Eric Bischoff: Controversy Creates Cash (Wwe) Hardcover – Oct 17 2006
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Eric Bischoff has been called pro wrestling's most hated man. Booed, reviled, and burned in effigy, he's been struck by everything from beer bottles to fists. Though industry critics have scorned his spectacular rise and fall at World Championship Wrestling, Bischoff's influence still resonates. For years, Bischoff kept quiet while industry "pundits" distorted the truth about the infamous Monday Night Wars, basing their accounts on rumors and innuendo. Finally, Bischoff tells what really happened. Beginning with his days as a salesman for the American Wrestling Association, Bischoff exposes the industry's inner workings, from the real numbers behind WCW's red ink to the devastating impact of the corporate mergers. Among his revelations: How WCW became a national brand and revolutionized the industry. How Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, and Steve Austin shaped WCW, and how corporate politics killed it. And how he found his inner heel and learned to love being the guy everyone loves to despise. Reflecting on his childhood, his family, and the pressures of notoriety, Bischoff tells how he found contentment after being unceremoniously "sent home." Love him or hate him, readers will never look at pro wrestling the same way again after reading Eric Bischoff's story in Controversy Creates Cash.
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A GREAT BOOK, BUT BE WARNED NOT YOUR TYPICAL PUBLICATION FROM WWE STARS.
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Bischoff (through his ghost writer) is amazingly honest about his failures and readily admits to mistakes he made with storylines, talent, the executives at Time Warner and his own staff while running WCW. This is a rarity in any kind of autobiographical tome, but it is down right amazing coming from someone with ties to professional wrestling. Usually what you get is a lot of "it wasn't my fault" "they wanted to hold me down". And while Bischoff takes no prisoners with his flat out disrespect for the way things went after the big AOL Time Warner merger that left WCW out in the cold, it was refreshing to read Bischoff admit to making his own mistakes in how he dealt with talent like Steve Austin, and how utterly stupid he was to take on the production of another two hour live show (the forgettable Thunder) and by pushing Nitro to three hours when he knew he didn't have the money or the people to sustain it. He explains in the book why he did it, but admits it buried WCW.
There are candid accounts of his ties with wrestlers like Randy Savage, Lex Luger, Hall, Nash, DDP, Bret Hart and especially Hulk Hogan. He even casts his own light on the Montreal Screwjob and is very candid about Vince Russo's contribution to WCW which made me laugh.
Bischoff has an ego that's hard to miss - he congratulates himself a LOT on what he did well, and the reader gets the impression that if the merger hadn't taken place and if Bischoff hadn't had WCW snatched from him at the 11th hour by Vince McMahon and the WWE when Time Warner finally put it up for sale, he would still be running a successful profitable WCW. Interesting. One thing that is very obvious, though, is that when Bischoff was running WCW he was really running by the seat of his pants, making it up as he went along, which makes what he achieved with WCW in its heyday all the more impressive.
This book is a must read for anyone who remembers the Monday Night Wars back in the mid to late 90's. While Bischoff is better known by today's fans as an on air talent, he once ran the most successful wrestling company in the USA and almost put Vince McMahon out of business which is something no one else has ever - and probably will ever - come close to doing. For that reason alone, one sort of has to respect him and his contribution to professional wrestling.
He begins his story like most biographies, about his childhood. He does not dwell on this for long as he knows the audience of the book is more interested in other things. He talks about his early days as a salesman for AWA, before starting out as an awful interviewer and commentator. He moves onto his early time in WCW, denying completely lacking any management experience at this point, until he decided to toss his name in as a replacement for several unpopular other heads of World Championship Wrestling.
As he gains control of the company, he speaks of his early attempts to turn the company around, to varying degrees of success. He talks of his early politicking as he brought in Hulk Hogan, and other former WWE stars he brought in. He speaks of the Early days of the nWo, and how he first started to make WCW profit. But he finally starts to admit defeat to the greatest opponent to WCW's success- not the WWE, but Corporate Big Wigs as Ted Tuner slowly lost control his company. And lastly, losing WCW to the WWE, and finally returning to WWE as an on screen character.
While Bischoff covers a lot of things, the book seems a bit sparse in some details, and he doesn't seem to address his bigger blunders, such as bringing in the Ultimate Warrior, or having David Arquette become WCW Champion- and seems to obviously skewer the truth in his favor at times. He also seems to go out of his way to avoid hurting anyone's feelings at times, seemingly trying to make himself look like the good guy.
