Hack-Man Pro-Wrestling Eric Bischoff Q&A Session

Last updated 4 December 1999

This interview was conducted in March 1997 by Bob Ryder.

Thanks to Prodigy for allowing this excerpt.

Question: Whatever happened to NWO NITRO? Do you still plan to dedicate an hour to the NWO each week, and if so, when will the NWO segments start?

Bischoff: It's something that is still in the planning stages. It may happen as a part of NITRO or it may be a part of the new 2 hour show on TBS if we decide to go that route.

Question: What will the set-up for this Monday's NITRO be? Will the ring be floating in a pool like some have suggested?

Bischoff: My understanding is that yes, the ring will be set up in the middle of a pool.

Question: Wrestlemania is 2 weeks away, and the WWF is still talking about ECW's PPV more than their own. Any predictions on a buyrate for Wrestlemania?

Bischoff: No, I don't have any prediction, but I think it's fair to say that a repeat of any NITRO show will be a much better investment of anyones time than watching Wrestlemania. Wrestlemania, to me, appears to be a very mediocre RAW show and below a sub-par NITRO show.

Question: Do you think that you can depend on Dennis Rodman to show up for his work dates and to act in a professional manner?

Bischoff: I have every confidence in the world that Dennis Rodman will make his appearances, and that he will act in a professional manner. Dennis has been looking forward to this for a long time and is very excited about his relationship with the NWO.

Question: The WWF is running their Madison Square Garden show on the MSG Network at the same time as WCW's Uncensored PPV. Do you have any plans to counter by running shows on TBS or TNT against Wrestlemania or other WWF PPV's?

Bischoff: No, that's not the type of thing that we're about to get involved in. The fact that they are doing it is just another example of how desperate they are. It's their way of fighting back in whatever limited way they can. The reality is that it will have no impact on the buyrate for Uncensored, and I'm not about to counter that kind of strategy in any way.

Question: What long term plans (if any) do you have for Rodman?

Bischoff: I'm going to be meeting with Dennis on Monday morning and we are going to discuss our relationship in detail. We will be talking more about that in the weeks to come.

Question: Mr. Bischoff, How do you feel about WWF expanding their Monday night shows, do you think it's better competition?

Bischoff: I think it's great that they expanded to two hours. It creates a more competitive environment. I welcome that competition. What's most important is the relationship that WWF has apparently developed with ECW. Clearly, that relationship with ECW is the single biggest threat to WCW's dominance. ECW could make the difference in the Monday night battle. The numbers speak for themselves.

Question: What exactly went on behind-the-scenes with Disco Inferno's firing? Why did you feel it was necessary to have him job to Miss Texas?

Bischoff: As we move forward with storylines in a creative direction, it's important for talent to realize their position within our company. From time to time we have to make decisions that we think are in the best interest of the company. Unfortunately sometimes that conflicts with what the individual talent may feel is in their best interest. When that happens and we are unable to resolve the conflict, my only recourse is to part company with the talent.

Question: You've commented several times that you thrive on competition, but some of your comments about Vince McMahon seem to go beyond competition. How personal is the rivalry?

Bischoff: It's not personal at all. It's actually getting to be quite entertaining. As I hear comments from Vince McMahon to various media, it becomes clear to me that this is a man bordering on delusional and who is obsessed with seeing his name in print along with Ted Turner. Vince McMahon can't deal with the fact that someone is more creative, better equipped, and more talented than he is. His only recourse is to strike out at Big Bad Billionaire Ted. It's almost sad to hear some of the comments

Bischoff: that Vince McMahon is making to some media. I hope he can pull the nose up on his company to make things more competitive, but at this point...I'm not holding my breath.

Question: Eric...during your last chat with us, you mentioned there was a possibility WCW would either buy New Japan Pro Wrestling or start its own Japanese promotion. Could you please update us on the negotiations with New Japan?

Bischoff: There is no further update. I haven't spoken to anyone from New Japan since our last chat. I will be traveling to Japan later this month and will be happy to report on developements after that trip, but as of now there is nothing to update.

