Wednesday, February 28

Eric Bischoff Cites Ted Turner As One Of The Top Five Most Significant Figures In Wrestling History


  • Turner’s role in the Monday Night War and his bold choices elevated the wrestling product and modernized the industry.
  • Turner’s involvement in wrestling predates the Monday Night War, showing his strategic moves to benefit both the network and the promotion.
  • Bischoff made a compelling case for Turner’s significance in wrestling history, as his decisions shaped how WCW would be broadcast and promoted, changing the business forever.

On the November 13 episode of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff and Conrad Thompson devoted their discussion to Ted Turner and particularly his role in pro wrestling history. At first blush, Turner may not seem like he rates among the most important figures in the business. He wasn’t in charge of running the day-to-day operations of a wrestling promotion like Paul Heyman, Verne Gagne, Tony Khan or even Bischoff himself–let alone a Vince McMahon who managed every detail of WWE for decades, even if the company doesn’t need him any longer. Neither was he an in-ring performer, with a claim like Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, or John Cena might make for drawing big business, nor like Bret Hart or Bryan Danielson who accomplished a marked level of artistry via performance in the ring.

RELATED: The Picks For Wrestling’s Mount Rushmore (As Said By Wrestlers)Nonetheless, from the perspective of being a former WCW and WWE executive alike, including having worked directly under Turner, Bischoff proclaimed that his former boss was one of the five most significant figures in wrestling history.

Eric Bischoff Emphasized The Monday Night War

Eric Bischoff Ted Turner Sign

The top claims of Eric Bischoff and Ted Turner alike come down to WCW Nitro and the Monday Night War. Bischoff has been open in the past about the fact that, while he was the general for so much of Nitro’s heyday, Turner was the one who actually declared war. The billionaire famously invited Bischoff into his office to talk about what it would take to actually compete with WWE, and before Bischoff left Turner had given him two hours of live prime-time TV on Monday nights.

RELATED: 10 Harsh Realities About The Monday Night Wars WWE & WCW Fans Need To Realize“So much changed as a result of the Monday Night War and the competition between the two companies,” Bischoff said, before going on to credit this time with “ the elevation of the product across the board.” In looking at the longer term ramifications of Turner setting the course for the war and featuring WCW so prominently on his networks, Bischoff postulated that it was “a big reason WWE was able to go public and eventually sell to Endeavor,” because of how far ratings went up at the time and the ways the business modernized including it becoming the standard to air weekly live television and broadcast pay per view-style events on more or less a monthly basis.

Ted Turner’s Involvement In Wrestling Predated The Monday Night War

WCW Starts And Ted Turner Cropped

While, in framing Ted Turner as such an important figure to the evolution of the business, Eric Bischoff focused on the Monday Night War, Turner got involved in the business years earlier, first in bringing Jim Crockett Promotions programming to his cable networks, then in buying them out to rebrand as World Championship Wrestling. These were highly strategic maneuvers to benefit the network and the wrestling promotion alike in ways Bischoff has previously pointed out relate to the new partnership between The CW and WWE taking shape today.

The pinnacle of Turner’s involvement in wrestling was undoubtedly the Monday Night War, though. Bischoff conceded that Vince McMahon pursuing a national expansion for WWE had to be the number one most significant business move in wrestling history, but suggested that Turner’s move toward competition in the 1990s was a close second in that conversation.

The question of where Ted Turner belongs in a conversation of wrestling’s most important figures will always be subjective. It’s little wonder Eric Bischoff would consider him toward the tip-top of the list given his own history in wrestling and the doors Turner opened for him. Nonetheless, Bischoff made a compelling case that there was a time when the buck stopped with Turner himself on how WCW would broadcast and be promoted. The bold choices Turner made changed the business forever.

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