All in all, it's worth a read, just to get another side of the story- even if it isn't the total story. His insights on such moves as firing Steve Austin and Sean Waltman by Fed Ex are worth hearing straight from the horses mouth. It may not be the entire truth, but you can make yourself all the wiser if you read this book in tandem with R.D. Reynold's Death of WCW- The truth may not be either or, but the key to it lies somewhere in the middle.
The book does give you information on his career in WCW and WWE that you've probably never heard before so the book is certainly worth reading at least once. But putting the word "controversy" in the title isn't accurate, in my opinion.
First, I REALLY wish Bischoff had written this book before he began his relationship with the WWE. Sadly, like Ric Flair's book (also published by WWE, of course), far too much of this book seemed to be written simply to stroke Vince McMahon's ego, which is especially ironic given that it was promoted on WWE television as if Vince and company would be enraged by its contents. In reality, the worst thing Eric says about WWE is that for a period in 1996-97, they were behind the times. Why Vince would be upset by this is anybody's guess, since WWE has said this numerous times themselves in their own telling of the history of the ratings war with WCW. But then, because of Vince's brilliance and hard work (Eric, like others who clearly want to maintain a good relationship with WWE, points out that Vince is quite possibly the hardest working man alive), WWE caught up to WCW and ultimately passed them. In fact, Eric mentions NUMEROUS times throughout the book what great people all of the McMahons are, how hard they work, how the atmosphere at WWE was so great compared to the Hell that was WCW. The "Easy E" we knew and loved to hate from 1996-99 would NEVER have written it this way. The old adage is true -- the winners do write the history, even when they get the former Executive Vice President of the losers to put his signature at the end.
However, let's get to the real content of the book -- the downfall of WCW. Bischoff tells this story in a way to minimize his own mistakes and place the blame on others to the greatest extent possible. The narrative is straightforward. Bischoff was the creative genius behind WCW's rise to success in 1996 until he was stymied by two mergers (first with Time Warner and then with AOL) and lecherous employees (Sharon Sidello, Gary Juster, among others). Bischoff contends that the merger with Time Warner caused on unbearable obstacles to his ability to produce a successful wrestling program, especially due to the rigid guidelines put in place by TNT's "Standards and Practices." McMahon was able to push the envelope with profanity and partial nudity, while WCW was shackled. Bischoff contends that, unlike Ted Turner, the higher-ups at Time Warner had no appreciation of what the wrestling business involved and ultimately had no use or care for WCW.
In fairness, I write this review as a fan. As far as I know, everything Bischoff writes about his corporate troubles is true. All I can intelligently comment on is what took place on my television screen and what turned me and the people I know off from WCW. It was not that WWE had cursing and fake breasts while WCW didn't. It was that WWE had a quality show with entertaining wrestlers and a solid core storyline (Austin/McMahon) while WCW was rehashing the same core idea from 1996 (the nWo) and was putting on a stale program. WCW made creative and booking blunders of gigantic magnitude that appeared to this fan to be completely unrelated to the troubles Bischoff described. In fact, Bischoff never really explains the reasoning behind his assumption that it was impossible to put on a quality program with decent storylines and great matches, even with the obstacles he had in place.
This book's biggest failing, in my opinion, is that Bischoff tremendously downplays (and, in at least a couple of cases, completely ignores) the creative blunders he and those in charge of WCW's booking made that eroded the quality of the product. A couple of examples: Bischoff devotes maybe a couple of paragraphs to his April 1998 decision to banish Ric Flair from WCW television for months, which tremendously angered the fan base. By the time Flair returned in September, WWF was winning the ratings on a regular basis. Bischoff incredibly makes no mention of the ludicrous decision to split up the nWo into the "Wolfpack" and "nWo Hollywood," which creatively made little sense and probably did more than anything to kill the entire nWo concept. Even more surprising was Bischoff's failure to make any mention of the infamous "Fingerpoke of Doom," a disastrous decision that enough fans, at least, consider to be important that it has its own Wikipedia page. One of the major motivations I had for buying this book was to get Bischoff's reasoning behind these and many other decisions. Bischoff's refusal to give them the attention they deserved was a major disappointment. But that would have required actually taking some responsibility for the downfall of WCW, and it seems that the purpose of this book in large part was for Bischoff to pass that buck to others.
Instead, Bischoff decides to spend pages upon pages maligning those that worked with him, especially Vince Russo. Now let's be clear, russo deserves his share of maligning, but Bischoff took it to a new level, writing some things about Russo that were downright vile. Oddly, Bischoff made a point of stating that Russo REPORTED TO HIM when it came to making creative decisions, but then proceeded to blame Russo for all of the bad decisions made in the spring and summmer of 2000.
All in all, this book was disappointing.