Question: What were you thinking when you assembled Piper's team for Uncensored? I know you want to get the guys from the Power Plant some exposure, but I don't think this is the time to do it..

Bischoff: Let me clarify a few points. Number 1, the individuals on Piper's team are not members of the Power Plant. In fact, neither one of them have ever stepped foot inside the Power Plant. Two of the individuals who Piper beat before he selected his team were from the Power Plant, but the two members he selected were not. Roddy Piper picked that team. You have to realize that Roddy Piper is not formally associated with WCW and does not have the luxury of selecting from WCW talent so he put

Bischoff: together the best team he could with what he had to work with.

Question: What excites you more, that Rodman is with WCW or Vince McMahon doesn't have him?

Bischoff: I really don't care about Vince McMahon or Wrestlemania, and I don't think anyone else cares either. I am excited that Dennis Rodman is with WCW and will be a part of the Uncensored PPV. I'm told the story was on the front page of the Chicago Sun Times and that kind of media exposure is a very positive thing for the NWO/WCW.

Question: You said in a previous chat that the WCW would never be interested in the Ultimate Warrior, but it seems a Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior match would be a tremendous draw for a PPV. When the Warrior is free of his obligations with WWF, and assuming he is able to use the name Ultimate Warrior would you be interested in promoting a match between Hogan and the Warrior?

Bischoff: No

Question: Besides announcing and interviewing, what other duties did you have with the AWA?

Bischoff: I started in the AWA in syndication. I worked my way into event promotion, corporate sponsorship development and production. I also watered the plants on Friday's.

Question: I know my dad has been turned off with WCW signing Rodman, do you think that many conservative adults will have less interest in WCW now that Rodman is there?

Bischoff: That's hard to say. People's opinions are so varied on Dennis Rodman. The fact is that he is one of the highest profile athletes in the business. He's an enigma in many ways. I'm sure many people will be turned off...but many people will be turned on by the fact that he is with NWO/WCW.

Question: Will we see members of the NWO from Japan come and fight with the NWO here in the states?

Bischoff: Definitely. As the NWO expands internationally, we will take advantage of the opportunity to bring in that talent to help strengthen our position here.

Question: Due to the poor fan response, will Piper's team for Uncensored be changed in any way?

Bischoff: That's up to Roddy Piper. I hope, for his sake, that he changes the team...because this might be his last shot at Hollywood Hogan.

Question: Eric...many critics of the New Japan story argue it is impossible to negotiate with all the factions within NJPW ownership. Are you at this time satisfied you are negotiating with the actual NJPW ownership and if so, how have you confirmed that detail?

Bischoff: I've read recently about what people hypothesis the ownership of New Japan to be, and virtually everything people have written is incorrect. I am confident that if we are able to put forward a straighforward business plan that shows the potential for growth with WCW involvement, that the principals at New Japan would embrace the possibility.

Question: Welcome King Eric, my 1st question is How does it feel to have given Vince a scare, cuz we all know that with the way Monday Ratings are going, he has to be?

Bischoff: In my opinion, Vince McMahon is a fraud. He's someone who has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in the industry because he maintained a monopoly in many ways. When he was the only wrestling show on Monday night, he was incredibly successful. Once he got competition, he cracked. Vince McMahon's true talents and skills in this industry are becoming more obvious every Monday Night. It does feel good to expose him for what he is...but at the same time I am beginning to feel sorry for him.

Bischoff: I hope Vince McMahon and the people around him can find a way to make their product more competitive.

Question: It's been no surprise that Dennis Rodman was highly sought-after by WWF.. In your own words, what does Rodman bring to the WCW, and the NWO specifically...

Bischoff: Go buy a copy of the Chicago Sun Times, and listen to the news around the country this weekend. Take a look at all the clipping from papers across the country this weekend, and the answer will be very clear.

Question: Eric...many of your critics scoff at the suggestion WCW has anything to offer New Japan in the way of PPV/cable/satellite expertise. What expertise do you see WCW offering New Japan?

