Has it really been 12 years since this took place when WWE was almost in a full year since the Brand split?
When you hear the crowd from then to today; it's almost a huge contrast. Back then; the WWE gave you a reason to go wild and crazy in attendance. Today? you'll only get that if either a Legend makes an appearance or Daniel Bryan enters the Arena that gets people into a frenzy like the fans in this segment from Late Spring 2003.
The decision to make Steve a Co-GM of Raw back then was just a no-brainer as Stone Cold could not wrestle any more which broke a few fans' hearts, including mine as he was the reason I became a wrestling fan. And secondly, Bischoff needed to be taken down a peg because he was border-lining the kind of ego-maniacal stance that Vince McMahon was known for as a heel.
I don't know what kind of "creative" thinking was behind retiring the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy 2002 because from a story and the fans perspective it was asinine. It limited the opportunities on Raw at that time to just either the then World Tag Team Championships or HHH's World Heavyweight Championship.
Austin reinstating it made for more entertaining and competitive stories on Raw and giving wrestlers something to fight for as well. The purpose of the IC Title is to prepare wrestlers for the World Title main event picture and when you consider that the Intercontinental Championship was the first singles belt he ever had. Those that remember from the pre-Attitude Era that he won it from the late Owen Hart at SummerSlam 97 in a match that almost paralysed him. How he came back 3 months later to win it back is a miracle in it's own right. Hence, why he recognised it as one of the most important Titles in his life.
Also, Steve & Eric had amazing chemistry with each other during 2003 as they would find new ways each week to try and get under each others skin and attempt to 1 up themselves.
Anyone who remembers watching Judgment Day 2003 when the two shared Stone Cold's personal sky-box in the Arena will remember the comedy gold between them as Austin was giving Bischoff a hangover and indigestion with all the beers, hot-dogs and the jalapeno pickles and to when he spewed chunks from the sky-box window. I really feel sorry for any in a row below that caught Eric Bischoff's vomit.
This was what made Raw the show to watch. Although SmackDown was fairing well with the feud of Lesnar & Big Show & Vince having issues with Hogan (kinda foreshadowing for future events), Raw had that unpredictable and fun factor that it had been sorely lacking for some time before this point.
You know never knew what would happen and it was essential to tune in each week just to see what Austin would do to give Bischoff as many headaches possible by throwing wrenches into his plans and doing the right thing for the fans and the Wrestlers.
A couple of final notes to remember from this segment:
1: do not argue with Austin.
2: Don't forget number 1.
And that's the bottom line - MJ