I recently got a handful of DVDs and Blu-Rays to review for CCB, and this was one of them. Out of all of them, this was the one I was looking the least forward to. Let me put it bluntly: I hate Eric Bischoff. I think he is one of the most arrogant, smug, self-serving figures in pro wrestling history. And I don’t mean the on-screen character, although it’s hard to tell, because I think there’s very little difference between the character and the person. Having said that, his impact on wrestling can’t be denied, and the fact that we’re talking about what he did with WCW and Monday Nitro nearly 20 years after WCW closed its doors forever is proof of that.
Starting with the documentary, this is what has become WWE’s standard, successful formula: interviews with the person in question as well as various associates of different kinds, with jumps from discussions about his personal life to his professional life. The documentary is sort of broken up into two halves, with the first being Bischoff telling his story, and the second being him responding to criticisms from those in the industry that he has dealt with over the years.
The first part is pretty lousy. Bischoff comes off as extremely arrogant, as you might expect. Listening to him talk, you’d think that he has had the absolute most perfect life ever. He’s good at everything. He’s an expert on all things. He excelled at everything he’s ever tried. And the stories from figures like his brother Mark and wife Loree just enforce it. WWE, known for rewriting history, really can’t be blamed here, as this seems to be the way Bischoff has always been in every interview I’ve seen thus far.
In addition to the arrogance, something I can blame WWE for is the glossing over they do here. While most documentaries put out by WWE get pretty in-depth with plenty of stories, every major thing Bischoff has done in pro wrestling is seemingly mentioned in passing. Granted, there’s probably not a lot that could be said that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over the years, but it’s still incredibly frustrating. Given his impact on the sport all those years ago, you have to believe there would be enough for a lot more complete production. Instead, we get various bits about Bischoff’s hobbies and outside business dealings (most notably his company with Jason Hervey, which is still in business; Hervey makes numerous appearances here as well). That’s all well and good, but probably not what most fans are interested. An inordinate amount of time is spent discussing Buffalo Billy Cody Beer, a beer Bischoff owns and helped design. Perhaps it’s because I don’t drink, but I couldn’t give less of a damn about how much he likes beer and how everyone is going to love his product once it goes national.
The second half is a little bit easier to deal with. Bischoff seemingly has never responded to criticism well, but he comes off a bit better than interviews I’ve seen with him in the past here. He admits to several of his mistakes, or at least partially, that he made during the WCW years. Others, he doesn’t remember, or at least that’s what he claims. Given the amount of time that has passed, I’ll let some of that slide. In this section, he’s a bit more humble, and his grating personality is not on display as much. It still rears it’s ugly head (as does the smugness) now and again, but it’s tolerable. The stories here are also more interesting and a bit more in-depth.
Throughout the set, we get some talking head bits from former bosses at WCW as well as former employees, most notably Kevin Nash, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and DDP. Archive footage is used as well, but the stuff from the four mentioned is mostly new, each telling their side of various stories while working for him. The most noteworthy are ones from Austin and Jericho, with Austin’s story about getting fired by Bischoff in the late 90’s being quite a bit different from Bischoff’s. Jericho also reveals that, at least according to him, he not once had a contract during his time in WCW. If true, that’s pretty shocking, considering he worked there for nearly 3 years and EVERYONE had a contract. Hell, even Lanny Poffo, who never once worked a televised WCW match, was under contract there just so Vince McMahon couldn’t get him.
While these accounts are fun (as always), they start to feel forced at the end. Each person who was at odds with Bischoff at one point or another eventually made amends with him, and the results are comments on the set that very much come off as sucking up. Why? I don’t know. Bischoff is no longer in pro wrestling and none of these guys have anything to gain by sucking up to him. Perhaps they are genuine feelings, but they don’t sound that way at all.
One thing I noticed missing is Bischoff not once mentions what he did in pro wrestling after leaving WWE in 2005, which was eventually winding up in TNA a few years later. This isn’t super shocking, but given how many years he spent there, I figured it might get a mention, the same way Sting was allowed to say he worked for them on his recent set (on that note, both Sting’s and Bischoff’s sets involve them sitting in front of a fire pit near the end. I don’t know if that’s on purpose, but the pieces are shot almost exactly the same, with both guys describing sitting in front of a fire outside the same way. It’s odd). My guess is that it’s due to the fact that, last I checked, Dixie Carter still owed Bischoff, his son Garett and Jason Hervey money and no one wanted to draw attention to them as a result.