Bischoff: First of all, those critics don't have a clue as to what is going on in Japan. Their information is second and third hand information from someone who is not even in the wrestling business. Secondly, WCW as a part of Time Warner/Turner is a part of the largest Entertainment Company in the world. To suggest that we have nothing to offer in the way of PPV/Cable/Satellite expertise is a reflection of those critics and their lack of understanding of the business.

Question: I am attending the Nitro the 31st in Roanoke. What is the WCW policy on signs and will WCW be making more trips to Roanoke? This is the first time I remember them being there since June 96.

Bischoff: Our policy on signs is basically if they aren't profane or if they don't obstruct the view of people in the area, that signs are permitted and encouraged. Yes, we do plan to come to the Roanoke area several times in the next 12 months.

Question: Eric, what plans do you have to expand further into Canada? I'd love to see you come back to Toronto...perhaps an international Nitro? Titan has had some luck here recently with good crowds. Also, do you plan to ever get Nitro on live in Toronto/Canada? The one hour version we get is pretty goofy sometimes.

Bischoff: Yes, unfortunately, the one hour version is edited by people outside of WCW...so we have no control over that product once it leaves the United States. We would like to come to Toronto and/or Montreal, and might do so before the end of 1997.

Question: Eric - Has Marty Jannetty's name crossed your mind as a fit for WCW (or the NWO)? Assuming his WWF contract has expired, that is...

Bischoff: His name has not crossed my mind or my desk.

Question: The manager for Mortis seems very educated and quite adept with his interview skills...Can you tell us anything about his & Mortis' background??

Question: Mr. Bischoof, again thanks for joining us. Why did WCW spend all of that money on Dennis Rodman? World Championship Wrestling could have tried to sign real professional wrestlers with that money. Why Rodman?

Bischoff: I say again...go to your nearest newsstand and take a look at all the media that will be talking about NWO and Dennis Rodman, and realize you can't buy that kind of publicity unless you associate with people like Dennis Rodman. Controversy creates cash...the three C's, if you will. There is certainly no one more controversial than Dennis Rodman.

Question: Eric, what are your plans for Ric Flair? I can't think of anybody who's done more for the NWA/WCW over the last 20 years. I think the fans would like to see him go out on top or with a push.

Bischoff: I hope, for Ric Flair's sake, and for the fans of Ric Flair, that he's able to overcome his shoulder injury and to once again be included in the nucleus of what is making WCW so successful. Ric Flair is, without a doubt, one of the most talented individuals in the history of our sport. He has made a tremendous impact on our business. I wish him the best, and like many of you, look forward to seeing him step back in the ring again. That's something, that is up to Ric Flair, and his team of

Question: WHY did you sign Dennis Rodman(if there is any truth to it)??

Bischoff: surgeons, though.

Question: Eric...what factors would influence you to bypass buying New Japan and start your own Japanese promotion?

Bischoff: If we aren't able to negotiate a deal that is mutually beneficial, our only option would be to run in opposition. Japan is a big market, and the NWO and WCW is a significant draw there and we can be tremendously successful. If we can't do it with them, we would be forced to do it without them.

Question: Mr. Bischoff, thanks for joinging the Prodigy members. Who will replace you during your "suspension" as Executive Vice President of World Championship Wrestling? And what will you be doing now that you are suspended?

Bischoff: That's up to Harvey Schiller. I have a meeting with Ted Turner on the 13th, and I'm sure at that time Harvey Schiller's "suspension" will be lifted and I will go about my business as usual. Harvey Schiller took it upon himself to flex his corporate muscle because he knew that Turner Executive Committee members were in attendance, and he decided to grandstand for them.

Bischoff: In the interim, I will spend as much time as I can with Hall, Nash, Hogan, et al. I'll be helping strategizing with them for Uncensored, and will enjoy a little time off.

Question: Mr. Bischoff, if WCW does have a "floating ring" this upcoming Monday Nitro, will we see a "Pool Hell" match where in order for someone to get eliminated, they have to be tossed into the pool?

Bischoff: We haven't discussed that, but it's a great idea. Who knows, we might steal it from you. LOL

Question: Eric we appreciate that you take time to stop buy and chat, I hope this continues. Last I heard Barry Windham and WCW were at odds legally. Would he/could he ever work for WCW again? He always seemed to do well in WCW.

