Not much time is wasted here once the DraftKing ads are done, the show immediately picks up where it left off last time with Eric Bischoff. Once again, the show is immensely entertaining and worth every second if you’re got the time to listen. Fun, fun podcast.
04:25 – Interview Starts with Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson talking to Eric Bischoff
- Ric and Conrad thank Eric for doing the show again, Ric says things are good between him and Bischoff before a slight edit or audio glitch takes out a second or two of the show (this is the case for every download or player I tried). Ric Flair then names both Barry Bloom and Michael Bravermen as being two people who put a lot of issues between them originally and even points out at how neither one was at Roddy Piper’s funeral as they could no longer “get something out of [Piper].”
07:15 – How Did Money Get Out of Control, What Was Ray Traylor’s PPV Bonus About?
- Ray Traylor special PPV bonus is completely debunked by Eric, “So much of what is out there is fabricated BS.”
I’m guessing Conrad and Kevin Sullivan are good friends or have had several beers together as the Traylor PPV bonus was something Sullivan has mentioned before on his podcast. Sullivan’s story is that the reason Ray Traylor started to be used more on WCW PPVS in 1994/1995 was because of a ridiculous bonus he worked out that was attached to PPV buyrates. Since the PPV buys were low in 1993, WCW agreed to the terms but once Hulk Hogan signed to WCW and those PPV numbers improved, WCW was forced to pay Traylor his bonuses whether or not he was on the show. Regardless, Eric says the whole story is false… but who knows.
- Eric and Ric share Ray Traylor stories, Flair goes through a story where Traylor as Big Bubba Rogers asked Flair for help as Ronnie Garvin was beating him up every night in the ring. Flair response was, “If I was as big as you, I’d just haul off and hit him in the mouth”. Next night, Bubba pops Garvin and everything was cool afterward. Eric and Flair laugh.
12:00 – First Episode of WCW Monday Nitro
- Flair thought working Mondays was great. Eric starts off attacking the “urban legend” regarding the road to Nitro launching and his hiring:
“When I took over WCW, it was a $24 million dollar a year company (total gross) and it was losing $10 million dollars a year in the profit. That’s when I got the keys. Within 36 months from then, approximately, we were 300+ million dollar company, spinning off $50 to $80 million dollars in revenue.”
- Eric says he was hired to save money, which led to cutting and gutting the costs where he could. Once things started to shift into the positive for WCW, that’s when Turner heads started to loosen their budget and acquire guys like Hulk Hogan. Ted Turner put WCW Monday Nitro on Eric’s lap without much discussion. Eric points to abysmal house show numbers as being the reason for going with Mall of America for the first episode of WCW Monday Nitro. People would already be at the mall, so Eric didn’t have to worry about selling tickets or papering the event and the venue would also look unique on television.
22:46 – Lex Luger Jumping Ship to WCW from the WWF
- Eric mentions how Luger’s WWF contract was up and he was working only on a verbal/handshake agreement with them. Eric admits that’s how WCW signed Luger and then he starts to talk generally about forgiveness before going into a real bombshell:
“I resented [Lex Luger] up until the last year or so, I had a lot of resentment towards him because of what happened to Elizabeth. My wife was very friendly with Elizabeth… she used to come out to our place here in Wyoming to go fishing and things. When Elizabeth died, it affected me. It affected my perspective on Lex and I held onto that for a long time.”
- Eric goes into seeing Lex as being “very arrogant” to everyone during Lex’s early WCW run, and then dials it back to say that he wasn’t even sure if Lex himself was aware of the vibe he put off. Flair pops in to agree that Luger “used to drive everybody crazy” but never affected him personally as Lex was easy to work with in the ring. Eric felt that Lex Luger leaving WCW was a good thing as he didn’t mean much to WCW at the time, but admits that Sting talked him into bringing Luger back by pointing out a side of Lex that Bischoff never knew.
- As a personal favor and out of respect to Sting, Eric Bischoff met Lex Luger at Sting’s house to talk about the possibility of Lex returning in 1995. Eric reveals that he presented Luger a lowball offer of $150,000 as an easy way to avoid working with Lex. Instead, Lex Luger actually accepted the deal as he completely saw it as a chance to prove himself to Eric that he was a changed man.
39:52 – Wrestlers Abusing the Turner Travel Department
- Flair laugh and talks about how everyone would stack up their paper airline tickets (with Flair’s current girlfriend Wendy AKA Fifi the Maid giving the thumbs up off-mic). Well… everyone except Ric and certain main event stars, because they were already getting a free 1st Class ticket from WCW. Eric talks around a certain high-profile individual who opened up a bag full of unused tickets in front of him, each worth between $800 to $1200 a piece. Wrestlers would just get cash back from the requested ticket from the airline. Eric says once he took over, he started to crack down on the travel flaws and made him immensely unpopular with the boys.
43:16 – Was J.J. Dillon Signed Just to Give WCW an Insight on WWF Contracts?
