Eric Aaron Bischoff (born May 27, 1955) is an American entrepreneur, television producer, professional wrestling booker, podcast host, and on-screen personality. He is best known for serving as Executive Producer and later President of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and subsequently, the on-screen General Manager of WWE's Raw brand. Bischoff has also worked with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) where he served as Executive Producer of Impact Wrestling. With an amateur background in taekwondo, Bischoff also sporadically performed as an in-ring competitor, and is a former WCW Hardcore Champion. He wrote an autobiography, titled Controversy Creates Cash, which was released in 2006 under WWE Books.
Life Before Wrestling
Bischoff was a wrestling fan growing up in a rough Detroit neighborhood. He and his family relocated to Pittsburgh just before high school, where he began competing in amateur wrestling for his school. Bischoff moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for his senior year of high school, where he continued his amateur wrestling career until sustaining a knee injury. It is now subject to false rumor that he had attended the University of Minnesota. A short while after leaving school to pursue his interests in business, he became interested in taekwondo, eventually earning a black belt, and competing across the country in small karate tournaments. Before getting into professional wrestling Bischoff had a number of occupations. He owned a successful construction company, worked as a veterinary assistant, and, for a time, ran a butcher's shop where he would sell the meat by 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 (AWA)
Bischoff started his wrestling career in the late 1980s for the American Wrestling Association (AWA). Eric was a telecaster and syndicator for the company (Verne Gagne is quoted as saying he thought Eric "had the right look for television," but his announcing at this point was, even according to Bischoff himself, admittedly mediocre). Contrary to popular belief, Eric claims he never had any creative input in the company, and denies ever being a "gopher".
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. Although Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone seemed to be the two top candidates, Shaw and Dhue went with Bischoff. Schiavone remained a producer until the company's demise, but Ross was soon let go by Bischoff and ended up in the rival World Wrestling Federation (WWF). In 1994, Bischoff became a Vice President, and cleared house within the WCW front office. He famously fired event manager Don Sandefeur, junior Vice President Jim Barnett, and his old boss Bob Dhue, all on the same day (in a 10/14 blog entry on his website, Bischoff denied this, 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 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, with the WWF following suit each time). The plans paid off, and in 1995 WCW turned a profit for the first time.
During one WCW meeting in 1995, 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. At the time, the flagship show for WCW was WCW Saturday Night, which ran on Saturday Nights at 6:05, and as such there was no direct competition between WCW and WWF for viewers. To the surprise of many within the wrestling industry, Turner agreed, and gave Bischoff a 1-hour prime time slot every Monday on TNT (in 1996, due to high ratings, it would expand to 2 hours, and eventually 3 hours in 1998).
Bischoff designed and produced the new show, WCW Monday Nitro and showcased the company as a fresh alternative to the WWF. 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. In his book, Bischoff describes the design for Nitro as being a complete alternative to the WWE. 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.
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 and New Japan, to fill the undercard with quicker paced, more action-packed matches.
The plan worked 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.
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 be 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 (though Bischoff was later forced to clarify that Hall and Nash did not represent and were not under contract to the WWF).
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.
Downfall of WCW
By January 1999, however, the WWF had begun catching up to WCW in the ratings. On January 4, 1999, a live Nitro was scheduled to air alongside a taped edition of Raw. During what was likely the most competitive night in the "Monday Night Wars," Bischoff instructed Tony Schiavone to remark, "And we understand that Mick Foley, who once wrestled for us as Cactus Jack, is going to win their world title. Wow! Now that's gonna put some butts in the seats." Bischoff's intention was to spoil the main event, causing fans to lose interest in Raw and stay tuned in to Nitro. Instead, Nielsen Ratings showed that within minutes of the announcement, nearly 300,000 Nitro viewers switched the channel to Raw so they could see the title change (WCW had been ahead in the ratings until Schiavone's remark). Although both shows broke quarter-hour ratings records that night, and Nitro beat five of Raw's quarter hours, combined with the infamous Fingerpoke of Doom it proved to be a decisive turning point in the "Wars" (even though Nitro ratings were still very solid, in the 4.5-5.0 range, Nitro never again beat Raw in the ratings).
Frustrated and burnt-out, Bischoff lost his cocky attitude. His TV presence disappeared, and he began looking for an out from WCW, often missing shows so he could pitch ideas to TV executives in Hollywood, being introduced by his friend Jason Hervey as "The golden boy who saved wrestling." While wandering elsewhere, Bischoff left Kevin Nash and Nitro producer Craig Leathers in charge of WCW, and ratings quickly tanked. Many long-time fans single out this time period as the time when Nitro's storylines and production became increasingly shoddy.
