During a recent episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff covered his journey back to WWE in 2019 as the Executive Director of SmackDown. Bischoff mentioned how he received the job with the company and how prior issues in creative were the main reason his phone rang for him to return.
"There had been some issues with the writing team prior to me getting there, otherwise I probably wouldn't have been offered the job," Bischoff said. "RAW was going to have its own writing team, SmackDown its own writing team, but guess what? Nobody knew who was going to be on which team. [We] couldn't have those conversations. I had a team I thought was going to be my team but I couldn't talk about it."
Bischoff continued to mention that certain goals were given to both he and Paul Heyman to meet as the directors.
"There was one specific initiative that was very important to the company that would ultimately affect my job and Paul's [Heyman] job, and we were all working together on that plan. Had nothing to do with a specific creative process, or storyline, or characters, or any of the more obvious things but a much bigger and broader corporate initiative that took up a ton of my time."
Over the years, many on-screen talents have mentioned the corporate jet that Vince McMahon and other top people in the company use to fly from show to show as a way to poke fun at the boss. This includes when DX spray painted their letters on the entire plane.
Bischoff becoming the executive director of SmackDown meant he would be flying in the esteemed private jet with the boss, and he talked about the experience. He also talked about how you can tell who sits where.
"It's a nice jet, really nice, big jet," Bischoff said. "You can kind of tell when you first get on board which are the most comfortable seats. Let's put it that way - I kind of looked around, scoped around, and thought who else was on the flight: Vince, Triple H, Kevin Dunn. I'm pretty sure those first three seats are going to those guys.
"So, I'm just going to go to the back. Nobody told me to sit in the back of the plane. I just found the most comfortable seat at the back of the plane."
When Bischoff came back to the WWE in 2019, he was first shown on-screen during the RAW Reunion in a backstage segment with Eve Torres and both Maria and Mike Kanellis. He was also seen inviting the couple to SmackDown. Bischoff talked about going to the show and feeling like a fly on the wall with the talent rather than having a creative role on that day.
"I was just a talent like everybody else," Bischoff said. "But since I was on the jet, I didn't get there at 1 o' clock like everybody else. I was there at 8:30/9 in the morning. I went to the production meeting to observe, and learn, and get familiar with how WWE communicated what was going to happen that evening. I didn't really have much of a role in that show. I did backstage which is pretty simple to do, so I was more or less a fly on the wall."
Bischoff also talked about his role with the company and how there were several talents he was excited to work with. He also debunked the rumor that he was told not to push somebody, and that nobody had ever come to him saying he couldn't do something with a talent.
"There were talents I was really excited about working with," Bischoff said. "Nobody ever came to me and said 'Well don't push that person, don't get too excited about him or her.' That never happened."
Bischoff continued to name Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus as underutilized talents he was excited to work with.
"I saw a character or aspect of a character in Dolph that could be really entertaining and refresh him," he said. "I thought the world of him and still do as a performer. I always looked at Dolph Ziggler as a guy who reminded me in some respects of Kurt Angle, because on Monday nights [Kurt] could be the most frightening man-killer you needed him to be, and face anybody, and beat them on any given night, and the next night, be a stand up comedian.
"That's a magical combination as a talent - to not only have skill but depth and range as a character, and I saw that and still believe to this day that there's a character there that can do so much more."
Bischoff also talked about one of the hottest stars in the WWE as of today and of all time in Randy Orton. He mentioned how we'll be talking about Orton for many more years and he'll be looked at as one of the all-time greats.
"Still, to this day, I think Randy Orton is one of the most fluid, gifted talents in the industry right now. I don't think there's anybody that can hold a candle to Randy Orton when it comes to his character in the ring, his ability physically, his psychology. I think he's just one of the most exceptional pieces of talent that we are all kind of used to because we're used to seeing Randy Orton.
"When we look back 10 years, 15 years from now, we'll be looking back at Randy Orton and putting him in a category of rarefied air. Let's put it that way."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.