WWE Editor @jeffersonlake
WWE Analysis: What's on Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman's to-do list?
Former heads of ECW and WCW back in the WWE fold as Executive Directors of Raw and SmackDown.
Last Updated: 28/06/19 11:09am
The return of Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman to major production roles in WWE led some wrestling fans to make the – admittedly quite sharp – observation that the Alliance had won the war after all.
For the uninitiated, the Alliance was the faction which 'invaded' the then-WWF following their purchase of World Championship Wrestling in 2001 and was made up of members of that company's roster plus several from Extreme Championship Wrestling following their closure in the same year.
Heyman's name is interwoven in the history of ECW while Bischoff is the man most responsible for WCW's success during the Monday night wars of the late 1990s. For the pair to now find themselves, in 2019, in hugely influential positions in WWE is intriguing.
Bischoff & Heyman return to WWE
Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff have been brought back to WWE as Executive Directors of Raw and SmackDown
But perhaps it is not as surprising as it seems. Ratings for Raw and SmackDown in the United States are in decline and, with a vast new television deal for the latter arriving on the other side of the Atlantic in October, something had to be done.
Couple this with the fact that next year's launch of the XFL is likely to occupy increasingly more of Vince McMahon's time and the decision to bring in two of the best booking minds in the history of sports entertainment becomes quite logical.
So what can the pair expect to find waiting for them when they step into their new roles as Executive Directors? WWE Editor Jefferson Lake takes a look…
End the wild card rule
The most commonly-cited problem with the current WWE television output is that the wild card rule has blurred the lines between Raw and SmackDown to the point where they feel like the same show.
A group of 12-14 male wrestlers and around 6-8 female competitors has been chosen to regularly perform double duty on Monday and Tuesday nights; the idea is the concentrated star power for both shows, the reality is overexposure and fan frustration.
Bischoff is unquestionably not a fan of it. In an interview with Inside the Ropes, he said: "If you don't make the brands feel completely different, it won't work.
"It's got to feel real, it's got to be believable, but don't let the talent transition back and forth because you dilute the concept of two brands, two different shows."
If this theory of his is allowed to be put into practice, then fans can expect the clear dividing line between red and blue to return.
Get the best out of the roster
Very few people would argue against the fact that the talent in WWE is the best it has ever been. The company has an enormously deep main roster stacked full of superb competitors, supported by the cruiserweights on 205 Live and ready-packed players in both NXT and NXT UK.
What they lack at the moment is top-tier stars. There is a reason The Undertaker is the man who is continually asked to step into big-match situations, with Triple H and - to an increasingly lesser extent - John Cena also getting the occasion call.
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During the Attitude Era, several huge stars were made - notably of course Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock - while in WCW Bischoff minted the monstrous Goldberg. Heyman's top-tier talent in ECW was picked off by the other two companies and taken to new levels of popularity.
But the bottom line is that there are lots of superb wrestlers in WWE today, and one of the top priorities for the new Executive Directors will be to turn those superb wrestlers into genuine stars.
Jon Moxley - better know to WWE fans as Dean Ambrose - made many claims in his interviews after leaving the company about the restrictions being placed on the current creative team by senior management.
Such claims cannot be verified but Heyman and Bischoff should, in theory, provide fresh leadership for the creative teams, who apparently have been stifled for some time.
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They are two of the best booking minds in the history of the business. Heyman was a genuine pioneer with ECW, with many of his ideas being 'borrowed' by the big companies and forming the backbone of the tone which made the late-1990s such a fertile time for pro wrestling.
Bischoff was a driving force behind putting cruiserweight wrestling on television but of course will always be associated with the nWo, arguably the greatest faction in the history of sports entertainment (and certainly one of the most popular).
They always say you should never go back, but is there anyone out there who wouldn't want to see 'Hollywood' Roman Reigns take over WWE?
Re-engage the lapsed fan
Which brings us to the ultimate - and almost certainly the most difficult - item on the to-do list for Heyman and Bischoff.
Lapsed WWE fans number comfortably more than current WWE fans. For an in-no-way scientific way of assessing this, ask a random group of people to name a wrestler and see how many say Stone Cold.
Getting those people back into the modern product has long been the holy grail for WWE. Nostalgia pops will always do it (see the crowd response to the toll of Undertaker's bell on Raw this week) but are short-lived.
And so while the in-trays of Bischoff and Heyman, when they walk into their new offices in Stanford, are likely to be bulging with documents, they really only have one objective to achieve. And it's a pretty massive one too.