There aren't too many people who have the experience of working with AWA, WCW, TNA and WWE, but Eric Bischoff is one of those people.
Throughout his 30-plus years in wrestling, Eric Bischoff has worked under and with the likes of Verne Gagne, Dixie Carter, Ted Turner and Vince McMahon -- all polarizing figures in their own right. But how would one compare working for them? Bischoff told Fightful about his unique perspective.
I can find more similarities between Verne [Gagne] and Vince [McMahon]," Bischoff said to us. "There are parallels between Verne and Vince that I can see. Not a lot of them, but both of men, while they had divergent views of the world, and more importantly business, and as much as I love Verne Gagne, always will, and will always respect him for the opportunities he gave me, and I mean his sincerely. Verne was kind of stuck in the 70s. He really, really was, and his solution to solving the problem that he had in the 90s was to revert back to the formulas that worked in the 70s and into the early 80s. He was so stubborn, he was so entrenched and believed in himself so much that he wasn’t open minded enough to genuinely embrace another way of thinking and another way of going about it. Not saying that he could have and things would have gone differently, because what Vince McMahon did, and more importantly when he did it, Vince was brilliant. I’m not gonna deny that. Vince saw an opportunity that no one else saw before anyone else began to even think that it was possible and acted upon it in a very aggressive way and took no prisoners in the process. So, I don’t think anything Verne would have done ultimately would have changed the demise or lack thereof of AWA. It may have put more money in Verne’s pocket, but it still would have ended up pretty much the same way. But, the fact that they both had visions, that they were both steadfast in their beliefs, they both acted upon those beliefs—right or wrong, good or bad, outcome be damned—there’s a similarity there."
Working for Dixie Carter wasn't a career highlight of Bischoff's, by any stretch of the imagination. While he didn't imply there was great wrestling genius there, he also isn't on board with the idea that Carter is an idiot who just had a wrestling company handed to her.
"I’m not going to bury Dixie," Bischoff prefaced. "I like Dixie Carter. It’s easy for me to talk about the frustrations, the challenges and the missed opportunities and things like that because they existed. By the way, they existed under me, too, okay? I’m not immune to this and neither is Vince McMahon, okay? With AEW the jury is still out. So far they’re doing almost everything right. Good for them. It’s early, and I hope they continue. So, when I’m being critical of my time in TNA, it doesn’t necessarily reflect on any one individual. Now, I may say things from time to time, a little shot or maybe looking for a chuckle, but Dixie is, number one, a very intelligent woman. She really is. She’s incredibly savvy in terms of her ability to sell and to get buy-in. I’m talking about people at very high executive levels. She gained a lot of confidence from people within Viacom. You don’t do that if you’re an idiot. You don’t do that if you have zero talent. So, she was a very accomplished woman and a very intelligent woman, and I dare say—please don’t anyone misinterpret this and write about it the wrong way, keep it in fucking context people—she was charming as hell. She really was and fun to be around. She never got too rattled. When she did, she walked away."
Dixie Carter, however, was not the poised veteran of wrestling that both Gagne and Vince McMahon were by the time Eric Bischoff got around to them. Bischoff spoke of Carter's long-term planning or lack thereof that became and issue.
"What she didn’t have, at least from what I saw, that Verne, even though it probably wasn’t the right vision, he had one. He definitely had a vision. He had a goal that he was marching towards. Torpedoes be damned and so does Vince McMahon to this day. Whereas with Dixie, I don’t think she had that vision and when she started I don’t think she really had a vision of where she wanted to be or how to get there. Even when TNA had been on Spike for a while, there was never a clear picture of the destination. It’s like getting in your car and saying, “Okay, grab the kids. Load up the car. Don’t forget the cat, ‘cause we’re going to… Where we going again? Oh, just load up the car and grab the cat, let’s go.” Well, great. Everybody’s in the car, you’re gassed up, you got some cold sandwiches in the back and off you go for a road trip. Until you get to the first intersection and it’s like, “Well, which way should I turn?” “Well, I dunno, where are we going? I’m not really sure. Let’s just keep going. Make a decision, take a turn and keep going.” That’s kind of what it felt like to me, at least," Bischoff closed.
You can see Fightful's full interview with Eric Bischoff at the top of the page, but you can also check him out with Conrad Thompson on his 83 Weeks podcast each Monday on Westwood One. For bonus and ad-free episodes, you can also subscribe to Ad Free Shows.