On the latest edition of Eric Bischoff’s 83 Weeks podcast, the former WCW President was asked about ‘The Patriot’ Del Wilkes and why he wasn’t able to break through as a singles star. Bischoff said that The Patriot’s mic skills were subpar, and that opened up a whole discussion about the importance of promos and how cable news hosts cut better ones that most wrestlers.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about promos and the narrative. We use terms in wrestling that are different than terms in other forms of television and entertainment. Promos is one and bookers is another… It’s the elements of storytelling and the presentation that allows you to advance a story or character. That’s the reason you do a promo ? to advance a story or character,” said Bischoff. “Any story is gonna need some dialogue and that can’t just happen in the ring. It can manifest in the ring and we can see things physically happening that are a part of the overall story or narrative, but they’re only a part. You can’t complete the picture, or story, or add the level of detail to that story to make it really compelling without a sufficient amount of narrative from the characters involved.”
He added that it doesn’t matter how good a performer’s matches are because if they can’t talk, then they’ll likely never break through mid-card status.
“I believe it more now than ever. I’ve been doing some research into where has the audience gone? Last Oct. 14, 2019 SmackDown premieres on FOX. 3.4 some-odd million viewers ? f***ing awesome! A month later they’re down to 2.5 million. Where did those million people go? What are they doing today? How come they’re not watching next Friday? This is pre-COVID,” stated Bischoff. “One million people showed up because they heard the restaurant was opening its doors. They came in, ordered a meal, and they left and never came back. I want to know why.
“If I’m Tony Khan and I’m looking at my current situation, I would sit back and go, ‘Hmm, when we premiered last October, we opened up with 1.4 million people. Now we’re fighting tooth and nail to get to a million.’ And by the way, pre-COVID we were averaging 850-900 [thousand]. Where did those 500,000 viewers go? How come they showed up for the premiere, they sampled it, may have ordered an appetizer or meal, and they left and they never came back?’ I would really wanna know that.”
Bischoff calls those people lapsed fans and says there are millions of people who used to love wrestling because it was one of the first forms of alternative entertainment on TV. It was a combination of sports, drama, comedy and reality, and now they can get those forms of entertainment elsewhere.
“The one question that nobody ever asks about f***ing anything whether it’s politics, entertainment, or whatever it is, is ‘why’? Why did those people leave and where did they go? I have a theory and my guess or instinct tells me that 18-49 demo – my sense is that those people are watching the news,” stated Bischoff.
“Look at Tucker Carlson’s 18-49, look at CNN’s 18-49, look at MSNBC. That was the wrestling audience. Where have they gone? They’ve gone to cable news. Why have they gone to cable news? Because cable news is more like professional wrestling than professional wrestling used to be. Their promos are f***ing awesome!
“Regardless of your political ideologies, or what you believe in, or where you get your information from, it doesn’t f***ing matter. Everybody does the same thing. They get up there, and they f***ing argue, and they cut great promos on each other. It’s great narrative. There’s almost always someone up there that you want to choke and there’s almost always someone up there that’s saying what you believe in. So, you’re investing more emotion watching cable news than you get from watching wrestling because the promos are better!”
Bischoff said he would personally rather watch the promos on the cable news shows over most wrestling promos. He also said the production of wrestling promos needs to change in order to elicit an emotional response from the audience.
“I think that’s where the audience has gone. Cable news is more entertaining than professional wrestling,” said Bischoff.
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.