Eric Bischoff

Eric Bischoff On If A John Cena Heel Turn Would Have Been As Big As Hulk Hogan’s Heel Turn

WWE Hall of Famer and former WCW President Eric Bischoff recently took to his 83 Weeks podcast, where he discussed a number of topics such as if a heel turn from WWE legend and the 16-time World Champion John Cena would have been as big and would have had the same impact as WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan’s heel turn when the nWo was first created.

Eric Bischoff said:

“You know, I can’t fantasy book on this show, it just takes too much time, but do I think Cena’s heel turn would have had the same impact of Hogan’s? I think it would have been on the same level, in many aspects, I think in terms of the television audience and the reaction to it and the impact that it could have had on business going forward. I think there were very many similarities, and, in some respects, I think it could have had as much or possibly more of an impact in some ways because WWE was operating at such a high level at that point and the audience was at its peak or close to it. But Hulk Hogan was the first. I mean Hulk Hogan became the first larger than life mainstream professional wrestler. Cover of Sports Illustrated. Johnny Carson. Rocky. None of those things happened before that. Wrestling went during that period of time had transitioned from being this regional kind of low budget, smoky, dingy, venue, you know, television product to being something that looked amazing. The production values. The size of the audience. The costuming. The characters. When Vince McMahon first took WWF back in the 80s to that next step and became that national promotional vis-a-vis cable, that was an amazing time and Hulk Hogan was the focal point of that.”

“When Hulk established his character that strongly and maintained it for such a long period of time, all the way up until the day that he turned heel, that heel turn affected an audience that had been watching that character for what 20-25 years at that point. I think John and WWE would have had tremendous amount of success, in some cases perhaps and I’m talking about financially now because of merchandise and things like that, that’s an example of something that WWE didn’t have in place to the extent that it could have, certainly in comparison to WCW. Hulk Hogan’s turn had a tremendous impact on merch at WCW because we didn’t have any merch at that point. From a financial perspective, yes, we did have merchandise, we sold t-shirts and things like that, but that’s not the same thing as having a retail partnership with Walmart. And that’s an example of a way that WWE would have surpassed the Hulk Hogan heel turn in that category. But in terms of culturally, because Hulk had touched so many different generations of audience, in such a profound way, that I don’t think had Cena turned heel that to this day the same amount of people would have felt this strongly about it. Because when Hulk Hogan turned heel, I saw adults crying, that’s profound.”

“When you go back and watch that, and I was in a crowd, you know, I wanted to watch it from the cheap seats, and I wasn’t down at ringside close enough to actually see some of the people crying around ringside, but I did after the fact. There were adults, there were children that were so upset they had tears running down their face. When you can do something that makes you feel, that’s why we’re still talking about that angle and that storyline, because more than anything up until that point and possibly anything that have happened since, I’ve never seen anything create that type of emotion. Where people were so invested in the character and the story that when the outcome that we saw, this unexpected outcome happened, people literally were driven to tears, that’s getting people to invest, that’s the magic that I talk about, that I really kind of learned from my experience working with Verne Gagne. Keep it real. Allow people to believe. Don’t feel the need as an announcer to be so smart and subtly kind of lay things out in such a way that it actually deflects or minimizes the ability of the audience to get sucked into the story. It’s a nuance, but it’s an important one.”

You can check out Eric Bischoff’s comments at this link. H/T to WrestlingHeadlines for transcribing the above quotes.

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