AS I SEE IT - 1/11/2001
It wasn't the World Wrestling Federation.
It wasn't Mandalay Sports Entertainment.
It wasn't Tri-Star Entertainment.
But WCW has been sold. And Eric Bischoff is running it as President.
Bischoff's partners are a company called Fusient Media Ventures.
Fusient is based in New York and Los Angeles. The company focuses on investment in media businesses; working with already branded media properties. They invest capital and utilize the experience of the members of their management team within traditional and online media; including television, sports, entertainment, and the Internet. They also serve to improve strategic marketing as well as business functions and operations. It is noted on their website that they seek to improve corporate value through "active, hands-on management".
Here is information on the background of one of those in charge, from Fusient's own website:
"Brian T. Bedol serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Fusient Media Ventures, a company formed to create, invest in, and operate branded, integrated media properties.
Prior to Fusient, Bedol was the creator, co-founder (with his partner, Stephen D. Greenberg), and Chief Executive Officer of Classic Sports Network, now known as ESPN Classic. Classic Sports Network, a cable channel launched to critical and popular acclaim in May 1995, is considered one of the cable industrys greatest against-the-odds success stories. It was sold to the ESPN division of the Walt Disney Company in October 1997.
Prior to Classic Sports, Bedol served as Senior Vice President of Time Warner Enterprises, where he was involved in the launch and supervision of several of Time Warners entrepreneurial business units, including Quincy Jones Entertainment, Court TV, and Six Flags Theme Parks. Bedols responsibilities included the oversight of Six Flags creative and marketing operations, and he sat on the companys board of directors. During this period, Six Flags set all-time attendance, revenue, and profits records.
Bedol began his career in 1980 as a writer of television advertising on the national McDonalds Corporation account for Needham, Harper, and Steers Advertising in Chicago (now DDB Needham). He left there to join Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment as a writer and producer as the company prepared to launch MTV: Music Television. At Warner Amex, also Bedol supervised on-air promotion for The Movie Channel and helped develop the business plan for Nick-at-Nite.
Bedol, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston University College of Communications and a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard University."
Other management within Fusient includes:
Stephen D. Greenberg, Chairman, Fusient Media Ventures
Tom Lassally, President, Fusient Media Ventures, West Coast; President, Fusient Studios
Alan Gold, Senior Vice President, Business Development and Strategic Investments
Marc Metis, Senior Vice President, Business Development
Jeffrey Jonas, Senior Vice President, Sales and Distribution
Richard Copeland, Senior Vice President, West Coast Sales and Distribution
Abigail Klem, Vice President, Business Affairs
Notable from this list are David Newman from NFL Properties and Allan Gold from NFL International. Newman and Gold are two of the key players behind the NFL's international marketing success. It is hoped that they will provide a bolder approach to marketing WCW than had been employed by Time-Warner.
Fusient's financial partners include Redpoint Ventures, which focuses on investment within online media; Grotech Capital Group, which invests in a diversified group of industries, including online media, healthcare, as well as consumer and service industry companies; Berkshire Partners, which has invested in retail, manufacturing, business, telecommunications, and transportation; Waterview Partners, and Monitor Clipper Partners.
Eric Bischoff will run the creative end of WCW operations, while Brian Bedol will be in charge of spending and business decisions.
The creative team will be headquartered in the Los Angeles office, while the business and legal side will be headquartered in New York City.
TBS Entertainment will maintain a minority interest in WCW, and will continue to air WCW programming.
So much for the business end of things.
Now what will this mean for the average wrestling fan?
SCOOPS Wrestling has reported the following:
* WCW will go on the road only once per month for its PPVs. All other events (for the time being at least) will be held, tentatively - negotiations for this are ongoing, at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
(Note: There is no word as to what that will mean for WCW dates already scheduled, such as the Baltimore show on January 29th, Tupelo, MS on February 5 and Baton Rouge, LA on February 11th.)
* With all operations out of Atlanta gone, the Power Plant will also have its facilities moved.
* Roster cuts are a given for the short-term to help with WCW's financial stabilization.
* Also, expect to see Hulk Hogan and probably Randy Savage return to WCW in short order. Hogan will be one of the head bookers for the company.
Not stated in the above, but widely speculated upon for months, is that Eric Bischoff will have a well-capitalized opportunity to raid the talent roster of ECW and potentially replace some of those soon to be no longer employed with WCW.
It would also be reasonable to assume that old Bischoff allies like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage would be featured on our television screens again soon. There has even been some speculation (as stated above) that Hogan may be named Head Booker for WCW.
This Sunday's "Sin" PPV may well be turned upside down with today's events. No doubt there is much, much change more coming as well. A date of February 10th was announced for further significant announcements regarding the company's future.
While wrestling fans are well-served with at least two (and soon, hopefully, three) economically viable and competitive wrestling companies; Hogan Redux doesn't excite me in the least.
It got old last time.
If Hogan is allowed to run rampant, and squelch young talent as he has before, it'll get old quickly this time as well. No amount of promotion and marketing can make that kind of product exciting to wrestling fans.
Something new has to happen.
But all that remains to be seen. What is sure is that WCW will still exist, something we weren't so sure of earlier this week, when a so-called "drop dead" date of March 30th was announced to sell WCW or close down the company.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)