Former WCW President Eric Bischoff has sensationally said he’ll never be invited back to AEW again.
When AEW first launched, Eric Bischoff and Tony Khan seemed to have a good relationship as somewhat kindred spirits in competition with WWE. Bischoff would end up making on-screen appearances for the company until mid-2021, when their friendship seemed to turn sour and the pair started exchanging shots via social media.
Eric Bischoff has hit out on a number of occasions about the product AEW is presenting and that its ratings are flatlining, whilst Tony Khan has made it clear he doesn’t want to make the same mistakes WCW made when in competition with WWE.
During an appearance on the MackMania podcast, Eric Bischoff claimed that Tony Khan will never invite him back to AEW.
I have been beating this drum, and this is one of the reasons why Tony probably thinks I am a pain in his ass at this point. I’ll never get invited to another AEW event, which is okay. I am a little sad about that, but I get it, I don’t take it personally. But I’ve been saying for over a year now when it comes to AEW. And this is why I am concerned about their dirt sheet booking approach, booking for the internet if you will. Is that if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Expanding on the issue, Eric Bischoff discussed the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery, and how this will affect AEW’s deal when it comes up for renewal.
Here’s where Tony’s at right now, he’s got a year and a half, two years left on his existing agreement with Turner. There is a new company coming to town, there is a new sheriff in town, his name is David Zaslav. He works for a company called Discovery. They now own all the Turner properties.
Well, if you come in, and you acquire one property in television, and you look at that programming schedule, and you look at the revenue that’s generated by it because this is all about making money. My first question is going to be, ‘OK, we’ve got this beachfront, also called primetime. We’ve got this beachfront property here on Wednesday nights, how is that doing?’ Well, the audience isn’t growing, ‘OK, well, they’re young, we’ll give it some time.’
Let’s look at it a different way, ‘are they improving upon their lead-in?’ Because that’s another formula that’s very important when you’re a programmer. Not when you’re a wrestling fan, but when you’re a programmer and you’re a $350- or $550,000-a-year salary, your stock options are dependent on how well you manage that beachfront property. So, if you’re looking at that beachfront property, and the audience isn’t really growing, and they don’t really outperform their lead-in, okay, two strikes.
‘Hey, who’s here from ad sales? OK, Mr. or Mrs. ad salesperson, how are the ad sales going for this product? Are you getting premium ad dollars for it? Are you getting mid-tier advertising for it? Or are you kind of getting bottom feeder opportunistic ad buys?’ Because, for the most part, wrestling is still a little bit of a tough sell.
If the answer comes back, ‘Well, we are kind of just plugging along, we are getting some action in the ad sales, but it’s a lower tier, opportunistic kind of buys. And the audience isn’t really growing, and we are not really outperforming our lead-in,’ those are kind of three things that are really working against you when somebody comes in and decides whether they want to redevelop that beachfront property to be more profitable, or if they want to leave it the same. And that’s why I saw growing is so important.
Bischoff went on to talk about how using ratings to compare WWE and AEW isn’t actually correct, and that Tony Khan using them is actually detrimental to his product.
I would venture to guess 99% of the people who talk about it on social media when they are constantly comparing ratings, or even statisticians that are cramming all this data in there and they’re using that data to paint the picture they want the narratives to be. That was one of the things I called Tony Khan out in the first place. Stop comparing yourself to WWE, you’re not competitive in any measurable way. But the more you try to convince people you are, the dumber you look because it’s insulting.
Tony Khan has continued with the strategy of signing WWE stars when they are released, and has recently brought in former NXT General Manager William Regal.
With thanks to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.