- Eric claims he had no idea who J.J. Dillon was or what he did in the WWF and says Kevin Nash was the one to suggest Dillon. Eric hired him sight-unseen completely based on the recommendation and due to Dillon having a special-needs child. Once Dillon arrived, Eric lost complete respect for him as Dillon offered a folder full of hand-written notes regarding the salary of WWF employees. Eric laughs and said that he’s not above playing dirty but felt that J.J. had crossed the line and brushed him off. Eric downplays the rumor of hiring Dillon just to get an unfair “insight” on the practices of the WWF. Not true.
- Conrad tags the Dillon story with a fantastic follow-up, “When you say that felt wrong, how could you justify, at the time, giving RAW results on Nitro?” Eric laughs and says, “[O]ne is sharing inside confidential/privileged information, and one is just getting in your face and doing something that’s never been done before. I don’t see any similarity between the two.”
47:53 – Why Did Shawn Michael Never Get an Offer from WCW?
- Eric says that he was aware of Shawn Michaels but didn’t really know him personally or his situation. Before Lex Luger’s jump to WCW, the WWF contracts were a lot looser so WCW could’ve made an attempt to grab him but Eric felt that Shawn was comfortable in the WWF. Also, (more importantly) Shawn Michaels was locked under contract. By the time the nWo got hot, there wasn’t a chance that the WWF would’ve let him go. Ric Flair gives some perspective from Shawn’s side of things, as HBK told him he wasn’t really interested in WCW as Scott Hall and Kevin Nash told him he’d have more creative control with Vince than under Eric. Eric laughs at the story and jokes that if Shawn Michaels would’ve signed with WCW, what little liver he had left would’ve been completely gone. “I wouldn’t have survived that one.”
52:45 – Brian Pillman as a “Loose Cannon”
- Eric tells a story about running into Brian Pillman at a bar in Vegas at a low-end motel and observing Pillman pitching a fit and playing this crazed character on his own. Bischoff calls Pillman over, they talk and craft this “Loose Cannon” gimmick but kept the idea of it being a complete work between them and Kevin Sullivan. After Brian starts to break and act crazier on TV and backstage, the idea was to allow Pillman to leave WCW for ECW, but to ultimately come back to WCW. Eric claims he was in contact with him the whole time after his ”firing” but admits that he could’ve been worked the whole time by Pillman. Ultimately, Brian would use his WCW release as leverage to sign with the WWF, getting one over on Bischoff. Flair briefly touches upon Brian Pillman, calls him the nicest guy in the world whenever he first signed with WCW but that he had no clue about the backstage differences wrestling had compared to the NFL.
1:00:51 – Athletes in Other Sports Mixing into the Wrestling World
- Ric Flair talks a bit about Lawrence Taylor admitted on his podcast that Taylor’s match against Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania was a bigger rush for him than any football game. Eric Bischoff brings up what a blast Kevin Greene was before launching into listing the sports celebrities he brought to WCW. Flair brings up a story of “Karl Malone” (Flair’s mistake, obviously means Dennis Rodman) managing Hollywood Hogan where Sherri Martel spooked Dennis by jumping on him during a match. Flair takes a moment to point out how much Sherri meant to him and the storylines at the time with Sting and Hogan.
1:04:20 – Dennis Rodman Stories
- Ric Flair mentions how he just filmed a fitness video a month ago with Dennis Rodman. (???)
- Eric goes into how introverted Dennis Rodman truly is and how much of a kind/generous person “The Worm” is if you ever get beyond the character. Eric says that Rodman had quirks and could be lazy but also had the ability to hit 110 percent in focus and effort when it was needed. Flair agrees and Bischoff goes into a Rodman story about going with him to a Daytona stripclub along with other WCW personnel. Eric doesn’t get into the actual details of the debauchery but his story ends with walking away from a tour bus, walking away from a something that resembled a scene out of Caligula.
- Flair talks about being blown away at how stunning Carmen Electra was before getting into the details regarding his fitness video he shot with Rodman. Originally, the concept for the fitness video would have had Dennis Rodman vs Ric Flair in a pushup/squat contest but the day of the event, Flair says Rodman just nixed the whole thing because he “don’t do pushups or free squats”. Flair laughs as he almost killed himself to get into shape for the event but it was all for nothing.
1:09:40 – The nWo Parody of the Four Horsemen
- Eric starts off saying how the segment was a mistake on his part, but Ric interjects that the whole thing was Terry Taylor’s idea, not Eric’s. Eric still takes full fault for the skit and regrets it ever happening as he never considered the negative impact it would have on the people involved. Eric says that Arn Anderson’s whole world was wrapped around who he was in the wrestling ring and he never considered what kind of self-doubt or issues that segment could’ve created inside Arn:
For me to put that [segment] there, whether it’s a parody or not, whether its life imitating art or art imitating life… it was a little too close to the bone and it was disrespectful.
