In June 2019, Eric Bischoff was named Executive Director of SmackDown while Paul Heyman was named Executive Director of RAW. During the 83 Weeks Podcast, Bischoff described their roles and how fresh they were for the company. He also said neither of them were given much creative control.
“The positions of executive director of RAW and Smackdown were brand new positions,” Bischoff said. “I think they had been thought through very well on paper, but they hadn’t been executed or integrated into an actual process. There wasn’t really clarity on what that position was. I think there was some fuzziness or fog in regard to clarity for the position.”
“Paul [Heyman] didn’t have any more creative control than I did. The only person there who had creative influence was Vince McMahon. Everybody else’s job was to come to the table with ideas and then Vince would pretty much take them from there. I had as much access to Vince as I wanted to have.”
Bischoff was reportedly set to work with FOX executives as SmackDown was moving to FOX that fall. He described the environment on the night of the SmackDown premier on Fox, saying the show had many changes on the fly and seemed like chaos at certain points.
“A lot of excitement, a lot of chaos,” Bischoff mentioned. “Anytime you’re doing a live show, in WWE especially, there’s a lot of last minute changes and modifications. You’re constantly dealing with variables or changes, some minor, some radical, some you have time for and some you’re fixing literally on the fly. There’s always this sense of controlled chaos at a big event like this premier was.”
“We were still trying to navigate roster splits. I’ve never been through something like that in my life, just hundreds of hours of my life that I’ll never get back. It was tough.”
The show began with The Rock cutting a promo alongside Becky Lynch. Bischoff mentioned how The Rock’s promo to start the show was a concern with many backstage. He said they were concerned The Rock was going to go on for too long and cause them to have to change match times and promos over the show.
“Everybody was concerned that [The] Rock was going to take his 12 minute promo and turn it into a 30 minute promo,” Bischoff said. “Just collapse all kinds of other plans and other promos and lengths of matches. It was kind of like, okay, he’s going to open up the show, let’s keep our fingers crossed.
“Once that major piece of business was taken care of and The Rock energized the audience and he exited the building it was business as usual.”
Bischoff continued to talk about the 2019 WWE Draft the following week. He said it was tough to deal with and wishes his friend Bruce Prichard isn’t dealing with the same stuff he had to deal with.
“That was just a freaking nightmare right up until the final moments we went on air,” Bischoff said. “It was constant second guessing, back and forth, last minute changes. It was just brutal.
“I’m watching now and I know the draft is going on now and I’m thinking man, I haven’t heard from Bruce [Prichard] in a long time and I’m going to wait till after this is all over to reach out to him. This is just f***ing miserable if it’s the same as it was last year. I can tell you literally up until the day of the show none of us knew who was going where. Try writing T.V. that way, by the way.”
If you are looking for current information on the 2020 WWE Draft and which superstars ended up where, check out the updated list of draft picks from nights 1 and 2.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.