you go to the WWE Network and look at Starrcade 1996, so many of the shirts in that audience facing the hard camera all were nWo shirts. We didn't plant that stuff. They are still buying that stuff today. It is amazing."
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.