The Monday Night Wars were a golden era for professional wrestling, marked by intense competition between WWE and WCW, with each promotion resorting to creative tactics to outdo the other. In the pursuit of ratings dominance, both companies weren’t afraid to take jabs at each other. One of the most iconic instances of this was WWE’s “Billionaire Ted” skits, aimed squarely at Ted Turner, the media magnate who owned the television networks broadcasting WCW’s shows.
In a recent episode of “Strictly Business,” Eric Bischoff, who played a crucial role in WCW during this period, recollected the fascinating behind-the-scenes details of how these skits were presented to Ted Turner. It’s a story that sheds light on the dynamic between wrestling’s biggest rivals during the Monday Night Wars.
According to Bischoff, it was important for WCW’s management to ensure that Ted Turner was aware of the “Billionaire Ted” parodies before he stumbled upon them independently. But the interesting twist in this tale is that Turner’s reaction wasn’t one of indignation; quite the opposite.
“Ted Turner got a kick out of them,” Bischoff revealed. When the skits first aired, the WCW brass, led by Bill Shaw (or possibly Harvey Shill), felt the need to show them to Turner personally to gauge his response. The outcome was unexpected and refreshing. According to Bischoff, “what I was told, he just busted out laughing. He thought they were funny as hell.”
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What’s remarkable about this anecdote is that it underlines the unique character of the Monday Night Wars. It was a time when the wrestling world was not just about the battles in the ring but also the war of words and creativity outside of it. Even though WWE was poking fun at the head of WCW’s parent company, Ted Turner’s sense of humor prevailed, and he took the parody in stride.
Furthermore, Eric Bischoff’s own reaction to the skits is telling. He once reached out to Vince McMahon, WWE’s head honcho, after witnessing the “Billionaire Ted” parodies, encouraging him to continue producing them. This reveals the competitive spirit that fueled the Monday Night Wars.
In a surprising turn of events, WCW chose not to respond to the skits on its television programming, a strategy that was designed to maintain an air of indifference and avoid appearing affected by WWE’s parodies. However, Bischoff has admitted that there was a certain satisfaction in knowing that they were getting under McMahon’s skin, a testament to the fierce rivalry that defined this era of wrestling history.
The tale of Ted Turner’s response to WWE’s “Billionaire Ted” skits adds a fascinating layer to the larger narrative of the Monday Night Wars, a period in professional wrestling that’s etched in history. It’s a vivid example of how this era was not only about the battles in the ring but also the mind games and strategies that unfolded behind the scenes. WWE’s “Billionaire Ted” segments, while filled with humor and satire, were part of the promotional warfare between the two wrestling giants, WWE and WCW. The fact that Ted Turner himself, the media mogul and owner of WCW, responded in a unique way demonstrates the unexpected twists and turns in the rivalry.
Ted Turner’s decision to react to the skits with a thoughtful, tongue-in-cheek gesture showcased a sense of camaraderie in the midst of a fierce battle for wrestling supremacy. It revealed the human aspect of the business, where even bitter rivals could appreciate the entertainment value of the competition. It’s a testament to the dynamic nature of professional wrestling, where scripted rivalries often coexist with genuine respect and camaraderie among the key players. In the end, it’s these layers of complexity that make the Monday Night Wars a legendary chapter in the history of the wrestling industry.