Backstage Talk On Eric Bischoff's WWE Departure And Future, SmackDown Creative, Bruce Prichard

As noted earlier at this link, WWE announced today that Eric Bischoff is no longer with the company. Bruce Prichard has replaced him as the SmackDown Executive Director.

The firing of Bischoff was not a shock to people close to the situation in WWE, according to The departure came earlier this morning. PWInsider adds that Bischoff was informed of the release after a SmackDown creative meeting at WWE HQ in Stamford, CT.

Regarding Prichard, WWE's press release on the Executive Director change acknowledged that Prichard was hired to work the WWE creative team earlier this year, but it did not mention how he was also hired to work as Senior Vice President a month later. Bischoff was hired to be the blue brand Executive Director back in June when Paul Heyman was hired as the RAW Executive Director. Bischoff was to work closely with FOX network officials in heading up the blue brand. It was reported at the time that Prichard was the one who would acclimate Bischoff to the new role, and that Prichard was the one who pushed the hardest for WWE to hire Bischoff in the role.

It was reported today by Dave Meltzer that Prichard and SmackDown head writer Ed Koskey will be the main people in charge of the blue brand going forward. Prichard had been working with Bischoff up until today's departure. John Pollock of POST Wrestling added that even with the the recent creative team splits between RAW and SmackDown, Prichard was one of the few that was still attending both shows.

There's no word yet on if FOX officials had any influence when it came to WWE firing Bischoff. Meltzer noted on Twitter that FOX originally wanted Heyman to work as the Executive Director of SmackDown. There's no word yet on why WWE went with Heyman for RAW and Bischoff for SmackDown.

Regarding Bischoff's future, there's also no word yet on what Bischoff has planned. PWInsider noted that Bischoff likely does not have the standard 90-day non-compete clause in his contract because he was an executive, not a talent, and he could appear in another promotion if he wanted. We noted before that Bischoff and his family recently moved from their property in Wyoming to live in Connecticut so he could be close to WWE HQ. It's unknown if they still have property there, or if they plan on staying in Connecticut.

It was noted by Bryan Alvarez of Wrestling Observer Live that some people in the company saw Bischoff's release coming. Morale had been down for a while but it reportedly took a bigger hit on October 1 when the changes were being made. According to Alvarez, there's been a belief among some in WWE, including Vince McMahon, that going to FOX and making other changes would bring this new "boom period" for the company but the feeling among some is that reality has set in, and they see that this "boom period" kickoff isn't happening.

It was also reported by Alvarez on WOL that a lot of people didn't like working under Bischoff, and that some of the people who did work under him wanted to quit. Bischoff was allegedly hard to get in touch with and often hard to find backstage. Alvarez said he had heard that Bischoff barely did anything and was often seen in catering. Some people who talked weren't even sure what Bischoff was doing at times. Bischoff's critics also alleged that he didn't really know anyone and wasn't familiar with the talents, and that he didn't go out of his way to learn. Bischoff had noted in media interviews after being hired that he was spending some time to get familiar with the product and the roster, admitting that he wasn't fully caught up with everything. Alvarez said he always heard "zero good things" about Bischoff, at least from his sources, and that there was always a lot of negative talk. Alvarez also noted that his sources recalled how Bischoff would show up for meetings and then "vanish" with people not being able to find him. We don't know if Bischoff was off handling other company business, but it's possible. Alvarez also talked about how he would ask who was running the show if Bischoff was nowhere to be found, and they would name Prichard. With that said, it's believed that there will be no drastic creative changes now that Prichard is taking the role because he's been handling some of those duties.

Back when Bischoff was first hired, it was believed by some that he was largely being hired as a scapegoat, and they speculated that he would be fired when something went wrong. It was speculated that the SmackDown ratings may have led to Bischoff's departure but that's unlikely for a few reasons. SmackDown has only been on FOX for two weeks and it was expected that the second week would be down from the premiere because the premiere was also billed as a nostalgia show for the 20th Anniversary, and there are almost always drops in viewership following those events. As we've noted, the FOX premiere drew an average of 3.888 million viewers while Friday's Draft episode averaged 2.877 million viewers.

There are rumors of more releases and shake-up-related releases possibly coming soon, according to WOL, but this has not been confirmed. Stay tuned for more updates on Bischoff's departure and future, and any other changes that are made.

For those who missed it earlier, Bischoff took to Twitter today and commented on Bruce taking over the gig.

"Bruce is a great producer, good friend and I am certain he is going to thrive in his position. He's going to be working with a great team of the most dedicated and hard working people I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know," Bischoff wrote in the tweet seen below.