So…the documentary is disappointing, but what about the rest of the set? The first disc features a few more stories from Bischoff about different things, and a trio of WWE Network specials. One is a “top ten” of Bischoff’s most controversial moments in the business, hosted by the man himself. This one is throw-away, and it involves Bischoff calling Stephanie McMahon a “hot chick”, because of course it does. As an aside, it’s interesting listening to him talk about how uncomfortable he was when he had to kiss “Nipple H” on-camera during the GM war, as Vince McMahon was apparently right off camera, directing the whole scene. There is something really wrong with the McMahons, and just listening to this story made ME uncomfortable.
The other two are two pieces of an extended sit-down interview he did with JBL recently and, in all honesty, this probably the best part of the entire set. Bischoff comes off better here than he does anywhere else in the documentary stuff and is the most down-to-earth I’ve ever seen him. He covers everything from helping WCW get out of the red in the early 1990’s up until his run with WWE in 2002-2005. He takes most of the remarks from JBL in stride and addresses complaints from former employees once more, giving credit where it’s due and admitting that he was kind of a huge jackass during his time running WCW. My favourite part is him talking about the Bash at the Beach work-shoot where Jeff Jarrett laid down for Hulk Hogan, setting the record straight on what happened. Long story short, everything up until Vince Russo’s promo was planned, with Russo going off the rails. That led to Russo being sued for slander, among other things, in a case that was tied up for years. Normally I’d be suspicious of anything Bischoff claims is 100% true, but given that the other party in question was Vince Russo, the biggest sack of garbage pro wrestling has ever seen (Bischoff says almost as much in the interview), I’m willing to take him at his word.
Despite the interview being interesting and enjoyable, I do have a major complaint. Amazingly, it’s not Bischoff’s fault. Instead, the blame goes to JBL, the biggest ass-kisser currently employed by Vince not named Gerald Brisco. The entire time, JBL paints Vince McMahon as practically a god and sucks up every chance he gets. In addition to this, he interrupts Bischoff frequently or asks a question, gives Bischoff a second to answer, then starts to ask another one or make an asinine statement before Bischoff can answer. To his credit, Bischoff takes it in stride and just keeps going, but it’s incredibly distracting. I think the biggest load I catch JBL saying is how, when Bischoff challenged Vince to a fight at Slamboree in 1998, Vince absolutely wanted to show up and was raring to go, despite literally every other single account I’ve ever heard on this story stating the opposite, meaning Vince ignored it and saw it as nothing more than a cheap ratings ploy. Make of this story what you will.
The second disc of the set, which would normally be full of matches if this were a wrestler’s set, is instead filled with interview segments, going all the way back to Bischoff’s start in the AWA, including a godawful piece where AWA shilled Ninja Star Wars a game Bischoff and long-time friend/business partner Sonny Onoo put together in their younger days. With the exception of a few noteworthy nWo and WWE bits, these are almost 100% throw-away and not worth your time. Bischoff was a terrible interviewer when he first got started and did not improve until just before the nWo angle started, which is a long time to suck. There are a handful of fun ones in here, like Austin and Bischoff in the skybox at Judgment Day in 2003, but you’ll likely want to skip a big chunk. The “nWo Nightcap” segment is particularly insufferable.
The Blu-Ray set, which is the version I got, does have about two dozen bonus pieces on it, but again, most of these are skippable. There are a couple matches on the set, but given that Bischoff is not a wrestler, they are not good. At all. The worst is the aforementioned “fight” with Vince, and an actual match with Vince from 2004 is not any better. Honestly, if you wanted to skip the bonus features completely, no one would blame you. Hell, almost the entire disc 2 is skippable.
On a whole, this is only a good set if you’re a serious collector/completionist, and/or you are a weirdly big Eric Bischoff fan. I haven’t met one yet, but I’m sure there are some out there. There’s some stuff that’s interesting on here and I did enjoy some of the various stories throughout, but not enough to where I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at Bischoff’s smugness. Recommended only if you are disturbingly nostalgic for “Easy-E”.
