Eric Aaron Bischoff (born May 27, 1955) is an American entrepreneur and former professional wrestling booker, producer, and on-screen personality, most known for serving as Executive Producer and later President of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and later, the General Manager of World Wrestling Entertainment's Raw brand. With an amateur background in martial arts, Bischoff was also known to sporadically compete as an in-ring performer, and is a former WCW Hardcore Champion.Early life
Eric Bischoff grew up as a wrestling fan in a rough part of Detroit, Michigan with his father, mother, younger brother and sister. In 1968, Bischoff and his family moved to Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where he began competing in amateur wrestling at Penn Hills junior high school. In 1970, he and his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota at age 15, where Bischoff continued wrestling. In 1973, Bischoff made his first television appearance on Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association (AWA) All-Star Wrestling Show to promote his amateur wrestling team's AAU freestyle tournament against Sweden. Later that year, Bischoff suffered a knee injury that ended his amateur wrestling career.
In 1976, he began to pursue taekwondo. Eventually he earned a black belt in taekwondo, and competed across the country in small taekwondo tournaments. Bischoff befriended future WCW employee Kazuo "Sonny" Onoo while touring as a martial artist in the 1970s. The two became good friends and Onoo considered him one of the toughest fighters of the time. Bischoff would also become friends with next door neighbor and future wrestling star Diamond Dallas Page.Career before professional wrestling
Before getting into professional wrestling, Bischoff had a number of occupations. He owned a successful landscape construction company, worked as a veterinary assistant, and ran a butcher shop, where he sold meat via van delivery. Hulk Hogan would famously refer to this time in his life during a promo at the end of the 1996 WCW pay-per-view event Bash at the Beach in Daytona Beach, Florida, saying, "If it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis.American Wrestling Association
Bischoff started in wrestling working for American Wrestling Association owner Verne Gagne and would eventually become an on-air interviewer and host until the AWA folded in 1990. Bischoff at first worked on the AWA's syndicated programming, or sales in other words. Bischoff became an on-air personality virtually by accident and practically, at the last minute. Larry Nelson, whom at the time was employed by the AWA as an announcer, was arrested under suspicion of a DUI. Because of Nelson's sudden unavailability, Verne Gagne and his son, Greg opted to recruit Bischoff (who initially, had no desire to be in front of the camera) to fill-in on the interviews. Bischoff believed that the Gagnes thought that he would be a good replacement due to his immediate availability in the television studio, and the fact that he was already wearing a suit and tie.
For years, Eric Bischoff was credited (or blamed) with having developed the Team Challenge Series (which many fans believe helped hasten the AWA's demise) -- even cited as such in several books. However, in both his autobiography and The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA, Bischoff denied having anything to do with it. Instead, Greg Gagne takes responsibility for coming up with the idea, and developing it with his father.
 Failed 1990 audition for the World Wrestling Federation
In 1990, Bischoff auditioned for an announcer's position with the World Wrestling Federation, but Vince McMahon turned him down. In a July 2003 interview, Vince McMahon said: "I regret not hiring Bischoff at the time. To be honest, I don't recall his audition, and I don't know why I wouldn't. He has a great look. He has a great on-camera presence. I don't know why we didn't grab him at the time." Bischoff simply replied in Controversy Creates Ca$h, "I didn't get the job because I didn't deserve it."World Championship Wrestling (WCW)
In 1991, Bischoff joined World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as an announcer, debuting at The Great American Bash.
As an announcer, Bischoff reported to producer Tony Schiavone and WCW's Vice President of Broadcasting, Jim Ross. After WCW boss Bill Watts was fired by TBS executive Bill Shaw in 1993, Bischoff went to Shaw and WCW Vice President Bob Dhue to ask for the job of executive producer. At the time, Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone seemed to be the two top candidates. However, Bischoff was hired in Watts' place. Schiavone remained a producer until the company's demise. Ross, upset that a man who once answered to him was now his supervisor, requested and received a release from Shaw (after suggestion from Bischoff) and ended up in the rival World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Initially, Bischoff and Dhue worked together for the good of WCW, but Bischoff's maverick thinking clashed with Dhue's "old-school mentality".
Bischoff and Bob Dhue's wars over the direction of WCW came to a head, and in 1994, Bill Shaw named Bischoff Vice President. Dhue resigned, as did event manager Don Sandefeur and junior Vice President Jim Barnett (despite reports that they were all fired by him all on the same day, Bischoff denied this in a blog entry on his website, stating that Sandefeur and Dhue never reported to him). In 1996, Bill Shaw was reassigned from WCW, leaving Eric with the title of Executive Vice President/General Manager, and by 1997, Bischoff was promoted to President of World Championship Wrestling by the head of TBS Sports, Dr. Harvey Schiller.
