March 6, 2003
Bischoff strikes a Raw nerve
By TJ MADIGAN -- Calgary Sun
Eric Bischoff has a knack for being a great bad guy. He\'s one of the most effective heels on the WWE roster, possibly because the character he plays on Raw is strikingly similar to his real-life persona.
He\'s brash. He\'s cocky. And he has every right to be. After all, he\'s the guy who nearly ran Vince McMahon out of business and built the WCW into a worldwide wrestling superpower, for a little while, at least.
Just like his Monday night alter-ego, though, the Bisch manages to rub people the wrong way in day-to-day life, and last weekend, his itinerary included two very public confrontations with people he\'d managed to tick off.
I interviewed Eric right after he arrived in Toronto\'s Pearson Airport last Friday and he was anxious to talk about the first of those confrontations -- his No Way Out match with Stone Cold Steve Austin. In retrospect, viewers know the match went off without a hitch, but before the big day, Raw\'s GM was a little concerned about fake-fighting the man he hasn\'t seen since he fired him eight years ago.
\"I know what I\'m in for,\" said Bischoff.
\"I don\'t have a relationship with Stone Cold. The last time we spoke was when I fired him from WCW. He might want to take advantage and be a little rough, get some retribution on his former boss and I\'m ready for that.\"
\"It certainly wasn\'t my idea (to face Austin). I\'m excited to be participating and it will be a magic moment when Steve comes out. What I\'m not looking forward to is inside the ring. I\'m not a wrestler. I\'m almost 46 years old. I haven\'t worked out in years and I\'ve had two-and-a-half weeks to prepare for this.\"
You\'d think one tense showdown would be enough drama for one weekend but as soon as I mentioned an upcoming Off The Record interview with Michael Landsberg, Bischoff switched gears to mouth off about TSN\'s sports guru.
\"Landsberg chickened out,\" he insisted. \"We were supposed to tape today. They said there were technical difficulties and they were going to reschedule but I\'ll believe it when I see it. I\'ve done the show before and I know Landsberg is just a gutless coward.\"
The taping did go ahead the following morning and Bischoff reportedly spent the entire day telling anyone within earshot that Landsberg was an idiot.
The interview, scheduled to air closer to Wrestlemania, will make for some pretty interesting television.
At times, it\'s hard to tell if Bischoff bases his character on his off-screen personality or bases his off-screen personality on his character.
The most intriguing similarity is his defensiveness -- a little bit of insecurity cutting through his cool, confident front.
Just like the guy he plays on Raw, he\'s quick to knock down anyone who puts a question mark over his success and even quicker to list his credentials, as if he needs to back up his claims and prove he\'s exactly what he says he is.
\"I\'m not afraid of anybody,\" Bischoff assured me more than once and despite all the bravado, I\'m inclined to believe him.
After all, not many people would willingly spend their weekend doing battle with Steve Austin and Michael Landsberg.
\"I didn\'t volunteer for this,\" Bischoff casually added, slipping back into confident mode. \"I guess it\'s just not my style to walk away.\"
PAUL IS DEAD, KIND OF: On Sunday, the WWE roster was told Paul Heyman, the man universally credited with turning Smackdown around, had been released from his role as head writer of the Thursday night franchise.
Officially, Heyman has been promoted and will now work as a consultant for both the Raw and Smackdown brands, in addition to his on-camera work each week.
In reality, it seems Heyman\'s enemies in the WWE hierarchy have finally silenced him, pushing him into a token position with no real power.
Heyman has been very vocal about the direction of the WWE product and has reportedly butted heads several times with the show\'s executive producer, Kevin Dunn. Dunn, best known for his Simon Cowell-esque appearances on Tough Enough, is Vince McMahon\'s right-hand man, wielding a lot of influence on McMahon\'s decisions.
RECIPE FOR DISASTER: It\'s the end of The World as we know it. The WWE\'s Times Square restaurant and entertainment complex closed its doors for good on Tuesday, as yet another outside business venture backfired on the McMahons.
The World, formerly WWF New York, was supposed to be a mecca for wrestling fans in the Big Apple. Sadly, due to terrible management decisions and a highly publicized embezzlement scandal, the WWE were expecting to lose $9.5 million on The World this fiscal year. Instead, the company have decided to cut its losses (believed to be above the $30-million mark), sub-lease the property and invest the money in overseas programming.