Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan debuted in TNA in January of 2010 and sparked some new life into the company. Bischoff stayed with TNA over 4 years, accompanied by his son Garrett, and took on more of a backstage role as the years went on.
During his podcast, 83 Weeks, Bischoff talked about the role he had in TNA during 2010. He discussed how he was misperceived by many to have a larger role than he actually did.
“My role in TNA at the time in 2010 was really coming in and overseeing Hulk Hogan’s stuff,” Bischoff said. “Yes I was a character on T.V. if that helped, but I didn’t want to run their business, I didn’t want to give an opinion on the business, I didn’t want to hear about the business. Dixie Carter to her credit was a very engaging person, she wanted me to be more a part of things than I wanted to be or at least she pretended she did, but there was one point where Janice Carter wanted to have a conference call with everybody and they included me on that conference call. They scheduled me to be on this conference call, well I had a bunch of stuff that I was already booked for for my real business at that time. I said ‘Sorry, I’m not going to be there, If I have time I’ll do it, if not, not.’
“I guess that just shocked everybody that I would not make room in my schedule for this very important meeting with Janice Carter. There’s nothing in my contract that says I have to participate in this, number 1 I don’t want to, number ,2 I don’t have the time for it, and number 3 I’m not interested in it. I’m going to show up and do what I have to do and I’m going to go home.”
Bischoff listed some of the talent he really enjoyed working with during his time in TNA.
“There were certain guys I was getting to know quickly, Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels were two of them,” Bischoff said. “They were open minded, they had ideas of their own, they would come to me three or 4 times a day. When I get around people like that, then I shift into a different gear. When people are that energetic and entrepreneurial about characters and ideas, it creates the same feeling in me. When I first got there, I think Chris Daniels looked at me like ‘Oh F***, I heard about this guy,’ but probably within about 2 weeks we were spending more time talking about characters and storylines. Had a great relationship with those guys and I miss them both. I’m really happy for their continued success in AEW.”
Bischoff also talked about the six sided ring TNA introduced in 2004 all the way until 2010 and why many in the front office were against the change to the normal square wrestling ring.
“It was f***ing stupid,” Bischoff said. “It was stupid. Here was the logic that I heard: ‘Ya but when people are flipping through the channels, they’re going to see that six sided ring and stop and go hey, what’s that?’ That was the entire psychology and strategy behind the six sided ring, you’re hoping to build an audience because people are clicking through channels. First of all, people aren’t clicking through channels anymore, even in 2010, it was just an absurd psychology. To come up with a six sided ring for no other reason but to capture the audience that maybe surfing channels or clicking through channels and stop because they were going to see something that was odd to them. Think about that. That was pretty f***ing stupid.”
“That was my approach coming in and I was very vocal about it. I pissed off 75 or 80% of the people in the TNA office because of course they thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread with no point of reference. None of them had been in a wrestling ring before, none of them really knew anything about the wrestling business, they weren’t really interested in the wrestling business, they were just interested in being popular in Nashville I guess. It was just stupid. I just said ‘You want a six sided ring? Okay how does it change the performance in the ring? What does a six sided ring mean? What statement does it make?’ And the answer was crickets. They didn’t have one, there was no reason for it. It was a distraction that didn’t mean anything.”
Bischoff compared the six sided ring in TNA to the ongoing changes the wrestling business has had to overcome due to the Coronavirus and the difference between a positive change and a negative one.
“It was an odd presentation,” Bischoff said when referring to the 6-sided ring. “If they would’ve taken the extra time or executed a more interesting strategy, then I would’ve been supportive of it, to this day. I truly believe wrestling really really needs to evolve. This whole coronavirus situation and WrestleMania in front of no crowd and the things that AEW are doing, there’s going to be a point in time were people say ‘Okay, that was a horrible situation, but here are some of the good things that came out of it,’ there are takeaways that we are seeing over the last couple of weeks that are going to continue. Out of necessity, both WWE and AEW have been forced to come up with new and more interesting ways to present their product. It’s helped the business.
“That wasn’t the case in TNA. Everybody in the office in TNA felt that way because it was their identity before we got there. I pissed off everybody in TNA by telling them the one branding statement they thought about was dumb as s–t. It was an odd idea with no rational purpose. It presented a big challenge for the talent in the ring and to the viewer it meant nothing. I still get animated about it because I still don’t understand how anybody could think it was a good idea.”
TNA rode high for a few years with Bischoff and Hogan on top, but slowly died down after some questionable business changes. Bischoff responded to the public perception that TNA’s struggles were due to the overpaid contracts that he and Hogan received.
“TNA never paid Eric Bischoff or Hulk Hogan a dime,” Bischoff said. “Spike TV did, Viacom did. When it came to Sting’s salary, Kurt Angle’s salary, Hogan’s salary, Bischoff’s salary, those weren’t expenses that hit the bottom line of TNA, they hit the bottom line of Spike TV. For the narrative that Hogan or Bischoff put TNA out of business because of over inflated salaries, there’s a rusty crowbar in a garage somewhere down your street, ask your neighbor to borrow it and go f*** yourself with it because it’s not true. You can keep repeating it, it doesn’t make it true.”
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.