In a recent interview on Everything Is, Eric Bischoff discussed one glaring difference between WWE and AEW, why both companies are struggling to grow their audience, and much more. You can read his comments below.
Eric Bischoff on his thoughts on the AEW product and one big difference between AEW and WWE: “I’m pretty impressed with it for different reasons. I said this a long time ago before I went back to work with WWE and I’ll say it again right now – WWE is so good at live event production, nobody does it better than WWE. The problem is they do it too well. When I watch WWE and drop in on Monday Night RAW, it doesn’t feel live to me. It’s shot so well, it’s so clean, the production values are so high. There are no mistakes, there are no flaws – it’s just so perfect that it doesn’t feel live. What I like about AEW is that it feels live to me. They don’t stress the production values above all else. It’s the action in the ring, and I love the way they do some of their interviews – not all – and the stories feel a little more real and organic to me.”
On both companies struggling to grow their audience: “I will say this, and this is not gonna go over well and may be certain I never get a phone call from AEW again or WWE because I’m gonna criticize them both for the same thing. Neither one of them are growing the audience. Neither one of them is doing anything new that hasn’t been done before – at least not doing anything big enough new – that they’re not growing the audience. AEW is hanging on to the same 700,000 or 800,000 viewers. Every once in a while they’ll get a little more than that, every once in a while they’ll get a little less than that. But they’re hanging onto that average that they had last year this time before COVID. WWE is barely hanging onto their audience, and their audience is deteriorating. Neither group is doing anything to revolutionize or grow the business.”
On whether the issue is people not caring about wrestling anymore: “We did the same thing in the 90s prior to Nitro and all that. All I kept hearing about from people above me that had way more experience in television than I did was, ‘Man, people just don’t care about wrestling anymore, they’ve moved on.’ There were all these other reasons why in their opinions. ‘The wrestling audience is just gone, they’re not coming back.’ Until we gave them a reason not to, and then they came back. So, either because I’m too full of myself or because I’m actually right – and it could be both – I’ll never subscribe to the theory that any product, wrestling or otherwise, has just moved on and is just not cool anymore and people just don’t care and streaming and all that. Those are excuses. They’re facts – yes, they have, they’ve all moved on – but guess what? All those people want to be entertained. All those people want to come back. It’s up to you as a producer to give them a reason to come back. Nobody is giving them a reason to come back because they’re doing essentially the same things over and over and over. Yeah, they’re doing them with different people and they’re doing variations of things that have been done in the past and are trying to start a new faction here and a new faction here. They’re shooting hot angles. But there’s nothing new.
“There’s nothing to make me go, ‘Wow, that’s different.’ I mean consistently – I’m not talking about coming up with some hotshot angle or doing something spectacular for a pay-per-view. That’s a one-time-only thing. I’m talking about week in and week out, how are you changing the format? How are you changing the way you’re telling your stories? How are you evolving your characters? How are you diversifying, not just your characters, but your stories so you’re appealing to a broader base of people as opposed to creating stories that fit into one little funnel and end up appealing to the same people over and over and over again? It’s like if you’re a preacher and want to grow your congregation, you’ve gotta get new people into the church to hear your message. Otherwise, you’re preaching to the same congregation every single week and it doesn’t grow. And as those people die or move or whatever, you’re congregation gets smaller and smaller and smaller every week – WWE. Or if all you’re doing is presenting the same message, your congregation pretty much just stays the same – AEW. So, somebody’s gotta come up with a message that’s a little different that captures the imagination of the audience, and yes, I do think it’s possible.”