Eric Bischoff: "AEW Has Flatlined And It's Been That Way Essentially For A Year"

On the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff talked about the 2011 TNA Against All Odds pay-per-view. TNA at the time was averaging over a million viewers for their weekly televised show, however they couldn't get more than 15,000 buys for this PPV event. Bischoff talked about why TNA failed to sell their PPVs and stated that the issue may have been due to the lack of marketing for the shows.

"They had primetime television on a major outlet, they had ratings that relatively speaking were pretty solid for that time," Bischoff said. "I think 1.3 – 1.5 million viewers. With some lukewarm booking you should be able to convert 2.5 – 3% of your viewers into the pay per view. The numbers should have been there, perhaps TNA didn't have the relationship they needed with pay per view providers."

Bischoff compared TNA's struggles and failures in the early 2010s to the success AEW has achieved in terms of marketing. He said TNA didn't have the perspective of marketing their company outside of wrestling fans while AEW has marketed to everyone and spent money doing so.

"AEW does a good job of marketing themselves outside of their television show," Bischoff said. "TNA had the outlook or perspective that all you had to do was put a television show on the air and people will come. That's true to a certain degree, but you've got to preach outside the choir in your own church to attract a bigger audience or even in a subtle way making your product feel more important to the people that do watch you on T.V. Making that pay per view feel like it's must see.

"A large part of that is booking and to a large extent that was a failure in TNA and WCW and occasionally in WWE and AEW. There are storylines that are weak but there are also storylines in WWE and AEW that are really compelling that make up for it. Look at some of the stuff AEW has done in the last year and half to promote themselves outside of the people that are watching the show every week. They've spent lots of money, TNA wasn't willing too."

Bischoff also responded to comments that Chris Jericho made in 2011 about TNA needing to try to do something different to enhance their product.

"If I was working for TNA I would project that it's the greatest wrestling company in the world because if you're not projecting it, why is anyone going to believe it?" Jericho said at the time. "When we were in ECW it was small, I never made more than $250 a show but you would die for that company and when you came across that way, the fans came across that way and suddenly you have this underground revolution going on and it was real, it was a revolution, people believed it was the best. No one in TNA believes they are in the best company and if they don't believe it then why am I going to believe it as a fan? Why am I going to buy their product?

"[TNA's] just so bush league, they can do better than that and the guys on top there should know better and it really makes me mad because they're wasting money and they don't have to be wasting money but I'm not burying TNA I'm saying you should be ashamed of yourself because you can do better."

Bischoff said those comments could now be used in reference to AEW and that AEW needs to find a way to grow their brand.

"I think it's going to come back to bite him in the ass is what I think," Bischoff said. "AEW last week they did about 800,000 viewers, they opened the door with 1.5 million viewers and haven't been able to crack 1 million since or if they have it's been only on 1 or 2 occasions. They've essentially flatlined at 7 or 800,000 viewers on average for the last year and a half.

"That's an observation that could, unless something turns around in the next 18 months, come back to haunt someone like Chris. Quite frankly, AEW has flatlined and it's been that way essentially for a year. It's easy to talk about a business you're not really in. Chris has never run a wrestling business and when he made that statement, he was making it from a position of a talent not an executive."

Bischoff also noted how wrestling fans today need to stop being so critical of the show they watch. He mentioned how it's better if fans just try and enjoy what they watch and forget everything else.

"Don't watch it to try to be an arm-chair quarterback or a critic or an expert, just watch it and enjoy it and take it for what it is and look for the bright spots in it," Bischoff said. "We all have opinions and some things we like better than others.

"But if you go into it watching anything with the intent of picking it apart and making fun of it because you want to impress people on the internet, you're going into it not being able to appreciate some of the stuff you're going to see. When I do watch wrestling, I try really hard to not look at it from an analytical standpoint, I enjoy it much more."

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.