Eric Bischoff On Why WWE Released Talent, WWE Not Being Worried About AEW

On the latest episode of 83 Weeks with host Eric Bischoff, the former WCW President talked about the recent talent released by WWE.

In this latest round of releases, WWE parted ways with Braun Strowman, Lana, Aleister Black, Buddy Murphy, Ruby Riott and Santana Garrett. There was speculation that the recent budget cuts could be leading towards a sale of the company, although an that does not appear to be the case.

Bischoff talked about why he believes WWE has let go of so many talents recently, saying that they're just making smart business decisions. Bischoff also does not believe that the company is setting up for a sale.

"In many respects it's kind of exciting to see the shuffle board being shuffled right in front of your eyes," Bischoff said. "The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced the WWE is not for sale. I'm not suggesting that it'll never happen, nobody knows for sure, I certainly don't have a crystal ball and not privy to any inside information. But I'm more and more convinced that what WWE is doing, Nick Khan probably is the catalyst for a lot of this, is making good business decisions.

"The stock went down and I thought man, it is going to be really hard for this company to get back to where they were but I think WWE's stock today is hovering around $56-58 a share. If I'm WWE, if I'm on the board or the chairman or just a shareholder, I'm sitting here wondering what they're going to do to get that stock price back up. That should be everybody's goal, I'm sure it is. This is just me looking from a million miles away, if I'm involved in some of the decisions in trying to get that stock price up, I'm looking at the talent on my roster which is a significant part of the expenses in WWE."

Many former WWE stars have re-emerged in AEW, the latest being Andrade El Idolo this past Friday on Dynamite. Bischoff spoke to the idea that WWE paid their talents more to avoid them going to AEW but now that they've seen what AEW is, they're less worried.

"We've got 300 people on contract, perhaps that's too many," Bischoff said. "Maybe there was a reason for it, maybe the emergence of AEW a couple of years ago. I don't want to say the fear of the unknown, but the awareness of the unknown. Not being sure what AEW was going to mean, not sure what the impact was going to be on my business. I would agree that locking up some talent, perhaps paying them more for that talent and I might otherwise pay under the conditions I'm looking at.

"But now we know what AEW is, that's not disparaging it in any way, they're doing very well. I'm proud for them, but it is what it is and I think they probably went okay, we need to shore this business model up, make some adjustments. I'm more convinced now then I was last week that what WWE is doing is aggressively managing their business model and it's exciting man. I think when the dust settles, we're going to see WWE's stock price back to where it was pre-COVID, I think we're going to see a new touring model that makes more sense in the long run and I don't think WWE is going anywhere. At least in the near future."

Bischoff has noted in the past that AEW is not real competition to WWE, and that WWE is on a different planet than AEW. Bischoff once agains noted that AEW is not competition for WWE, and isn't close.

"My opinion is [AEW] are not [competition]," Bischoff said. "They're not even close. They are not even in the same universe in many many respects. You can't really compare WWE to AEW. AEW has been around effectively for 2 years, WWE has been around for 30 or 40 years or whatever it's been. My point is you can't really compare them and what AEW is doing now, in my opinion, as is MLW, IMPACT, ROH, is they're taking advantage of and drafting from the massive audience that WWE has created. There's enough interest in wrestling in general, in large part because of the success of WWE over the decades, that companies like AEW or IMPACT or ROH or MLW [can come in]. I think more and more MLW is going to be a part of the conversation more than it has been in a while, but all these companies are taking advantage of an audience but they're not taking anything away from WWE, they're just not.

"When AEW or any other company starts taking market share, like I did, like WCW did; now you've got my attention. Until then, everybody's just showing up to the party and taking some free chips. It's not costing WWE anything. Maybe you can suggest that one of the reasons Braun Strowman for example was able to negotiate such a big contract was because Vince was afraid he was going to go to AEW, sure, we've covered that. But I think now [WWE] is at the point where everybody's going, it's cool for [AEW], it's good for the business, everybody loves variety, it doesn't hurt anybody and they're not taking anything away from [WWE]. I'm interested to see what happens when people actually start taking market share, that they're currently not taking. That was my goal back then [in WCW]."

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