The week will be centered around the first match in AEW between Kenny Omega and Bryan Danielson, who are arguably two of the greatest in-ring wrestlers of all time. AEW President Tony Khan also revealed plans to host AEW Grand Slam week in New York every year.
On the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff spoke about AEW having two shows at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and revealed he had never heard of the stadium before. Bischoff also said after seeing videos of the venue, he thinks it’s the perfect place for AEW to make their New York debut in.
“I was completely unfamiliar with the Arthur Ashe Stadium,” Bischoff mentioned. “I was, up until recently, obviously never been there and never worked there. I didn’t even know it really existed to be honest with you. It was off my radar, then when I heard that AEW was going to Arthur Ashe Stadium, it’s freakin’ New York man. If they’re going to do a big event in New York, that’s going to be a good move because it’s New York. It helps brand the product in a big way. Then I saw some video and stills of Arthur Ashe and thought this place is built for wrestling. This is a perfect venue visually, the way the seating is, and it has a deep kind of bowl look. Damn, that’s going to be sweet, so kudos to the team for choosing that venue because it was a brilliant choice.”
Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson on free television has been drawing many comparisons to the time WCW gave away Hulk Hogan vs. Goldberg on free television in Atlanta, Georgia with over 40,000 fans in attendance. The difference between the two matches, of course, is the fact that AEW is presenting that matchup as non-title while WCW actually crowned Goldberg that night as the WCW Champion by defeating Hulk Hogan.
Being the former President of WCW, Bischoff spoke about the comparisons to his company giving away a major match on free television to what AEW is doing this week. The WWE Hall of Famer said the narrative of WCW making a mistake in that situation was created from the wrestling media at the time, and blames Wrestling Observers Dave Meltzer for the negativity he’s received for giving away that match on television instead of pay-per-view.
“That was the narrative,” Bischoff mentioned. “Where did that start? It certainly didn’t start with Turner Broadcasting, it certainly didn’t start within WCW. It started with the wrestling internet community driven primarily by people like Dave Meltzer who had to pick apart and do anything he could to criticize me and WCW. That’s where all of that started and it built over the years that narrative. Everybody went ‘They should’ve done that,’ without really understanding the business even though they think they do. It’s one of those things I get hit with pretty regularly on social media, ‘Yeah but, you gave away Goldberg and Hogan on TV, you’re the reason WCW died, that was the perfect example of why it died.’ All because of the internet wrestling community. It f***ing worked. Yes, we were a television company. Turner Broadcasting’s primary goal was television. Yes, they wanted to make money in the process but given the choice of pay per view or TV, 99 times out of 100 it’s going to be put it on TV. That’s the driver, that’s why WCW existed from the very f***ing beginning because Ted Turner believed wrestling would bring eyeballs to the network.
Bischoff highlighted how he appreciates Tony Khan and AEW for “having the balls” to follow in his footsteps by giving away a dream match on free television. The former WCW boss said Khan is doing a great job and making great decisions by building anticipation for AEW Grand Slam this week.
“Now, here we are in 2021. You’ve got a new company in AEW, you’ve got Turner, obviously this is not the same Turner. Everything’s different except for one thing, it’s still a television company,” Bischoff mentioned. “Television rights are the largest line item in WWE’s quarterly statements, that’s where the majority of their money is coming from, it’s television rights. In AEWs case, that’s definitely the case, nothing has changed, folks. The only thing that’s changed is how people write about it because of their relationships and their proximity.
“Nothing has changed, it’s the same and I think it’s a great move by the way [to have the match]. Congrats to Tony Khan for having the balls to do it and for following in my footsteps. The template was built and here are some of the mistakes, here are some of the downfalls, here are some of the things that shouldn’t have happened. That’s great. Let’s take those things out of the formula. Right now, Tony Khan is doing a great job, team AEW is doing a great job. They’re making great decisions, they’re building anticipation, and then delivering in their execution. How can you pick that apart?”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.