Bischoff: I'm not exactly sure what the legal status is. My understanding is there is no pending legal litigation, but I'm not certain about that. Personally, I've always gotten along well with Barry Windham and believe him to be a talented individual and would not rule out working with him at any time in the future.

Question: Did you get your "floating pool" idea from FMW, when they did it in 1994 at Komazawa Olympic Pool?

Bischoff: No, as a matter of fact, I didn't know they did that. Frankly, the idea of doing NITRO at the club we are doing it at was born our of the promotional minds of TNT who have a Spring Break package with Sony Playstation. They are the ones that suggested the location. We sent a crew down to try to make it work, and this was the solution we came up with to try to present NITRO in a rather limited environment.

Question: Will WCW wrestling be appearing anywhere in the Boston area soon?

Bischoff: I believe we will be in the Fleet Center later this year, but I'm not sure of the date.

Question: It's just been announced that an April NITRO will be held in Philly, the home of ECW... Other than the NWO, the hottest topic on the Internet has been ECW's emergence om WWF's "RAW"... Is the possibility of ECW (or their vocal fans) making themself known at NITRO a concern?

Bischoff: It's of no concern to me at all. As long as they buy a ticket, they are welcome to come.

Question: Mr. Bischoff, you have made the claim that you are thinking about buying New Japan out? How could you possibly do this when TV Asahi is virtually impossible to buy out? How would you buy NJ?

Bischoff: TV Asahi doesn't have, to my knowledge, an ownership position in New Japan. They simply distrubute their program, which is exactly the reason New Japan needs a strong television partner to expand in Japan on cable and satellite, as well as to take them International, which is something they have not had success with.

Question: What do you think of Roddy Piper's team?

Bischoff: I wish him well. They have a lot of heart...a limited amount of talent, and an uphill climb when they step into the ring at Uncensored.

Question: Mr. Bischoff, the Nitro ratings couldn't have been any higher, yet many online fans are complaining about how boring the show has gotten within the last month-- Are you going to add any new ideas to the show?

Bischoff: I think a lot of times online fans like to echo each other's opinions, and they sometimes echo opinions that are in contrast to the opinions of the masses so they feel like smarter 'insiders'. The fact is the formula we have initiated for NITRO has proven to be successful week after week after week. While we always strive to make improvements, we feel we have a winning formula and we aren't inclined to fix something that is not broken.

Question: Eric, thanks again for joining us! Tell me the thinking behind the Roddy Piper segment last week when you had virtual unknowns and John Tenta go out. Wouldn't this have been a good time to reintroduce Ed Leslie and The Nasty Boys?

Bischoff: You would have to ask Roddy Piper what the thinking was at that point. I had little or nothing to do with that decision.

Question: When is WCW going to have a Nitro or houseshow in Los Angeles California? You haven't been out to LA in 3 to 5 years and we would like to see some WCW action again.

Bischoff: I believe we'll be at the Great Western Forum in June for a house show.

Question: NITRO has ended promptly at 10pm Eastern the last two weeks. At the same time, Robin Hood has lost in the ratings both weeks. Are you getting pressure from TNT to do run over to boost Robin Hood's ratings?

Bischoff: No. NITRO actually went off at 10:03 last week. We aren't under any pressure to change anything that we do as relates to Robin Hood.

Question: If Steve Austin was available and not currently under contract with the WWF, would you attempt to sign him?

Bischoff: Steve Austin is a talented individual. Provided he was healthy and available to negotiate, we would be willing to talk to Steve.

Question: When will we see Sting finally wrestle ?

Bischoff: That's up to Sting.

Question: eric, In the first few weeks of the NWO, everytime they would come into the ring, the fans would throw stuff (BEER CANS) into the ring. Were you or anyone else edvery scared for your safety? And do you now stop the fans from throwing things into the ring, caz' it seems like they don't do it nymore

Bischoff: That's a very good question. We were never concerned for our safety. We are, however, concerned for the safety of people sitting at ringside. While people may want to throw empty cups, some fans were throwing things that were becoming more dangerous. They were missing people in the ring and were hitting people at ringside. Because of that, we are sending additional security into the area to prevent fans from throwing things into the ring.

