MR. TITO: The Day WCW Died Due to Eric Bischoff and How it Relates to AEW’s Tony Khan

World Championship Wrestling (WCW) became the worldwide leader in professional wrestling during mid-1996 and then lost that title during mid-1998. By 1999, they began losing money… How could this happen? How could a promotion with major superstars, the great New World Order storyline, Cruiserweight division, and lots of young new innovative talent fall so quick?

Many publications and websites have tried to theorize on WCW’s downfall for years, yet none of them can actually pinpoint the specific event where the dominoes begin to fall. I have… In the past, I wrote a column entitled “The Day WCW Died” for my previous website and I pinpointed the exact date when the seed was planted for WCW’s destruction. Back then, a few have called me crazy hearing the guy’s podcasts and him explaining how he began fumbling the ball throughout 1997 and 1998 solidifies the date that I picked.

Folks, WCW’s death began on WCW’s Monday Nitro on November 18th, 1996. The big seed of destruction was planted that night and the pumpkin that sprouted was about to become rotten by the end of 1997 thanks to Eric Bischoff‘s mismanagement of his talent.

What happened on 11/18/1996?

Well, prior to that show, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper showed up at the end of WCW’s Halloween Havoc to challenge “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan with the famous line “I’m the only guy that you’ve never been able to beat”. This was a monumental moment because Roddy and Hogan haven’t traded hands since the 1980s when they built Wrestlemania together. Throughout November 1996, however, there were struggles of getting Hogan vs. Piper on as a match.

As it turns out, it was Eric Bischoff creating interference to create this match, which Roddy Piper exploited on the November 18th, 1996 edition of Nitro. Bischoff made claims that he tried to go to Piper’s residence to negotiate, but Eric was clearly lying (I remember Piper asking him about which way the driveway went). This episode officially revealed that Eric was a member of the New World Order, as Nitro ended with an NWO beatdown of Roddy Piper and Eric and Hogan embracing.

Why I consider this as the “day that WCW died” is very simple… From 1993-1996, Eric Bischoff was a manager & executive of WCW and a damn good one. Prior to 1993, WCW did nothing but lose money and have all kinds of problem with talent, creative, and expenses. Bischoff made WCW profitable by 1995 and changed the tone of the company through various key talent acquisitions (Hogan, Macho, Hall, Nash), raiding Japan/Mexico/ECW of its many young superstars, and implementing “reality based” storylines through 1996 (pushing that idea harder after the disaster known as WCW Uncensored 1996 PPV). WCW grew and improved because of Eric Bischoff’s managerial ideas.

WCW began to decline when Bischoff converted himself into “one of the boys” instead of being their boss.

Bischoff became obsessed with his NWO character and gave less attention to talent relations, quality control on creative (total “booking on the fly”), and managing WCW’s expenses. Because he was LESS of a manager or executive, he didn’t know how to handle Time Warner because he thinned himself out between being an on-screen character for the NWO and as an executive. As you watch throughout 1997, Bischoff’s screentime increases and then by late 1997, he starts to wrestle. Go watch StarrCade 1997, as he’s wrestling Larry Zbyszko on the card and tries HARD to get himself over as a karate master. Remember that time Eric Bischoff challenged Vince McMahon to a match at Slamboree 1998? You can just hear that ego inflating then… Then, at Hog Wild 1998, it was Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff vs. DDP/Jay Leno.

Eric Bischoff’s ego about his NWO character got OUT OF CONTROL during 1997-1998, and thus diverted his attention AWAY from WCW’s day-to-day operations.

Furthermore, since Eric Bischoff was part of the New World Order group, the favoritism wrestlers IN THAT GROUP received was significantly greater than anyone outside of it. Gee, wonder why so many wrestlers wanted to join the NWO? Because Bischoff was part of the NWO, he had a vested interest to see it continue.

HENCE why he caved into Hulk Hogan‘s demands that the WCW StarrCade 1997 ending being changed. Eric flatout admits it, finally, per the NWO A&E documentary after YEARS of lying and covering it up with phony claims about Sting not being tanned or “out of it” that day. Hogan used his contractual creative control that day and Eric Bischoff folded like a chair. A REAL executive would have stood up to Hulk Hogan and said “NO, THIS IS WHAT’S BEST FOR BUSINESS”, but instead, he caved. Why? Because Eric Bischoff didn’t want the the NWO gravy train to stop, either. He had a vested interest because he was now a key member of the group.

1998 saw the NWO group split into 2 groups (NWO Hollywood and NWO Wolfpack), while the NWO groups reunited during early 1999. Impaired Eric just couldn’t quit you, NWO.

