Eric Bischoff shares his memories of TNA's infamous Victory Road 2011 PPV.
The show is best remembered for its main event World Championship match, which saw an under-the-influence Jeff Hardy lose to Sting in under two minutes. Speaking on the latest episode of his 83 Weeks podcast, Bischoff recalls seeing Hardy for the first time that day just three minutes before the match. Apparently, this was common with Hardy who would typically hide-out somewhere after checking in at the studio lot.
Although he served as TNA's Executive Producer of Television, Bischoff technically had no official role at the event. Normally watching the show from the production truck, Bischoff made his way near Gorilla Position when he was informed that they were having a hard time finding Hardy. Everyone backstage shared a look of concern, with Dixie Carter evidently having the facial expression of a lost dog in the park. He said the following:
"So I'm just standing there, waiting for somebody to make a decision and no decisions are being made. Now Jeff's making his way out to the ring... It was my exchange with Dixie that was the catalyst for me to say fuck it, nobody else is going to do anything, the bell's going to ring, and it can't go down like this. I don't want to make this sound like I'm putting myself over or I cared so much about Sting. It was the show. I was concerned about the show. I didn't want Sting going out there and trying to have a match with a guy who was completely fucking wasted. Well I wasn't really worried about Sting getting hurt because Sting was able to take care of himself, but the match would have been the shits and I didn't want Sting to have to be in that position."
Bischoff says that Sting had no clue that Hardy was going to show up in that condition. As a result, he decided to act. This was his thought process at the moment:
"Well, I knew what I was going to do. There were two things that were crossing my mind and they were happening simultaneously. My first instinct was because I was a heel I thought I might, and this is going to sound like tough guy shit, but by the way, my daughter could have knocked out Jeff Hardy at that point. So this isn't bad-ass tough guy bullshit, this is I could have gotten a 12-year-old from ringside to go in and punch Jeff in the mouth and he would have dropped like a rock. So my first thought, because it seemed like the easiest, most direct line between A and B is for me and my heel character to go out and just knock him out. Just drop him and then have the referee call the match and disqualification and whatever we could come up with."
Once in the ring, Bischoff had to deliver a promo, communicate the plan to all involved, and make it all seem like part of the show. Here is what he said:
"By the time I walked through the curtain, by the time I got halfway down the aisle, I realized that wouldn't work because of the No DQ thing. So I started improving a story and laying out a promo. What I was trying to do was buy time to figure out how to communicate to both Jeff the referee and Sting because now I have to rewrite the show while I'm in the ring and the shows happening, and one of the people in the match is completely disabled and not able to continue.
So I did what I did. I basically told Jeff, take his finish, we're gonna shorten this up, take his fucking finish. I went to Sting, now that's where I had to get a little more creative because I was trying to talk to Sting at the same time I was trying to cut a promo and trying to hide it all and make it look like it was part of the show. I basically told Sting, hit him with your finish, get him the fuck out of here. Lets go home."
Had they had more than 45 seconds to troubleshoot the problem, Bischoff thinks they could have found a replacement. He still believes the incident showed a lack of professionalism from the organization from top to bottom. Furthermore, he would love to talk to Sting about what he was feeling at that moment in the ring, as they have never discussed it together.
Finally, Bischoff credited Dixie Carter for her big heart and willingness to let Jeff Hardy come back and apologize to the roster, which while it was his idea, was not something he wanted to do at the time.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.