- Ric Flair cuts Eric a bit a slack over the matter, says that he must’ve had so much on his plate that it was understandable. Flair mentions how the divided locker-rooms and wrestlers pulling Eric in every direction must’ve been difficult and seemingly understands how Eric could’ve not been intentionally malicious with agreeing to do the segment.
1:17:20 – April 1998 – Ric Flair Gets Fired from WCW
- Eric says the incident falls into things that he regrets, says how internal politics and the Turner heads trying to run the show led to backstage chaos. The situation between Eric and Ric escalated due to a misunderstanding between them or Eric misinterpreting things a certain way that led to the two drawing their own battle lines. Ric Flair summarizes the incident by saying Bischoff had already authorized Flair having the week plus weekend off for Reid’s wrestling tournament and Eric had called him, demanding he fly in for WCW Thunder. Flair flat out refused and things apparently got heated due mostly to the telephone game with a WCW lawyer in-between Flair and Bischoff.
- Conrad reads a passage from Ric Flair’s book and asks Eric Bischoff if he ever held a backstage wrestler meeting on Nitro and threatened “to sue [Flair] and his family into bankruptcy.” Eric sheepishly says that the quote is accurate (or mostly accurate). Conrad reads another passage and asks if the story where Bischoff spoke in-front of the WCW roster and claimed “nobody in the room had ever drawn a dime except Hogan, Savage and Piper” in front of Ric Flair was also true. Eric goes back to clarify that the quotes were mostly accurate, but (again) not 100 perfect accurate. Eric goes into the ways he should’ve handled things, but blames the brass, bombastic delivery he had at his young age for sometimes taking him over the line.
- Ric Flair cuts Eric some more slack, says he felt that some of the wrestlers didn’t like or want him on Nitro to begin with. Says he understands how Eric had to go above and beyond to appease the wrestlers who were constantly giving him a hard time. Eric says he didn’t handle the situation well, felt like he was losing control with the boys at time and his methods of “over-correcting” the issues just led to more problems.
- Ric Flair points to wrestlers not wanting to do favors and giving crowds three-minute main events as being the reason for WCW going under. Eric agrees but mentions that he had a lot to do with it himself. Flair goes onto a rant about how he tells the young guys in the WWE that wins and losses don’t matter as the crowd will only remember if your match is good.
1:35:20 – Hulk Hogan’s Creative Control
- Eric again points out that the stories regarding Hulk Hogan’s creative control contact are overblown, says Hogan would argue to get his way all the time but only really used the clause once or twice. Eric talks about Hogan getting boo’d in 1994, a reaction that went against what both WCW and Hogan wanted. After seeing that, Eric suggested to Hogan that he turn heel:
“[Hulk Hogan] sat with me, listened to me [pitch his heel turn]. He was very polite. He started stroking his Fu Manchu and I went, ‘Ok, this isn’t going well because the minute he starts going for that Fu Manchu and starts stroking it, he’s actually trying to think of how he’s gonna say HELL NO, but say it more nicely’.
He stats stroking his Fu Manchu, he kind of grunted to himself and he said, ‘Can’t do that, brother.'”
- Eric goes on to say how he ended up getting nicely thrown out of Hogan’s house for suggesting the heel turn, being the first time Hogan had ever really played the creative control card.
1:40:22 – Starrcade 1997: Did Hulk Hogan Convince Nick Patrick to Change the Finish?
- Eric doesn’t think Hogan got a hold of Nick Patrick, says anything is possible but believes it was more “just a screwy excuse for a finish”. Eric discusses the respect he has for Steve Borden before going into all the work that went into building Sting’s character. Bischoff credits Scott Hall for the actual design being based on the Brandon Lee movie, The Crow, says he just sat back and watched Hall sell Sting on the points of the character. Eric tiptoes around the personal issues Sting had in his life at the time, but says that Sting was disengaged for a while and wasn’t staying fit. The screwjob finish at Starrcade 1997 was something Eric Bischoff came up with after meeting with Sting that day and being putoff by his appearance and demeanor. Eric remarks that there was actual concern for Sting from Eric and Hogan but they weren’t aware of any of his personal issues at the time. Eric says the finish to Sting vs Hollywood Hogan was purely his call at the last minute, not Hogan’s.
1:45:36 – Eric Bischoff’s Lasting Legacy
Conrad thanks Eric again and asks what does Eric hope his legacy winds up being. Eric says he feels that the Monday Night War will always be his legacy and points to Nitro being the catalyst for The Attitude Era and adds how several remnants of what he started is still on WWE television today. Says he was glad to just be a part of all that.
1:48:23 – Flair Forgives Eric for Everything
Before Eric leaves, Conrad asks for Flair to put a stamp on the interview as he’s gone on record before that he’d never forgive Eric Bischoff. Ric Flair simply responds, “Friends for life. Forgiven. Exclamation point.” before going into a slight rant how insensitive the entire wrestling business is and Roger Gooddell (lol).
1:50:45 – End of Interview