MAIN FEATURE (DOCUMENTARY):
Detroit Bad Boy
The Monday Night War
Answering the Hard Questions
— Pop Bottles
— School Times
— New Suits
— Travel Tickets
— The Television Character
— Entrepreneurial Spirit
— No Ticky, No Laundry
— Creative Control
— Flavor Profile
— Great-Grandfather Brewer
— Horseback Riding
— Spider Web of Life
Legends with JBL: Guest Eric Bischoff (Part 1)
September 21, 2015
Legends with JBL: Guest Eric Bischoff (Part 2)
September 23, 2015
Eric Bischoff’s Top Ten Most Controversial Moments
September 23, 2015
Ninja Suit Man
AWA Superstars • April 26, 1987
Eric Bischoff and Greg Gagne Discuss Billy Robinson
AWA All Star Wrestling • January 1991
Eric goes into the Women’s Locker Room
Great American Bash • July 14, 1991
A Gift for Muhammad Ali
Halloween Havoc • October 23, 1994
Great American Bash • June 16, 1996
WCW Monday Nitro • November 25, 1996
WCW Monday Nitro • January 20, 1997
Eric Fires Randy Anderson
WCW Monday Nitro • January 27, 1997
Randy Anderson Pleads For His Job
WCW Monday Nitro • February 10, 1997
Eric Bischoff Playing Eric Bischoff
For Control of Monday Nitro
Eric Bischoff vs. Larry Zbyzsko
WCW Starrcade • December 28, 1997
Eric Challenges Vince McMahon to a Fight
WCW Monday Nitro • May 11, 1998
It’s Good to Be King
WCW Monday Nitro • May 18, 1998
Late Night Imposter
WCW Monday Nitro • July 20, 1998
Keeping a Secret
Eric Bischoff is Named General Manager of RAW
RAW • July 15, 2002
Billy and Chuck’s Wedding
SmackDown • September 12, 2002
Most Fun Ever
In the Skybox with Stone Cold
Judgment Day • May 18, 2003
Y2J’s Highlight Reel with Eric Bischoff and Stone Cold Steve Austin
Insurrextion • June 7, 2003
The Trial of Eric Bischoff
RAW • December 5, 2005
Eric Interviews Sgt. Slaughter & Baron Von Raschke
ESPN Championship Wrestling • October 1, 1989
Eric Interviews Larry Zbyszko & Colonel DeBeers
AWA All-Star Wrestling • February 18, 1990
Eric Interviews The Steiner Brothers
WCW WorldWide • December 7, 1991
Eric Interviews Vader, Harley Race, & The Taylor Made Man
WCW WorldWide • February 1, 1992
Eric Interviews Vinnie Vegas & Harley Race
WCW WorldWide • February 22, 1992
Eric Interviews “Stunning” Steve Austin & Madusa
WCW WorldWide • April 13, 1992
Eric Gets a Tour of The Fabulous Freebirds Enterprises
WCW Power Hour • May 30, 1992
“Colonel” Eric Interviews Sid Vicious & Robert Parker
WCW Halloween Havoc • October 24, 1993
Eric Bischoff’s “Candid Camera” Gets the Dirt on DDP
WCW Pro Wrestling • March 6, 1995
Will the Real Sting Please Stand Up?
WCW Monday Nitro • May 12, 1997
Eric Bischoff vs. Vince McMahon
WCW Slamboree • May 17, 1998
Miss Elizabeth Tells the World Who the Real “Macho Man” Is
WCW Thunder • June 11, 1998
Eric Meets “The Great One”
SmackDown • July 18, 2002
Dueling GM’s Via Satellite
SmackDown • September 19, 2002
“You Will Bear Witness to the Elimination Chamber”
RAW • October 21, 2002
Stone Cold “Stuns” Eric Bischoff
(Non-Televised Footage) RAW • April 28, 2003
Eric Bischoff vs. Vince McMahon
Special Guest Referee: Stone Cold Steve Austin
RAW • February 23, 2004
Loser Gets Their Head Shaved
Eric Bischoff vs. Eugene
Taboo Tuesday • October 19, 2004
The Coach Brings His Mentor Home
RAW • September 25, 2006