Question: How do you feel about the ECW invasion that happened to the WWF on Raw and what do you think of ECW in general?

Bischoff: As I said earlier, I think the ECW/WWF relationship is the biggest threat to WCW's number 1 position to date. It's the one thing that Vince McMahon has done right in the last 12 months. Time will tell just how big a benefit it will be to the WWF.

Question: Has a decision been made regarding the possible new show on TBS? If so, what night will it air, and what will the format be?

Bischoff: We haven't really had anymore discussions about the show, and we probably won't have anymore until after we see what the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball schedules will be for the next year. Once that happens, we will make a decision as to which night works best and then discuss a format.

Question: : What do you have to say to people who say the only reason you signed Dennis Rodman is because the WWF wanted him?

Bischoff: Bite me.

Question: Eric, in addition to firing the referees, did you also fire the common sense department? The Piper angle is one of the worst I've ever seen. A swimming pool match? That'll probably be worse than I think it will be. And Dennis Rodman? That's just D-U-M-B.

Bischoff: Then do yourself a favor...Watch RAW Monday Night.

Question: Eric - With all your cruiserweights is there any chance to bring back a scaffold match to WCW?

Bischoff: No, I've always hated those kinds of matches. Those kind of gimmick matches only appeal to a small segment of the audience. It's much more a negative than a positive.

Question: Eric, do you know when Kevin Greene will be coming to WCW, in the spring, summer, fall, or when, if he is indeed coming back?

Bischoff: Kevin called me last night while I was out of town. I will be talking to Kevin, probably tomorrow and will be able to answer that question in greater detail Monday or Tuesday.

Question: Eric, how do you feel about Steve Austin? Don't you agree that he has the biggest impact on the WWF?

Bischoff: He's the only impact in the WWF. He's got a great haircut, he can interview, and is probably the most physically talented individual on their roster.

Question: When will Mr. Perfect show up in WCW???

Bischoff: As soon as he is legally able to.

Question: Bob recently stated that Steve Austin and Goldusts contracts would be up in the coming months, Do you have any interests in Austin of Dustin? if not, why?

Bischoff: As stated earlier. If Steve Austin was healthy and legally able to talk to WCW, we would like to talk to him. The same holds true for Dustin Rhodes.

Question: The number of notes (both positive and negative) on the WFS bb on prodigy has swung greatly away from WCW recently. Are you concerned with the lack of interest (caused by some lame Nitros)?

Bischoff: No. The fact is, our ratings are holding up. Our PPV buy rates are holding up. Arena attendance is at an all time high. Merchandise is at an all time high. There is more international interest in WCW than at any time in our history. All indicators are incredibly positive, so I have no reason to second guess anything that is going on.

Question: Have you had any discussions with Dan Severn about joining WCW and what do you think of him?

Bischoff: I've met with Dan Severn a couple of times in the past year. He's a gentleman and a professional. I wish him the best, but at this time I don't see any potential relationship between Dan Severn and WCW.

Question: When can we look forward to Ric Flair and Arn Anderson getting back into the ring, so we can stop watching the almost unbearable Horsemen Light soap opera between Mongo and Jeff Jarrett?

Bischoff: The last I had heard, Ric will be able to wrestle again in May. Arn Anderson will undergo surgery soon and will be out 3-4 months. He has vertebra in his neck that needs to be fused.

Question: Have you considered branching into UFC type PPV's to develop a pool of new name talent? Not to mention additional cash flow.

Bischoff: No. It's much too controversial of an area. Take a look at UFC being banned in several states and there seems to be quite a bit of momentum against them. While I may not agree with that logic, the fact is I can't afford to invest time and money developing something that someone else could pull the plug on overnight.

Question: I believe that the WCW has really pked up an excellen referee, I'm referring to your new hire Mickey J. I've seen him referee many maches in Florida and Tennessee, who's idea was it to bring him into the WCW ?

