|WWF Byte This! by E.C. Ostermeyer||
This is the WWE Byte This! report for Friday, 19 July 2002m and I am E.C.
Prior to the
We get the video clip from Raw of Eric Bischoff saying that he's the one to put the "E" in WWE.
"This is so surreal!" says Good Ol' Jim Ross.
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Dr. Tom Prichard.
They've had technical problems on the show already, (read "Kelly tried his hand at the control board and screwed things up just like the last time") that Kelly blames the late start on.
Therefore, we won't get Droz this week, and Tazz is "taking care of some family business" up in Boston this week.
Apparently Tommy Tickets has run afoul of "Da Law" once more.
Kelly and Dr. Tom reminisce about "The Hug Heard Round The World" between Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon last Monday night on Raw.
(It busted MY "Weird Sh*t-O-Meter" all right!)
Kelly says he can't believe he's got Eric Bischoff on his run-sheet for Byte This!
"It is surreal," says Kelly, echoing Jim Ross.
Dr. Tom says that Bischoff cannot be called a dumb guy by any means; he couldn't have come within an eyelash of running Vince McMahon and the the WWF out of business.
Kelly touches briefly on the hiring of Stephanie McMahon as the Smackdown General Manager.
Dr. Tom is enthusiastic about Steph's new job, saying that she has a more business-like approach to running things as GM.
"Her first act was to toss Eric Bischoff out of the building," says Kelly, "but he got in the last laugh when he drove off in HHH's limo."
Kelly says it is all going back to competition, with two competing shows vying for talent, ratings, and their niche in the business.
Dr. Tom says it will make both rosters more competitive.
"It will be an interesting time for everybody," says Dr. Tom.
And Eric Bischoff is on the phone.
He gives a brief rundown of the events that led up to his appearance on Raw last Monday night.
Bischoff says that he and Vince had been negotiating on his showing up in WWE.
"Everybody did a good job of keeping things quiet until Monday night," says Bischoff, " I came into La Guardia, stayed in my hotel room for 6-7 hours to keep out of sight. Then I went tot he arena and stayed in the limo until it was my time to go on stage. The look on the faces of some of the wrestlers was just priceless. I wish I had a video camera. I was anxious to see how people were going to react."
Kelly does a brief rundown of Bischoff's accomplishments. This includes "changing the way Vince McMahon does business."
Bischoff says that it was never his intention to run Vince out of business; "it was just rhetoric."
"When I came on board in WCW, it was such a small company, nobody believed they were any threat. I'm a mercenary, and I will do anything to succeed for those who pay me. "
"As for when I knew that Vince wasn't going under," he continues, " it was when I saw the "Attitude" initiative begin to work. I said "Hey, these guys aren't gonna lay down." That's when I knew."
Dr. Tom wants to know who Bischoff answers to in his new job?
Bischoff says that his attorney handles that; he's spoken maybe five times with Jim Ross; he has respect for Jim Ross, and he's happy to be here in WWE.
Kelly asks Bischoff's thoughts on the way WCW was brought in to WWE since the buyout?
"The world is full of people that know how best to do things after they've been done," says Bischoff, " a lot of the top talent for WCW wasn't represented, so it wasn't destined to be a big successful push."
Dr. Tom asks about the time Degeneration X showed up and invaded WCW?
"Once they did that," says Bischoff, "we couldn't quite get the support to do the same to them. You see, we were in a lawsuit over copyright problems with WWF at that time, and our lawyers were very conservative. What really embarrassed me was when DX showed up at our corporate office, it showed just how crappy the offices we worked in were. Turner put us in a building a mile from a sewage plant. Every time it rained, the floors flooded."
Kelly asked about the problems some former WCW wrestlers may have with Bischoff?
"I'm beyond all that," says Bischoff, "if they have a problem they know where to find me."
Kelly asks which departure from WCW hurt WCW the most; Chris Jericho, or The Big Show?
"Neither of them hurt the company at all," says Bischoff, "Big Show was on his way out anyway. Jericho's departure occurred when the company was having problems; his departure didn't have an effect on anything that was going on."