That 1999 NWO reunion sunk WCW’s battleship, and by then, many talents left WCW for WWE (Giant/Big Show and Chris Jericho), production costs were way up, and many veterans were highly paid. As viewership, attendance, and merchandise sales dropped, so did the revenues that offset those higher expenses. Time Warner was a penny counting corporation and once they merged with AOL, they had high merger expenses to deal with. Any unprofitable entities were going to at least be evaluated, if not cancelled. By March 2001, WCW was dead and purchased for less than $5 million by Vince McMahon and WWE.

So, why is this important? Why am I bringing up this topic today?

I’m looking at you, Tony Khan… “Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it”, George Santayana 1905.

What the AEW locker room needs is a MANAGER and a BOSS.

What they don’t need is you on screen and being a part of an angle.

Once you begin to split your time between managing the company and being an on-screen character, it’s over.

• Eric Bischoff caused WCW to become unprofitable by 1999
• Vince McMahon went to the on-screen well too much, viewership peaked and began to decline during 2000
• Stephanie as an on-screen character caused nothing but declines since 2000
• Triple H as “COO” wasn’t a big draw during the 2010s
• Do I even need to say Dixie Carter? Holy cow, talk about over-exposed as an on-screen character
• Vince Russo during WCW 2000

And I could go further… Look at how much bias bookers, working for promoters, have towards themselves versus how they creatively assess other talents. I just mentioned Triple H, as he was highly competitive, still, as an in-ring performer and that effected CM Punk badly during 2011. Dusty Rhodes kept pushing himself strongly, even when slightly past his prime. Turned the Road Warriors heel just to do an angle (spike to the eye) to get him over. Lots of nepotism with Verne Gagne and Bill Watts.

If you’re going to run a wrestling company, RUN THE DAMN COMPANY.

As someone who has managed staff before and within a corporation, I’m just going to give you some insight. What you NEVER want to be with your reporting staff is their friend. I’m not saying that you can’t be friendly, but outside the workplace, they are not your friends. Furthermore, the reason why you are a manager is because you have a skillset that the staff members don’t or at least not yet. You have to present yourself as being “above them” while being a credible leader who is dependable, fair, and not impaired.

The second that you lower yourself to their playing field, whether that is on skillset, acting like your staff, or picking up staff based duties, you’ve become “one of the boys (or girls)”. When they are able to dictate your day rather than you dictate theirs, it’s over. Once they become friendly with you beyond fun co-worker banter or jokes, they’ll start to take advantage of you and start leveraging their work onto you. Then, they’ll start using you and placing blame to other management for their mistakes.

Bischoff became impaired, starting on November 18th, 1996. He allowed anyone in that NWO group to control him and thanks to Hogan’s creative control clause, Hogan was able to move Bischoff around like a pawn so easily. Fame from being an on-screen character intoxicated Eric Bischoff while also reportedly partying with the NWO talent, too. He became “one of the boys” and completely lost himself as being their boss. 1997 coasted on 1996’s fumes, by by late 1997, hard decisions were needing to be made. It was time to pivot, but Hogan didn’t want to pivot and Bischoff caved in to rewrite StarrCade 1997’s ending. More mismanagement continued during 1998 to keep NWO in power, and ditto for early 1999.

If I were Tony Khan, what happened on last week’s AEW Dynamite was one and done, and for this week’s AEW Dynamite, we immediately see a new Authority Figure hired. Someone who used to be an ex-wrestler who wouldn’t fall for such a scheme that Tony did last Wednesday Night. Then, we never see Tony Khan on camera again because of what happened. Maybe Kenny Omega is that guy, as his EVP status was upgraded to have more authority over the Young Bucks. Honestly, I’m liking what I’m hearing from Kenny Omega on his Twitch chats. He’s a smarter guy than we were led to believe and clearly shows that the Bucks are the toxic part of the company.

However, if Tony Khan comes back to AEW television and we see him regularly as an Authority Figure, then I’ll be writing a column entitled “The Day AEW Died” and that day will be April 24th, 2024.

Right now, you have Eric Bischoff attacking this Tony Khan storyline from his Podcast in a way that mocks AEW and Tony Khan. What Bischoff is REALLY telling you is that he messed up badly by joining the NWO during November 18th, 1996 and that Tony shouldn’t follow that same path of getting too involved as an on-screen character. THAT and don’t insert your head up someone’s rear-end(s), as Bischoff did with Hulk Hogan and now Tony clearly is doing with the Young Bucks.

Bischoff is MAD because he sees his 1997-1999 self in Tony Khan, but thanks to Tony’s wealthy dad and more lucrative television contracts, Tony has the ability last longer than Eric Bischoff did. THAT is the jealousy that fuels Bischoff’s attacks on Tony Khan. Proud Papa Shad Khan is willing to keep funding Tony’s disaster, whereas AOL/Time Warner had enough of WCW’s expenses.

“Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it”.

By the way, Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated the image above this column and it’s fantastic. I entered “Eric Bischoff and Tony Khan fighting” and AI delivered. Thanks AI!

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