UPDATE (11 a.m. ET): WWE has announced Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff will oversee “Monday Night RAW” and “SmackDown Live,” respectively.
ORIGINAL STORY: It’s a cold day in hell, at least as it pertains to the world of professional wrestling.
Sports Illustrated reported Thursday, citing sources, that Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff — two long-time rivals of WWE — will now run the company’s two TV shows: “Monday Night RAW” and “SmackDown Live.”
According to the SI report, Heyman — who also currently has on-air role — will run “RAW,” while Bischoff will oversee “Smackdown” on Tuesday nights. Their official titles, according to the report, will be executive director with both reporting directly to WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon.
Heyman has been with the company at various times since 2001. That came after Heyman was a direct competitor to WWE primarily when he ran ECW. When ECW eventually went out of business, WWE hired Heyman as a writer and on-air commentator. He’s served in a variety of behind-the-scenes roles over the years while also having a prominent storyline role as a manager, most notably serving as the “advocate” for WWE/UFC superstar Brock Lesnar.
Bischoff being one of the most important people in WWE is still a wild idea to comprehend. He literally was one of the biggest competitors in the company’s history when he ran WCW in the 1990s. WCW’s clash with the then-WWF was known as the “Monday Night Wars” with WCW actually winning the TV ratings battle for nearly two years. WWF/WWE ultimately won out and bought WCW, and WWE eventually brought in Bischoff for an on-air role.
This move will be considered a seismic decision in the pro wrestling world, as WWE’s TV ratings and house show numbers have plummeted in recent months and years. For the first time in years, WWE also is tasked with fending off competition. All Elite Wrestling launched with a couple of wildly successful pay-per-view shows and has a TV deal with Turner that will materialize with a weekly TV show on TNT in October. The WWE also likely faces mounting pressure to put forth a strong product with “Smackdown” moving to FOX on Fridays this fall.