Photo via Flickr.
It's not often pro wrestling promotions have a guaranteed money winning angle dropped into their laps. So when it happens, naturally, you would think they would be quick to jump on it, like flies to shit.
Not in this instance.
There's little arguing that the Monday Night Wars in the late 1990s took the pro wrestling industry to new heights. When the World Wrestling Federation, lead by Vince McMahon, was battling it out with World Championship Wrestling, led by Eric Bischoff, the business couldn't have been healthier ... so to speak.
Ratings were through the roof, as both companies pushed each other to be better creatively. And fans reaped the benefits.
The rivalry between the two companies was both real and imagined. Although McMahon is ultra competitive and always had it in his mind that he would ultimately triumph, he was focused more on bettering his own product ... for the most part. He would take shots at the competition every now and again but once he got away from doing that, the WWF took off. Bischoff, meanwhile, had it in his head that he had to bury the WWF at every turn and he wouldn't stop until he had destroyed McMahon and his entire organization.
This led to a lot of underhanded tactics on Bischoff's part. From signing every last bit of talent he could get his hands on, to dropping the WWF women's championship in the trash on live television, to giving away results of taped editions of Monday Night Raw, Bischoff was out for blood and he played for keeps. When WCW was eventually overrun, he was ousted from power but gone from the company before it collapsed underneath its own weight.
Still, his face was the most recognizable as the man who led the charge against WWF in the Monday Night Wars. Which is why his inevitable signing with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) would be such a big deal.
Except it wasn't.
It's hard to imagine what Vince and his creative team were thinking. After McMahon bought out WCW and botched the Invasion storyline so thoroughly and completely, all that was left was to bring in the New World Order (NWO), Bischoff's greatest creation. He did that, too, but it was also a massive flop and was discontinued, ironically enough, on the very same day Bischoff made his debut on Raw on this date in WWE history (July 15, 2002).
The entire deal was dept secret, or at least as secret as something as big as this can be kept. McMahon promised to announce a new General Manager of Raw on this date and for whatever reason, they essentially gave away that it would be Bischoff during a backstage segment with Booker T.
Still, it was quite the shock when Vince McMahon came out to the ramp and announced as much.
"You know you don't realize this but it takes a real son of a bitch to be successful in this business. So from one son of a bitch to another, allow me to introduce you to the new General Manager of Raw. His name is Eric Bischoff."
What happened next has been widely panned as one of the single dumbest decisions in the history of the business. Instead of playing off the real life issues between Bischoff and McMahon and at the very least attempting to reignite that rivalry, the two embraced.
They hugged. For entirely too long. Then McMahon shook his hand far too enthusiastically and raised it for all to see.
I guess they were going for shock value. What they did was flush millions of dollars down the toilet.
Bischoff would go on to cut a promo talking about how he nearly ran McMahon out of business by doing new and innovative things that forced Vince and the WWF to change the way they operated. All for the better, of course.
It was a travesty.
Watch it all go down below: