On the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff talked about WCW and its structural issues in the early ’90s. Bischoff mentioned how the company was constantly offering fans free tickets after they weren’t able to sell enough tickets to fill the arenas. He said this completely ruined the credibility of the company and made them feel lower and lower than what they actually were.
“I didn’t feel defeated, I was frustrated with the fact that WCW papered so many houses for so long,” Bischoff said. “Every television show – papered. Every pay per view – heavily papered. Clash of Champions – heavily papered. It doesn’t take long for the audience to realize that you don’t have to buy tickets and just wait ’til the last minute; they’re gonna be free. They’ll put them on your windshield while you’re at 7-eleven buying a slurpee.
“That was the marketing strategy for WCW in the early ’90s. You manifest your own destiny when you do that, when you condition your audience to know you’re going to give away tickets every time you come to town. It makes it so difficult to change that perception and reality. All these things and mistakes WCW was making was driving me nuts, because people wouldn’t listen, they wouldn’t see.”
Bischoff talked about the specific issues regarding WCW in the early ’90s. He stated that the talent wasn’t the problem, it was more on WCW and how they were positioning the show by handing out free tickets and not promoting it like a competitor to WWF.
“I didn’t look at it as a talent problem as much as I looked at it as a structural WCW problem,” Bischoff said. “Marketing, promotion, positioning. Once you throw in the towel and quit trying to figure out why you’re a distant number 2– why isn’t the audience coming? Until you start having those conversations with each other, you’re basically throwing in the towel and accepting the fact that you’re always going to be a 2nd run. I was either too naïve or too stubborn to fall into that way of thinking.
“One of the reasons I was the antichrist of WCW was because my opinion of what WCW needed to do was so alien and 180 degrees from what everybody internally in WCW [wanted to do]. I felt like we were too southern, we were too small. We didn’t position ourselves, even with our characters, the way we needed to position ourselves.”
Bischoff talks about one of the reasons they were so excited about getting Hulk Hogan in WCW was being able to go and hit the international market. He said Hogan was a major star in Germany, and him coming to WCW would attract major promoters that the company wouldn’t have had before he arrived.
“We thought, okay, now we’re going to be able to attract high quality promoters,” Bischoff said. “WCW wasn’t going to go to Germany, and we didn’t promote those shows. We worked with a local promoter. The quality of the promoter you’re working with has a lot to do with the value of your property. In WCW in 1993, it was not a high value property; you’re going to get a secondary promoter at best. As opposed to really high quality promoters that promote major rock shows and have major relationships with major venues and the radio stations.”
Bischoff also continued to talk about Dusty Rhodes, who was the booker for WCW at this time in the early ’90s, and how he impacted many of the big headline main event matches.
“Dusty had a different way of looking at things,” Bischoff mentioned. “He was looking for that Starrcade, he was looking for that WrestleMania, he was looking for that big event that could become a ten pole. I don’t think Dusty was the storyteller – long-term, strategic storyteller that he probably would’ve liked to have been. Dusty thought in terms of the next big event, the next big headline.
“The idea of elongated storylines that lasted weeks, if not months, was not something that came naturally to Dusty. What did come naturally was his vision for big events as opposed to a strong story. Not that he didn’t come up with some great stories, but the majority of Dusty’s creative thought process was probably dedicated to what’s the next big huge hit is we can conjure up.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.