As teased by the debuting Paul Wight, the surprise appearance of a “Hall Of Fame” worthy talent got a lot of people building up their expectations. As a former President of WCW, Bischoff spoke about AEW failing to meet the expectations of many fans.
“I was disappointed for Christian in particular,” Bischoff said. “Managing expectations, creating an expectation or creating anticipation, therein lies the art in promotion. Making people want to see, want to feel, that’s the art part, the biggest part of being successful in anything in entertainment. Managing anticipation and expectation is the most important thing you can do when you’re planning for a big moment. You want to get people excited about it but you have to manage that. You fail to manage the velocity of all that enthusiasm and you under deliver this much based on unrealistic expectations, by the way, that you created. You have created those unrealistic expectations and when you aren’t able to fulfill them, it’s a let down.
“That’s a reality. It doesn’t matter what business you are in. Had Christian just shown up in an impactful way without any advertisement, any promotion, without any expectation or any anticipation, guess what would’ve happened? He would’ve been the hottest topic of conversation for the next two months. The audience would’ve looked at Christian from an entirely different perspective or angle. ‘Holy s--t!’ Because they would’ve been getting something they didn’t expect or anticipate.”
Bischoff speculated on what would have happened if AEW would have just debuted Christian as a surprise appearance instead of advertising him as a “huge, huge” name. He said that even for Paul Wight to debut in an interview with Tony Schiavone was a bit underwhelming and that the company needs to learn how to manage the expectations of their fans.
“AEW would have over-delivered on expectations instead of creating an unrealistic one and then underdelivering,” Bischoff said. “That’s experience and that’s instinct and you have to understand the audience to understand the risks when you introduce someone like that or create these big moments that you’re intentionally raising expectations about. Big Show is a little bit different because I don’t think, I don’t know, Big Show is going to be more of an on camera personality as opposed to an in-ring personality. I think there could have been a different way to introduce him that would have had more impact than an interview with Tony Schiavone.”
The main event at AEW Revolution featured the company’s first attempt at an Exploding Barbed Wire DeathMatch involving AEW World Champion Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley. As brutal and violent as the match was, the ending after the match saw a failed explosive that resulted in fans booing and chanting for refunds. Bischoff spoke about AEW once again building the expectations to an all time high for the main event, only see them be crumbled when the failed explosion happened. He said the build for the match got him to buy the pay-per-view, only to be let down by the ending.
“The same thing kind of happened with the main event match with AEW [Revolution],” Bischoff said. “I went out of my way, I wanted to watch that match because from a producer’s perspective, man you built this thing up, holy s--t you’ve got everybody’s attention including mine. They did a great job of raising expectation and the anticipation and they did a poor job of execution. I respect Tony Khan, I like Tony, Moxley, Omega, phenomenal match, match wise. But it’s like putting a bunch of great actors in a 120 minute movie and 118 minutes of it were fantastic and the last 2 minutes suck, guess what people are going to talk about walking out the door? They’re going to talk about the suck-age.
“It’s unfortunate but learning how to manage expectations and control them, make them work for you not against you. You can’t just throw s--t out there and say everybody is going to get excited. Yeah, they’re going to get excited, you need to think about the other side of 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.