During the heat of the Monday Night Wars in the 90s, WCW was known for having the NWO, former WWE stars like Roddy Piper and The Ultimate Warrior as well as the dominant Bill Goldberg, but they were also well known for their cruiserweight division. That division featured some of future superstars like Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero.
On the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, former WCW President Eric Bischoff talked about the cruiserweights and their frustration being labeled as just small guys who couldn’t be main eventers. Over the years, Bischoff has received flack for underutilizing so many cruiserweight wrestlers who went on to become major players in WWE. Bischoff continued to defend his booking of the division, saying that the talent in that division could’ve made more money if they focused on being the best cruiserweight’s in the world over focusing on becoming main eventers.
“On one hand I understood how a lot of the cruiserweight’s felt, that they didn’t want to just be cruiserweight’s, they wanted a shot to be in the main event,” Bischoff said. “That’s a natural thing for a performer who has the drive and ambition and vision for himself or herself to be the biggest star they can be, it’s a natural thing. I don’t think anybody gets into the entertainment business and says I’m going to be really happy being a co-star, even though being a co-star for a long period of time in your career can be financially beneficial than being a star for a short time, nobody goes into it thinking that.
“It was a source of frustration amongst certain people that were cruiserweight’s, Eddie Guerrero being one of them, Chris Jericho being another. They didn’t want to be confined to that cruiserweight division. I had a hard time understanding that because in my mind, I’d be willing to pay them more money as cruiserweight’s. I had to be able to justify it, I couldn’t just do it because I wanted too.
“It’s my belief that had certain talent decided I’m going to be the best cruiserweight there’s ever been in the history of this industry, they would’ve made the money they wanted to make,” Bischoff said. “They might not have made Hulk Hogan money, but not many people did or do. They would’ve made a lot more money than they did had they decided to kind of s--t all over the cruiserweight division because they wanted to aspire to be something else.”
Paul Wight recently announced he’s leaving the WWE and joining AEW, signing a long-term contract with the company. Wight will make his debut for the company on this coming Wednesday’s Dynamite. Bischoff talked about Wight in WCW and how he never became a massive star with the company. He said the Big Show also never became the top guy in WWE and feels like he never had the star power to be able to.
“Giant never really clicked,” Bischoff said. “He never clicked in WCW, it just wasn’t there for some reason. Despite the fact that he had a successful and long career in WWE, he was never the face, he was never the guy that was in 3-4-5 main events a year. He just wasn’t that guy.
“He was an important guy, a talented individual and a good human being, but he just didn’t have that star power.”
Bischoff also discussed Ted Turner never appearing in a WCW storyline, including when he was fired by Harvey Schiller of TNT. He said Turner had no interest in ever being in a storyline in any way because of his standing outside of the company.
“Ted was never supposed to be a part of the show,” Bischoff said. “Ted would’ve shown up for a show, been happy to sit at ringside, but Ted had no interest in participating on camera in a scene. Ted wasn’t involved in any kind of storyline. Not that he didn’t love wrestling, it’s just that as Ted Turner, head of one of the largest media companies in the world, he didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.