The most talked about match coming out of WrestleMania 36 last week was the Boneyard Match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles. During his 83 Weeks podcast, Eric Bischoff gave his opinion on the match, noting that he found it jarring, but in a positive way.
"Jarring, but in a great way," Bischoff said. "Hats off and major props to everyone in WWE who made the decision to try this because this is one of those things that required a lot of conversation. The fact that you're going to present this match in such a unique way and is so counter to everything that's really been done before and at such a high level, you run the risk of the audience going 'Come on, not a movie inside of a WrestleMania.'
"When you produce television, you're a category, take this match out of the live venue and put it in the pre taped venue, that's been done before, but to put the sound effects and music behind it and all the things they did to make it a cinematic experience, I thought it was a huge risk that paid off massively. It raised the storytelling of WWE to an entirely new level. Can't say enough great things about it."
Bischoff felt that the match elevated AJ Styles' stock as a performer and he deserved recognition for it.
"I think AJ Styles is becoming one of the most interesting characters in WWE," Bischoff said. "He is really really expanding as a performer. I worked with AJ a lot when I first got to TNA, and he saw his character through the eye of a needle, that's how narrow he saw his character and Hulk [Hogan] and I pushed him to expand the way that he looked at his character and try to do new things. He's embraced it, he's expanded it. He was so good in this, and obviously so was Undertaker, but Undertaker is Undertaker, everybody expects him to put on a great performance, but I think the story is AJ Styles. If this was a movie, he should win an Academy Award for a supporting cast member.
"I think AJ delivered a performance that made Undertaker look even more believable than he already is. I think Undertaker brought out the best in AJ. What we saw here was great storytelling. This was a huge 'different than' moment for WWE."
WWE will be releasing a documentary called Undertaker: The Last Ride, which has sparked speculation that this match with AJ at WrestleMania could be the end of the Undertaker's historic career. Bischoff feels that the new incarnation of The Undertaker can continue.
"I'm going to go the other way," Bischoff said. "I think this version, the latest evolution of Undertaker, left the door open. If Undertaker decides this is it, I'm going out on a high note, I'm done, great if that's his choice. However, if he had chosen this version of Undertaker, this story because of AJ making comments about his wife, if they decide to carry this storyline forward, I think it's got legs. It doesn't require him to do the same things that he did before, he doesn't have to go out there and have the same matches he did 5,10,15 years ago with this new character.
"This version opens the door for Undertaker to have some significant and interesting stories outside of the ring that doesn't have to live up to the expectations that he had with some of the bigger names over the last 5,10,15 years. If he decides to hang up the boots, God bless you but if he decides to keep it going, I'm excited for him because I think the door just opened, especially between him and AJ. I think Undertaker can really help elevate AJ if they keep moving forward."
After the Boneyard Match, many people noted that a dream match between The Undertaker and Sting could be a possibility in this setting as Sting could be protected with his career-ending injuries. Bischoff gave his opinion on this and talked about if he would entertain the idea.
"I would certainly look at it," Bischoff said. "This is what's so exciting to me, it wasn't just the Boneyard match or the FireFly Fun House match, it's the fact that WWE has embraced a much higher level form of presenting its story. As long as they can maintain the level of execution because either one of those segments could've s--t the bed had they been poorly produced, that's the risky part of coming up with ideas out of the box because it's hard to find ideas out of the box that are a home run. Very, very risky. Now that they've taken that risk, I think it opens up an entirely new world of storytelling opportunities. Not just a work around for guys with limited in-ring abilities, but a way to tell a much more interesting story.
"Not everybody can pull it off, that's why I went off about AJ in a positive way for his role and performance, because I think AJ so far over-performed as a performer and an actor that I could go on and on about it. He raised his stock to such a degree that there's more stuck in AJ Styles than there's ever been. I just think it opens up a whole new world. I think there's a great opportunity there, if Sting and Undertaker want to figure it out, I think it's a possibility. It would be insane not to."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 weeks with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.