During the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff talked about the WCW Cruiserweight division and how important it was to WCW Monday Nitro’s success. Bischoff mentioned that it really was a major factor in WCW defeating WWE for 83 consecutive weeks. He also said its impact on the wrestling business is being seen to this day.
“The Cruiserweight division and the talent represented there probably had as much to do with the success of [WCW Monday Nitro] as the nWo,” Bischoff said. “I don’t think people recognize it. The talent in that division not only helped Nitro consistently defeat WWE, it forced WWE as much as the nWo to change the way they presented their product. That talent is the reason why guys like The Young Bucks are on television today. They set the standard, they changed the paradigm of what the audience thought of when they thought of a professional wrestler. They changed the level of expectations in terms of what should happen physically in the ring.
“The cruiserweight division and everyone involved in it set a standard that people in so many companies today, including WWE and AEW, those opportunities wouldn’t exist today had it not been for the talent, and the execution, and industry-changing impact those talents had at that time. We’re still seeing it today.”
Bischoff also talked about the mistake he made in not realizing during the heat of the Monday Night War how valuable the cruiserweight division was. He said it was a major misstep and something WCW could have utilized and appreciated much more looking back now.
“I know where I f***ed up, I didn’t recognize it,” Bischoff said. “I didn’t recognize it ’til long afterwards. As I reflect now and analyze things now, I analyze things much differently today. My perspective on things has changed dramatically. You don’t recognize history for what it is while it’s happening, you recognize history for what it is after it’s happened, oftentimes well after it’s happened. I recognized I didn’t give the cruiserweights the same level of respect or recognition at the time as I do today.”
Bischoff went deep into the original idea of his version of WCW when TNT first decided it was going to go head to head with WWE. He said the thought process was to ignore pleasing children and the young demographic and focus on attacking the 18-49 demographic that WWE wasn’t at the time.
“My choice was: can I beat them at what they are already good at?” Bischoff said. “Where I saw the void was in the 18-49 year old demo because I knew that’s where the money was from an advertising point of view. If I can’t compete with them at what they’re already good at, why not compete with them in a segment of the audience they’re not engaging?”
In regards to that comment, Bischoff said that the cruiserweights weren’t brought into WCW to have them attract a younger audience. He also said that was a major factor in them not being as cautious about Rey Mysterio and revealing his true identity under the mask.
“I didn’t look at the cruiserweight division as a kids division,” Bischoff said. “Rey Mysterio certainly was a unique character because of the mask and of all that, and one would say that attracted kids. It probably could’ve and would’ve if I had made a consistent effort. That’s one of the reasons I wasn’t worried about unmasking him, because I wasn’t trying to market towards kids that would buy those masks. I felt differently about the masks and the outfit than maybe other people did. I didn’t look at Rey Mysterio and guys like him as a way to appeal to kids.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.