Dr. Tom tosses out the fish-hook question about the departure of Steve Austin.
"I don't like to get into this sort of thing," says Bischoff, "when I brought in Hulk Hogan into WCW, Austin came to me saying that he wanted to be Hogan's tag partner.
"And his COUSIN!
"Well, we already had a whole story line planned that wasn't going to involve Austin. When I told him that, all of a sudden things got real difficult. Lots of "injuries," lots of no-shows. It didn't hurt me to fire him. I think it actually improved his career in my mind."
Caller John from Hartford, CT wants to know what Bischoff's new role will be in WWE
"We haven't sat down and discussed what my role will be," says Bischoff, "whatever it takes, whatever they want me to do, I will do."
Kelly and Dr. Tom comment on what former WCW wrestlers have said about how tough it was to get an idea across to the WCW writers, that it seemed like there were only two or three people making all the decisions.
"With the schedule we had," says Bischoff, "it was hard for anybody to get an idea in. We were on the road four days a week, and then did two live TV shows on top of that. When you do live TV, you get into the "live TV mindset," and there was not a lot of room for changes; changing on the fly is always dangerous, especially when you are doing a live show two nights a week as we were.
Not that we didn't listen to their ideas. It's just that a lot of their ideas didn't fit the master plan we were working from. As for them saying that certain people had too much access to me, that's wrong. Everybody had access to me. One of the things I've noticed about how things work here in WWE is that they are blessed with many talented people who have been in the business a long time. They understand the wrestling business from the ground up; they know how the machine works.
"In WCW, we often ended up absorbing people from other parts of Turner. Some of these people ended up with us because, where they worked before, nobody wanted to fire them! Not exactly the "best and brightest" became the norm at WCW. They were there because...they were there!"
"Yeah," says Kelly, "after the accountant was put in charge, and they let you go, I could see they were in trouble over there. You just knew there were going to be big problems down the road for WCW."
"The accountant that took over didn't do so until after I left," says Bischoff, "I think that was a big part of what happened to WCW. I've read every comment from every wrestler who came over from WCW. First off, none of them know what they were talking about because none of them were a part of the decision making process of the senior management of Turner-Time Warner. They have opinions, I will grant them that, but they aren't grounded in fact."
Kelly asks if the idea guaranteed money and guaranteed contracts were something that WCW management thought was the right way to go, as opposed to the standard performance-based contracts? And was that one thing that hurt the company in the long run?
Bischoff says no, long term guaranteed contacts weren't what caused WCW to fail.
"I grant you, it made it more difficult for WCW to weather a sudden downturn in the business," says Bischoff, "guaranteed contracts were a fact of life all along in WCW from the time I joined the company. I inherited that system when I came on board. Having that large a staff each on guaranteed contracts made it hard to weather the downturn in business.
"When I joined WCW," he continues, "I got them in the black for the first time, and with triple digit gains. Then WWF started aggressively pursuing their "Attitude" angle.
"The execs at Time Warner said "If they do that, here's how we counter it with your new creative direction."
"That happened in August, 1998 at a meeting I attended. There were faces at that meeting I'd never seen before, and they told me how things were going to be in WCW. When I walked out of that meeting, I thought to myself, "Man, things are gonna get UGLY!"
"And I was right. I was no longer in control of WCW. When Ted Turner was running Turner, the people under him were like him, all entrepreneurs, willing to take chances, to go the distance to be successful. The merger with Time Warner got everybody thinking about their stock options, about their opposite numbers in Time Warner, and about hanging onto their jobs. A "committee mentality" settled in, and a lot of people saw WCW as a hot commodity for them to sink their teeth into in order to look good to their Time Warner counterpart. That was the beginning of the end, in August of 1998, and not the guaranteed contracts."
Kelly asks Bischoff to look forward for Raw and Smackdown, and the Triple Threat Match at Vengeance this Sunday.
Bischoff says that the three participants all have different characteristics.