When Bischoff returned from hiatus in April 1999 (Bischoff had officially taken six weeks off to, according to various internet reports at the time, "take his daughter on vacation"), the company was in bad shape, and Bischoff's solution of throwing money at the problem created more problems. On top of this, he seemingly could not produce a follow-up to the nWo cash-cow that had been milked dry. He would try to unsuccessfully extend the WCW brand outside of wrestling with a restaurant called The Nitro Grill (which went under in less than a year), a brand of cologne, and a poorly received line of video games for the Sony PlayStation. Storylines were confusing and guest appearances by Master P, Chad Brock (himself a former WCW jobber), KISS, and Megadeth (reportedly paid between $200,000 - 500,000 each to perform one song) failed to garner the interest of the casual fan while losing the viewership of faithful fans.
Bischoff Ousted/The Death of WCW
All plans were scrapped when, on September 10, 1999, Bischoff was suddenly relieved of his management position with WCW (over the phone, the way Bischoff had fired so many wrestlers) by the President of TBS Sports, Dr. Harvey Schiller, although the official decision had been made by top executives on Time Warner's board of directors. In August, when WCW was projecting huge losses for the upcoming months, a meeting was held with WCW's accountants and TBS executives in the sports and programming divisions. Presiding over this was Dr. Schiller, who shot down the prospect of firing Bischoff. Hours after this meeting ended, WCW executives Gary Juster and James J. Dillon staged a coup, going over their boss' head and meeting with members of Time Warner's board of directors directly to try getting Bischoff demoted, and to everyone's astonishment, it worked. Bischoff was replaced with WCW accountant Bill Busch (the title "President of WCW," which had been created specifically for Eric Bischoff, was eliminated, with Busch being named executive-VP) and the parent company went so far as to ban Bischoff from the WCW offices. A month long promoted contest for one million dollars and a KISS concert/wrestling PPV scheduled for December 31, 1999 were canceled as well as a planned Nitro animated series.
Many in the company were shocked to see Bischoff go, despite the level to which he had allowed his company to drop. Even for all of his failings, he was heralded as the only manager of a successful WCW, and less than a year prior was considered the kingpin of the entire wrestling business. On top of this, he had always been close with Turner Broadcasting executives and with Ted Turner himself, who considered Bischoff his wrestling visionary. When Turner's role within Time Warner was reduced to being a member of the board rather than acting chairman, Bischoff lost his favor. The management change went un-mentioned on WCW television. The WCW website claimed it would have more information on Bischoff's involvement in the coming weeks, yet the company seemed ready to quickly forget him. All images and references to Bischoff were removed from WCW programming. J.J Dillon had a connection to a WWF creative writer who was brought in to change the course of the Monday night war and save WCW. The connection was Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara
Less than six months went by before Bill Busch was removed (following in the tradition of all other persons—sans Eric Bischoff—to have controlled WCW's day-to-day operations, under Busch's watch, WCW continued bleeding money uncontrollably despite Busch's reputation as a numbers specialist, and ratings, which had always stayed decent under Bischoff, plummeted to embarrassing all-time lows), and Brad Siegel, a Time Warner programming executive, officially assumed control of WCW. 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, although not as president; instead, he was named event and television manager, and was to be partners-in-charge with creative director Vince Russo. Unhappy with Russo's booking (which Bischoff would later describe as "dark, mean-spirited, and creatively shallow"), Bischoff left the company after six weeks; Russo subsequently took control of all wrestling and television operations, while John Laurinaitis became event manager.
Attempted Purchase of WCW
In late 2000, with WCW facing major financial woes, the company was put up for sale. Brad Siegel wanted little to do with the company, and his new boss in the AOL Time Warner merger was former WB Network executive Jamie Kellner, who wanted even less to do with the company. In the Turner era, WCW had always been classified as a sports division, yet under the new corporate umbrella it was overseen by television executives, many of whom hated the idea of wrestling on their station, seeing it as "low brow", and attempted to remove it entirely.
Bischoff and a group of investors, named Fusient Media Ventures, signed a letter of intent to buy the company, but later backed out when Kellner canceled Nitro's timeslot, without which, as Bischoff had said, "WCW would only be worth...20 bucks." Without the Fusient interest WCW was purchased by the World Wrestling Federation for a substantially lower price (approximately US$2,000,000) 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 (WWE) to be the general manager of RAW, a role he played until late 2005. His debut as RAW GM was very unexpected, especially in today's "internet wrestling community", where behind the scenes deals and happenings are readily available before they transpire on television. Bischoff resurrected his characteristic brand of swarminess 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" (a wheel with different match possibilities on it), and the Elimination Chamber, as well as feuds with Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena, SmackDown! GM Stephanie McMahon, and Extreme Championship Wrestling representative Paul Heyman.
