This episode of Table for 3 is called “Good Enemies, Better Friends” featuring John Bradshaw Layfield, Bruce Prichard and Eric Bischoff with a run time of 27:00 on WWE Network. It was taped during WrestleMania weekend and added to WWE Network on July 16. The three men were seated alone in a restaurant with JBL on the left, Prichard in the middle and Bischoff on the right.
It’s an interesting group because you have JBL’s perspective as a World Champion wrestler, Prichard was a key guy helping Vince McMahon for 20 years from the late 1980s to the late 2000s and then Eric Bischoff ran WCW from the late 1990s until near the end of the company in 2001. Plus, Bischoff worked for WWE as an on air talent as the GM of Raw in the mid-2000s, so I’m interested to hear this convo.
They toasted for being together. JBL shoved a roll into a glass of water. JBL mentioned they have done Bruce’s podcast and he didn’t pay them anything. Bischoff said they enjoyed each other’s commentary. JBL started with a fat joke for Bruce and Bruce pretended he was mad, but they laughed about it.
JBL brought up how Bischoff tried to put WWE out of business in the 1990s when Bischoff was running WCW. Bischoff said that he was there to make money. Bischoff said that Vince was trying to make Ted Turner the bad guy trying to put him out of business and Bischoff said they just wanted to be number one. JBL said that Bischoff thinks that Vince was working the boys. Bischoff said absolutely. Bischoff then remarked that he probably did say he wanted to put them out of business, but it didn’t mean he really meant it.
JBL spoke about how WCW was losing about $24 million when Bischoff took over in 1993 and Bischoff noted they made about $350 million about five years later. JBL wondered why Bischoff is not running CNN, Time Warner, CBS or NBC. JBL asked why Bischoff has had incredible success, but nobody has snapped him up to run a network. Bischoff thanked him. Bischoff said that traditional media thinks wrestling doesn’t apply in other forms of entertainment. Bischoff said that wrestling business is similar because it’s about the same things when running a business.
Prichard said when WWE was going through legal issues like the steroid trial, Vince made a decision to have a hiring freeze of talent because he had no idea what the future of the company was. JBL said when he got there in 1995, that was the greatest roster in the history of wrestling. JBL mentioned names like Austin, Triple H, Rock, Razor, Diesel, Bret Shawn and so on, but some of them were not at their peak yet. JBL thinks it was the greatest roster ever. Prichard claimed that a lot of Bischoff’s early moves were done because WWE had no counter and Bischoff replied saying they had no counter due to a lack of creativity. Bischoff said that was bullshit. Bruce said that Eric took WWE’s stars. JBL asked who head of creative was in 1995-96 to which Bruce replied that it was Vince McMahon (true!). JBL was egging Bruce on to suggest Bruce was part of it. Bruce asked Eric who was in charge of creative when WWE passed WCW after WCW was ahead for 83 weeks and Bischoff joked that it was Vince Russo. Bischoff laughed. Bischoff said it was Kevin Sullivan that was running WCW creatively. Prichard gave Russo credit for having a voice that Vince McMahon listened to and Bruce said the people liked it. Bischoff claimed that Russo was just stealing stuff that WCW did. Bruce said that they did it better and got more people to watch them. Bruce said it’s all Vince McMahon with Russo being able to get a new voice in McMahon’s ear. Bischoff said that Russo said the same things over and over again and that made Bischoff want to kill himself. Bischoff was joking, so JBL laughed about that. Bischoff said that Russo was a fresh, obnoxious and incoherent voice.
Analysis: I would argue with JBL about the best WWE roster ever. I think it was 2000 because when you look at that roster, the big names were all time greats, they had a lot of depth in the tag team division and so on. In 1995-96 they weren’t even making money because the talented guys were barely on the radar at that point. By 2000, they were having one of the best years in company history, so I’ll always go with 2000 as the best of times. Another great year was 2003 because if you look at that WrestleMania card, that show had some of the best names ever on it.
Bischoff and Prichard got into a friendly argument with Prichard saying that Bischoff stole their talent because of the schedule (WCW sched was easier). Bischoff said that the talent came over because the momentum was on WCW’s side while WWE was stuck in the mud. Bischoff said that every character was a cartoon character. JBL claimed that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash went to WCW for money. Bischoff said they’re going to talk some shit (bleeped) here. Bischoff said that Hall and Nash told them what they were making in WWE. Bischoff said that what they made in WWE was more than what WCW offered them. Bischoff noted that they came to WCW because they could work 180 days a year as opposed to 300 days a year or 280 days a year. Bischoff said that they guaranteed them a certain amount of money. They argued about this point. Bischoff said that in a year in WCW they made less money or close to the same as what they made in WWE. JBL said they got to work 60% of the time for roughly the same amount of money. That ended that discussion.
Bruce asked why the majority of wrestlers chose WWE and never went back to WCW. JBL said it was right after the Bret Hart screwjob in 1997 because it created two of the best characters ever: Evil Mr. McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin. (Austin was already established by then, but he got his main event push right after the Bret screwjob.) Bruce said that Vince was created a long time before that. Bruce said that Vince thought of himself as only a play by play announcer, so Bruce and Pat Patterson talked about how he was the owner of the company that could be so much more on TV. Bischoff asked what year, Bruce said around the Bret thing and Bischoff noted he did it a year earlier when he went from announcer to the boss with the NWO (that was 1996). Bruce said that Vince did not want to be in the air. Bruce added that Vince was only at ringside at Survivor Series 1997 because he wanted to face Bret. Out of that, he cuts the “Bret screwed Bret” promo, which was shown here. Bruce said that Vince didn’t want to be that evil guy, but the whole Austin scenario was a means to get Austin and Mick Foley a match after WrestleMania. Eric asked what year, Bruce said it was the year where they passed WCW (that would be 1998 after WrestleMania). Bischoff sarcastically asked if Eric didn’t hire Bret and the whole Montreal thing didn’t happen, would he be on top? Prichard said “probably” and they laughed about it.
