They say two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of time. So, starting next week, we’re going to watch wrestling like it’s 1999.
Maybe Prince was onto something …
WWE announced on Thursday that it had hired Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff in executive roles, tabbing Heyman as the executive director of RAW and Bischoff as the executive director of SmackDown.
According to PWInsider, which is one of many outlets reporting on this story, Heyman and Bischoff will oversee every aspect of their television series and will report directly to Vince McMahon.
“They are the top of the pyramid,” PWInsider’s Mike Johnson wrote.
For wrestling fans over 30 years old, this will bring back memories of the Monday Night Wars, when McMahon ran WWE, Bischoff ran WCW and Heyman ran ECW … the latter two companies closed in 2001.
Heyman has been reportedly involved in WWE creative for a few months and he had an offer on the table to become a top member of the creative team back in February. Bischoff’s deal came about over the last few weeks.
Bischoff, in overseeing SmackDown, will also work directly with executives from FOX, where SmackDown will move to beginning this fall.
WWE has been desperate for a creative shakeup in recent months, with live attendance circling the drain (only 4,500 paid to see a PPV live this past weekend) and ratings have hit record lows. The hiring of Bischoff and Heyman in creative and executive roles could jolt some lapsed fans, who turned off the product, back into watching WWE again.
The move also keeps Heyman and Bischoff — two seasoned television professionals — away from the upstart AEW promotion, which will begin airing on TNT this fall and will run its second show this weekend, streaming on Bleacher Report Live for free.
They key to these hirings being successful is how much meddling Vince McMahon has with their day-to-day tasks. If Bischoff and Heyman are truly allowed to run their shows, this could be a huge win for WWE, with the brands finally feeling different instead of one long singular show that runs throughout Monday and Tuesday nights.
If Vince rips up their formats the afternoon of shows and demands they re-write everything, then nothing will change and the sterile WWE product, written for an audience of one, won’t get much better at all.
However, with McMahon needing to dedicate more time to his new XFL football venture, it would make sense that he wants two accomplished pros in spots to run RAW and SmackDown.