In the late-1990's, WCW poached superstars like Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash from the WWE. On a recent episode of the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast, Eric Bischoff, Bruce Prichard and John "Bradshaw" Layfield were on hand to discuss the competition between the two companies.
Prichard, a former producer for WWE, said Bischoff's time at the helm of the WCW was the best time in the wrestling business because WWE finally had some serious competition. Wrestlers were able to have options back then since WWE wasn't the only promotion that was popular among wrestling fans.
"When Eric came in to WCW and was really competitive and they came after us with a vengeance. All of a sudden we weren't the only game in town," Prichard said. "We were the ones that were fighting for that existence, and just fighting to be part of everything. They were doing great numbers, which made us to do better numbers; the business got healthier as a whole and I think that is what is missing today, which is good and healthy competition."
Bischoff explained that it was never his intention to steal anyone from the WWE, but rather people choosing to jump ship to WCW. He said he never tried to steal Prichard or other WWE producers, but he did have a desire to work with Pat Patterson because of his reputation within the wrestling business.
"There was never really anybody that we sent back in a dark room, with a six-pack of beer and said, 'OK, let's see if we can get this guy or steal this guy.' Whether it was talent, or Producers, whoever it was trying to come to WCW, it was them coming to us; there was never really us trying to cherry pick talent," Bischoff said. "The only person that I tried to covet, and I didn't even know him at the time, was Pat Patterson because there was so many people that were working for me that had worked with Patterson, and obviously worked with Vince McMahon that they just kept telling me what a great 'finish' guy he was. I had never worked with him or met him, but I knew that looking at our product and what was lacking with our product was that I needed somebody with that depth of storytelling ability."
For the superstars, it wasn't an easy time in the business. JBL said he had to deal with people falsely assuming that he was negotiating with WCW while he was under contract with WWE, although it might have resulted in getting a better deal in WWE.
"I ran into Eric Bischoff at a bar in an arena airport, which was the first time I met him around the time the Attitude Era first started," JBL said. "I ran into Eric leaving Japan, and it got back to WWE and I was in the middle of a contract negotiation, and Eric never offered me a contract, so it was terrific."
Eventually, WCW went out of business and WWE acquired its assets. JBL said there was a friendly rivalry among the superstars that would sometimes play out during some of the Invasion angles, including the night that DX invaded Monday Nitro.
"We had a very friendly rivalry. That night when we invaded WCW, we didn't know what was going to happen because we invaded that afternoon and we were live," JBL said. "Gerald Brisco went around and told everybody to wait by the parking lot because we didn't know what was going to happen. We had the Harris Boys out there, we had Ken Shamrock. We were kind of hoping that Ken Shamrock and Haku would get into a fight because it probably would still be going. It was a crazy time, until the show was over and Vince [McMahon] had left the arena."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.