Bischoff convinced Turner executives to better finance WCW in order to compete with the WWF. Almost immediately, he used the money allotted to him to sign big names such as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and others away from the WWF. He also invested money in production values and increased the number of WCW pay-per-views (first 7 a year, then 10, and then once a month). The plans paid off, and in 1995, WCW turned a profit for the first time.[/color]Monday Nitro
Main article: WCW Monday Nitro
During one WCW meeting in 1995, WCW Owner (via Turner Broadcasting) Ted Turner asked Bischoff how the company could possibly compete with the WWF. Bischoff, taken aback by the question, told Turner to put WCW on prime time television against the WWF's Monday Night Raw on the USA Network. At the time, the flagship show for WCW was WCW Saturday Night, a taped show that ran on Saturday nights at 6:05 pm (EST), and was nowhere near the production value of Monday Night Raw. So Bischoff argued that because of this, there was no direct competition between WCW and WWF for viewers. To the surprise of many within the wrestling industry (and those within Turner Broadcasting), and Bischoff himself, Turner agreed, and gave Bischoff a one hour prime time slot every Monday on TNT (in 1996, due to high ratings, it would expand to two hours, and eventually three hours in 1998).
Bischoff designed and produced the new show, WCW Monday Nitro, and showcased the company as a fresh alternative to the WWF. Bischoff has stated that he wanted to draw an audience to WCW from the WWF by being different from the competition and not trying to be similar. While new episodes of Raw were taped weeks in advance, Nitro was live each week, with Bischoff often giving away Raw results to encourage viewers to watch his show instead (or, according to Bischoff, to watch Raw "proving the quality" of that show paled in comparison to Nitro). In his book (Controversy Creates Ca$h), Bischoff describes the design for Nitro as being a complete alternative to the WWF. Raw catered to younger crowds, so Nitro would in turn, cater to the 18-35 male demographic. Character-wise, Raw featured larger than life cartoon characters, while Nitro would begin to feature edgier characters with more depth. Raw tended to have lots of squash matches on its television each week at this time. Nitro attracted an audience by being different and having competitive matches that would normally be reserved for pay-per-view.
Because WCW and TNT were both part of Turner, Bischoff was able to start Nitro several minutes earlier than Raw, as well as provide a late-night rebroadcast so viewers who opted to watch Raw could still see the show. With the influx of new money Bischoff also began signing wrestlers from around the world, including All Japan , New Japan, and ECW to fill the undercard with quicker paced, more action-packed matches.
The "Monday Night Wars" began as Nitro beat Raw in their first head-to-head week and ran neck-and-neck with the WWF for the remainder of the year.nWo
Main article: New World Order (professional wrestling)
In 1996, Bischoff revealed that WWF superstar Scott Hall, better known to audiences as "Razor Ramon", was defecting from the WWF to join WCW. Hall was soon joined by Kevin Nash, better known as "Diesel", to become "The Outsiders". The duo was depicted as invading WCW on behalf of the WWF to start a "war" between the two companies. To avoid legal action by the WWF, Bischoff, in a worked interview at The Great American Bash, asked point blank if they worked for the WWF, to which both Hall and Nash emphatically said no. The Outsiders expanded and became The New World Order when perennial fan-favorite Hulk Hogan aligned himself with the Outsiders. Led by the nWo storyline, WCW overtook the WWF as the number one wrestling promotion in America with Monday Nitro's rating defeating Monday Night Raw's by a wide margin for 84 consecutive weeks. Through this Bischoff moved from a commentator to a manager type role in the nWo and enjoyed a lot of screen time. He also enjoyed some mainstream exposure in his own right at the time, appearing on the HBO series Arli$$ as well as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Bischoff has fought for a world championship twice: Once in a tag team match with Jeff Jarrett against David Arquette and then WCW Champion, DDP for the WCW Championship on WCW Thunder and once against John Cena at Raw's USA homecoming for the WWE Championship.Downfall of WCW
In 1996, media conglomerate Time Warner had acquired Turner Broadcasting. Little by little, the new owners gave Bischoff slight restrictions as to what he was and was not allowed to do with WCW. Eventually the restrictions, ranging from the presentation and direction of WCW programming to the financing/budget, increased. In the summer of 1998, Bischoff was called to a meeting by individuals representing Time Warner's Standards & Practices department, and the conglomerate's Advertising Sales wing. It was during this meeting that Bischoff was outright ordered to alter WCW's format to a more "family-friendly" output. Knowing that this would never work due to the mature nature the show had been taking since its debut, Bischoff objected to the "new direction" and outright refused to comply, but eventually resigned himself to the fate upon realizing that with Ted Turner being forced out of power, Bischoff and WCW had lost their internal support.