Bischoff: I'm not really sure. I think he just contacted the booking office and let them know he was available and they started booking him.

Question: Eric, two part question: 1. How much wrestling, other than WCW product, do you get to watch on tape both from here and Japan? 2. What stars not currently signed to WCW would you like to bring in, if possible?

Bischoff: I watch as much WWF as my stomach will bear. I watch about once a month tapes from New Japan. Every now and then when I have the time, I will take a look at ECW tapes. There is really no one person out there that I'd like to have in WCW, although there are a number of people out there that if they were available, I'd like to have. I'd rather not name them so I don't jeopardize their relationship with people they currently work with.

Question: Now that Medusa and Luna are in the WCW, does this mean we can see them along with Jacqueline fighting for the lady's title?

Bischoff: I would assume that would happen in the near future.

Question: Eric, how far down the line until a Sting vs Hollywood Hogan World Title match?

Bischoff: Right now, they both are a part of the NWO. Our philosophy is to not compete amongst ourselves, so it's unlikely you will see that match anytime in the future.

Question: If WCW/Turner has such an aversion to showing blood during matches, why do they apparently not have a problem with their workers appearing with naked women in magazines?

Bischoff: That's a pretty stupid analogy, quite frankly. Number 1, Turner does have a policy about showing blood on it's networks. Number 2, the publication that you are referring to is not a Turner publication. Number 3, individuals under contract to WCW are independent contractors, not indentured servents. We can only control what they do when they are working for WCW.

Bischoff: It would be a little bit like AT&T being upset with one of their employees who happened to frequent a restaurant or nightclub that AT&T doesn't approve of. There is only so much control we have over independent contractors. We only exercise that control over our wrestling product.

Question: Eric - Has Vern Gagne's name crossed your mind as a fit for WCW (he's about the right age to be an NWO member)? How about Moolah?

Bischoff: As a matter of fact, when his name crosses my mind...it's only because of the amount of respect and gratitude I have for him as an individual as someone who not only gave me an opportunity to break into this industry, but also someone who had a tremendous impact on the industry today. Many of the tap talents in this country owe a debt of gratitude to Verne, including Shawn Michaels who got his first real break in the business with the AWA, Curt Hennig, Ric Flair, and too many other top athletes

Bischoff: to name here. So, with all due respect to your stupid comment...I do think of Verne Gagne often, and only with the greatest respect and best wishes for himself and his family.

Question: Forgive me if you've answered this one before, but what is the exact problem the WCW has with the Ultimate Warrior? He would be a great fan draw.

Bischoff: It's not that we would have a problem signing him, assuming he would want to be associated with WCW. After having talked with Jim Helwig approximately a year and a half ago, it's my feeling that he is not committed to a full time wrestling career, or for that matter to a part time wrestling career. He has several other outside interests that he is interested in. Quite frankly, I don't think he could or would make the kind of committment necessary for WCW and Jim Helwig to have a mutually

Bischoff: beneficial relationship.

Question: Are Mortis-Adam Bomb-Bryan Clarke all the same?

Bischoff: No

Question: Your portrayal as a heartless corporate head has been stupendous, but, can you tell us how Randy "Pee Wee" Anderson is doing?

Bischoff: He weighs 15 pounds more than he did 2 weeks ago, so evidently he is still able to shop for groceries. I did notice he has more of a suntan than the last time I saw him. He must be spending time on the pond behind his house fishing for bass. All in all he must be doing ok.

Question: Why did not Ted Turner want to do the firing spot on Nitro? It seemed to lack luster because the fans only really knew one man higher then the Executive VP.

Bischoff: Number 1, Ted Turner was out of town...and is one of my closest personal friends, who I'm sure is thoroughly enjoying the success that I created for WCW and the NWO. As I stated earlier, Schiller came out to flex his corporate muscle and to grandstand in front of the Turner executives in attendance at the Omni. If Schiller could have fired me, he would have, so he chose to invoke some kind of ridiculous suspension. That suspension will be lifted, and I'll continue to go about my business.

