The wrestling world was put on notice last Wednesday night on AEW Dynamite when the show started off with Bryan Danielson and Kenny Omega in one of the greatest television wrestling matches ever. After the match ended in a time-limit draw, both Danielson and Omega have shared their own personal responses to the situation, Bryan asking for a rematch while Omega saying he won’t give him one.
Some people shared criticism about the fact that AEW was giving this match away for free on TNT rather than saving it for a pay per view, but former WCW President Eric Bischoff was not one of them. Bischoff’s positivity towards AEW having the match on free television came as a surprise due to the fact that he received criticism back in the day over his decision to air Hulk Hogan vs. Goldberg for the WCW Championship on TNT.
Bischoff continued to speak about Danielson vs. Omega on the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast where he detailed how the aftermath of the match will give AEW a nice pay per view match down the line. The WWE Hall of Famer also highlighted how AEW still has a lot of ground to cover if they want to start the next wrestling war, but that AEW Grand Slam week was a step in the right direction.
“I thought it was brilliant to put it on free tv,” Bischoff said. “Look, much like WCW was, at this point and stage of their evolution, AEW is primarily a television company and television drives pay per view and vice versa. As AEW is continuing to grow their audience, which they are, what better way to continue to grow that audience for your foundation for the future [than putting the match on free television]?
“They’re still not even half of a decent rating on SmackDown. They’re probably only about 65% of a decent rating on RAW. They’ve got ground to cover. What better way to cover or begin to cover it by bringing in Bryan Danielson and Kenny Omega and putting it on free tv? They’re going to make their money on pay per view, especially with that [time limit draw] finish down the road. But as an investment, what a fantastic way to open up that show.”
During the time NXT and AEW were going head to head on Wednesday nights, Bischoff was very critical of people comparing AEWs success to WWE’s C-show. The former WCW President also shared criticism about how everyone compares the success of WWE and AEW through the lens of the 18-49 age demographic for viewership of each show when it doesn’t tell the whole story.
“I think if you’re an executive in a media buying company or advertising agency, I think [the 18-49 demographic] matters,” Bischoff noted. “To the rest of the world, it doesn’t mean two sh**s. But it is something that everybody can pat themselves on the back for, I’m talking about AEW supporters and fans. I’m not knocking it by the way, I’m excited that everybody is excited. But when somebody asks me what do you think about the focus [on the 18-49 demographic], it’s primarily driven by the internet wrestling community and people that write for it.
“It’s not new, it’s been that way since I made the decision to go after the 18-49 male demo. Not because I was brilliant but because I knew there was no way I was going to beat WWE at what WWE was doing back before Nitro launched. 18-49 has always been important. Today it’s so much of a conversation because it’s a line item that those who are anti-WWE and pro-AEW can go, yeah, but AEW beat WWE in the demo. Big f***in deal, AEW on Wednesday night with no real competition for 18-49 gets a higher percentage of a demo than Monday Night RAW going head to head with Monday Night Football where the vast majority of the 18-49 year olds that watch wrestling also watch football. It’s like me getting into a fist fight with Mike Tyson’s kid and coming out on top of that. I’m just making this up, and if he did or he does, and I were to mop the floor with that 16-18 year old kid, that’s like me walking around saying I beat the sh** out of Tyson.”
Bischoff continued to talk about the Wednesday Night Wars and the issues he had with so many people wanting to compare WWE’s developmental show to AEWs full roster. He also talked about how he hasn’t heard any criticism thrown AEWs way for getting beaten by Friday Night SmackDown now that AEW has Rampage on Friday nights.
“It was the very best lineup on AEWs roster against the developmental squad [of WWE],” Bischoff said. “Not really competition, folks. That’s not the same thing, but everybody wants there to be, and I do too. I’m one of you, but all of us want there to be that Monday Night War vibe. We want that as fans because it was fun and history has taught us that it actually raises the tide and everybody’s boat floats higher when it happens, so we want that. But it’s not really a war yet.
“AEW on a Friday Night is at a very big disadvantage in terms of comparing it to apples to apples, but let’s just go back to the comparison that everybody likes to make. It’s okay when people who write about ratings and talk about 18-49 like it’s the end all be all and it’s not, it’s one component and an important one but it’s not, trust me, when it comes to revenue. Since people like Bryan Alvarez were so excited comparing AEW the A-team vs. NXT the C-team, let’s then do the same thing [on Friday night’s]. If that’s how we’re going to contextualize this battle, what about the fact that SmackDown delivered the week before, more viewers in the demo than AEW had for total viewers? People two years old and above, that’s kind of a big deal but nobody talked about that. Nobody wants to make that kind of comparison because, well, that doesn’t look good.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.