While some wrestling fans believe AEW provides WWE with it’s fiercest competition since the death of WCW, Eric Bischoff disagrees.
Bischoff has experience battling the wrestling empire that is World Wrestling Entertainment. Bischoff was one of the main figures in WCW during the “Monday Night Wars” where WCW famously led WWE’s flagship program Monday Night RAW in the ratings for 83 consecutive weeks. He also debuted for TNA Wrestling during the first night of their unsuccessful attempt to start a second wrestling viewership war.
According to Bischoff, TNA offered as much, if not more, competition to WWE during the beginning of the previous decade as AEW does now. Bischoff spoke with Conrad Thompson on the 83 Weeks podcast where he dismissed the notion that AEW is the first to compete with WWE since 2002.
“Times are interesting, aren’t they? Now you’ve got companies getting excited about half a million viewers or 700,000 viewers,” Bischoff said (h/t to Himanshu D for the transcription). “I go, ‘Okay? I guess that’s important? I guess that’s really changing the world.’ But as much of a LOL, as you put it, as TNA was getting at the time, they were delivering, consistently prior to Hogan and I getting there and subsequent, 1.2 million, 1.4 million, 1.5 million. Hell, the ReACTION show that Jason Hervey and I produced that aired at 11 o’clock to 12 o’clock at night delivered a million viewers, that followed iMPACT at midnight.
“So it’s easy to become myopic and forget about facts relative to the past, but for someone to suggest that this is the first time that WWE has had competition? I’m sorry. I’ll take exception to that. I’ll take a big exception to that! And again when any wrestling company – I’m not picking on anybody, and like you, I fully support AEW, there’s a lot of people there that I know personally, behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera, I’m fully supportive of them, I cheer them on, nothing negative here – but don’t get out over your skis and position yourself as something that you’re clearly not yet.”
Bischoff did give AEW credit for how they’ve competed with NXT in the ratings, but he said everyone needs to see the “Wednesday Night Wars” for what they are.
“AEW is highly competitive – in fact dominating, consistently dominating – the WWE development territory. ‘Cause that’s what NXT is. Let’s be honest and fair. Let’s also be honest and fair and recognise that NXT has had a 10-year jump on AEW. NXT has been around for a long time. NXT has the full support and cross-promotional opportunities of both RAW and SmackDown. That’s something that AEW doesn’t have. But still, to suggest that this is the first time WWE has had competition? I’m sorry. Move over to the side here, I’m gonna kick you right in the balls.”
Himanshu D contributed to this article.