Bischoff was "removed" 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. Although it was widely believed that his contract expired during his sabbatical, Bischoff recently confirmed on Live Audio Wrestling that he is under contract with WWE until September 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 Cash, and take several "cheap shots" at 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 Mr. McMahon". After the personal crack at McMahon at the end of his tirade, Bischoff's microphone was turned off and he was escorted out of the building.
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 questionable decision of giving Kevin Nash booking power, and his overall reaction to the Monday Night Wars. Controversy Creates Cash was reportedly sold out through the official WWE webstore as early as October 3, two weeks before its planned release. It is currently on the New York Times best seller list.
Bischoff was chosen as the special guest referee for the Degeneration X vs. Randy Orton and Edge 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 would restart matches if he didn't like the outcome. He restarted the match between Jeff Hardy vs. Johnny Nitro for the Intercontinental Championship. Hardy won by DQ, but Bischoff had the match restarted with no DQ. Nitro took advantage of that using Melina to distract Hardy and Nitro striking him with the title belt, Nitro won the title due to Eric Bischoff thinking that Nitro "deserved" the title. Hardy would go on to win the belt back the following week on RAW.
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, who was fired on Raw in 2005.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2009-2014)
In October 2009, Bischoff was in charge of negotiating a deal among Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), Hulk Hogan, and himself.
He premiered alongside Hogan on the January 4, 2010, edition of TNA Impact! in an alliance to take over and rebuild the franchise. He currently makes regular appearances on the weekly TNA Impact! program. He was also appointed TNA executive producer and has authority to book matches.
Despite being a heel when dealing with the likes of Jeff Jarrett, Mick Foley and Abyss, Bischoff refereed his first TNA match at Against All Odds, favoring the face challenger Samoa Joe over the heel champion A.J. Styles in a match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. During the match Bischoff punched out Styles' manager Ric Flair, after he interfered in the match, but the distraction led to Styles retaining his belt. On the March 15 edition of Impact! Bischoff attempted to shave Mick Foley bald as a punishment for trying to help Jeff Jarrett in a handicap match the previous week, but was shaved bald himself, when Foley turned the tables on him. At Lockdown Bischoff turned face by helping Team Hogan defeat Team Flair in the Lethal Lockdown match. The next months Bischoff worked with Hogan, Jeff Jarrett and Samoa Joe against Sting and Kevin Nash, who claimed that they knew that Bischoff and Hogan were up to something. During this time Abyss turned on Hogan and went on a rampage, which included attacking the TNA World Heavyweight Champion Rob Van Dam to the point that he was forced to vacate the title, all the while claiming that he was controlled by some entity, that was coming to TNA. After he manhandled TNA president Dixie Carter on the October 7 edition of Impact!, Bischoff presented Carter with the paperwork that would have Abyss fired after his match with Rob Van Dam at Bound for Glory, which she then proceeded to sign.
Immortal and Departure (2010–2014)
At Bound for Glory Bischoff turned heel with Hogan, as the two of them helped Jeff Hardy win the vacant TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Bischoff, Hogan and Hardy then aligned themselves with Abyss and Jeff Jarrett. On the following edition of Impact! it was revealed that Bischoff had tricked Carter and the paperwork she had signed a week earlier, were not to release Abyss, but to turn the company over to him and Hogan. Meanwhile, Bischoff's and Hogan's new stable, now known as Immortal, formed an alliance with Ric Flair's Fortune. On the November 4 edition of Impact!, Bischoff took part in his first match in TNA, challenging the concussed Mr. Anderson to earn his shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, only for Matt Morgan to take his spot and beat Bischoff to become the number one contender. Dixie Carter returned on the November 25 edition of Reaction, informing Hogan and Bischoff that a judge had filed an injunction against the two on her behalf over not having signatory authority, indefinitely suspending Hogan from TNA. On January 31, 2011, at the tapings of the February 3 edition of Impact!, Fortune turned on Immortal, explaining that they were not going to let TNA suffer the same fate as WCW. Hogan, having won the court battle against Dixie Carter, returned to TNA on the March 3 edition of Impact!, declaring himself as the new owner of the promotion.
