The 2002 WWE brand split changed wrestling forever. For the next decade or so, WWE talent were split into multiple brands. The 2016 revival of such helped usher in a new era, but WCW had actually planned one almost 20 years prior.
We often hear former WCW President Eric Bischoff mention that NWO Nitro and WCW Thunder were going to be in the cards. Fightful spoke with Bischoff and asked if that was just going to be separate brandings, or if a full on brand split would have happened.
"No, it was going to be a formal brand split. There would have been a moment, an event, something would have happened and WCW would have been designated as—because at that point it would have been clear that the NWO and WCW guys could not play well together under any circumstances. So, to resolve that issue, WCW was gonna get their show, NWO was going to get their show, and then we would have occasional crossovers. They would have looked and felt differently. WCW would have been a more traditional wrestling show because the WCW audience, the core audience, was a more traditional wrestling audience. They were NWA. They were Georgia Championship Wrestling. They were Florida Championship Wrestling, back before cable television. A lot of that heritage was still a part of the WCW audience. So, that show, the WCW show, would have had a more traditional feel to it. NWO would have been a more edgy kind of black and white and grainy."
Occasionally on WCW programming, you'd see "paid programming" for the New World Order that featured a near empty arena, black and white camera work, and a masked referee as far back as fall of 1996. Bischoff talked to us about some of the plans he had in order for a more defined split.
"Sure. It would have been—it’s hard for me to pinpoint the date—but it would have been somewhere in the summer ’97, maybe ’98, when the AOL / Time Warner thing was all going down. Once they started moving budgets around and once they started cutting my budgets, telling me what I could and couldn’t do after I had been given the responsibility of launching an entirely new show, I had to pay for it myself. TBS didn’t want to pay for Thunder. So, in addition to having to pay for that show, they were also cutting my budget simultaneously. At that point I knew that we weren’t going to be able to do any of the things we were originally planned to do," said Bischoff.
You can see our full interview with Eric Bischoff....from MJF at the top of the page. Eric Bischoff can be heard weekly on 83 Weeks on Westwood One and AdFreeShows.