Eric Bischoff shot back at Tony Khan and AEW on the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast when he addressed some of Khan’s recent tweets referring to Ted Turner and WCW along with AEW’s ongoing “war” with WWE.
AEW Owner and President Tony Khan took to Twitter last week to share his thoughts about WWE SmackDown extended their show an extra half hour to compete with AEW. In the tweet, Khan referred to how he “can’t wait to finally beat” WWE’s main show head-to-head.
Former WCW President Eric Bischoff was very critical of Khan’s prediction of outperforming WWE and stated that it was a bad move for AEW’s business. He also stated that the tweet didn’t do AEW any favors and talked about how they had 200,000 less viewers that night than SmackDown.
“Let me first say, I am pulling for AEW to be hugely successful,” Bischoff stated. “I am a supporter of AEW, I am grateful that AEW is doing well on TNT. There’s a lot of things I like about AEW but some of Tony Khan’s comments this week are not doing him any favors let’s put it that way. I think it’s cool that Tony responded and AEW responded to the fact that WWE did a half hour overrun to challenge AEW as their show started at 10 o’clock. I like that and think that was great. I would’ve tried to do the same thing so I have no criticism for what Tony is doing but I think some of the things Tony is saying is not a good look. To come out and predict as he did that AEW is going to outperform [WWE].
“Keep in mind, for all of you people that are out there who are focused on ratings and demos, nobody is putting anything into context. The wrestling audience wants there to be a legitimate Monday Night War version 2.0 so badly that they all participate in cosplay competition. To come out and predict that AEW was going to defeat SmackDown on FS1 was a bad choice. SmackDown delivered somewhere just under 800,000 viewers, AEW delivered just under 600,000 viewers. Not a good look. It wasn’t slightly, it was to the tune of 30-35%, that’s not insignificant. Even more so, that all happened on FOX Sports One. [Tony Khan’s] tweet didn’t do AEW any favors. You might have served the internet fan base but you’re not serving your business well because you got your ass kicked on Friday night. Simple as that.”
Along with his tweet about SmackDown, Tony Khan also posted one being critical towards Ted Turner, stating that if he knew “1% of what I know about professional wrestling” then WCW would still be around today. Being the former President of WCW, Bischoff was extremely critical of Khan for those comments, stating the tweet was ignorant and made him look uninformed by saying it.
“That is a completely uninformed, therefore ignorant comment to make,” Bischoff said. “Ignorant because I don’t think Tony knows whether or not Ted Turner grew up a wrestling fan or not, I don’t either by the way. If you know anything at all about Ted Turner, if you’ve read anything that’s been written in Teds own words, Ted believed in wrestling above all else other than perhaps the Braves. Professional wrestling is one of the reasons that TBS got off the ground because Ted Turner knew that professional wrestling was a staple of the audience that he was trying to generate and knew it would bring eyeballs. The fact that Tony Khan is even on TNT, which at least when I was there stood for Turner Network Television, and then to come out and compare himself to Ted Turner and suggest if Ted knew anything at all about professional wrestling on the level that Tony Khan does, that WCW would still be around?
“That was an ignorant statement. Further has got me questioning what Tony really knows. Read the book, The Rise and Fall of Nitro by Guy Evans, Tony. If you’re going to come out and compare yourself to Ted Turner, which is laughable, and say things like that, read the book you’ll not embarrass yourself quite as badly. I thought that statement really made Tony look childish, uninformed. I know he’s a brilliant guy and I like Tony, he’s doing a lot of things right but when he comes out publicly and says these stupid things he’s coming off like a dirt sheet writer. That might serve your internet wrestling audience but it’s not doing a damn thing for your ratings.”
Bischoff continued his criticism of Khan and AEW, stating that he’s tired of hearing about how much better the company is than WCW when they haven’t proven it. The WWE Hall of Famer also mentioned that AEW needs to embrace being an underdog and stop talking about competing with WWE who “makes more money going over to Saudi Arabia in one weekend than AEW is going to make from Turner for the entire year.”
“All I hear out of AEW is how much better they are [than WCW], but I’m not seeing it,” Bischoff said. “What did Friday night [AEW Rampage] do [in the ratings] with CM Punk in a match? 593,000 viewers? I’m sorry that’s just not impressive at all. On top of it, the Dynamite numbers really are not [impressive], they’re over a million, that’s great. TNT is probably happy just like Viacom and Spike TV was thrilled with TNA IMPACT, they were thrilled with it, it was one of the highest rated shows on the network, still doesn’t mean much. I just would hope at some point that Tony embraces the role of being an underdog. That’s kind of the advice I was giving to Cody [on Rhodes to the Top] hoping others would see it.
“They’re the underdog, AEW is at the point now where people want them to succeed but by continually talking about how much better they are than WWE and talking about the competition, first of all, they’re not in competition with WWE. They’re in the same industry but they’re not competition in the real sense. If you’re going to say you’re competing with WWE, then let’s talk numbers because numbers are objective. Is AEW anywhere near WWE in terms of revenue? No. WWE is going to make more money going over to Saudi Arabia for one weekend than AEW is going to make from Turner for the entire year of programming. So there’s no comparison from a revenue point of view, there’s no comparison in terms of their global viewer footprint. On what basis is there a real competition?”
As previously reported, during the podcast, Bischoff also talked about advice he would give to Tony Khan and discussed another post the AEW boss made about his company being in the “1996 WCW” stage of their development. Bischoff finished off his comments on the podcast by talking about what bothers him the most about AEW and how they’re not even close to 1996 WCW.
“The whole cosplay competition and burying your competition while they are kicking your ass,” Bischoff said. “What matters is the numbers and when it comes to the numbers, AEW has got a long way to go. They’re not even close to where I was in 1996, not even close in terms of real competition because they’re not really competing.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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