"The Rock has momentum," he says, "it's hard to imagine him not coming out on top. Undertaker's been around a long time; he has lots of savvy, and he knows what's what. He doesn't have to make a big comeback like Hogan did, although both he and Hogan are wrestling legends. Kurt Angle I haven't talked with. When I watch Angle, I see a machine. He is so talented and so on top of his game right now. This is a great Main Event, not just because I'm the Raw GM, but because I'm a fan as well."
Kelly asks Bischoff about Stephanie McMahon being the GM of Smackdown with her father running the whoie show, and how Bischoff expects to get a fair shake against competition like that?
Bischoff laughs, and says "Talent,...Perseverence...and Ruthless Aggression."
"I'm glad to be competing against a McMahon. I've been competing against them my whole career. With Vince, we competed, and at the end of the day, he took home the prize, and I sat at home and ate pizza for two years. So here's another opportunity to compete against a McMahon? I'm ready for it. Bring her on!"
Kelly asks about Bischoff pursuing HHH for the Raw brand.
"This product needs to re-invent itself," say Bischoff, " and it's hard to do that when you keep using the same six or eight people over and over again to make your best matches."
(HALLELUIA! Somebody finally got what you fans have been hollering about for the past five years!)
"Working with HHH is a big focus for me," Bischoff continues, "if I am successful in signing him, it will make Raw a much better product."
Dr. Tom asks about the possibility of Bill Goldberg showing up in WWE?
"I've answered that question a couple of times already today," says Bischoff, "I don't know. Bill and I are friends. We will be going to Sturgis again this year, and I am hoping to talk with him then. Now, since I'd made an agreement with Vince McMahon about joining WWE, Bill obviously didn't know about that until last Monday night. I'd love to see Bill in WWE. There are a number of misconceptions about Bill's contribution to the business. There are a lot of great stories still there, and a lot of great matches still there."
The Chatroom says that Goldberg "is a forty-year-old, injury-prone difficult-to-work-with flash in the pan with a chip on his shoulder."
"A lot of that is unfair," says Bischoff, "Chip on his shoulder?" How about "Passion for the Business" instead? There's nothing wrong with a big ego. That means that the person who has it has to go out and find ways to feed it. Bill can be a handful at times, but through it all, he's a good person. As far as his rise in the company, until the Rock showed up, no one had ever before risen so far so fast or achieved as much as Bill Goldberg had. There are two people in this business who are true phenoms: Bill Goldberg and the Rock. Look at the other stars who reached that level. They'd all been in the business a long, long time. Bill still has a lot to offer. As far as his injuries go, he'd be injured a lot less if he didn't have the passion he has for this business."
Adam from New York wants to know about how Bischoff feels being back in the same locker room with Ric Flair?
"So much of this has been blown out of proportion," says Bischoff, "when I left WCW in 2000, Ric and I had a good relationship. It was a roller coaster at times, but I like Ric Flair. I can't speak for how Flair feels about me. There's been times his family and mine visited the yacht club in Orlando and drank Mai-Tais together. Then there are the other times when we both wanted to put each other in therapy. Pick a day, a week, a month: we've done it all."
Kelly thanks Bischoff for the idea of the Nitro Girls, which spawned their counterparts, the WWE Divas.
Kelly asks Bischoff who stands out to him as a WWE Diva?
"I am partial to Stacy (Keibler) because of her being a Nitro Girl alumni," says Bischoff, "and the fact she's got legs up to her earlobes doesn't hurt either!"
"Oh yeah!" say Dr. Tom with a laugh.
Dr. Tom asks Bischoff if he can contain that massive ego of his working in WWE?
"When people left WCW, either because I fired them or because they wanted to leave," says Bischoff, 'how easy would it be for them to trash WCW in order to get on the good side of Vince McMahon or Jim Ross? A lot of them did it just to make themselves look good at the expense of the company they once worked for. In some cases, the talent has blown the misery level over at WCW way out of proportion, and I should know; there towards the end, I was the most miserable guy in the place! There was a lot of good reasons to be miserable in WCW, and I take responsibility for some situations that I could have helped make better, but through one thing or another, it never happened.
