Sports-entertainment fans and pundits alike were shocked this week by the revelation that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has put its flagship television programs in the hands of Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff, best known for their mutual ability to lead wrestling companies to bankruptcy.
WWE honcho Vince McMahon, who is largely responsible for putting both Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and Bischoff’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW) out of business, put Heyman and Bischoff in charge of Raw and Smackdown because, “quite frankly, what could go wrong, quite frankly?”
Under Heyman’s leadership, ECW folded in 2001 with a reported $8 million debts, the majority of which were related to costs associated with Krazy Glue for Sabu’s gashes, “herbal supplements” for Rob Van Dam, and catering expenses for Terry Funk’s 37th retirement party at a Philadelphia strip club.
With Bischoff at the helm, WCW became an asylum run by highly paid lunatics until its eventual demise, which couldn’t even be prevented by sure-fire ideas like Hollywood actors as world champions and an nWo that ballooned in membership to include 94 percent of the active roster.
The disgraced former promoters begin their roles at a crucial time for WWE, when audience fatigue over rehashed tropes is leading to declining ratings, just as it did when Heyman and Bischoff watched their empires crumble around them.
Heyman and Bischoff will now oversee Raw and SmackDown, respectively, and big changes are already reportedly afoot; next week’s Raw will see Alexa Bliss square off against Becky Lynch in a Taipei Death Match, and SmackDown will feature the return of the original Nitro Girls in an HLA Battle Royal.
Vince McMahon, meanwhile, will retreat to his Connecticut mansion, where the increasingly reclusive and unstable billionaire spends most of waking hours in the basement, trying to defeat Great Puma in Pro Wrestling for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).