However, on the May 12 edition of the newly renamed Impact Wrestling, Immortal lost control of the program to Mick Foley, who revealed himself as the Network consultant, who had been causing problems for Immortal ever since Bischoff and Hogan took over the company, however, this angle was aborted just three weeks later, when Foley left the promotion. Also in May, Bischoff declared war on the X Division, after the legitimate firing of Jay Lethal, and on the May 19 edition of Impact Wrestling, wrestled his second TNA match, when he teamed with Matt Hardy in a tag team match, where they defeated Generation Me (Jeremy and Max Buck). The storyline concluded on August 11, when the Network gave the division back to the original X Division wrestlers, after the success of Destination X, which saw Immortal's Abyss lose the X-Division Championship to Brian Kendrick. On October 6, it was reported that Bischoff had signed a contract extension with TNA. On October 16 at Bound for Glory, after losing control of TNA back to Dixie Carter, Hogan turned on the rest of Immortal by saving Sting from a beatdown at the hands of its members. Sting had won the match when referee Jackson James, who had earlier in the event been revealed as Bischoff's real-life son Garett Bischoff, reluctantly called the ring bell for a submission, which led to Eric hitting his son with a steel chair following the match, starting a rivalry between the two. On April 15, 2012 at Lockdown, Eric and Garett captained opposing teams in the annual Lethal Lockdown match. Garett won the match for his team by pinning Eric, forcing his father out of TNA in the process.
After Lockdown, Bischoff didn't appear on TNA Impact Wrestling to focus on backstage roles. Bischoff was sent home by TNA in October 2013 for him to await his contract to expire in early 2014.
Return to WWE (2016–2019)
In 2016, WWE released a DVD about Bischoff, with the documentary portions also airing on the WWE Network. On March 21, 2017, Bischoff was announced to induct Diamond Dallas Page into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31. On the 25th Anniversary of Raw on January 22, 2018, Bischoff made a guest appearance on the show, during a segment with other former Raw general managers.
In June 2019, WWE announced that Eric Bischoff will be the new executive director of SmackDown.
Life Outside Wrestling
Bischoff, with Jason Hervey, runs his own production company, Bischoff-Hervey Productions, which co-produced the reality TV series I Want To Be a Hilton for NBC in 2005. They also produced a live Girls Gone Wild pay-per-view event from Florida in 2003 with the WWE and another pay-per-view about the Sturgis, South Dakota motorcycle rally in 2004. They also executive produced 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. Bischoff also appeared as one of the "judges" on the show. In November 2009, Bischoff helped produce Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania tour to Australia.
- Finishing moves
- Roundhouse kick
- Signature moves
- Various taekwondo kicks and punches
- Uncle Eric
- The King of Controversy
- Easy "E"
- Entrance themes
- World Championship Wrestling
- "Rockhouse" by Frank Shelley (1996 – 1999; used while a part of the New World Order)
- "White Train (Showdown)" by Tito & Tarantula (1997 – 2000)
- World Wrestling Entertainment
- "Back in Black" by AC/DC (2002)
- "I'm Back" by Ted Nigro (2002 – 2007)
- Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
- "Running with the Bulls" by Dale Oliver (2010 – 2012)
- "Immortals" by Dale Oliver (2010 – 2012; used while a part of Immortal)
- World Championship Wrestling
Championships and Accomplishments
- WWE Hall of Fame class of 2021
- PWI Most Influential Figure In Wrestling (1996 and 1997), as well as first runner-up in 1995 and 1998
- PWI Feud of the Year in 1996 (vs. Vince McMahon) and again in 2002 (vs. Stephanie McMahon.)
- PWI Feud of the Year in 1998 first runner up, (vs. Ric Flair)
- Most Hated Heel in 1997 (Second Runner Up), 1998 (First Runner Up)
- PWI's 50 Most Beautiful People in Wrestling (1998)
- 2005 Best Non-Wrestler
- 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."
- He was the highest-paid Turner executive in the TBS Sports division during 1998.
- In spite of the fact that firing someone due to injury was considered taboo in wrestling, Bischoff did it frequently, with the most noteworthy people being Steve Austin, Ricky Steamboat, Davey Boy Smith, and Sean Waltman. He would handle such firings in very impersonal ways, such as by fax machine or FedEx.
- According to official WCW history, Bischoff defeated Vince McMahon via count-out at Slamboree 1998. Bischoff challenged McMahon to show up and fight him at the WCW PPV, but McMahon declined. Years later, on a February 2004 edition of WWE Raw, the two fought to a no-contest.
- Bischoff has fought for a world championship twice: once in a tag team match with Jeff Jarrett against then WCW Champion, DDP and David Arquette for the WCW Championship in WCW Thunder and once against John Cena at the RAW's USA Homecoming for the WWE Championship.
- Bischoff's name is mentioned on the song "Ain't Cha" by Rap Duo The Clipse, from their 2006 album "Hell Hath No Fury", in the line "My dream team wrestle for cheese like Eric Bischoff".
- The song is featured on the Step Up soundtrack.
- Bischoff went to the same high school as Eminem, who attended years later.
- Bischoff is an avid flyer, while working for WCW he learned how to fly an aircraft and flew his own plane back and forth to WCW shows.