It's been a while since we've seen a group of great new match types emerge, but in the 1990s, they were popping up everywhere. That required a lot of trial and error.
Former WCW President Eric Bischoff was embroiled in a bitter feud with WWE. As the then-WWF brought in ladder matches, Hell in A Cell Matches, Inferno and Casket Matches, WCW had to answer and get creative. According to what Bischoff told Fightful, he threw everything at the wall in that regard.
"I basically tried everything that was pitched my way," Bischoff admitted. "I had an attitude, and I still do to this day, now I’ve developed my own filter over the years, obviously. My own philosophy more than a filter. But, back then, you gotta keep in mind, Sean, I was learning on the job, right? I got into the wrestling business in 1987. I learned about television advertising and syndication and all of that, and I learned about production, and I learned about live event promotion and I learned about how to be a talent on camera. So, I learned a lot about the business of the wrestling business prior to coming to WCW. When I was in WCW was as an announcer, having left AWA, I was a talent. I wasn’t involved in creative. I wasn’t involved in it in AWA. I wasn’t involved with it in WCW until about ’95 when Nitro came along and I said, “Okay, I’ve got to put my toes in the water here. I’ve got to get involved in this." I tried to stay away from it because I had no confidence in my own abilities. I had no feel for it. I had no desire to get involved in it. But, when it was Nitro and it became my vision for what Nitro was about to be, I had to get involved. Because nobody else could see my vision as clearly as I could at that time. But, when I finally made my decision to jump in and get involved I was learning every single day. I had never sat at a booking meeting. I wasn’t an intern. I wasn’t a writer’s assistant. I hadn’t been exposed to any creative conversations really other than the ones where people talk about shit that happened 20 years ago—I got a lot of that. In terms of day to day, “What are we gonna do next week on TV?” I hadn’t been a part of any of that dialogue until the day I kind of thrust myself into the middle of it and every day I was learning on the job. Sometimes I learned a lot. Sometimes I learned what not to do. Sometimes I learned what to do."
Even though there were a lot of weird match types that didn't work out for either company, Bischoff doesn't regret doing it. That aforementioned trial and error method helped WCW figure out what worked.
"My approach, once I really emerged myself into the creative process is to realize that just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean the audience won’t. There’s a lot of things I hate seeing in wrestling that the audience responds to. Okay, whose right and whose wrong? They are, they’re right. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. So, once I realized that, there’s like, “Okay, I don’t like this idea, but I’m gonna go with it and we’re gonna see what happens." Now, that’s a bad way to approach business, because there should still be some level of analysis that goes into it. What’s the story? Where’s the anticipation? Is there enough reality in this story to make me go, “Hmm, I’ll buy into that?” Are there any surprises that are going to throw the audience off kilter once they think they know for sure where it’s going to go, [then] something happens and they realize they don’t? Simple tool, right? Television drama, you see it all the time. Is there sufficient action and can we convey that action? If I would have asked some of those questions we would not have seen World War 3, for example. So, I did plenty of things that I took a flyer on that ultimately I wished I wouldn’t have because now I gotta get my ass kicked when people ask me about them," Bischoff said.
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.