During the 83 Weeks podcast, Eric Bischoff discussed TNT picking up AEW. Bischoff admitted that he was surprised as somebody who had previous experience working with them while he was with WCW.
“I was surprised, not going to sugar coat it,” Bischoff said. “My surprise had nothing to do with my opinion of AEW, I have been pitching and selling television shows since about 2003 so I have a pretty good feel for the thinking and strategies for a lot of cable television outlets. Prior to the announcement of TNT acquiring AEW content, the general consensus was anybody that wants wrestling has it.
“I was really surprised, wrestling outside of WWE didn’t have a great reputation within the advertisement sales community, wrestling has always been a tough sale, even for WWE. The audience is always there, but wrestling has always had a tough time having an audience that will always be there, that’s been the hurdle.”
Bischoff discussed AEW picking Wednesdays instead of Tuesdays and how he believes any show, WWE or AEW, the night after Monday Night Raw would be a bad idea. He also noted how a company has to build trust with the audience.
“I like Wednesday,” Bischoff said. “It’s easy for me to say because it’s been successful for AEW but the problem with Tuesday night would’ve been we just sat through 3 hours of wrestling on Monday night, I kind of just got my fix. No matter how much of a wrestling fan I am and I just watched three hours of WWE, I don’t want to watch another 2 hours of anything. Whether it’s Smackdown or AEW on Tuesday nights.
“Once you establish yourself with the audience, they will find you and they will follow you. That’s one thing about the wrestling audience that a lot of network executives never got, some of them found out too late. The wrestling audience is one of the most loyal audiences any television genre has ever had. Once they decide they’re into your product, they will find you. That audience will follow you and you can hold onto them.”
Bischoff also cited MJF as the standout heel who is willing to be hated and disliked by everyone. Bischoff feels that the wrestling industry is lacking more guys like him.
“This MJF dude, come on, I would’ve loved to work with that guy,” Bischoff stated. “He’s so good. What he delivers on camera is magical as a heel, very few people are capable of pulling it off. He loves heat.
“We don’t really have any heels [in today’s wrestling]. People play the part of a heel, play the part of a baby face, but there’s nobody out there that people really genuinely hate and want to see get their ass kicked. If you don’t have a real viable meaningful heel then you’re never going to have a real viable meaningful baby face. You are going to have a neutral effect. One of the reasons I think is that people don’t want to be hated. It goes against every instinct you have as a human being since the time you drew your first breath, to find ways to make people hate you and react negatively to you. WWE is even worse, WWE their entire revenue model for talent is on merchandise and as a heel you don’t sell a lot of merchandise. Nobody fully invests in being a heel.”
Bischoff used Triple H as an example of the heels and baby faces looking and feeling the same in today’s wrestling, while giving more credit to MJF as the one guy who plays his role perfectly.
“Go back and watch Triple H’s matches and compare to when he was a baby face to a heel, there aren’t any differences, he was the same character as a heel and a baby face,” Bischoff said. “If you’re going to be a heel, be a f***ing heel. Invest in it, enjoy it, live it. Learn to suck the life out of every moment so that the baby face you’re in the ring with gets the benefit of it. That’s why I am putting MJF over because he embraces his character.
“There’s only one guy that I could pick out of a crowd that could be the next really, really meaningful heel and that’s MJF,” he said. “Everyone else has this thing where I can turn at any minute, you can’t tell if I’m a baby face or a heel. It’s so grey. Good guys, bad guys, baby faces, heels, it’s all just one big fog and not enough of anybody else standing out from the fog.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.