In the latest episode of 83 Weeks about Great American Bash 1999, Eric Bischoff addressed a report from the Observer at the time that said that Bischoff had held a meeting with some of the wrestlers prior to the May 27th, 1999 edition of Nitro where he told them that WCW was going to focus the company around 10 wrestlers (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, DDP, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Scott Hall, Sting, Roddy Piper, and Bret Hart) and that everyone else would have to wait for their push. All of those rumored 10 wrestlers were over 40 at the time besides Goldberg. Bischoff then did an interview on Nitro that night where he admitted to WCW’s struggles and the plan to build the company around certain wrestlers.
Of course, many of those 10 wrestlers did not work house shows, so WCW planned to only have two or three of those 10 wrestlers (Flair DDP, and sometimes Goldberg and Sting) work house shows, and then supplement the house shows with Chris Benoit, Saturn, Raven, Konan, Dean Malenko, and Rey Mysterio, even though those guys would not be getting major pushes. It was rumored at the time that this was all Hulk Hogan’s idea, as he felt those 10 wrestlers were the only ones who could draw money. Bischoff, according to the report, had told one of the second group of wrestlers that they had pushed the younger guys but that it didn’t work, so they had to go back to the established names.
On if the meeting happened and he told the wrestlers he was going to build WCW around 10 guys: “Do I remember specifically that meeting and having that conversation? No. But again, you covered a lot of ground there so it’s impossible for me to respond to all of it accurately. Were we in a tough situation where I had to communicate to the talent and to the staff, not just to the talent, that we’ve got to come up with a strategy that we know is going to work? Sure. I’ll take his [Dave Meltzer] recollection of it. If I did it on an interview on Nitro, it’s public record and we can all go back and watch it and figure out what the hell I said. But again, as Dave so often does, he weaves his own agenda which is anti-Hogan, anti-WCW, clearly anti-Eric Bischoff, he weaves so much of his own personal inadequacies into his commentary about a given situation, some of it being true, some of it, just, Dave having, adequacy issues, and feeling the need to project his agenda. It’s hard for me to not get defensive about certain things like this.”
On how WCW did push young guys: “We can talk long and hard about Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, all these young guys, who were really ascending in their careers at this point, and as a result of it, ended up being top stars in WWE, and in Jericho’s case, now in AEW. It’s one thing to say ‘oh he’s not pushing young guys.’ It’s another thing to go back and say ‘let’s go back and look at what happened between 1997 and 2000.’ Where did these guys who became household names fucking come from? They didn’t pop up out of the goddamn ground. They didn’t get dropped off from a fricking space ship. They got their push, they got exposure. Rey Mysterio especially is a prime example. As well as Chris Jericho and others that we can point to during this window of time where presumably I wasn’t giving the young guys their push. The only other comment I want to make while I have my fists up ready to throw a punch, is ‘and all of this strategy came from Hulk Hogan.’ Dave Meltzer is a fucking putz. He has no idea what he was talking about then, as he has no idea, for the most part, what he’s talking about now, when it comes to this type of speculation and agenda-driven tripe.”
If using any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.