Eric Bischoff may have never produced The Rock, but that doesn’t mean the two don’t know their stuff about putting on a television program in addition to the electric allure that goes with working in front of a live crowd.
In the latest episode of 83 Weeks, Bischoff spoke with Conrad Thompson about his involvement with debuting SmackDown on FOX one year ago and talked about the vibes going on before the show was set to kick off. Bischoff did state that he was more or less isolated focusing on his job as creative director, but did state there was definitely an overall positive atmosphere. There did happen to be a bit of nerves when it came to The Rock as he was the man to kick off the festivities. The People’s Champ was slated for a 12-minute segment to start the show, but there was the uncertainty of the moment as if he could run over that time causing a good deal of the program’s plans to re-shift.
“The mood and the feeling was very high. It was very positive. The show went about as flawlessly as it could go. There was a lot of nervousness about Rock. Now I’ve never produced Rock or work directly with him as a producer. I’ve only worked with him briefly for a blink of an eye as an on-camera talent, but everybody was concerned that Rock was going to take his 12-minute promo and turn it into a 30-minute promo which as we discussed on this show before just collapse all kinds of other plans and other promos and length of match, it could be a real disaster when that happens. So it was kind of like ‘Okay, he’s gonna open up the show, let’s keep our fingers crossed,’ and I think he came within a minute or two of his allotted time so once that major piece of business was taken care of and Rock came out and energized the audience and did what everybody expected The Rock to do and once he exited the building, then it was business as usual. It was exciting ‘business as usual’ and there was a lot more pressure and anticipation, but nothing out of the ordinary.”
Conrad brought up the fact that wrestling fans tend to take for granted that Rock is arguably the biggest movie star in the world so who would have told him to stick to the time if he decided to electrify Los Angeles a little longer than planned.
“Nobody,” Bischoff said with a laugh. “Nobody and that was abundantly clear. Now there may be people who will talk like they can get him being The Rock to do what they want him to do and hold his feet to the fire. You can talk all the talk you want to talk, but you ain’t walking it and everybody knew that.,” he said.
And even though Eric didn’t speak to Rock directly, he did know that concern was communicated to hi,.
“A lot of time was spent communicating with Rock (not by me, by the way, I didn’t talk directly to him), but there was a lot of talk and discussion about how important it was to hit this time. Rock’s in the movie business, he’s in the television industry as a producer. He understands it, but then as a talent, especially one that has so much passion and fire and loves going out and entertaining the crowd and you can get 17,000 people in the palm of his hand by the way he looks at a camera, it’s really hard to go out as a performer to go out there and discipline yourself to stick to 20 minutes or 22 minutes or whatever they give you when it’s just so much fun (laughs), but like I said, once it was over and Rock’s segment was out of the way, then it calmed down and it was business as usual.”
(Transcription credit should go to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone)
There’s so much more covered in this episode as Conrad and Eric cover all things from that monumental program of pro wrestling debuting weekly on broadcast television you can hear it all below: