With the newly announced executives, Cook takes a look at the tape. Who is ahead on points at the moment?
There was a column I wrote recently where I was asking people what year it was. This is another column where I’m asking this question.
If you’re like me and grew up during the 1990s, you remember who the top wrestling brokers of the era were. (Apologies to Jim Cornette, who made the mistake of running in a poorer area of the USA.) Vince McMahon ran the WWF, Eric Bischoff oversaw WCW, and ECW came from the mind of Paul Heyman. The Monday Night War Era is seen by people of my age as the best time for professional wrestling. As much as people want to tell me that the in-ring product is so much better now, and as poorly as some of that 1990s television has aged, some of us still have a hankering for that era.
So one can see Vince’s decision-making process here. Surely he’s heard the feedback from most of the WWE Universe regarding the current direction. They aren’t happy. With all of this possible competition afoot, and with new network deals on the horizon, there is some pressure to provide a product that makes most of the fans happy.
When were we happiest? During the 1990s!
So now we have Paul Heyman as Executive Director of Raw, and Eric Bischoff as Executive Director of SmackDown. Between you readers & me, I think this means that they are on-air authority figures. Many people are thinking this means that Heyman & Bischoff will have say over creative direction. I’ve even seen some people suggest that Bischoff will be making deals with the Fox execs. I just don’t see it. Everything I know about WWE tells me that they’re giving proven on-screen characters some on-screen power.
Which is fine.
I’m not expecting a ton of changes to result from this, though if we do see a ton of changes it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Raw with Heyman’s creative input…well, it couldn’t be much worse than what they trot out most weeks. Same with SmackDown & Bischoff. Do I really think either show will get out there without Vince’s tacit approval & adjustments? Hell to the nizzaw. I really believe that way too many of you are making way too big a thing of this.
With all of that being said, we at the very least are seeing something of a resurrection of one of wrestling’s greatest rivalries. Bischoff vs. Heyman. Two wrestling geniuses. Who was better?
Let’s go to the Tale of the Tape!
Heyman: I mean, look at all the guys still getting booked now because they got big in ECW. Rob Van Dam. Sabu. Tommy Dreamer. Heck, Sandman’s still making appearances. Raven became Raven under Paul E’s guidance, and Mick Foley & Steve Austin got to explore their characters more than they ever did in WCW. This is the part where I need to mention how many of the “cruiserweights” made their first appearance in ECW.
Bischoff: Kept TimeWarner very happy for years & years thanks to Monday Nitro’s incredible ratings.
Bischoff: 2010-2012 TNA
Advantage: Push. Both were awful.
Do you even have to ask?
WWE Authority Figure Success
Bischoff: Served as Raw General Manager from July 15, 2002 until December 5, 2005. Still remembered as the best Raw GM.
Heyman: Served as SmackDown General Manager from October 2003 until March 2004. I think we all agree that Teddy Long was the best SmackDown GM. HOLLA HOLLA HOLLA!
Do you even have to ask? If you do, let’s take a look at one of my favorite Paul Heyman promos.
Let me know if Eric Bischoff did anything in this realm. I seriously doubt it. If Paul Heyman had been the true voice behind the Invasion instead of Shane & Stephanie, the possibilities would have been endless. They only let him cut loose a couple of times, and he brought gold every time he did. Heyman definitely deserves to be in the conversation with Bobby Heenan & Jim Cornette as the best manager promos of all time.
Heyman: We’ve all completely forgotten about Paul’s failings with ECW. He was just an awesome creative mind. We’ve also forgotten about his connection with Brock Lesnar. Obviously Paul would never focus his attention single-mindedly on one person, even he was that one person’s agent for most of the past fifteen years on & off television.
Bischoff: Oh God WCW what the hell man he’s Vince Russo’s best friend and Hulk Hogan’s best friend. He’s got no damn idea.
Best Wrestling Match:
Heyman: Tuxedo Match vs. Jim Cornette at Great American Bash 1989
Bischoff: vs Ric Flair Starrcade 1998
One of these matches knew their role & what they were there for. The other thought it was a semi-main event of a major show.
Final Score: Heyman 4, Bischoff 3, Draw 1
It’s a close call, but the numbers tell us that Paul Heyman has a slightly better chance of guiding a wrestling product in 2019 than Eric Bischoff does. Remember, the numbers never lie!