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Eric Bischoff says Jesse Ventura’s backstage attitude got worse when Hulk Hogan arrived at WCW

On the recent episode of 83 Weeks on, Eric Bischoff covered WCW Halloween Havoc 1994. This was the same year when Hulk Hogan joined the company and Jesse “The Body” Ventura was let go.

Bischoff described the real-life heat that Jesse Ventura had for Hulk Hogan that eventually lead to Ventura’s departure from WCW:

“Jesse was not a fan of Hulk. It was way too personal for Jesse, and he wasn’t able to manage it. He was negative about it and vocal about it. I didn’t mind that he didn’t like Hulk. I didn’t mind that he thought it was a bad decision. That’s fine. I didn’t expect, nor would I ever expect, even today, that anybody is going to be fully supportive of every idea I’ve ever had or will have in the future. It’s not realistic. But, to be as vocal as Jesse was, I’m talking about even in the post production studio, when he’s down there working with other employees, it was ugly. He was so negative with the things he was saying. It was unproductive. He brought everybody down. None of the people that were in post production when Jesse was down there doing his ins and outs on camera leading into things, and coming out of things, none of those people down there that he was bitching to had any influence over anything other than what they were there to do that day. They weren’t management. Some people were getting tired of hearing it.

I ignored it for a while hoping it would go away. I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire by pulling Jesse to aside and saying, ‘You have to keep your opinions to yourself.’ Jesse is a very opinionated guy. That’s one of the things I admire about Jesse. It’s tough to work with him, but he says what he thinks, and I like people like that. I was hoping it would go away and settle down over time. It didn’t. It got worse. Jesse’s attitude got worse after Hogan got there. It went from being bad before Hogan arrived when everybody knew Hogan was coming in, Jesse’s attitude was bad. Once Hogan got there, it became worse. I think it started affecting him, his energy, and the way he went about his business. He was still professional in many respects. He was pissed off, and he got a little worse.

One day we were at Disney MGM Studios. It was one of those long days where we were shooting 6 or 8 hours at a time of TV. We had finished one show.  We were doing what we call a turnover where we get a fresh audience in. It’s about a 20 or 30 minute turnover period in between shows. We got done doing one show. Jesse went off. He was doing color commentary at the time. Jesse disappeared, which was fine. So did I. So did Tony. We all went to our dressing room, got a bite to eat, or whatever we had to do. That was our time to do it. We got the audience back in. We got the crew back in. By the way, we’re paying for this by the hour. It’s not cheap when you have a soundstage and a production crew. You’re watching minutes, not hours, let’s put it that way. We got the audience loaded in. Everybody is ready to go, and no Jesse. Let’s go look for Jesse. Maybe he went to the cafeteria to get something to eat. We’re looking for Jesse, and no Jesse. Meanwhile, you have an audience full of people looking at their watch and wondering when Wildcat Willie is going to quit trying to entertain them, and when they’re going to see some wrestling. Now it’s all hands on deck. Let’s go find Jesse. There’s no Jesse.

There were essentially two soundstages that were joined by a set of green rooms so you can go from either soundstage into a set of green rooms. There might have been 5 or 6 different greens there. I’m looking around the soundstage. I can’t find him. I go into the other soundstage. There was nobody there. There was no production going on over there. I thought, ‘Ok, if I wanted to get out of the heat and get away from people, I would go sit in the dark corner of this soundstage.’ That’s how I would chill. I went looking around the soundstage and I couldn’t find him. As I’m walking back, I thought I would check these green rooms. Sure enough, there’s Jesse Ventura sleeping on a $40 couch. They don’t really dress those green rooms up that nice.  There he is sound asleep. I went, ok, that’s it. It wasn’t just that. If it was just that he took a break, fell asleep, lost track of time, whatever. I’ve never done it on the job, but I can understand how that happens. You’re traveling. It’s hot as f**k inside those soundstages. I get it. But it was that and the previous 6 months of all the other sh*t that went with it. I said, ‘That’s it. I can’t do it anymore’, and I let him go.”

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to for the transcription

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