As previously noted, former WCW Executive Producer and President Eric Bischoff recently got in-depth on the subject of WCW Starrcade 1997 on the 83 Weeks podcast. Notably, Bischoff discussed referee Nick Patrick's fast-count in the main event match featuring defending WCW World Heavyweight Champion 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan and Sting. According to Bischoff, the fast-count fiasco was not the fault of Patrick, but rather the result of miscommunication by performers and producers.
In response to Patrick's claim that Bischoff told him to do the fast-count and then Hogan told him to do a regular three-count, Bischoff said he may have told Nick Patrick to do the fast-count.
"Maybe, if at some point during the course of the day - I know this is going to sound smarmy and sleazy, but I'm trying to avoid it - people who have listened to the show and have been listening to the show for the six months that I've been doing it, I think it's six months, realize that I'm not afraid to take any heat or responsibility for some of the stupid s--t that I did. I'm not. I have no qualms about taking responsibility for the bad decisions I've made or mistakes that I've made along the way. I'm not going to take it here at least not where I don't deserve it. Now, here's how Nick Patrick may have been telling the truth [about Bischoff telling him to do the fast-count] to a degree: if at some point during the course of the day Kevin Sullivan or [Hogan] or Steve would've come to me and said, 'okay, we've got it figured out - here's what we're going to do,' great! As long as it got me to where I needed to be. Again, the end always hangs on the beginning, as long as that show ended exactly the way I wanted it to end, I really didn't give two s--ts how we got there." Bischoff said, "when it came to a match of this high profile with personalities as big as this, and this high profile, I would have made sure the referee was in the room while the finish was being laid out, okay? It's not like on the way out to the ring the talent would get together and say, 'this is what we're going to do.' The referees should engage or should have been engaged laying out the finish of the match as much as the two principals in the ring. That's the way it's supposed to be. But if Nick would have come up to me at some point during the day, if I had been told, 'here's what we're going to do,' I would have communicated that to Nick and said, 'get your ass in the room, and get with the guys, and make sure you understand what they're going to do, so you know, so you're not hearing it from me secondhand.' That could've happened and that could've changed throughout the course of the day as it often does, even to this day."
Apparently, Bischoff spoke with Patrick about the about the missed fast-count, but that the incident was the result of miscommunication and not Hogan politicking.
"I had a brief conversation with him. I mean, I don't hear it as much anymore or read it as much anymore, about what a hothead I was, or how I would lose my temper, or that I was out of control. That wasn't true. I very seldom lost my temper." Bischoff explained, "right now, me losing my f--king cool, and yelling, and screaming, and throwing s--t is going to change absolutely nothing. As I usually say, the bullet has already left the barrel. I can't put it back. It's gone. Now, all I can do is focus on trying to fix it. So did I confront Nick? Yes, I did. Did I lose my mind, and did I scream, and did I yell? Did I corner him and say, 'how the f--k could you possibly do this?' None of that happened. It was a conversation that was probably less animated than the one I'm having with [co-host Conrad Thompson]. And it probably sounded something like, 'Nick, what the f--k?' He would have told me whatever happened or how it got miscommunicated, which was clearly the case here. It was miscommunication. It wasn't Hulk Hogan working a gimmick. It wasn't any of that. It was poor communication. Simple as that. It just irks me to have to still listen to people espouse this narrative of 'it was just another Hulk Hogan plan!', By the way, he would have gotten nothing out of it. He wouldn't have made $0.10 more with one finish than he would have with another."
In Bischoff's view, the missed fast-count was not the fault of Patrick, but rather the fault of agents and talent.
"I'm not going to fire a guy, I'm not going to fire Nick Patrick, because the communication between the principals involved in the match and the referee sucked. I'm not going to fire him for that. There was a lot of confusion. There were a lot of people involved." Bischoff continued, "one of the biggest mistakes probably during my time in WCW was not firing a whole the f--k bunch more. That I'll cop to and maybe I should have fired Nick, but I don't think it was Nick's fault. I think it was the agents' fault and I think it could have been the talents' fault."
Listen to the show here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit 83 Weeks With Eric Bischoff with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: 83 Weeks