On this week's "83 Weeks," Eric Bischoff and Bully Ray discussed the Aces & Eights faction, the Bully Ray character, and the Vince McMahon CEO situation.
Eric Bischoff said the inspiration for Aces & Eights came from Sons of Anarchy. Bully Ray tells us his impression when the idea was first pitched to him:
“I was never a fan of Sons of Anarchy. I never really watched it. I heard about it because it was so popular. The boys would be talking about it and it was out there in mainstream media. I was never into the whole biker thing. It’s not my thing. I know Eric was and a lot of the guys liked to ride,” Bully Ray said.
“I’ll never forget where I was standing when Eric approached me backstage at TNA when we used to record at Universal. Me and Eric had been establishing more of a relationship since he had taken over creative. I was doing the Bully thing, but I was doing my version of Bully, and not what was about to be presented to me. Eric said to me, ‘Did you ever see yourself as the leader of a motorcycle group?’ In my head, I’m like, ‘This is the worst fu**ing idea that’s ever been told to me.’"
Bully continued, "I’m not into the motorcycle thing. Just thoughts of like The Undertaker’s motorcycle gang group or any other motorcycle gang group that had ever been in pro wrestling comes to mind and I was like, no this is not what I want to do. This is not my vision of Bully Ray. But if the booker is coming up to you with a plan, you know he’s pulling you aside for a reason. I think my exact line is, ‘If you think that’s the best utilization of the character Bully Ray, I’m on board.’”
Bully said he grew proud of this version of the Bully Ray character:
“Coming up in the wrestling business old school, you know if the booker, the owner, the promoter, comes to you with an idea in mind, that means they have a vision and they think you’re one of the best people, at least in the group of decisions, who could portray this role. To say no would have never been a good idea," Bully said.
"You never like to say no, so I looked at it as a challenge. It was a hell of an opportunity with myself and Eric working together along with the rest of the guys. I think we knocked it out of the park. It’s a body of work that I’m as proud of in my career as my tag-team accomplishments.”
Bischoff was asked his thoughts when he heard Vince McMahon was no longer the CEO of WWE:
“I was dumbfounded. Shocked. I can’t imagine anybody felt any differently. Even though it appears to be very temporaneous and not a permanent situation, at least that’s not the way it's presented or the way I read it, but nonetheless, it’s a big damn deal and it did shock me," Bischoff said.
"I feel bad for a lot of people. I still have a lot of friends in WWE that I do care about a lot. Regardless of how this ends up, it’s going to adversely affect a lot of people. How do you feel anything other than bad for people that you know and have affection for that are having to go through this? I feel bad for Bruce (Prichard). I sent Bruce a text Friday night during the show going, ‘Brother, one hell of a ride.’ To be sitting in that seat, to be there in the eye of that fu**ing hurricane, man I feel for a lot of people.”
Bully Ray gave his thoughts on this situation:
“I’ve been so desensitized to stuff that nothing really shocks me. We see CEOs of other companies that have to step down for similar situations where there is a personal relationship, maybe where people should not be involved or for whatever reason. But I think because it is Vince McMahon and it affects us so much, we worked for him, we know him, Eric has competed against him, this is like, wow this is shocking, but it does go on everyday in big business,” Bully feels.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Vince. I tried to really look deep into that promo that he cut on SmackDown. One half of me thinks it’s a middle finger to everybody saying, ‘I’m still going to come out on my show and do what I do, however I want to do it.’ I think the other half of me looked at it as Vince said, ‘This may be my last opportunity to ever address a live crowd on television so I’m going to do it.’ We’re really going to have to wait and see.”
“I hope it works out. I despise having to talk about negative shit in pro wrestling. All I want to do is come on the air, put the boys over, talk about great storytelling and great matches, and have fun with it, but it seems lately we are just so inundated by negative stuff going on. I think at this stage of the game, it affects me more than it ever has.”