Since the inception of AEW, the WCW comparisons have been glaring; from the show airing on TNT every week to several members of the WCW roster and backstage crew being with the new company.
Of all the comparisons being made, AEW President Tony Khan ruffled some feathers when he stated that AEW was in the 1996 WCW stage of their development. Khan also shared several critical tweets about the company, stating that if Ted Turner had known 1% of what he does about the wrestling business, then WCW would still be around today.
Being the former President of WCW, Eric Bischoff jumped all over those comments when he stated that Khan comparing himself too Turner was an ignorant and uninformed statement. Jump to this week and Bischoff reiterated his stance and claimed that AEW had many benefits that WCW never did during its inception. He added that the goodwill that AEW started with, WCW had to gain over time.
“[AEW] came into existence at a point in time when the audience was craving an alternative,” Bischoff mentioned. “They had a clean slate. They didn’t bring in any negative baggage like WCW did when we launched Nitro. We had everyone telling us, telling me, especially the Dave Meltzers of the world that, ‘This is never going to work. Bischoff doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s got no experience. WCW is going to fail, it’s going to be an embarrassment. He’s going to cause Turner to pull the plug.’ All that s**t was out there because nobody thought it could ever happen.
“On top of that, WCW had a very negative association with the audience. It was a mismanaged disaster of a company that was #2 at the time, but they might as well have been #152 to WWE. And AEW didn’t have that issue, AEW came in with massive amounts of public support and good will. WCW didn’t have that, we had to fight up from out of the sewage to finally reach dry ground, then find the mountain, and then climb the mountain. AEW didn’t have to do that, all they had to do was say we’re coming out. We’re doing this, and hire a couple key pieces of talent and they’re off and running, and had all of this goodwill. What happens when you start putting yourself over, in my opinion, prematurely and the way they’re doing it by constantly denigrating and comparing to WWE? You start losing that goodwill because people see through it.”
On this podcast, Bischoff was very critical of Khan and AEW based of the response the AEW President gave as a guest on the Busted Open Radio show regarding Bischoff telling the company to “shut up and wrestle.” Bischoff stated that CM Punk has “sh** the bed” since joining AEW and hasn’t lived up to the expectations when they signed him.
Bischoff continued to talk on the podcast about the mistakes Khan and AEW are making based on the goodwill they’ve had from fans of the company from their inception. The former WCW President believes the company creating a false competition with WWE will eventually lead to fans seeing through it and erode the support and goodwill they’ve built.
“The mistake you’re inventing is to take all of this goodwill that you were the beneficiary of by virtue of the fact that you launched a new promotion on a major cable outlet, and you’re going to erode that goodwill over time with the incessant, and not entirely honest in the sense of context comparison of your product to their product,” Bischoff said. “That, to me, is not anger, or jealousy, or sensitivity, or anything, that’s just I’ve been through this s**t and I know what happens, and they’re doing it.
“Don’t lose that goodwill by trying to paint a picture that, in reality, is misleading because the context isn’t there. Don’t blow a good thing. You’ve got a great thing, Tony. I’ve said before there are a lot of things I like subjectively about the AEW product more than I like about the WWE product. I’ve talked about those things and I still feel that way, but you’re going to eventually erode the support that you came to the dance with by creating the narrative that you’ve been creating. Not just because of the Friday night when there was a, quote-unquote, head to head that I’d call an overlap, by constantly beating on that drum you’re going to erode your support. People are going to see through that s**t. Dave Meltzer won’t, Bryan Alvarez won’t, but the audience will, and the reaction that I got suggests that I’m at least partially right.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.