WWE dropped the massive news on Tuesday afternoon that, roughly four months after his hiring was announced, Eric Bischoff had been replaced as Friday Night SmackDown's executive director by Bruce Prichard. The move came as a shock given how WWE had trumpeted Bischoff's return to the company back in June and that SmackDown was just two weeks into its new deal with FOX. However in a new report from Sports Illustrated'd Justin Barrasso, multiple sources claim that Vince McMahon chose to sever ties with the former WCW executive after the Blue Brand's viewership dropped from 3.86 million to 2.89 million in just one week.
"Bischoff's firing is Vince McMahon's reaction to the ratings and a message to his stockholders that he is entirely committed to the future success of SmackDown on Fox," Barrasso wrote.
The report also noted that Bischoff never had any authority over SmackDown's creative team like how Paul Heyman does over on Monday Night Raw. Sources noted that Bischoff was instructed to mostly observe the team on a week-to-week basis, and that he failed to "assimilate into the corporate structure of the company."
Despite his sudden firing, Bischoff remained positive in his first statement after the news broke.
"Bruce is a great producer, good friend and I am certain he is going to thrive in his position," Bischoff wrote on Twitter. "He's going to be working with a great team of the most dedicated and hard working people I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know."
WWE's press release on Prichard taking over for Bischoff read, "WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced that it has named Bruce Prichard the Executive Director of Friday Night SmackDown, reporting directly to WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. Prichard will oversee the creative development of Friday Night SmackDown on FOX and ensure integration across all platforms and lines of business, replacing Eric Bischoff.
"Prichard brings nearly 40 years of experience in sports entertainment with an extensive background in character development and creative storytelling," it continued. "Over the course of his career, Prichard has served in a variety of roles including announcer, producer, agent and on-screen personality. Earlier this year, Prichard returned to WWE as a member of the company's creative team."
Bischoff, who continued to host the 83 Weeks podcast with Conrad Thompson throughout his tenure with the company, has already released a new shirt regarding the firing.