During a recent episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff covered the 2001 WCW Sin pay per view which featured Scott Steiner retaining his WCW Championship against Sid Vicious, Jeff Jarrett and Road Warrior Animal. During that match, Sid suffered a major injury where he fractured his leg. Bischoff talked about his decision to not show the injury replay on the following night’s Monday Nitro and why sometimes the realness of wrestling needs to be put on hold when a gruesome injury occurs.
“It was hard to watch,” Bischoff said. “Sid is a controversial talent in some respects, with wrestling fans. I’ve always enjoyed Sid, I got along with Sid from the first time I ever met him. He was an amazing specimen of a human being. This one was a tough one to watch for me.
“You want to be real. Whenever a wrestler gets busted open or hurt in the ring, there’s always a need to show the post injury surgery or the severity of the womb or show themselves get stitched up. I guess that’s an effort to prove what they do in the ring is physical and it is dangerous and real. I guess it’s a good thing and necessary thing just to remind people that we’re not out here pillow fighting, this is real stuff and real injuries do happen. There’s a certain point where you have to draw the line of good taste. With this, it was a tough call. It really was.”
Bischoff continued to talk about the Monday Night Wars. He said that WWE targeting the 18-49 demographic and amping up WCW’s style of graphic television was something his company couldn’t compete with. Bischoff also talked about how Vince McMahon knew he needed to make a change after getting beat down by WCW.
“WWE was in a very desperate position in 1996, and 97′ in particular,” Bischoff said. “WCW was stomping a mud hole in WWF from a creative perspective. Vince McMahon came out in 97′ and said we’re going to have a whole new creative approach. All these things Vince said he was going to do was really the first step in replicating the formula that was working in WCW, meaning targeting an 18-49 year old audience. As opposed to the teen and pre-teen audience that had been really the business model for WWF for decades leading up to that point.
“They had to make a change. When they made that change, they took it to an extreme. They went further than even WCW was capable or willing to go in terms of the sexual innuendo and the raunchiness of it. WWF went to a further extreme than WCW did targeting that 18-49 year old audience and it worked very well for them in many respects. [WCW] knew in 2001, that was a formula that was not going to work for us.”
Bischoff noted the approach WCW had going into the 2000s and why they chose to change their product and not be a copy of WWE. He said it would’ve been tough to envision a way WCW could match WWE’s way of presenting wrestling.
“We just weren’t going to follow in their footsteps,” Bischoff said. “Looking back, most people would agree, it would’ve been hard to get any raunchier than the WWF product at that point. I think they had gone as far as they could possibly go.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.