Eric Bischoff Discusses Infamous Backstage Fight Between Vader & Paul Orndorff, How Difficult Vader Was Backstage
On the latest edition of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff talked about the controversial backstage fight between Vader and Paul Orndorff, leading to Vader being suspended without pay (and eventually released) by WCW for instigating the fight. Vader would then go to the WWF. Dave Meltzer reported at the time that Orndorff egged Vader on, an account Bischoff took issue with. Highlights are below.
On how difficult Vader was to work with: “He was not an easy person to do business with. Not that he was unique in that respect. There were a lot of people that were difficult to do business with from time to time. Name one that wasn’t, especially one that was at the top, where the pressure is more difficult, politics are more intense, the money is more meaningful. Everything becomes much more intense when you’re at a level like Vader was, or Ric Flair was, or Sting was, or Hogan. Macho Man. You name me anybody that’s been been at the very top of this sport, or this business I should say, they all have their moments. Steve Austin. I think you’d have a hard time finding anybody that was a power player at that level who wasn’t a pain in the ass from time to time. Leon probably, maybe a little more so than some of the aforementioned top talent. He was moody, he was a very emotional guy, he could be the sweetest, kindest, most gentle, teddy bear of a human being you’d ever met, one minute, and twenty minutes later, it was like he was possessed by somebody else. He was a difficult guy to do business with.”
On when he was told about the backstage fight between Vader and Paul Orndorff: “Dave Meltzer wasn’t in the locker room and didn’t witness the incident between Vader and Paul Orndorff. And by the way, neither did I. So, for Dave to suggest that Paul egged it on, I think is typical, but not necessarily accurate. When I got the call from Janie Engle [talent relations at WCW], who was very close to Paul, we’ll let it go at that, I was at a meeting, TV had already started at Center Stage, I was on my way to the building, I had been at the office so I was running about 45 minutes late or an hour late, and on my way I get a call from Janie and she was concerned because she was afraid how I was going to react, and she was legitimately concerned that I was going to fire Paul. So she, and I would trust, and have trusted, Janie Engle with my children’s lives, they call her Auntie Janie to this day. And when my kids were little, and Laura and I would have to go out of town for business or whatever, Janie would stay at the house and take care of the kids, so she was a part of the family. She was as honest, is, as honest, as the day is long. So when Janie called me and told me what happened, and how it happened, if there is anybody in the industry, in the world for that matter, that I would believe at face value, even to this day, it would be Janie Engle. No matter how she felt about Paul, no matter what their relationship was, she would tell me the truth. So when she laid out the scenario to me, I took it at face value and I believed her.”
On who he believes started the fight: “I think Dave’s reporting, once again, was completely wrong. I’m sure someone fed him something and he just ran with it because that’s what he did and still does to this day. But it wasn’t accurate. Paul didn’t egg him on. Paul didn’t take any shit from him. Again, I wasn’t there, I didn’t see it, but as the story was relayed to me, I think it was Vader who was trying to bully Paul and Paul wouldn’t back down. And by the way, Paul had nerve damage to one arm, he was wearing a pair of flip-flops, he wasn’t in the best of health, but Paul Orndorff was a man’s man. He wasn’t going to back down from anybody, including Leon White, and didn’t. And the rest is history.”
On why he released Vader from WCW: “Yeah, we did let him go. I kind of felt like it wasn’t going to be a fit. And I did talk to Leon afterwards, we met in Minneapolis, I think in September of 1995, we had met with Leon, and I talked to him, and I just let him know, the chemistry isn’t there. It just wasn’t going to work. And that was the end of it.”
On if he ever regretted releasing Vader: “No, I never thought about it. Look, I wasn’t as mature then as I am now, I didn’t have the experience under my belt like I do now. But even then, it was like, once you make a decision, you make a decision and you move on and don’t look back. Don’t regret it, don’t worry about it, don’t think what if, or what could have been. It’s just not my nature. And it wasn’t even back then. So once a decision was made, and I probably was even more convinced I was right when Leon went to WWF and kind of crashed and burned there as well. Not because he wasn’t a talented guy, I just think emotionally he was for whatever reason, he was kind of at his wit’s end.”
If using any of the above quotes, please credit 83 Weeks with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.