"But that was then. I'm now with WWE, and trying to make an impact here. I have no desire, quite frankly, to go back into that pressure cooker that WCW had me in. I am financially very well off, and I've got a lot of other things I am doing ("Survivor" being one) in my life right now to feed this ego of mine. I'm doing wrestling because you get a rush in wrestling you can't get anywhere else. No matter how much money I make doing other projects, nothing compares to wrestling when you are firing on all eight cylinders, manipulating emotions, creating heat, developing story lines. Nothing beats it.
That's why I am here; I can't get that needle out of my arm!"
Kelly asks if Bischoff is really a member of the (appalling) Baldwin theatrical family, which gets a snort of outrage from Dr. Tom, (whose bad opinion of the Baldwins is only exceeded by my own.)
"Who's the biggest one?" asks Bischoff.
"Daniel," says Dr. Tom, "but he was the one who had all the problems with the police. Getting dragged out of hotel rooms and stuff."
"How do you know these things, Tom?" asks Kelly.
"I think I was in the room next door on one occasion," laughs Dr. Tom.
"I'm not related to ANY of the Baldwins, thank you," says Bischoff, " and I guess that isn't a bad thing."
Caller Terry from Georgia wants to know what happened with the possible buy-out of WCW by Fusient Group that fell through just before Vince bought everything for a song?
"There's a procedure in contract negotiations called "Due Diligence," says Bischoff, " where everybody goes over the books for six months to get an idea about how stable a company is, so that we knew everything about WCW before acquiring it. Jason Hervey, my good friend, pointed me at Fusient because they were buying investment properties at the time. We were so close to closing that deal that I had taken my family to Hawaii because I knew that I would be working with WCW 24/7 when the deal closed, and I wouldn't see them again for a while.
"In Hawaii, I got a phone call from Brian Goddall (sp?) of Fusient, telling me that the deal had fallen through.
"What happened was that the same time the Fusient deal was going through, AOL was merging with Time Warner, and a guy named Jamie Kellner assumed control over TNT and TBS.
"Now, in the Fusient offer, we included extensive and extended airtime on both TNT and TBS as part of the deal.
"Kellner took one look at the deal and said "go ahead, but don't include any airtime on TNT or TBS in the deal. I don't want wrestling on our networks anymore."
"Which meant we had a product but nowhere to sell it. We were effectively off the air. The deal wasn't worth anything, so naturally we backed out."
Kelly asks Bischoff where he sees the wrestling business five years from now?
"It's hard to say," say Bischoff, " there's no magic bullet or lightning in a bottle to turn things around. Wrestling is and will always be popular and cutting edge. It is trend-proof and fad-proof.
"Those so-called "experts" who want to tear it all down and "have all the answers," I'm betting are living in their parents' basement and working at Burger King. Wrestling is up against a flood of reality-based shows right now, and has seen some erosion of its market share. This is no surprise, because wrestling is the original reality-based show; WWE was doing reality-based way back when then were putting on the "Attitude" angle.
"You would never have seen the kind of reality shows you are seeing now five, three, two years ago on network TV. You are seeing them now because the ad market is soft, money is tight, and the networks are scrambling for ad revenue. Especially in the summer time, when their regular shows go into hiatus, and the ad market is soft; that's when you see these reality shows, "Dog Eat Dog", "Fear Factor", during a tough period that lasts ninety days. Then they go back to dramas and sitcoms.
"Wrestling is edgy, it's dangerous, and it's there year-round. It is more fun for the audience to watch than a cop show or a doctor show. We will see more reality-based storylines because the viewers are wanting reality-based programs. You need spontaneous action, real reality. That's what we are selling here."
Kelly and Dr. Tom thank Bischoff for being on the show, and shill for Bischoff's upcoming segment on "WWE Confidential."
Howard Finkel shows up with an "Outthink the Fink" for this week.
Kelly asks Fink who will win the Triple Threat match at Vengeance?
Fink hems and haws, and shills his butt off for all three wrestlers, and winds up not picking the winner as a result.
The "Outthink the Fink" question concerns an event thast once occurred at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, site of Sunday's WWE "Vengeance" PPV.
