On the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff talked about his time he spent in TNA and appearing live on television. Bischoff debuted for the company in January of 2010 alongside Hulk Hogan as an alliance to take over and rebuild the company, while he was named Executive Producer of TNA behind the scenes. He said he wasn’t a huge fan of appearing on TV when he first signed his deal with the company and wished he could go back in time and change the way he looked.
“I looked like s**t. I wasn’t in TV shape, meaning I was carrying probably 15-20 extra pounds at that point. I didn’t put forth the effort. I performed; my performances were generally decent or pretty good, but my physical appearance [was bad]. I go back and look at it now, I’m kind of embarrassed that I allowed myself [to look like that].
“I wish somebody would have pushed me aside and said, ‘motherf***er, lose 20 pounds. Dress a little better and then show up next week.’ Part of that was I just really wasn’t into it. It wasn’t my goal to be on TV in TNA, it just wasn’t.”
Bischoff also said the reason why he didn’t have the motivation in TNA was because he had already done great things in WCW and WWE, and he knew TNA was taking a step down. He also said he didn’t come to TNA with the goal of doing television appearances or being involved in storylines, but that quickly changed due to executives in the company.
“Look what I did in WCW, look what I got to do in WWE while I was there. TNA was a notch or 4 down,” Bischoff said. “I didn’t say that to myself when I got there. I didn’t say that every time it was time to go do a scene, but deep down, that’s how I felt about it. I would’ve been very happy to not be on TV in TNA. That really wasn’t my goal or even my idea by the way.
“In an environment where everybody wants to get the biggest bang for their dollar, it was like, ‘we need to get as much use out of him as we can.’ Part of it was me. I’m not going to put it all on somebody else – that wouldn’t be fair or honest. I would allow myself to get sucked in because it made sense, but I wasn’t passionate about it.
“If you’re going to be on T.V., you damn well better be passionate about it, ’cause it’s going to show. In my case, it showed because I wasn’t physically prepared. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t go out with a half-assed attitude. When I saw myself this morning [rewatching Final Resolution 2010], I was embarrassed, quite frankly.”
Bischoff talked about TNA’s many appearances in the UK over his time with the company. During that time, TNA was televised on the free version of Sky TV in the UK, while WWE was on the paid version. He said there were many times TNA exceeded WWE in the UK, and that it was major news to the higher-ups in the company.
“The viewership for TNA exceeded that of WWE for a while [in the UK],” Bischoff said. “Maybe not in 2010, but by 2011. Just because more people had access to it. It really was a big deal. We could go to the U.K. and charge ticket prices more than here in the US.
“Don’t quote me on this, but I’m fairly certain it was a bigger footprint, and because it was free, more people watched it. I’m pretty sure there was a lot of backslapping and cocktails going on whenever the ratings would come in from the UK.”
Bischoff said the viewership in the UK started to become a major deal in the company to the point where Dixie Carter started to book the show around her UK audience. He said there were many times he would have to talk Dixie back down into recognizing Spike TV was the one providing all the money, not people in the UK.
“Dixie got so excited about it,” Bischoff said. “It’s like all of her thought process was, ‘let’s book for the UK.’ A lot of her ideas and creative suggestions all were centered around what’s good for the UK audience. I understand that, and you have to do that to a degree, but Dixie had a tendency to go a little overboard. And I had to remind her.
“One of the things I counselled Dixie on was to be careful you don’t start producing a UK show that doesn’t quite ring the bell for your domestic audience because, by the way, that’s Spike TV and they are paying the freight. It’s nice to go over to the UK and draw nice houses, but they’re not paying the freight. Its a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what you’re getting from Spike. They’re your partner and your master you need to serve. That caused a bit of friction between Dixie and I.”
In April of 2010, TNA released a show called Reaction which featured backstage reactions to matches, enhanced storylines, and showed documentary-style segments. Eric Bischoff was the creator of the show and produced it alongside longtime friend Jason Hervey. He came up with the idea for the show while TNA and Spike had an idea of providing an alternative to IMPACT, but they didn’t have the money to produce a show. They wanted the show to include non-wrestling entertainment, and Bischoff thought of Reaction as a way to continue storylines.
Bischoff talked about TNA Reaction and how it was his idea to have it be used to create more interesting television and use the footage to push stories on IMPACT. He also talked about how much attention the show generated for Spike, and he saw it as an avenue for TNA to continue building storylines.
“It was performing so well, it was blowing executives at Spike TV away,” Bischoff said. “We could get into some real strong storytelling types of formats. If nothing else, even if only a small handful of people watched it, it helped advance the story. We could use clips from Reaction on the following week’s show to help support what was going to happen that night.
“We’d have our action on Thursday – Thursday night we’d shoot the Reaction, maybe shoot an angle. It would all be storytelling Hopefully some people would watch it, and even if they didn’t, we had great material to use to help us set up the following week’s show.”
Bischoff said the viewership numbers early on were through the roof, and they surprised all at Spike and TNA. He also said they spent around $7,500 to produce an episode of the show, and that it produced 900,000 viewers a week.
“Surprise surprise, the first episode or two we did, we did over a million viewers,” Bischoff said. “We held the audience. We didn’t hold onto that million over an extended period of time like we’ve seen with SmackDown on Fox and AEW on TNT. When a show premieres, you can expect a 20 or 30 percent drop, that’s not unusual.
“Even as people were becoming more and more used to Reaction, for $7,500 an episode, we were still producing 900,000 viewers a week. Reaction was holding the audience, and a lot of things we did were for the following week’s show.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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