WWE's announcement of Eric Bischoff's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame is making its rounds, and true to the wrestling community, it has been met with mixed reactions. Much to the chagrin of haters and the excitement for pure WWE Universe fans, Eric Bischoff is officially headed into the WWE's Hall of Fame Class of 2021 during this year's Wrestlemania Week for Wrestlemanis 37. The prestigious honor in my opinion is rightly deserved and long earned. A credit where it's due.
Eric Bischoff is perhaps as polarizing a character in this industry as John Cena, Jim Cornette, or even Paul Heyman. Equally loved or hated depending upon which side of the fence you lay your hat. But, just as often is found, that those who dare to tell the truth as they see it, controversially go against the mold at the expense of the comfortably positioned individuals benefiting from the very status-quo that maintains their comfort zone. People as gutsy as Vince Russo, Paul Heyman, and Eric Bischoff are unapologetically themselves. They usually possess an all encompassing passion. A passion that drives them to learn everything possible about what they are interested in - and in this case its the Pro Wrestling Industry.
NWA, AWA, Smokey Mountain, Jim Crockett Promotions, Stampede Wrestling, WCCW, and on, during the territory days where Eric Bischoff broke in, the Pro Wrestling Industry at that time didn't expose itself to all and sundry. For decades before him and several more decades after him, Pro Wrestling was still somewhat protected. Its own entity. A bubble for lack of better imagery. Blanketed in a protective fold where business mystery met with equal parts competitive athletics and entertainment theatrics…
Thirty plus years ago, the only way to learn was to earn your way in. To pay your dues and wait to be taught. To outlast those who didn't want it as much as you. Becoming a sponge and soaking up the drops of knowledge that were dropped your way as you started from the bottom while working your way. The ins and outs. The ups and downs and the why's and wherefores. The history behind that shows where its headed. To be ahead of the curve. Learning the value in such abilities as knowing when to pivot, adapt, and bounce back.
Taking away your own opinions, you can recognize the value of Eric Bischoff's knowledge. Of men like him that gave to this business that we as children dreamed of getting into, despite the displeasure of parents and teachers. The time men like Eric Bischoff took to learn in the industry, to understand the industry, as well as the mistakes they made and the successes they created. When I think of that last part, I'm reminded of something I listened to Al Snow preach.
Al Snow spoke of understanding the business for what it is and what it could be someday and how do we fit into that process. He spoke of history. The history that built the industry from carnival acts to the territories and through on to modern day Pro Wrestling and Sports Entertainment. In that moment, he taught us that in understanding the history of the industry, we'll learn from everyone else's mistakes as we ourselves do not have enough time to make in all their entirety. It was then when he said that he himself had made more mistakes than any of us would ever have the opportunity to do. And he was right…
Breaking in when people like Eric Bischoff did, they were presented more opportunities to fail in order to succeed than we as the future will ever have. Failure being a necessary step for growth, understanding, and success. Whether you hate to admit you love Eric Bischoff or love to hate Eric Bischoff, you have to respect his ingenuity and his impeccable ability to navigate this industry landing on his feet. His articulate attention to detail. And the mistakes he made that became learning opportunities for us as the future of the industry. To study what worked and why. What didn't and why. And respect at it's most basic fundamental level from one goal oriented human being to another.
When I first met Eric Bischoff I was unsure of myself. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I thought I was ugly, shrill, gangly, and stupid. I was green. Early on in my career. Essentially a nobody. Just an ordinary girl from Massachusetts with a dream. Nervous, I didn't know what I was doing. I was ignorantly waited in catering, waiting and feeling like an insignificant speck on the shoes of Superstars. Waiting to be told what I'd be doing for my Gutcheck. Being the first girl featured. Being the first completely live Gutcheck contestant. And subsequently, my first time performing on live T.V…. - A nobody. An ordinary girl. I didn't know then that I'd be learning an immensely valuable lesson, thus leaving an indelible impression on me…
I saw Eric Bischoff speaking to Dixie Carter. I was alone. Wide-eyed and in awe of what I was about to do - perform live on Spike T.V. I went to walk by, debating on whether or not Pro Wrestling etiquette would dictate for me to interrupt them and introduce myself with gumption. Or, if I should simply scamper off in a mousey manner and risk getting heat for a shaking hands debacle. I chose to wait at a distance out of respect. And pick my time. I apparently wasn't very slick. Twenty minutes minutes later, Eric Bischoff turned in my direction and the time for waiting was over.
I extended my hand and he shook it. I introduced myself and he welcomed me to TNA Impact Wrestling. He started to leave, and stopped. He turned back to me and said, "Taeler Hendrix…" he paused thinking. Then began again saying, "has anyone told you what you're doing yet?" I told him no. He then proceeded to let me know that he'd find someone to catch me up to speed and he left. Not fifteen minutes later, I met Lisa Marie Varon in person, who then told me I'd be wrestling with her in my first ever T.V appearance. A little girl from Massachusetts, who loved Pro Wrestling and decided to pursue it, who looked up to Lisa Marie Varon, had one of her dreams come true that day - wrestling an idol on live T.V. And it started with a simple show of respect and kindness from whom most would say would be an unlikely person - Eric Bischoff…
Whether you love or hate recognize contributions regardless of their source. Appreciate simply for the opportunities they created or the people they inspired. In my opinion, there's immeasurable intrinsic value in being free with your authenticity. Being completely transparent because the journey that is full of triumphs and failures matters. Small acts of kindness matter. To me, people like Eric Bischoff are real in a business built on facades. A business built on the broken backs of childhood dreams, but it doesn't have to be plagued.
Eric Bischoff had a role to play in my own childhood dream. A moment that was perhaps insignificant for him, and yet a monumental motivating act of kindness for me. Wholeheartedly indicative of what I say with frequent redundancy, "you are allowed to be both a work in progress and an inspiration to others. All you need is love, guts, and gumption. Self-love to realize that you and your dreams matter. Guts to go after your dream, believing in yourself when no one else will. And the gumption to see your dream through, learning the value of your integrity while cheering for yourself in the silence." In his ever evolving illustrious career, he probably forgot about that exchange, I however, never did… Cheers to Eric Bischoff - WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2021...
For more Taeler Hendrix content check out the links below
Children's Book "It's Not Easy Being A Sloth" By: Taeler Hendrix
Children's Book "A Fish With A Wish Is Trish" By: Taeler Hendrix
Children's Book "Nosey Rosie and the Secret Surprise" By: Taeler Hendrix
Talks w/ Taeler Hendrix Podcast:
Cameo Videos: cameo.com/taelerhendrix