In a wild bit of breaking news from Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff have been named as Executive Directors of WWE Raw and SmackDown respectively. Both will report to Vince McMahon and SI’s story indicates that there are “no plans at the current time for this to be introduced as part of a TV storyline.” Hmm, we’ll see.
This is bombshell news; while Heyman has had an on-screen role in recent years as Brock Lesnar’s manager, Bischoff has been gone from the company save for spot appearances for over a decade. Bischoff most recently has been a co-host with Conrad Thompson on the 83 Weeks podcast recalling the time when WCW Nitro was beating Raw.
WWE’s television ratings have been slouching, their attendance for live events (except for a very successful WrestleMania outside New York) has been even worse, and there has not been a ton of buzz for the PPV events outside of Mania of late.
Bischoff and Heyman, of course, both ran wrestling companies — WCW and ECW — in the 1990’s, and it’s never truly astonishing when WWE harkens back to pro wrestling’s past. Nonetheless, this is an any news is good news situation as the product needs a shot in the arm. Mark me down as optimistic this will lead to an improvement as WWE works to stave off competition from the upstart AEW, and also moves SmackDown to FOX Sports this Fall.
Here is my podcast with Bischoff from last month, in which we discussed the looming AEW competition, the ways WWE storytelling could be more effective, and the halcyon days of WCW: