Former WCW President Eric Bischoff recently discussed Chris Jericho's WCW run on his podcast, 83 Weeks. Bischoff addressed some of the criticism of WCW that Jericho wrote about in his book, as seen below:
Chris Jericho calling Eric Bischoff "ATM Eric" in his book because Bischoff offered him $130,000 in WCW when Jericho only had asked for $100,000:
"Yes, I did offer Chris Jericho what I offered Dean [Malenko] and Eddie [Guerrero]. The strategy is really simple - when Eddie, Dean and Chris [Benoit] came in to talk about a deal they came in together. That was part of the deal. They weren't going to negotiate individually and I wasn't going to try to split them up. I didn't do business that way or now. I am pretty transparent how I do things. When they came in they wanted to come in together. I knew exactly the roles that I wanted them to play. I knew exactly how much money I had in my budget to pay them. I knew exactly what my expectations of them were, and I agreed to pay them all equally.
When I brought in Chris Jericho, it was my full intention to bring Chris in at the same level as those guys, and the last thing that I wanted to do was low ball a guy so that once he gets there and finds out after he has been there for a couple of weeks from his good friend Chris Benoit and Eddie and Dean that they are making 20% or 40% more than him then I would end up having a pissed off camper, and I didn't want that. I wanted to try and create a parity, if you will, with certain guys as often as I could.
You couldn't always do that, especially with your top guys, which these guys were, at that point as talented and amazing as they ended up being later on because of the opportunities that they all got on Nitro because of the Cruiserweight division, but at the time they were relatively unknowns outside of the hardcore wrestling audience. The mainstream audience didn't know who they were, we had to build that, but we paid them fairly because we knew where they were going to go, and I wanted to treat Chris Jericho fairly. If that makes me a bad guy, if that makes me 'ATM Eric' so that it fits the cutesy little narrative to fit Chris Jericho's book, then so be it."
Jericho's character in WCW:
"I brought him in - my mandate to Kevin Sullivan and Terry Taylor was that I wanted to push him to the top of the Cruiserweight division. That was my input. The Cruiserweight division, if you go back and look at it; Chris Benoit didn't have a gimmick. Dean Malenko didn't have a gimmick; Eddie Guerrero, when we brought him in didn't have a gimmick. The Mexicans did because they were Mexican and they brought their culture with them, which was different, but the four guys, we were kind of gimmick free at that moment. The nWo, we used their real names. They didn't have robes and flashy lights, things that were so gaga prior that were commonplace decades to that. We didn't have a crew of that like we had with Glacier for example where we wanted him to come out to look like Elvis, but only like a badass.
It was partially up to Jericho to get himself over and to find his character, much like Bill Goldberg and a lot of people did. Maybe not a lot, maybe the ones that got over. Diamond Dallas Page, I stripped him of his gimmicks. He didn't get over until we got rid of all his gimmicks. He was a walking gimmick festival for God's sake. He looked like a walking and talking flea market when he came to the ring. It wasn't until we pulled that stuff out of him and made him a blue collar guy, then he got over. The prevailing tone and tenor, at least in my point of view was not to come in with some pre-made, manufactured just add water type of character. A lot of it was to feel it out, but again, keep this in mind. I brought him in to be part of the Cruiserweight division. None of the core people in that division had gimmicks. They performed."
Jericho saying in his book that the Cruiserweight division was a "dirty word" and if you were a Cruiserweight, it meant you didn't work main events:
"Man, I'm surprised to hear him say that. Look, he felt the way he felt. I can't get into his head back in 1996 or 1997 and comment on how he felt. It's disappointing that he would write that because the Cruiserweight division, until this day, it was then, he may not have felt that way - this isn't really specific to Chris Jericho, although it is to a degree because it was an issue later on to Chris. When I first created that Cruiserweight division and I sat down with Malenko, Guerrero and Benoit, even later on Chris Jericho, those guys were excited as can be. It was the first really big opportunity that they had. It was also the first time they were ever consistently on a television platform that they could get themselves over. That is a fact.
They were thrilled to death that they could have gone out there and showcase their athleticism and their abilities. That Cruiserweight division was over and is still over until this day. When I go to autograph signings and when I am out among Pro Wrestling fans, they want to talk about the nWo and most things that were obvious, but almost always if I am talking to them for 5 minutes they want to talk about the Cruiserweight division, and that Cruiserweight division allowed Chris Jericho to get over. We built that division, we built that division where not even until this day WWE can figure out how much excitement for that division that I did, and we did as a team. It never happened before and it'll never happen again, so to hear Chris, who got his opportunity to move on and springboard to WWE as a result of that has a bad taste in that, I have to be honest with you, I am disappointed.
Look, he feels the way he feels, or he needed to write what he needed to in order to make himself feel better, I don't know. I don't regret how I built the Cruiserweight division. Could I have done better, sure? Absolutely. I'm sure I could have, especially with 20/20 hindsight. I just don't know of anybody that I talk to that looks back at that division and says, oh man, that sucked."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.