Vince McMahon has publicly shaken hands with many an individual specifically to create a surreal effect. The July 15 debut of Eric Bischoff in 2002 was no exception.
This was the man whose quest to destroy Vince McMahon was more important than winning the famed ratings wars between Nitro and Raw of the late '90s and early 2000s. Nobody came as close to putting McMahon out of business, and nobody ever will.
By now, any wrestling fan worth his or her salt knows the statistic of Nitro's 84-week win streak over Raw during the Monday Night Wars.
It's one of the few statistics that hold any meaning in the scripted hemisphere of professional wrestling, right up there with Ric Flair's 16 world championships and Undertaker's 21-0 WrestleMania streak.
Bischoff took the fight to the Titan empire in as personal and underhanded of a manner as possible. Spoiling match results. Stealing talent. Creating the impression said talent was still under contract with WWE, thus creating more incentive for WWE viewers to flip the dial. (That particular tactic resulted in a lawsuit filed by WWE.)
The ill-will between the respective brass of each powerhouse promotion behind-the-scenes was almost as good of a story than the one told in the ring. Only in sports entertainment would such a bitter power struggle be chalked up to boys being boys with a public reconciliation still a possibility.
Bischoff was the surprise choice as the Raw GM in 2002 on a night when the NWO—a hallmark of Bischoff's WCW product—had disbanded.
Bischoff's smirking, naturally unlikeable disposition—combined with a sleazy charm—were perfect for the role as a heel authority figure, especially with such built-in hostility.
He did not disappoint in delivering memorable television moments, from Billy and Chuck's wedding to the debut of the World Heavyweight Championship to the controversial H.L.A. segment. His very tenure was the pro wrestling cycle of love and hate at work.
Bischoff was literally dumped as a Raw GM on a December 5 Raw in 2005. Despite how it ended, his run in the WWE solidified a career that was impossible to ignore. Should Bischoff ever be considered for a WWE Hall of Fame induction, his body of work in the WWE will have been rendered secondary. Few figures in the modern era of wrestling can attest to that.