Near the very beginning of his memoirs, Bischoff explains his hatred for wrestling books; "most are bitter, self-serving revisionist history at best—and monuments to bullshit at their worst." I completely agree.
"Controversy Creates Cash" itself is a perfect example.
However, unlike similar works of questionable veracity, it's even more poorly written and edited, while lacking the funny anecdotes that are a staple of the genre.
"Controversy Creates Cash" is a complete autobiography. Bischoff starts off describing his early childhood in Detroit, his jobs as a landscaper, karate instructor, frozen meat salesman, and briefly, fashion model. Then, he moves on to his lucky break working for Verne Gagne and the AWA before moving on to the job he is most famous for, president of WCW.
During that time, WCW eclipsed the WWF in popularity from 1996 to mid-1998, and then crashed so catastrophically that it was bought out by WWF in 2001.
The first striking element of the book is how atrocious the writing is. Not only are there frequent grammar and syntax errors, but there is constant word repetition and clumsy, amateurish description. Even on the factual side, the editing is horrible, containing both basic mistakes and uncertainty in Eric's own recollections.
I'm not sure who should be blamed for this more, Bischoff or his ghostwriter.
On the editing front, wrestler Kevin Wacholz is referred to as "Nails", when his actual wrestling name is "Nailz". In a more egregious example, Japanese legend "Jushin Liger" is referred to as "Justin Liger". The "Steiners" are misspelled as "Stemers".
Passages likeIt was miserable. I was pretty miserable, too.The company sank into in a downward spiral.But I did notice her instantly. She was hot. Really hot. And this was in a room full of very attractive people.
(Four sentences to convey less information than most books do in one)Anyway a lot of those guys who made it big later on came from the AWA and made it big in Minneapolis first.
(Yes, there is a missing comma)I think after Barry had accumulated a number, of wrestlers, he got greedy.
(Yes, there is an extra comma)
Beginning of paragraph; I got a big kick out of working with him.
End of that same paragraph; He got a big kick out of it, and I got a big kick out of it.
are just a few of the many horrid examples in the book.
In terms of entertainment, the work also disappoints. Bischoff has no ability for recounting humorous events he has experienced.
A good example is a short section entitled "Pranks". It mentions that wrestler Johnny Grunge drove David Crockett's car to a place where the latter couldn't find it. Perhaps a funny story if told by someone else, but in Bischoff's case, there is no set-up (the first couple of lines tell us immediately what happened), and absolutely no punchline. Instead, the last line reads That said, he was pretty uptight, and a guy like Johnny Grunge stealing his truck—well, it was pretty funny.
If you say so, Eric!
Another terrible example of teasing a non-story was this section; I said earlier that I wasn’t going to talk about some of the crazy shit guys did backstage, and I’m not going to start now, but working with Kerry Von Erich was interesting. He was a lunatic. Kerry was definitely “Kerry” in quotes.
Readers hoping for ribald road stories and ribs (practical jokes in wrestling lingo) will find nothing here.
In other instances, Bischoff seems unwilling to share what he knows, even though he alludes to the problem, or even devotes an entire section to it. For instance, he mentions that he was asked by Brad Siegel, the head of TNT, to give a job to his niece Emily Siegel. After Bischoff did so, she ended up being a headache, and was somehow connected to wrestler Scott Hall, who was suffering from substance abuse issues.
Are we ever told the precise nature of the relationship? No. Do we learn any specifics about how she was a headache? No.
Instead, Bischoff simply ends the section there, offering no more details.
But what about wrestling information itself? That insider knowledge that made many readers, myself included, pick up the book in the first place?
Sadly, this is the area where the book is the absolute worst. Throughout "Controversy Creates Cash", Bischoff has a very clear antagonist. Those damn dirtsheets. (Insider wrestling newsletters)
Apparently, people criticizing him on the Internet are the most evil adversaries he has ever dealt with. They are a constant throughout all 400 pages of the book; any time that Bischoff details a creative decision, he pairs it with an insult at all those idiot dirtsheet writers.
In some cases, the insults are juvenile;It’s amazing how an industry that has grown as large as ours was influenced so adversely by what is nothing more than a group of nerds who probably couldn’t get or hold a job doing anything else.
or That’s one of the reasons the parasitic life forms that call themselves writers and editors have been able to make a living off dirtsheets.
In other instances, they are deliciously ironic, like when he insults Wrestling Observer founder David Meltzer;The problem is, those 35,000 words are grammatically incorrect, run-on sentences that read like a fifth-grader wrote them.
By the way, I have read Meltzer's works, and despite being an Internet newsletter, not an edited, published book, are far better written than Eric's autobiography.
Why is Bischoff so hung up on these guys, anyways? Why does he care in the slightest? For a self-anointed pro-wrestling visionary, isn't their criticism utterly inconsequential and irrelevant?!
When he's not attacking dirtsheet writers, Bischoff is constantly justifying his actions and crediting himself on being a fantastic wrestling mind, even when it's clear a decision was wrong. Look, I don't deny that Bischoff had some good ideas, but his portrayal is one-sided in most cases.