Question: Eric, Software companies have beta testers to help debug software. Have you considered recruiting come talented online wrestling fans to suggest story lines?

Bischoff: Actually, online fans do suggest storylines...they just don't know it. I monitor the internet on a semi regular basis. Some of what I read has a tendency to shape the direction of some of the things that we do.

Question: Eric, do you feel that Piper's choice of team members will help increase the buyrate at UnCensored?

Bischoff: Only for those people who want to watch Roddy Piper get his tail kicked.

Question: Mr. Bischoff, as Dusty Rhodes has long been affiliated with WCW, why hasn't there been a successful negotiation to bring Dustin back to WCW ? What type of hold does WWF have on him ?

Bischoff: To the best of my knowledge is the current agreement that Dustin Rhodes is working under, and as I stated earlier...if he is healthy and legally free to negotiate, we'd be more than willing to talk to him. Dustin Rhodes may not want to come to WCW, he may be very happy where he is. I couldn't imagine it, but maybe...

Question: How about a ppv from Hawaii, get visuals and a reward to the wrestlers? Are the Francis family still in wrestling?

Bischoff: I'm not sure if the Francis family is still in Wrestling or not. We are considering a PPV from Hawaii maybe by the end of 1997.

Question: Eric, I think WCW missed the boat when they dropped out of NASCAR racing, there are some good teams that could use the sponsorship. Besides, NASCAR is a great visibility tool, has Turner/Time Warner/WCW considered returning as a NASCAR sponsor?

Bischoff: WCW is involved with Nascar. We have signed a deal with Kyle Petty as our driver. Kyle was supposed to be racing the NWO car in Atlanta this weekend, but unfortunately he blew an engine. We will have a prominent presense on the Busch series of Nascar throughout 1997.

Question: ERIC - did the fact that the WWF was pursuing Dennis Rodman, make it a "higher" priority to sign him yourself???

Bischoff: No, not at all. While I'm sure Vince McMahon will try to create the perception that was the case, because as we know Vince McMahon believes perception is reality...the fact is that Dennis Rodman was associated with WCW over 2 years ago and has been a friend of Hulk Hogan's for a long time. That really had nothing to do with Vince McMahon's perception of reality, that's just reality. Just like what happens to Vince McMahon every Monday night between 8 and 10. That's reality too.

Question: At what point would WCW consider having a "Ric Flair Retirement Tour?" After all, the guy is nearly 50 and there can't be much more left in him that hasn't already been done.

Bischoff: That's a good question. Everytime someone tries to put Ric Flair out to pasture, so to speak....Ric Flair comes back to prove that Ric Flair is still a major player in this industry. Despite his age, Ric Flair still has a lot of fans who like to see him wrestle and hear his interviews...and still enjoy the impact he has. As long as that's the case, from my point of view, Ric Flair will remain a part of WCW as long as Ric Flair wants to, and as long as the fans want him to.

Question: If you were unsuccessful at an attempt to buy New Japan, how much money would it take for you to operate on your own----more or less than a buyout?

Bischoff: I believe it would probably cost less money to run opposition to New Japan Pro Wrestling than it would be for an out right buy/buy inn to New Japan. The risks would be much greater and the opportunity for success much slimmer. That's why I would prefer to buy into the organization or to buy it outright.

Question: How vulnerable do you think Vince McMahon is to being forced to go to a more well- heeled company (a Rupert Murdoch, or the USA Network's parent companies themselves, i.e.) to financially be able to stay in the market with you? Realistically, this has to be more than a possibility.

Bischoff: I have no first hand knowledge of Vince McMahon's current financial condition. Like the rest of us, I only know what I hear. One would have to think given all the cutbacks we heard about last year, up to and including water coolers and massive personnel departures...that there must be some serious streamlining taking place. Beyond what we hear in the media and from people who have worked with them during the past 12-24 months, we really don't know what his current situation is. We have to

Bischoff: believe he will do everything in his power to shore up his company to face what is clearly the most competive environment he has ever had to face.

Bischoff: That's all the time I have tonight. Thanks for all the great questions. We'll do this again soon!