On a recent “Ask Eric Anything” episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff was asked if there was anyone he viewed during his time in TNA and WWE that had the ability to change the wrestling business forever. Bischoff went on to note that even today with AEW, he doesn’t see how any one wrestler could change the business. He said the shift of the entire wrestling business can only happen with other factors such as a great mix of talent, ideas and storytelling.
“There’s certainly been a lot of talent I’ve been impressed with in both TNA and WWE,” Bischoff said. “Even just as a fan watching AEW and WWE when I do, there’s a lot of talent I see something in, I think perhaps, I see something no one else does. I don’t think any one talent, and I firmly believe what I’m about to say, any talent on the face of the earth that can change the course of the business by themselves. It’s got to be the right talent, in the right place, at the right time, surrounded by the right people at the right time.
“If the business is going to shift, it’s going to shift as a result of multiple things, certainly not just talent. Talent is always going to be important, this is a talent driven business but it takes more than just talent for a seismic shift to occur. I see a lot of talent that has a ton of potential but its just about timing and being surrounded around the right people.”
Bischoff noted that WWE and AEW need to start telling better stories and stop presenting the same stuff from the past. He said the mistake these companies are making is believing that their fans are interested in the same old wrestling storylines and that they should pay attention to the fans who watch their product.
“What WWE and AEW need to do, and they already know this, I do think the stories and the storytelling and the way wrestling is being presented currently can improve quite a bit as a means to attract a more mature audience,” Bischoff said. “One of the mistakes people make, you assume wrestling fans are one type of fan. We sometimes assume that everything everyone wants to see in wrestling is what we’ve been doing, it’s not the case. [Fans] are looking for something fresh.
“Just like dramatic series do, sitcoms do, movies do, music does, books do. They have to evolve in order to keep the imagination of the people that you’re targeting. Whether its USA Network or TNT or Access, any network is going to be proud and excited about content and storytelling that grow that audience, by continuing to make it more interesting.”
Bischoff continued to talk about the wrestling business changing from 1994 to 1997 and into the Attitude Era. He noted that the changes you saw back then won’t happen today.
“That’s not going to happen like that again,” Bischoff said. “The world has changed. Not because Eric Bischoff was a starter than anybody or anything like that, the conditions were absolutely right for that opportunity for the audience to tap in to know what we were doing and to explode. The world has changed since then. Now it’s going to take a longer approach, much more strategic decision. Commit to it and be disciplined enough to stick with it. The audience will follow, they really will.”
Bischoff continued to talk about Pat Patterson and his influence on WWE’s finishes during matches. He said WCW was looking for a way to bring Pat in but knew hearing from talent that it was impossible.
“I didn’t really become aware of Pat Patterson’s influence on WWE’s product until 1995-96,” Bischoff said. “About that same time, I began to understand the relationship between Pat and Vince and how impossible [bringing him to WCW] would have been. Even though I would’ve wanted to bring Pat in, I knew it was impossible.”
“I had as many different people come to me and that knew Pat and what was going on in WWE and they all said the same thing, when it comes to finishes, there’s nobody on the planet better than Pat Patterson. I realized I needed to find somebody because we did not have anybody in WCW that did not have that ability. That’s how Johnny Ace [joined WCW].
“There was no one that I talked to that worked in WWE that didn’t say the same thing about Pat Patterson. I would b—h about it, I would come in and say ‘God, their finishes are so good. We do everything else as well as they do, sometimes better, but our finishes suck. Why is that?’ ”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.