The forced shift in WCW's programming, the addition of new show WCW Thunder, and the addition of a third hour to Nitro, took a great strain on the resources of Bischoff and the WCW staff who were firing on all cylinders as it was. At the same time the WWF, buoyed by its new "Attitude" branding and product, began beating an increasingly stagnant WCW week after week in the Monday night ratings war. By January 1999, the tide had completely turned. According to Controversy Creates Ca$h Bischoff marks the point when the Standards & Practices and Advertising Sales departments began applying heavy restrictions on WCW's creativity section as the time when he should have left the company, but he remained.
His TV presence disappeared, and a demoralized Bischoff, having lost control of his company, began to turn his attention to other projects other than WCW. He would pitch ideas to TV executives in Hollywood, being introduced by his friend Jason Hervey as "the golden boy who saved wrestling." When Bischoff returned from hiatus in April 1999, the company was in bad shape. WCW had a lot more restrictions on what it could and could not do from Time Warner. He would try to unsuccessfully extend the WCW brand outside of wrestling with a restaurant called The Nitro Grill in Las Vegas (which went under in less than a year) and a brand of cologne.
Bischoff also tried to bring in musical talent such as Kiss, Master P, Chad Brock, and Megadeth in an effort to co-brand with WCW's product, but none of these performances were able to make an impact in the ratings.Replacement
All plans were scrapped when, on September 10, 1999, Bischoff was suddenly relieved of his management position with WCW, after getting a phone call from Harvey Schiller. In August, Bischoff was replaced with WCW accountant Bill Busch.
The management change went unmentioned on WCW television but was mentioned on their web page.
However, less than six months went by before Bill Busch was removed from power. Busch, according to Controversy Creates Ca$h, was a numbers man and had no idea how to run a wrestling company. To make matters worse, ratings, which had been at least decent under Bischoff's tenure, plummeted to embarrassing all-new lows. Replacing Busch at the helm was Time Warner programming executive Brad Siegel. Siegel's first order of business was to ask Eric what could be done to save the company, and because of this, Bischoff briefly came back into power in April 2000. However, he did not return as president (in a mutual decision); instead, he was named event and television manager, and was to be seconded by creative director Vince Russo (as on-air partners-in-charge). Although unhappy with Russo's booking (which Bischoff would later describe as "dark, mean-spirited, and creatively shallow"), Bischoff worked with Russo for the good of WCW. The last straw, according to Bischoff, was the Hulk Hogan incident at Bash at the Beach 2000. Bischoff would leave the company after six weeks.[/color]Attempted purchase of WCW
While owned by Turner Broadcasting, WCW had always been classified as a sports division, yet under the new corporate umbrella of Time Warner, it was eventually overseen by the entertainment department. Many executives involved in WCW's ownership—from the Turner-owned era to the AOL-Time Warner years—hated the idea of wrestling on their stations, seeing it as "low brow", and accounts showed that WCW was losing between $12–$17 million a year at one point. Time Warner executives attempted to remove it entirely, but were unable to do so because of Ted Turner. Turner was personally faithful to WCW regardless of whether it was losing him money because an earlier incarnation of the promotion had helped establish Turner's first television station, TBS.
However, not many people involved in Time Warner ownership shared his loyalty. Turner was still the single largest Time Warner shareholder, so WCW continued to operate at his behest. When AOL merged with Time Warner in 2000, Turner was effectively forced out of his own empire. The new AOL-Time Warner finally had the power to auction off WCW, which they saw as an unnecessary drain on resources. Bischoff, operating under the belief that every restriction placed on WCW was a deliberate attempt to make the end of the company inevitable, offered to buy the company in the hopes of saving it. Although Brad Siegel wanted little to do with the company, he rejected the sale. In late 2000 with WCW facing major financial woes, Siegel eventually accepted Bischoff's offer. Bischoff and a group of investors known as Fusient Media Ventures signed a letter of intent to buy the company. Bischoff and Fusient briefly withdrew their offer when the World Wrestling Federation (due to the terms of a settlement, WWF had a right to bid on WCW's properties, should they ever be up for liquidation) made an inqiuiry on WCW. When then-WWF broadcaster Viacom objected (fearing a WWF-owned show on a competing network), the Bischoff-Fusient consortium signed a new letter of intent.
