– Speaking on the latest 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff discussed the infamous Ready to Rumble film and how he was originally set to appear in it. Ready to Rumble was the Warner Bros. comedy about a wrestling fan (David Arquette) who helps his favorite wrestler, played by Oliver Platt, get his life back together and win back the WCW World Heavyweight Championship after being screwed out of it by the fictional CEO Titus Sinclair (Joe Pantoliano).
The film has several WCW stars playing themselves including Diamond Dallas Page, Goldberg, Sting, Booker T and others, and was a critical and commercial bomb. The film made just $12.5 million against a $25 million budget plus marketing and other costs. It also was how David Arquette became WCW World Heavyweight Champion in real life, which is considered one of the lowest points of WCW as it was spiraling downward. Bischoff recalled the genesis of the project and how he was going to play himself before he was removed from his position and sent home. Highlights from the discussion, and the full podcast, are below:
On how the movie came about: “Well we were approached by Warner Bros., a guy by the name of Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Who at the time was a young guy, he was about my age. Maybe a little younger than me at the time. He was — if he wasn’t the head of Warner Pictures at that time, he was going to be very, very soon. And went on, after this movie actually — despite the box office for this project — went on to become head of worldwide pictures at Warner Studios. So Lorenzo had — and still has, he’s probably one of the most prolific producers in Hollywood right now. Or in the world right now, for that matter. He was very involved in The Matrix movies, bringing that franchise to life. He acquired the rights to the Harry Potter books, which led to the movies that we’re all familiar with. So, very very successful guy. And Lorenzo came to me and said, ‘Hey, Warner Bros. would like to do this project, we’d like to use a lot of your wrestlers, we think wrestling is really a phenomenon.’ And obviously, it was. We had done a lot of great things.”
On when the project started: “They came to me, I think, about early ’98, is when they first came to me. And that’s when the project initiated. And [we] had several meetings, and they brought in a director by the name of Brian Robbins, who’s another extremely successful producer in Hollywood. I think he went on to become the head of Nickelodeon TV or something like that. But my first meeting was with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and after that I met with Brian Robbins, and they got to work and put together a script.”
On initially being set to appear in the film: “And while I was — they wanted me to play myself in the movie, which is you know, they wanted a lot of the talent in WCW to play roles within the movie. That was their idea, not my idea. I wasn’t going to Warner Bros. and asking them to make a movie about wrestling, and by the way put all my friends in. Which is probably the way it was reported. They literally came to us with an idea, and they wanted as many characters in the movie as they could cast that were actually part of the WCW roster. So I was initially going to play myself in that role. I think the role was probably the role that Joey Pantoliano played was probably an expanded role given the nature of his screen credits and so forth, and his abilities. My role probably would have been reduced quite a bit. But that was the original plan.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.