Throughout the history of pro wrestling bookers and promoters have always tried to come up with new, creative and innovative ideas to generate interest in their product. Some ideas have not only succeeded…but flourished. Others were DOA from the get go. Then there are those ideas which initially were innovative but, for various reasons, faded away. Those are the focus of this latest series of posts titled ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’.
In late June of 2019, WWE made a major announcement, as it created two new positions in the company’s front office. The titles were ‘Executive Director’ of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown. The two people hired for the newly created positions were Paul Heyman who would take Raw and Eric Bischoff who was assigned Smackdown. While both men were put in charge of the red and blue brands respectively, they would each have to answer to WWE’s CEO Vince McMahon.
Both Heyman and Bischoff certainly had the credentials to be in the positions they were hired for.
Paul Heyman certainly brought a wealth of knowledge to the table as not only the former owner and booker of Extreme Championship Wrestling, but Heyman worked previously in WWE creative on Smackdown, for WWE’s version of ECW and in WWE’s developmental organization Ohio Valley Wrestling. All of that experience has been met with success, but also some failure as well. At times, it seemed as if Heyman and Vince never truly saw eye to eye on how to present a pro wrestling/sports entertainment show. Each time, Heyman was removed of his creative power in the company.
Eric Bischoff was definitely the surprise hire by WWE for this new venture. Bischoff certainly had his own resume, where he defeated Vince McMahon in the much ballyhooed Monday Night Wars. For 83 consecutive weeks, Bischoff led World Championship Wrestling to victory over his main rive the then WWF. Of course, that didn’t last and eventually Bischoff was fired and rehired by WCW in a circus that became of that company. Ultimately, Bischoff tried to purchase WCW, but could not seal the deal and McMahon swooped in and bought it. Bischoff would be hired by WWE, but not in a creative role…just as an on air personality. Bischoff’s hiring, was the first time he was allowed to create storylines behind the scenes.
The announcement of these new positions definitely created a large and much needed buzz for WWE. Social media really saw a huge increase in activity talking about Paul Heyman, Eric Bischoff and WWE in general. According to statistics generated by a company called ListenFirst…tweets talking about Heyman increased by over 294% and tweets talking about Bischoff drastically increased by over 2,876%. The buzz was real and the excitement for some new ideas and fresh minds working with the product intrigued many fans.
It all on paper, seemed like a great collaboration of once proven bookers and promoters to each have a brand to oversee and make better. Of course, this was still WWE and still controlled by Vince McMahon. After just four months on the job, Eric Bischoff was the first domino to fall. He was let go which was just as shocking as his initial hiring. The reason, according to Bischoff himself, was that he never adapted to the role as was expected by Vince. It was a brand new position for every one involved, but Bischoff admitted a large part of the failure fell on him not being able to work within an already built system. Bischoff was replaced by longtime McMahon confidant…Bruce Prichard.
Paul Heyman’s run lasted a bit longer, as he lasted as Executive Director of Raw for over a year. He too, however was eventually removed and replaced by…you guessed it…Bruce Prichard. Heyman insisted his removal from that position did not cause friction as has happened previous times. Heyman said…
“I’ve been in a similar role when Vince was not happy with me and it’s a miserable existence. I didn’t want it and apparently on that day on that given time and given moment, Vince didn’t wake up that morning thanking whatever deity he subscribes to that Paul Heyman was in charge of Raw.
We left with a smile, a handshake, and a hug. Absolutely no harsh feelings and actually better feelings about each other because of the way that it ended because it’s ended miserably before…My run in terms of serving at the pleasure of the chairman was up and then this opportunity presented itself both for me, for Roman Reigns and for WWE and we all jumped on it.”
The reports on Heyman’s dismissal were apparently due to the Covid -19 pandemic and no shows being done in front of a live audience. McMahon wanted to streamline creative and therefore took Heyman out of the position.
So after much hoopla and excitement for the initial announcement of co Executive Directors being helmed by the former ECW head and the former WCW honcho…nothing really productive came out of the experiment. It all ended up being much of the same before those positions were created.