During this week’s episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff covered The Ultimate Warriors WCW debut in 1998. Bischoff talked about why the company wanted to sign Warrior after his years of success with the WWE, and he mentioned how the contract he signed with the company was an experiment.
“We both had outs,” Bischoff said. “He was a big contract but he was a temporary contract in the sense that if it worked out great, we could mutually agree to continue. If it wasn’t working out from our perspective, then we could mutually agree not to continue. It wasn’t like it was this massive commitment where we rethink all of our stories and angles with all of our top heels. It was an experiment, one that I was not thrilled about because I didn’t see a character like Warrior being able to move the needle consistently.
“There was a lot of reasons why we thought, ‘let’s just give it a shot. If it works out bigger and better than I thought it would, wonderful. If it just works out okay, that’s alright too.’ And if it sucks, there was a way out.”
Bischoff continued to talk about the meeting he had with Warrior before he signed with the company. He mentioned how Warrior had a unique view of his character and believed that it was was larger than just wrestling.
“I listened for hours, I listened to Warrior on his views on wrestling mostly, his views on his character,” Bischoff said. “What he felt were potential opportunities outside of the wrestling ring with his character: comic books, animation, merchandise.
“He believed in this Warrior character so much, his fantasy world became his real world. That’s all he wanted to talk about. We didn’t really talk about money [in the first meeting], it was all about what the opportunities were for Warrior, and where can this character go after we re-establish him in wrestling.
“The meeting lasted anywhere from 2 and a half to 3 hours, and I would say anywhere from 2 hours to 2 hours and 15 minutes of that was me looking at hundreds of pages of animation, and designs, and looking at what Jim wanted to accomplish.”
At the time in WCW, it was common knowledge that all the top stars were making large amounts of money. It’s been said for years that the main reason many of WWE stars in the 80s and 90s crossed over to WCW was because of the money. Bischoff mentioned how much money the company paid Warrior for his appearances.
“I don’t remember what it was but it certainly wasn’t anywhere approaching seven figures,” Bischoff said. “I’m guessing $250,000 a pop, maybe a little more. But it would’ve been under $500,000.”
Bischoff continued to talk about how he was on a radio show before Warrior had signed with the company. There, he was asked about Warrior’s talks to join WCW. When asked about him signing, Bischoff denied it. He said the smart thing to do for the integrity of your company is to keep secrets and create attention for a big surprise.
“I thought it was in my business’ best interest to deny it,” Bischoff said. “[I needed] to do whatever I could, however I could to keep the integrity of the secret, or the timing of the revelation.”
Bischoff continued to talk about leaked rumors in wrestling today, and mentioned his appearance on AEW being an example of it.
“You have fans that are reading things that haven’t even happened yet and determining how they feel about it. When I showed up in AEW a couple weeks ago, some fan, I hate to call him a fan cause you’re not really a fan of the business when you do this type of thing because you’re actually hurting the business.
“It didn’t hurt me at all, but it hurt AEW. How much, how little? I don’t know, but it’s not healthy. Anybody that’s a real fan of wrestling should probably forgive or understand why any promoter would do anything in their power to maintain the integrity of things that they felt were best for business, if they were kept secret.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.