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In his new book, Grateful, Eric Bischoff confirmed that it was WWE’s need for re-imagination after signing with Fox television that ultimately led to him joining the company again as the Executive Director of Smackdown. In an excerpt from the book, Bischoff described the environment he was walking into and the misconceptions around his return.
“Everybody recognized that the Fox deal was a major pivot point for WWE. I think there was an expectation that it was going to catapult the company to unprecedented levels of success, in terms of television ratings and all the things that come with that. As a result, WWE was stepping back and saying, ‘Okay, we need to reexamine how we’re approaching our business, because this additional responsibility – and the complexities involved in dealing with a new network – requires that we do things in a different way.’
In the entertainment industry, it’s not uncommon for entities like WWE to undergo an auditing or evaluation process – to ensure that the creative output of the company, for example, is in alignment with the expectations of the audience, or is consistent with the evolution of the industry in general. In the case of WWE, its status as a publicly held company created additional expectations, relative to how its Board of Directors – and shareholders – viewed the operations of the company.
Through consultation with an external company, it was recommended that the creative process in WWE needed to be redesigned – hence the creation of ‘Executive Director’ roles, each with a direct report to Vince McMahon, for each of the primary shows. This would then free Vince up to focus on other things – whether that meant relaunching the XFL, the rebooted football league that he founded, or simply paying attention to other aspects of WWE.
This context (remember: context is king) was lost on the various ‘reporters’ who suggested – based on my experience working with network executives, I assume – that I had been hired as the ‘middleman’ between WWE and Fox. If one was to use guesswork, based on third-party information or hearsay, I can kind of see that making sense, but here’s the truth: conversations between the two parties – WWE and Fox – were underway long before Eric Bischoff was hired as an executive.”
Bischoff’s book with Guy Evans, Grateful, is available now on Amazon.
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