Analysis: Bischoff did have a point that he started his heel boss character on WCW TV one year before Vince did it on WWE TV, so Bischoff did do it first. I know on Bruce’s podcast he mentioned Vince doing a heel announcer thing on Jerry Lawler Memphis show, but Brince didn’t mention that here.
JBL spoke about how when he started in WWE over 20 years ago, he would hear people saying that Vince McMahon was crazy and losing it. When he was around people this WrestleMania weekend, he heard people saying the same thing. JBL put over Vince saying he pioneered closed circuit, pioneered pay-per-view, look at how big WrestleMania is and Bischoff pointed out cities are bidding over who can host WrestleMania. JBL said that Vince would fly to the next town, he’d talk business until 3am, then he goes to the gym, go the room at 5am, get up at 8, do cardio and go back to work. JBL said if people knew the real story of Vince they would freak out. JBL said he was putting him over and said he was crazy in a good way. Bruce said when he started in WWE in 1987, people thought that WrestleMania 3 was the peak and that was it. Bruce spoke about how he would get close to Vince and Vince would say things like they’re going to go public (stock market), which happened and Vince said they would have their own Network. That obviously happened. Bruce said when they talked about it then, it was before they had the internet and he thought it would be a cable or satellite network. Bruce said that Vince was talking about these things way before they happened and everybody was laughing at him. Bruce said when they went public (around 1999), they sat there with Bruce reminding Vince he told him about it years earlier. JBL asked Bruce how many times Vince fired him: Bruce said twice. The first time was Vince and daughter Stephanie was the second time.
Analysis: That was some good insight into the kind of work ethic that Vince McMahon has from people that know him well. Did they suck up during it? Sure, a bit, but I think they all have admiration for the man that helped make them successful.
Bischoff started the next topic asking them how they became friends. Bischoff noted that they came from different regions and life experiences, so he wondered what made them want to hang out together. JBL noted that Bruce hired him, so he kinda owes Bruce, which led to Bruce laughing out loud. JBL said that Bischoff got him a raise. JBL said that he was working in Japan for five weeks in late 1997 and happened to see Bischoff in an airport bar in Tokyo, Japan, so he had a beer with him. Apparently, people saw Bischoff with JBL in the airport in Tokyo, so WWE offered JBL double the money to stay because a lot of wrestlers were jumping ship at the time. JBL said that Eric literally got him a five year contract and double the money. JBL said that there wasn’t a lot of animosity between the boys. Bischoff said when he got to WWE in 2002, he became friends with Bruce and JBL almost instantly. Bischoff said that he got along with Bruce because Bruce was his producer, so they worked together a lot. Bischoff said a lot of it is because they all came into the business in a unique, interesting way. They weren’t born into it or celebrity athletes that were easily able to migrate. They got there from the bottom up, so that binds them in a way, which is why they respect eachother even though they fight over shit with different opinions. Prichard said he didn’t know JBL when he first met, but they were interested because Bradshaw was big. They hit it off because they were both from Texas and got to know eachother well. Bruce said that JBL was never really Justin Hawk Bradshaw or that APA guy, but he was similar to the later bar drinking APA. Bruce said that he went to Vince and said if they let John be John, he was one of the smartest people Bruce knew and Vince asked the name. Vince asked him a name, so Bruce said John Layfield and JBL noted that Vince always loved the name Bradshaw. Bruce said he always loved JBL and when he went to bat for the JBL character, JBL didn’t let him down. They showed a clip from the first JBL promo on March 25, 2004 edition of Smackdown. A few months later, JBL was WWE Champion.
Prichard said that nobody wanted to work with Bischoff, but Bruce thought it was BS. Prichard talked about how people held a grudge with Bischoff that didn’t know him. Prichard said he relished the opportunity to work with Eric to pick his brain because they did kick WWE’s ass and Eric said that he wants them to make a note of that. Prichard said it was all business between them when Eric came in and then they became friends. Bruce said he got a phone call from his wife about six weeks after Eric started. This would have been summer 2002. Eric said “I got this” and Bruce had to take a call. Bruce said that Eric just stayed there with him. Eric said that whatever he needs, Eric has got his back. Bruce said that’s the night that he got to know Bischoff that he loves and that he calls his friend. Bruce said he loves him and he will never forget that moment. Bischoff said that you can do so many things creatively when you have trust with people you work with and that’s what that was. Bischoff said that they both love the business, loved production and knew what it took to cut a really good promo. Bischoff said when you’re committed to doing the best job you can do, the politics get thrown out the window.
They did cheers with their drinking glasses and that was the show after 27 minutes.
I enjoyed it. I am glad they went 27 minutes, which is about six minutes longer than most Table for 3 shows. You could tell that they are legitimate friends and as they talked in the final segment, they explained the bonds they had. I’m a regular listener of Bruce Prichard’s podcast for two years or whenever it started and it’s a lot of fun. I listen to Eric Bischoff’s podcast as well where he does a good job of talking about what went on in WCW. As for JBL, I used to write for his site Layfield Report a few years ago, so we interacted once in a while. He was always good to me. What I’m getting at is they are three guys that are easy to listen to because they know how to tell an entertaining story even if it’s a dumb story. They are three buddies in their 50s or 60s that still enjoy joking around as if they were 20 or 30 years younger. This didn’t seem forced. They all get along great, so that made it enjoyable to watch.
This was definitely one of my favorite episodes of Table for 3.
Check out the Table for 3 archive here because we have reviewed nearly every episode. I’ll be back for more when the next episode gets posted.