After challenging Vince McMahon to fight him at a WCW pay-per-view in 1998, Eric Bischoff has revealed the preparations he had made in the event of the WWE Chairman taking him up on it.
The challenge came in the midst of the Monday Night Wars, mere weeks after WWE had defeated WCW in the ratings for the first time in almost two years. Bischoff, then the WCW President, tried to goad McMahon into facing him in a match at Slamboree 1998. In the end, McMahon did not respond to the challenge, but Bischoff had nonetheless made plans in case he did appear at the event.
Speaking Gerald Brisco and JBL on their ‘Stories With Brisco And Bradshaw‘ podcast, Bischoff explained that he wasn’t intimidated by McMahon at the time, and even the thought of getting beat didn’t deter him.
“I’ve I’d known Vince then the way I know Vince now I might have approached things differently because he is kind of a crazy b*stard. But at the time to me, he was just a big jacked-up, muscled-up gym guy. Not to sound like a tough guy because that sh*ts way behind me but I bounced in a bar in downtown Chicago, I’ve fought guys bigger and stronger than me a lot in my life. […] I wasn’t afraid of Vince at all, I wasn’t intimidated by him and mostly because my thinking was ‘look if he shows up whether he kicks my ass or it goes the other way, I don’t really care because it’s gonna be huge!’
“I had a dressing room for him, nameplate on the door. I instructed Doug Dillinger the head of security and the security team ‘if they show up, escort them to the room like any other celebrity, provide them with every courtesy that we would anybody else that was a celebrity, take care of them.’”
Gerald Brisco was close to McMahon at the time of the incident, and gave his perspective of how people reacted to the challenge in WWE.
“[Vince] was p*ssed off as hell, I was right there when it happened. Now you got his attention Eric, I mean Vince didn’t watch the show of course but he had Howard Finkel [watch WCW Nitro]. On Tuesday mornings we used to get these packets of paper and it had segment by segment, move by move – Howard Finkel would stay up all night long making up these notes so the next day we knew exactly everything that was on that show.
“When they brought that script in and it said ‘Eric Bischoff challenged you’ of course it spread across the production meeting like wildfire. ‘What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do?!’ Vince was hot, he was hot about it, it was embarrassing to him but there was no way he was gonna go down there because what good is it gonna do? [Vince] wanted to go and hinted like he wanted to go and was going to go but there was nobody that was going to let him go.”
Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon never did have a match in the ring, although in the years following WCW’s demise, ‘Easy E’ did join WWE and worked there as an on-screen character for several years. His first run in the company ended in 2005 when Vince McMahon held a ‘trial’ to hold him to account for his nefarious actions as the General Manager of Raw. The trial resulted in Bischoff being fired and Vince McMahon throwing him into the back of a garbage truck.
H/T to Inside The Ropes for the above transcription.