On the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, former President of WCW Eric Bischoff talked about his issues with commentating in today’s wrestling.
Bischoff admitted that he does not like the way commentary nowadays is overproduced, but made sure not to blame the people involved in calling the matches. During his time with WCW, Bischoff kept a lot of what the commentary team saw in front of them a secret so their reaction would be realistic.
“One of the aspects of wrestling that is the most overproduced is the announcers,” Bischoff said. “They don’t know how to make it feel real anymore. They’re too busy being good at what they do and too good at being real. I don’t mean that as a criticism, it’s the nature of the evolution of the business. It’s not because they don’t have the talent or the ability, in the case of Jim Ross, he’s left more talent on the side of the road than I’ll ever have as a play-by-play announcer. But when you’re overproduced because you know too much and are trying to do too much based on all the information you have, you’re not bringing that genuine feel, that energy that is so contagious to the viewer.”
On the night the New World Order was formed at Bash at the Beach 1996, Bobby Heenan was on commentary and watered down the surprise for some of Hulk Hogan being revealed as “the third man” alongside Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. As Hogan walked toward the ring, the commentary team cheered for him to come down and join forces with the WCW stars against the Outsiders, however Heenan yelled, “Whose side is he on?!”
Bischoff said he never heard the remark because he was in the crowd when it happened. He noted that he did not punish Heenan or get upset with him when he found out. The former WCW President said he really liked how his announcers made the broadcast feel very believable and shared their own true opinions on situations.
“No, I didn’t hear it live because I was watching it in the stands, so I didn’t hear it till after it was over,” Bischoff said of Heenan’s remark. “In retrospect it was a mistake on Bobby’s part, he jumped the gun. Bobby had, not unlike a lot of announcers that I’ve heard in the past, the real need to be the smartest one at the table, if you know a little bit more than everybody else somehow that makes you a better announcer. Very rarely did Bobby make mistakes like that, but he did. I don’t think it was intentional, I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, I wish it wouldn’t have happened.
“The reason I didn’t get ridiculously upset about it was because it had an adverse effect. At the end of the day, how much damage did it do? Did it hurt the nWo? Did it hurt Hogan’s turn immeasurably? Absolutely not. It’s one of those things you wish wouldn’t happen but because i was operating under the basis of just let it be real, let whatever comes out come out, let it be natural. That’s one of the risks I took and you can’t be angry with somebody in the heat of the moment saying something when they haven’t been given any guidance either. Take the good with the bad and that’s one of the reasons why I never got wound up about it.”
After Hogan infamously joined forces with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, Tony Schiavone closed the show by saying that Hulk Hogan should “go to hell, straight to hell” for turning his back on WCW. Bischoff spoke about how much he loved that comment from Schiavone because of how real the remark made the situation feel.
“How great was Tony’s close?” Bischoff asked. “There is an example of less than perfect. It was pure emotion, he could’ve babbled on and on and on and got himself over, but instead he went with his gut and instinct and that was one of the top five that I ever heard [real moments on commentary].”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.