However, if Siegel wanted nothing to do with WCW, then his new supervisor in the AOL Time Warner merger Jamie Kellner (former WB Network executive) wanted even less to do with the company. Named the new head of Turner Broadcasting, Kellner formally canceled all WCW programming from its television networks. With no network on which to air its programming, WCW was of little value to Bischoff and Fusient (Bischoff: "It made absolutely no sense for us to do the deal under those circumstances." ), whose offer depended on being able to continue to air WCW programming on the Turner networks. According to his autobiography, Bischoff revealed that NBC and FOX were inquiring about getting WCW programming on their networks, but without a main broadcast output, that never happened. With WCW programming canceled (and Viacom subsequently no longer objecting), the company was purchased by the WWF for a substantially lower price (approximately US $2.5 million) than what had been offered in March 2001. Bischoff took some time off from wrestling to work on other TV projects. He produced several reality TV shows and signed on as president of Matrats, a youth-based wrestling company.World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
In 2002, Bischoff was hired by World Wrestling Entertainment to be the General Manager of Raw, a role he played until late 2005. His debut as Raw GM resurrected his characteristic brand of smarminess with the GM position, again playing the arrogant heel character he had perfected as the nWo boss in WCW. His reign as GM was longer than any other GM in WWE history and included "innovations" like the "Raw Roulette" and the Elimination Chamber, as well as feuds with Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena, SmackDown General Manager Stephanie McMahon, and Extreme Championship Wrestling ex-GM Paul Heyman. On one episode of Raw, he even had The Rock thrown out and escorted from the building, prompting The Rock to say "Of all people, you throw The Rock out of the building? No wonder WCW went out of business."
Bischoff was kayfabe "fired" as General Manager in late 2005, when Vince McMahon tossed him into a garbage truck - following a "trial" where his history of unscrupulous actions were listed - and driven out of the arena. Bischoff then sat out the remainder of the year and spent the start of 2006 writing a book that would become Controversy Creates Cash. Bischoff was against writing a wrestling book initially, as he believes "most are bitter, self-serving revisionist history at best—and monuments to bullshit at their worst.". While promoting his book Controversy Creates Cash on WWE.com, Bischoff criticized Wikipedia for his page stating that many parts were untrue. He said it was "flawed" and "wished he had done as much with his life as his page had stated". Although it was widely believed that his contract expired during his sabbatical, Bischoff's contract with the WWE expired on August 5, 2007.
On September 25, 2006, Bischoff appeared on WWE TV for the first time in close to a year, being brought into the ring by Jonathan Coachman where he proceeded to promote his recently finished book Controversy Creates Ca$h (ISBN 1-4165-2729-X) and gave a worked shoot on Vince McMahon and WWE. During his segment Bischoff stated, "Without Monday Nitro there would be no Monday Night Raw...without the nWo there would be no DX...and without Eric Bischoff there would be no Vince McMahon", after which Bischoff's microphone was turned off and he was escorted from the building by security.
A few days later John Bradshaw Layfield conducted a four-part interview with Bischoff, further discussing his book, on WWE.com. During the interview, Bischoff discussed various topics, such as his true feelings towards Lex Luger, his thoughts on ECW promoter Paul Heyman, his decision of giving Kevin Nash booking power, and his overall reaction to the Monday Night Wars. At one point, it was even on the New York Times best seller list.
Bischoff was chosen as the special guest referee for the D-Generation X vs. Edge and Randy Orton match at Cyber Sunday on November 5, with 60% of the vote. He then cheated DX out of the win, leaving Orton and Edge the victors.
On the November 6, 2006 episode of Raw, Bischoff was reinstated as General Manager for one night only. During his time as the GM on Raw, he restarted matches if he didn't like the outcome. He also got revenge on Maria for her statement made in his trial the year before by making her face Umaga, forced John Cena to "take the night off," and banned DX from the building. He restarted the match between Jeff Hardy and Johnny Nitro for the WWE Intercontinental Championship after Hardy won by DQ. Bischoff restarted that match as a No Disqualification match, and Nitro took advantage of that using Melina to distract Hardy and striking him with the title belt. At the end of the show, DX interfered in the main event when Bischoff tried to help Edge and Randy Orton win the tag team titles, and forced him to be humiliated by "Big Dick Johnson" as revenge for costing them their match the night before.
On March 5, 2007, Bischoff made a brief appearance on Raw in Phoenix, Arizona to give Vince McMahon his thoughts on the WrestleMania 23 match against Donald Trump. Then on December 10, 2007, Bischoff returned to Raw for its 15th Anniversary Special and was confronted by Chris Jericho, whom he fired on Raw in 2005. On the same night, his profile was updated onto the WWE alumni section on WWE.com.Production career
Bischoff, with former child actor Jason Hervey, runs his own production company, Bischoff-Hervey Productions, which co-produced the reality TV series in 2005. They also produced a live Girls Gone Wild pay-per-view event from Florida in 2003 with WWE and another pay-per-view about the Sturgis, South Dakota motorcycle rally in 2004. They are also executive producing the VH1 reality show Scott Baio Is 45...and Single, another VH1 reality show "Confessions of a Teen Idol", and the CMT show Billy Ray Cyrus...Home At Last. Bishoff-Hervey Productions also produced a reality show called Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling in which ten celebrities were trained to wrestle and one celebrity is voted off weekly. Bishoff also appeared as one of the "judges" on the show. Currently, they are also working on a reality series project with Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst as well as an energy-drinks project.