During the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff covered the debut of The Ultimate Warrior in WCW. Warrior debuted with the company in 1998 at Fall Brawl, where he made his surprise appearance to confront Hulk Hogan and the nWo. During his debut, Warrior cut a promo on Hogan that lasted over 20+ minutes. Bischoff described the conversations leading up to Warriors debut, and how Warrior did everything on his own instead of under the direction of the company.
“There was no discussion about doing a long promo,” Bischoff said. “It was discussed that Warrior would come in, cut a promo on Hogan, and that would be the exciting moment to launch that going forward. Man, that promo, I don’t even know how long that promo went but I think it was over 23 minutes. That was not discussed.”
In preparation for the surprise debut of The Ultimate Warrior, Bischoff said their original plan was to have a small promo to set up his match with Hogan. Bischoff also mentioned how he doesn’t even think some of the greatest talkers in the history of the business would be able to hold the attention of a crowd during a 20+ minute promo.
“Under 10, probably 7 or 8 [minutes] tops,” Bischoff said. “A five to seven minute promo, unless you’re really good at them, you can lose a lot of audience. Unless there’s something really compelling going on, or the person cutting that promo is a great storyteller and has a big audience. You can have a great five to seven minute promo with certain people under certain circumstances. But generally, you don’t want to go beyond that even for something big.
“I think this one could have gone as long as 27 minutes. I don’t know anybody that can get out there and hold an audience for 27 minutes. I don’t know if The Rock could, but if anybody could, he could. Beyond The Rock, I can’t imagine anybody walking out for 27 minutes and being able to hold an audience. It was horrible, it was the worst feeling I ever had on live television.”
In that moment, Bischoff said that you could feel the crowd become uninterested and checked out. He said having the fans be sucked out of the moment between Hogan and Warrior by his 20+ minute promo was one of the worst experiences he has ever had in the wrestling business.
“As a talent, you can feel it in your bones when you have the audience,” Bischoff said. “There’s a vibe, there’s an energy or connection with the audience. You can feel it, you can almost taste it when it’s going right. It’s as equally palpable and equally distasteful when it’s going wrong, when you can feel that energy getting sucked out of that crowd and becoming dead all around you.
“That loss of life from an entertainment perspective, when massive amounts of people just shut down simultaneously, feels like an emotional blackhole when you’re standing in that ring and you realize 3-5 million people are dying all at the same time. There is nothing worse as a producer or a talent than a moment like that, and that’s how I felt.”
Bischoff also talked about Warrior apologizing to him about the promo being too long. He would explain that he was too caught up in the Ultimate Warrior character, and didn’t mean to go over time.
“Yeah, to him, it was that he got caught up in the moment,” Bischoff said. “I understand that because when I say he lived that character, I’m not exaggerating. I think he knew he screwed up, but I don’t think he felt the same way about it that I did or Hulk did. He felt like he got to get out there and speak to his Warriors, and did what he wanted to do, but I don’t think he realized how far over he went. I don’t think he realized he went out there for 20+ minutes. I really don’t.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.