Eric Bischoff discussed Sting’s run in WCW in 1997 on the latest episode of 83 Weeks. Bischoff went on a small tanget talking about an idea he had in WWE about bringing a character back who had been out for an extended period of time. While Bischoff would not reveal who he was referring to, he has stated in the past that Sheamus was a superstar that he wanted to work with when he was executive director of Smackdown Live for four months before being replaced in October.
“There was a situation where I was trying to present an idea for the return of a new character,” Bischoff said. “Not gonna say where. Not gonna say when. Not gonna name names. And this new character, well not a new character. This returning character had been very prominent but had been out with an injury for quite some time, and I was in a room full of people. It was like, ‘OK what are we gonna do with this character? Do we bring him back the way he was? Who do we match him up with? What do we with him? He’s been gone for a long time.’ And this is a great character by the way.
“My idea was for this character not to drop out of the f–king sky just the way he left a year, two years, six months or whatever the time frame was because I’m trying to keep this as murky as possible.”
Bischoff discussed how he wanted to do something similar to the Sting storyline in 1997. He said that it would be altered slightly going into how many stories are similar and are just variations of other stories.
“[I didn’t want to] just to pick up where this character had left off because I wanted to take advantage of the ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ factor,” Bischoff recalled. “Rather than people going, ‘oh, he’s back. This is what he’s going to do, and this is who he is.’ [I wanted to hit] the refresh button, not even the refresh button, the rewind button, and my idea was thinking the Sting character but knowing that you have to do it differently. You can’t just copy things blatantly, but you can use an idea and come up with a derivative based on a formula that you know that works.
“Let’s be honest, everything that you watch on television, not just wrestling, everything that you watch on television and movies is a derivative of something that happened before. There isn’t a fresh f–king idea out there. Alright. I don’t know what the name of the book is, but there’s basically seven stories that have ever been told in human history, and everything that we watch is a variation of one of those seven stories.”
Bischoff talked about his frustration of his idea getting shut down. He said that the frustration came from wanting to do something different. Bischoff previously stated how he feels that WWE programming is formulaic on a previous podcast episode.
“So in my trying to explain how this could possibly be set-up, I got shut down in a heartbeat,” Bischoff stated. “In a heartbeat, and I was a little frustrated. I’m being kind, and I looked around the room where there were a couple of people that knew exactly where I was going. And I just let it go. I let it go. I wasn’t frustrated because oh my idea didn’t make the table or anything like that. It wasn’t an ego thing. It was like, my God, do something different and disciplined. Bring the discipline that we have proven, has been proven. I won’t even say me or I.
“I’m trying not to be crude here. You don’t shoot your load too soon. You don’t hotshot it. Let the audience embrace it and be intrigued by it. It will work. It doesn’t mean it’ll work the same way as a hot angle. It does’n’t work the same way as driving someone over with a semi-truck or setting somebody on fire or any other number of things that people do to get attention nowadays, but it can work. That’s the kind of thing that I’d like to see more of. I just wish there was more of it. The ideas are there. The concepts are there, but the layers to the concept, the depth of the concept and the discipline and the balls quite frankly to risk playing it out over an extended period of time, that’s what we don’t see.”
Bischoff said he understands why long-term storylines are difficult to do in today’s wrestling landscape since there is a lot of pressure to keep people watching each week. He said that he was afforded that luxury in the ’90s as opposed to the lack of time producers have to work around today.
“I’m gonna be fair here so it doesn’t sound like I’m criticizing anybody,” Bischoff said. “Part of the reason we could pull of what we could pull off with the Sting character in 1997 was going back to what we talked about at the beginning of the show, I had the luxury of time. We weren’t under pressure. We were rolling. I had a deep roster. We had a plan with the NWO. The B-story, at this point, Sting and the introduction of him was a bonus because the A-story was functioning so well, the ratings were doing so well, the pay-per-views were doing so well, houses were doing so well, licenses and merchandising were beginning to do well, [and] sponsors were beginning to come in.
“There was no pressure on me to go f–k this is a great idea. Let’s blow it off two weeks from now. I didn’t have that pressure. I had the luxury of being able to take time which in today’s environment doesn’t exist. There’s a ton of pressure on producers now. WWE, AEW or any television series, there’s a ton of pressure each and every week. So as a result, sometimes things get pushed faster than ideally they should, but in some respects, you don’t really have the luxury of saying OK we’re going to start this on March 26 and we’re gonna blow this off on December 15 or next March 26. That’s a luxury you don’t have anymore.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.