A new era is upon us in WWE, or at least that's what's being floated out there.
Last week, Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff were revealed by Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated as being pegged for Executive Director roles for WWE Raw and Smackdown, respectively. The move was a huge one, sending shock waves through the wrestling industry.
This isn't the first time Bischoff and Heyman have been "in competition." Heyman headed up ECW, while Bischoff ran WCW in the 1990s, and they were pitted against one another in WWE as general managers for Smackdown and Raw, respectively.
Initial reports were conflicting, with Mike Johnson of PWInsider reporting that the impact of Heyman and Bischoff wouldn't be felt soon, while WWE's Monday Night Raw definitely seemed to indicate otherwise with hot new angles, stories, and headline capturing moments. Still, early reports suggest that Bischoff and Heyman won't be appearing on-screen as "Executive Directors," as the authority role angle seems to be played out.
Heyman told Inside The Ropes “The role of the General Manager is played out. I don’t want to do it because its been going on for 20 years and whether you’re the hero General Manager, the villain General Manager… I don’t know how many people really turn on WWE or any form of sports-entertainment to see how a match is made. The show has become too much of, ‘Here’s the story behind the show that you’re watching’, and I think sometimes, people just want to see the show." He said. "I think people just want to understand who the characters are and see the characters pitted against each other in compelling situations or riveting storylines that have nothing to do with the corporate structure that orders the match because the General Manager needs to sign the contract.”
Soon after the announcement, premature advertising was completed and sent out via e-mail advising that Eric Bischoff would be at Smackdown in San Antonio, and Paul Heyman would be at Raw. Fightful sources told us that as of noon the day of the advertisement, Bischoff still hadn't even been contacted to appear on or at the show, and had actually planned to film a guest spot with Afterbuzz TV per usual. Dave Meltzer and Ryan Satin both said that the local advertising was actually sent out without the proper clearance.
Fightful spoke to many wrestlers about the new era of Bischoff and Heyman, and there wasn't some big wave of optimism.
The first reaction was a longtime WWE wrestler wondering aloud why Triple H wasn't set for one of the roles, and another saying that was some of the immediate chatter that they had heard. Another wrestler compared it to Shane McMahon wanting to improve his spot in the company but being bypassed, but we should note, this was simply discussion and chatter about why Triple Hwasn't moved into the role, without much to add to it.
There was some pessimism to the announcement as well. One wrestler said that "Vince is still in charge, so that's all you really need to know," while another told us that the move couldn't possibly be worse than how things have went lately.
We heard from another wrestler who said that Heyman's familiarity with the roster already could prove to be a major positive point of his transition to Executive Director. The source said that Heyman has already proved helpful in his previous role, and has went out of his way to help talent beyond that.
When speaking about Bischoff, another wrestler mentioned he's a fan of Bischoff's Podcast, and is excited about the move in the sense that they grew up watching WWE, ECW and WCW. That being said, the wrestler also indicated that he thought the move was building up hope that won't live up to the hype because they don't expect anything to drastically change.
While Heyman only retweeted praise and news articles about the move, Bischoff himself commented on his new position as Executive Director of Smackdown.
“First of all, I wanna say thank you. I’m overwhelmed with the support, the positive response that I got on social media after WWE made the announcement that I’ll be joining the team and getting involved with SmackDown. The amount of response[s] I got -- I knew it was gonna be a good response, I knew it’d probably be a lot, but I was absolutely overwhelmed by the nature of that response and how positive it was and just the sheer volume of it all." Bischoff shared on his 83 Weeks Podcast, as covered by Andrew Thompson of Fightful. "I think people are really excited. I wanna let everybody know, the magnitude of this opportunity, the challenge and commitment that goes along with it, is not lost on me. There’s been a couple times over the last few days where I’ve been driving my truck or taking my dog on a hike and going, ‘Wow, this may be…’ it’s not maybe, this is the biggest opportunity I’ve ever had in this industry, granted, when Bill Shaw made me President of WCW. Obviously, that was a very big moment, but I was learning on the job there. I had nothing to lose there. I was taking a company in WCW that had never turned a dollar a profit, that was just a number two to WWF at that time that we weren’t really even number two. A company that was fraught with bad history and internal issues, so I had nothing to lose, and in this situation, this is an entirely different ballgame here. This is a very sophisticated company. In WWE, there is a great team already in place. They are moving their SmackDown show to FOX network which is obviously gonna have a lot of eyeballs on it in every way." He continued, "So the magnitude of the opportunity is not lost on me but I said this in a tweet -- this is probably the only thing I’m really gonna say beyond this, and I mean this, almost a tear in my eye saying it: I’m honored, I’m humbled and I cannot express, even here, because this is a different kind of excitement for me. I haven’t felt this way, maybe in forever but at least twenty years. This is a whole different ballgame.”
Now, the interesting take could be in how Bischoff makes changes to WWE. If his recent words are any clue, we have an idea. Bischoff told Fightful this Spring about what he did and didn't like about WWE's modern day production.
"When you talk about production values, you have to look at it for more than one perspective -- whose graphics are cooler? Who has the better pyro? Those are obvious things. Going from taped to live had a far more significant impact on the wrestling industry than cool graphics. Even today, I love WWE's product. Nobody can come close to producing them. For my tastes, it's a little too glossy. It doesn't feel live. There's no sense of urgency. The feeling that anything can happen -- that's a big advantage of going live. You condition the audience to believe or to feel, even subconsciously, because it's live it's a little more dangerous because anything can happen. That's something that drives viewership for wrestling, or at least it used to. I think by producing a show that's too glossy, you almost forget that it's live. That's just my own take. That doesn't mean I'm right, that's just how I feel about it," said Bischoff.
As far as their duties outside of WWE, Fightful has confirmed that Heyman's Looking 4 Larry agency will continue, and they are coming off of their most successful year thus far. John Pollock of Post Wrestling also confirmed that their will be no change to Eric Bischoff's "83 Weeks" Podcast with Conrad Thompson.