At the event, who was the special referee, and what was the Main Event of the night?
Kelly says he wants the Iron Sheik to help him out with the pre-Vengeance show on Sunday.
This gets a horse laugh from everybody.
As they wait for John Cena, Dr. Tom fills us in on WWE letting Heartland Wrestling Association go as a developmental area, saying that HWA's Les Thatcher did a great job, and the HWA should carry on all right.
Regarding the mass firings of WWE developmental talent, Kelly says that for information about wrestlers being let go, fans should check wwe.com for the latest news from the official place to get it.
John Cena is on the phone live from "Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom," where he and Nova are squaring off for the gold in OVW tonight. A "No DQ/Handcuff" match, I believe.
Kelly asks about Cena's reaction when he found out that he was going to WWE?
"It was just a regular day," says Cena, "then about three o'clock, Michael Hayes comes up to me. I thought it was something routine, like the Dark Match assignment, but instead he told me I was working with Kurt Angle that night on the Smackdown show.
"I asked him, "are they turning Angle babyface? Because I'm a heel."
Hayes says no, you're the face. Well, I was a pretty ratty-looking heel, so I had to get a lot of image-change things done, which left almost no time to set up the match with Kurt."
Dr. Tom says that sometimes it works out better that way; you don't have time to get nervous.
Cena says there's some of his earliest footage he'd like to find and burn all available copies.
Kelly says that he's got footage of Cena's match with the Hardcore Kid. They are gonna put it on tape and call it, "When Animals Mate!"
Kelly asks when Cena's "light went on?"
Cena says when he got to OVW, where he says the teaching, and little things, their attention to details helped him to improve beyond what he had learned in California.
"Out there," says Cena, "they were into glitz and glam, ring entrances, and your physique. In OVW, I got hooked up with Danny Davis, a guy who really loves this business. He taught me how to book finishes, The little things got analyzed and to my specifications. It improved me tenfold."
Dr. Tom says Kelly, the pig, likes to bury people on this show of his.
He then asks what Cena's first impression was of that hole of an arena that OVW wrestles in, adding that it should be condemned.
Cena, on the other hand, praises the place, saying it exemplifies wrestling. "You know what you are getting the second you walk through the door," he says.
Cena goes on to praise everyone who has helped him in WWE, including Undertaker, Jericho, and of course, Kurt Angle.
Dr. Tom wants to know where Cena's former moniker, "Prototype" came from?
"I had this shaggy mohawk as part of my "look," plus I had never had a drink before, " laughs Cena, "the wrestlers out in California were bouncing around names like "Machine" and "Project 284." "Prototype" came up and the name stuck."
Kelly asks Cena's opinion of Chris "Harvard" Nowinksy from "Tough Enough 1."
"He's more geared to academics, being from Harvard," says Cena, "but, while I'm also a college graduate from Springfield College in Springfield MA, I stress athletics more than academics."
Dr. Tom asks if Cena can confirm he wanted to be a wrestler since he was four years old?
"Yeah, " laughs Cena, "I had four brothers. We all loved wrestling, and used to do matches in our basement on the concrete floor. We used to make the Title belts out of fanfold computer paper. I still have one half of our version of the NWA Tag Title belts at home after all these years."
Kelly asks Cena about being on Smackdown.
Cena laughs, and says he's had friends turn the show on, and think they are watching OVW, what with Randy Orton, Batista and others on there.
Kelly asks Cena about Brock Lesnar.
"TV doesn't do him justice," says Cena, "you just gotta see him live. He's a real-time mutant. He's got everything it takes right now to go all the way."
"Orton is unbelievable at doing the "unteachables" in wrestling," says Cena, "when he gets in the ring, for some reason he looks like he belongs there. Everything he does is just so smooth, crisp, and clean."
Kelly asks what video tapes he studies, to which Cena replies that he's currently watching old Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase tapes, learning from the legends.
