WWE Names Eric Bischoff & Paul Heyman Executive Directors for 'SmackDown,' 'Raw'

Scott Fishman
Column WWE

Fans craving a shot in the arm in terms of WWE television got it in a big way Wednesday when the company named Paul Heyman executive director of Monday Night Raw and Eric Bischoff as executive director of SmackDown Live. The newly created positions report directly to WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. 

The news comes as WWE prepares for a more competitive marketplace with All Elite Wrestling premiering on TNT come October. There is also SD Live moving to Fridays on Fox come October 4. The hits keep coming with the current big news following up on their decision to stream EVOLVE’s 10th Anniversary, a full-on non-WWE product, on its Network thus potentially opening the door for similar content. 

WWE Maestro of the Mic Paul Heyman on Brock Lesnar's 'Beast in the Bank' Future

WWE Maestro of the Mic Paul Heyman on Brock Lesnar's 'Beast in the Bank' Future

The advocate wishes his client could cash in his 'Beastbox' in a handicap match to unify the WWE and Universal titles.

Heyman, currently alongside Brock Lesnar on-screen, has been active behind the scenes working with others such as Ronda Rousey and an Alexa Bliss, as evidenced on her WWE 365 program.

When asked to define his influence behind the camera, he told TV Insider last month that “There are other people that I contribute to their presentation at the moment, but it’s not public knowledge...I’m glad that many people don’t know what I’m doing right now because it gives them an opportunity to simply judge the product, and oh my God, enjoy the product for what it is.” 

This sentiment has certainly changed based off the recent business decisions. However, the former ECW visionary has a proven track record of creating captivating storylines and bringing out a talent’s strengths, masking their weaknesses. He also brings an edge and realism many critics have been missing from WWE’s programming in the past.

Heyman showed himself a creative force for turning SmackDown Live into a must-see destination using predominantly younger, emerging superstars in the early 2000’s. If the mad scientist has more freedom in this era, the possibilities are endless for taking the current crop of names to the next level. 

Bischoff signing on for SmackDown Live is a little more of a surprise, since he hasn’t really expressed an interest in returning to the trenches of sports entertainment. He seemed content working on his podcast 83 Weeks, appearing on some documentaries and doing pro wrestling-related appearances. The former WCW executive producer and president is widely known for turning the now defunct company into viable money-making success for Ted Turner. 

Thanks to a deep talent pool, the innovative cruiserweights, a fresher presentation with Monday Night Nitro and the nWo, Bischoff took on McMahon and won for a good period of time. Having him control the blue brand on its transition to Fox makes sense, considering his established relationships with top network execs outside of the industry and resume working on a wide range of television programming. He stays on the pulse of market trends and can take this acumen to SD Live. 

Ironically, it was thanks to Bischoff and Heyman nipping at McMahon’s feet during the days of the “Monday Night War” and pro wrestling boom period of the 1990’s that forced him to make drastic changes in order to survive and thrive. This led to the “Attitude Era,” with characters like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock and DX.

There is no telling what Bischoff and Heyman can accomplish in today’s environment. They bring two different styles and approaches, which can help separate the identities of Raw and SmackDown Live. But if history repeats itself, viewers hoping for something different may be in for a treat. It’s truly an exciting time to be a fan. 

Raw, Mondays, 8/7c, USA Network 

SmackDown Live, 8/7c, USA Network