Eric Bischoff On If CM Punk To AEW Will Change The Landscape Of Pro Wrestling

Former WCW President Eric Bischoff spoke on the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast about CM Punk likely returning to wrestling and heading to AEW.

The WWE Hall of Famer mentioned how massive the signing of Punk to AEW would be for the company. He also spoke about whether or not the company should reveal Punk in advance or have his first appearance be a surprise.

"Obviously [Punk signing with AEW] will be a massive shot in the arm, it will be a huge step forward," Bischoff said. "If it happens. I'm a big proponent of surprise, I have such a high level in the long term benefit of establishing yourself as a platform that creates surprises on a consistent basis and CM Punk would be a great opportunity had it been just a surprise. But, I'm also a big advocate of creating anticipation. What AEW has done a great job of doing is creating anticipation and we're seeing the results of that manifest with ticket sales so good on them, as long as he shows up.

"I wouldn't want to be in the office the next day if the CM Punk thing is not a reality. Now I don't believe that it is not a reality, I do believe it is a reality, so the risk here I'm almost laughing about and talking about is because it is laughable. I don't think that anybody, especially a guy like Tony Khan, who is a smart guy and surrounded by smart people, would walk this far out on the plank only to know they're not going to deliver. I think what they've done has been pretty artful and pretty well done and I think it's going to portend big things in the future."

It has been reported that WWE's television partners, FOX and NBCUniversal / USA Network, are not happy with Punk joining AEW. Bischoff believes that this signing could have a major impact on the business as a whole if AEW handles it correctly.

"Will it change the landscape?" Bischoff said. "I don't know what the landscape means. Will it change the balance of power between WWE and AEW in terms of market share? Not in terms of subjective opinion because nobody gives a f*** about that. Market share is what people should be considering and thinking about in this war and when we talk about things like landscape. Do I think it will change the landscape? I think it will for a while. I think it can in the long term depend on a lot of things. How do they use Punk? How often is he available, is he once a year, twice a year, four times a year attraction or is he part of weekly storylines? Those are all things we don't know, none of us do.

"In the short term it's going to have a major impact because I think a lot of fans that are WWE fans are going to sample AEW who perhaps haven't sampled AEW yet. Punk could be the solution and the silver bullet for the yet because if WWE audience crosses over to sample it because of a guy like CM Punk, provided you're able to hold them and give them something they're committed to in the long term, then yes I think it can have a pretty substantial impact on market share."

During his time with WWE, CM Punk also did commentary while he was dealing with injuries. Bischoff spoke about the idea that Punk could get eased into his role with AEW and actually arrive to the company as an announcer before actually wrestling.

"If it works the way I'm guessing and again, I'm so far removed from the actual day-to-day wrestling business, my opinions are just as valuable as anybody listening to this, maybe not even more so," Bischoff said. "You gotta know what we don't know and here's what we don't know, how long is the contract, how often are his appearances, is he weekly, is he monthly, is he quarterly? All of those things factor into how much impact it will have on the pay per view business but if Punk is integrated into storylines on a regular enough basis to where he keeps a connection to the fans and his story remains somewhat intact and not starting over every three months, then I think it can have a dramatic impact on revenues. If he's popping in, kind of like Goldberg does with WWE and he comes in and they build a short story around it and then he's in and he's out, then I think it will be negligible long term.

"We don't know what AEW's short term, mid term, long term plans are creatively. It's hard to distinguish or create a what's best scenario here. Just to keep it simple: do I think fans will be disappointed if they ease Punk into a story and eventually we see him in the ring vs. throwing him right into the middle of an angle? Yeah, I think there will be some. Because fans, look, I'm impatient. I don't have the most patience in the world and I think there are so many fantasy booking ideas in the fan's head of who Punk can work with and what those matches might look like and it's fun to have those conversations and that's what makes it fun. There's a lot of good what if scenarios there. You're going to have a portion of the audience initially will be disappointed if Punk starts out as an announcer and eventually ends up in a story but I think it will be short lived. I don't know Punk at all, I don't think I've ever even met him. I don't know him, I don't know where his head is at, what his goals are. These are all variables that you don't know what you don't know."

Bischoff also revealed his ideal way of debuting Punk in AEW.

"I wouldn't put him in a hot angle right away," Bischoff mentioned. "I wouldn't hot shot it, I would want to continue to build on the successful anticipation element that AEW has built upon. I wouldn't drag it out for 6 months but I like the idea of Punk, especially because he can talk, coming in on commentary, stirring the shit and building upon that for a couple of weeks and then eventually have a spontaneous combustible moment and then leads to a wrestling storyline. That's probably what I would do. Not because Punk needs to acclimate or ring rust, those things can all be addressed.

"If Punk wants to be ready for a main event match in 60 days or 30 days, he'll get there. Will he be at his peak? Probably not but that's okay, CM Punk if he's 90% or 80% of his peak capabilities that will be just fine. There isn't any risk of exposing him too soon in a hot angle, I just think that you're squandering the value of anticipation and the story to create must see TV in the sense that 'Will it happen this week?' You've got 3 or 4 weeks of great build that will enhance his first major angle as opposed to hot shotting it and satisfying the audience right out of the gate. I'd rather satisfy them over a longer period of time."

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