"I watch a lot of the 80's-style heels," he says, "because they got a lot of heat, and didn't do a lot of the high-flying stuff you see nowadays on TV. They got the fans even though they didn't overwork themselves doing it. Pacing and timing are what they teach me. I want to see how they worked it, how somebody could get such heat by just throwing punches."
Kelly recalls Freddie Blassie who could stick with Lou Thesz in the ring, but made his mark doing the "vampire" bit by biting his opponent on the head.
The Chatroom says "Welcome Back, Sting," which is one heckuva compliment for Cena, who's got the "Sting look" going big time.
Kelly asks if the WWE locker room has been helping Cena out by critiquing his matches?
Cena says yes, that when he finishes a match, he always asks others if there was something they saw that he could have done to make it better?
"In California," says Cena, "we had guys who were so green in the business that if you asked them that, they felt like they'd do more harm than good answering you because they didn't know what to look for, or how to be intellignet about what they saw. Well, that all changed in OVW and I'm seeing it again in WWE. Everybody wants you to better yourself. Everybody wants you to succeed. There are guys who will sit down, and say, listen, you gotta do this, this, this, and this."
Kelly, playing the doofus again, asks Cena if the "Prototype" character made Cena into a white supremacist?
This gets a laugh from Cena, and a snort of outrage from Dr. Tom, who gives Kelly "The Look."
Kelly says that was a legitimate question that he had down on his sheet.
"Tryin' to play the race card, huh?" laughs Cena.
"Just keepin' it real," says Kelly, "how's the weather in Louisville?"
"It is hot as a sonofabitch," says Cena, "humidity's about a hundred percent, the temp's like one seventy..."
"Man, you know that ring mat is gonna feel REAL good tonight, huh?" laughs Dr. Tom.
Matt from Poughkeepsie, NY wishes Cena good luck in his match with Nova tonight, then asks Cena if he feels pressure representing the Boston area in wrestling?
"I'm proud to represent the Boston area," says Cena, "it's where WWE's roots are."
"And if the Celtics could shoot a free throw," laughs Kelly, "you'd have even more to be proud of..."
"Y'know," says Cena, slipping into "Prototype" kayfabe for a minute, "I've just about had enough of you and your snide comments, Kevin Kelly..."
"So what will happen first?" continues Kelly, "hell freezes over, the Red Sox win the Series, or you become Undisputed Champ?"
"Reverse the order and it's a done deal!" laughs Cena.
Kelly and Dr. Tom thank John Cena for being on the show, and for allowing Dr. Tom to give him such a hard time.
Cena leaves, as Kelly and Dr. Tom jabber about how Eric Bischoff will fit in with WWE.
Dr. Tom says Bischoff will fit in, that he has something to give.
Kelly says that Bischoff also has the chance to have a good time with what he's gonna do, not being saddled with all the other stuff he had to put up with in WCW.
Kelly comments on Chavo Guerrero's challenge to Rey Misterio. Dr. Tom says Rey's got some heavy duty ahead of him.
The Chatroom and phone queue collapses, and Kelly makes a snide poke at Byte This! producer Big Country.
Dr. Tom says he will be calling in the "Vengeance" pre-game show with great interviews galore.
Big Country actually phones in from the control room, saying that the "technical problems" have knocked out the Byte This! set's intercom system.
Kelly thinks BC's really at the local tavern.
(And he might be right, because I'd swear I heard glasses clinking and a jukebox playing in the background.)
BC owns up, saying he and the rest of the technical crew left the show at 5 PM like always, technical problems notwithstanding, and have been boozing ever since.
"What are you two still doing there in the studio?" laughs Big Country.
We get a montage of favorite photos on the chyron, including Dr. Tom sporting a Billy & Chuck haircut, Kevin Kelly as Santa making some kid cry, Seth Mates doing "Number Two" and reading the paper, and finally, of course, Paul Heyman as "The Skullet!"
Shills galore for the Vengeance PPV, but no push for the individual matches. Kelly says that they're saving those for the "Vengeance" pre-game show.
We close the show with last December's "Vengeance" PPV where Chris Jericho becomes the first WWE Undisputed Champion.
Next week's guest is supposed to be the Rock.
See you then.
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