Wednesday, January 17, 2001
SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column
An open letter to Eric Bischoff
I suppose congratulations are in order. When Fusient Media Ventures purchased WCW a few days ago, the word spread quickly that the new owners put you in charge, arguably more powerful than ever. And who can blame them? In a culture where everything old can be new again -- how else to explain the presence of The Beatles on top of the album charts as I write this -- it was only natural to look to the past to chart out the future. You are, after all, the person responsible for WCW's greatest period of success.
Even I have an ulterior motive, because if Nitro folds, I may not have a weekly forum to reach SLAM! Wrestling's readers. But forget that. All I want to do with this letter is offer a few pieces of advice from a dedicated wrestling fan.
Take it easy with the arrogance. Your self-confidence is unquestionably a great asset at a time like this, but sometimes you take it too far. When you and Vince Russo came storming back into WCW in early 2000, your constant tooting of your own horns made it difficult to root for you. Keep your camera presence to a minimum. And try to avoid putting yourself over the talent if you can. I can't stand that.
Understand that you don't have to walk in and clean house. There are a number of current WCW employees -- Terry Taylor and Johnny Ace come to mind -- who helped keep the ship afloat while you were away and can continue to make valuable contributions. The wrestling world expects dramatic changes, and that may very well prove necessary. Just remember to evaluate before you act.
Please find someone capable of upgrading the wrestlers' entrance music. This may seem like nitpicking, but even the midcarders in Titanland have some pretty nice themes. The WCW workers desperately need relevant, easily identifiable tunes. Consider it one of the little things that will help get talent over with me and many other fans.
Have more current merchandise available for us to purchase. Even during the lean times, there was money in my wallet that WCW could have convinced me to part with... there just wasn't anything to buy. And even when there was, it tended to get outdated pretty fast. Learn from what the WWF has done in merchandising their stars -- especially with their massive Web presence.
And speaking of merchandising, that means more than just T-shirts. I work in the retail industry, and I can't turn around in a store without bumping into toys, games and books featuring WWF personalities. Your partners sound like they can help you here. As a personal favour to me, please convince Electronic Arts to develop a good WCW video game.
Make house shows worth the money it takes to attend them. I suspect that this will be the area of least concern for the time being, but don't forget that live performances ultimately make up the foundation for this industry. You can give your talent guaranteed money and still provide incentives for working house shows. Follow the lead of professional sports and get creative with your contracts.
I'd be remiss if I ended this letter without addressing your good buddy, the Hulkster. You've already made it known that that you consider Hulk Hogan to be a viable brand, and I agree. Let's be honest though -- Hogan's best days are far, far behind him. Find a role for him, but don't put him back in pay-per-view main events, no matter what.
This is getting pretty long, and I know you're a busy man with plenty of work ahead of you. Good luck in your new endeavor. The world will be watching, and at least one fan will be pulling for you.
Nick Tylwalk is from Hershey, PA and has been the regular Monday Night Nitro reporter for our TV reports page for a long time now. Nick wrote a column for SLAM! Wrestling back in March 1999, entitled WCW starts to "get it" too. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.