WWE Hall Of Famer Jim Ross recently welcomed former WCW executive Eric Bischoff to The Jim Ross Report. Among many other things, Bischoff talked about becoming a millionaire when AOL and Time Warner merged. Also, Bischoff shared his thoughts on why today is the healthiest the professional wrestling business has ever been.
According to Bischoff, he became a millionaire from Turner Broadcasting stock when Turner merged with AOL.
"Bill Shaw, he told me when he hired me as executive producer, he said, 'Eric, mark my words, I'm going to make you a millionaire.' I said, 'wow, that's really great, Bill!' But really, I had no idea what he was talking about. And I wanted to believe him. It was a nice thing to say, but I went about my business. And for a long time afterwards, I was regularly getting massive stock options from Turner Broadcasting. And like [Ross], I didn't really know what to do with them, so I said, 'cool.' You can't really take them to the bank, so I just kept throwing all the stock certificates and everything in the drawer and forgot all about them. And then, after the AOL/Time Warner merger was announced, Bill called me.
"And I had already been out of WCW. I was just sitting at home collecting a check because I was being paid or played and handsomely. And I was out to dinner with my wife one night and Bill Shaw calls me and he says, 'see, Eric! I told you I'd make you a millionaire!' I looked over at Loree and I said, 'well, we're doing okay, but we're not millionaires.' And I said, 'Bill, I'm not sure what you're talking about.' And he said, 'your stock options, they've just vested because the AOL/Time Warner merger was approved.' And bylaws of Time Warner or Turner at the time [state], the minute there was a change in ownership, all options become vested. So completely out of the blue, out of the loop, in a very uneducated financial way, I was kicked in the side of the head by a mule. I went home and I went, 'how many of these damn things do I have' and I went to the strike price."
Bischoff added, "and I find out I have a s--t ton of them and my strike price was averaging around $14 [or] $15 a share, which is the share it cost me, but they were selling and they were closing at about $97 a share, so I did quick math in my head and went, 'damn! He's right! He did!'"
Also during the interview, Bischoff claimed that the pro wrestling business has never been healthier than it is today. Bischoff went on to say that affordable streaming platforms will lead to the births of many new pro wrestling promotions.
"Well, I think the business in many ways is healthier than anybody ever imagined it could be or has been," Bischoff professed. "Now, you can look at certain barometers, I guess, and WWE isn't doing their 4 rating and WCW isn't doing their 4 rating for a combined 8. That's misleading anyway. I think there's a lot of duplication in that number. But there's no doubt that during the Monday Night Wars, because of the Monday Night Wars, solely because of the Monday Night Wars, there were probably more people watching wrestling than in any time in history. And beyond that, because of the Monday Night Wars, wrestling really, really transcended to the highest levels of pop culture and really grew into an audience it never had before. But I still don't think the business was as successful then or as large then as it is today.
"It's different today, but again, not to keep harping on it, but if you look at all the streaming platforms that are out there and the accessibility of promoters and producers to be able to reach a global audience with an iPPV, for example, and to be able to do it affordably. It's no longer a $750,000 or million-dollar roll of the dice to put something up on pay-per-view just from a production point of view. You can do it for a fraction of a fraction of what it used to be. I think what that means is that there will be more Rings Of Honor, more AEWs, more New Japan Pro-Wrestlings, as these streaming platforms mature and advertisers support them more and more and more. I think that's where the money is, a more diverse, international product. I think the business is healthier now than it [has] ever been."
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Source: The Jim Ross Report