For instance, as soon as he was made president of WCW, Bischoff prides himself on making every employee count the number of pencils they used. Since when is being an uptight skinflint a virtue? In books on business leadership, such decisions are usually treated with scorn, as they have the effect of lowering morale while reducing expenses by a miniscule amount.
In other words, a major cost for very little benefit.
Bischoff feels that under his regime, WCW went from a boring, antiquated product to being hip, young, and sophisticated. While there is a certain degree of truth to that, notice the contradiction when he justifies giving wrestler Hulk Hogan complete creative control over any booking that affected his character; So if there was a jump ball, and the parties couldn’t agree, I bet on Hogan. Hogan had a better track record, and fell in line with the look and feel our company needed.
Is this a joke, Eric? A wrestler in his late 40s who defined the mid-80s era was the best person to define the "look and feel" of a wrestling company in the late 90s?
The worst self-aggrandizing bullshit comes when he credits himself with the creation of the Degeneration X stable in competing company WWF.
Apparently, the only reason this occurred is because he fired wrestler Sean Waltman, who then went over to WWF, and told his buddies in the Kliq, Shawn Michaels and Triple H, that they could make a killing with this group.
Oh, and on top of this, the entirety of WWE's Attitude Era, including Stone Cold to the Rock, was nothing more than the WWF copying what WCW started.
While I don't dispute that the massive competition at the time benefited the WWF creatively, Eric takes the lion's share of the credit for ideas he had absolutely no part in!
As legendary manager JJ Dillon once noted about Bischoff, his greatest gift is his ability to promote himself. Small wonder, considering he has been a salesman in one form or another all his life.
Throughout all this, however, there is one genuinely positive element of the book. I am in complete agreement with Bischoff when he mentions the AOL Time Warner merger, and that it meant an annoying level of oversight to his every decision. Idiot corporate suits who knew nothing about wrestling (and in fact, couldn't even tell Eric when it was on, since they never watched their own product!) would dictate to him a plethora of creative decisions. Including many things Bischoff could and couldn't do.
While there are ways to deal with such people, and it didn't completely cripple WCW to the extent Bischoff claims, it was indeed a major handicap, and certainly not his fault. I agree with him there.
However, Bischoff also blames or defends decisions that were entirely his fault.
For instance, he is still in denial about the Pillman debacle, where Brian Pillman basically tricked Bischoff into releasing him from his contract so they could fool the dirtsheets. (Taking advantage of Bischoff's mania)
He also takes zero responsibility for WCW's revolving door of head bookers, as they went from Bill Watts to Ole Anderson to Dusty Rhodes to Ric Flair to Kevin Sullivan in a span of just a few years. Everyone starting with Ole was appointed there by Bischoff.
Meanwhile, Bischoff does his utmost to utterly discredit and insult most of his political enemies.
The major source of his hatred is Bill Watts, followed closely by Jim Ross. In both cases, Bischoff is highly unfair and one-sided in portraying both men.
Yes, Watts was old-school and rigid, but he did make money as a booker back in the day, and had a great understanding for constructing matches, if not their presentation. This would be more acceptable if Bischoff at least had anything new to say about either, besides the standard belly-aching about them being old, antiquated, and mean to him.
Yet, it's also noteworthy to consider all the episodes Bischoff conveniently avoids discussing in his book.
There is no mention of the disastrous Fingerpoke of Doom, the awful Hogan-Warrior PPV, or skinny actor David Arquette winning the WCW world championship.
The first two events happened under Bischoff and were massive blows to WCW. The third event was booked by Vince Russo, but should have been enough to convince Bischoff to fire the guy when he returned.
He also does an impressive job of white-washing the truth when discussing Bret Hart. Eric mentions Bret Hart becoming injured and then retiring a few years after signing with WCW, but never mentions the nature of that injury.
That's because the injury occurred from a very stiff head kick by the face of WCW, Bill Goldberg. Goldberg was Bischoff's crown jewel, and he decided to push him to the moon despite the former football player being very "green" (new and inexperienced) as an in-ring performer.
The result was that Goldberg injured a bunch of opponents during his wrestling days, (he broke Mexican wrestler La Parka's ribs with a "spear", essentially a football tackle) but none more famously than when he scrambled Bret Hart's brains.
Can't have the truth reflect badly on himself, though.
Most sickeningly, Eric refers to Ed Ferrera as a "good guy". Nevermind that he was a Vince Russo flunky (who even Bischoff heaps scorn upon), this is the brains behind the disgusting "Oklahoma" gimmick.
Essentially, Ferrera thought it would be very funny to dress up as and mimic former WCW commentator Jim Ross, who was then working for WWF. Ross suffers from Bell's Palsy, which means he has temporary facial paralysis and occasionally stutters. Ferrera decided to mock this disease ruthlessly.
Now, it's one thing to make fun of rival wrestlers. That's a time-honored tradition that often generates increased interest. But making fun of rival commentators serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. And making fun of an unfortunate medical condition one has no control over is detestable.
I know Bischoff hates Jim Ross, but condoning Ferrera's stunt is reprehensible.
In conclusion, Bischoff's autobiography is not only a self-serving, revisionist monument to bullshit, it's also deathly dull and pathetically written.