Eric Bischoff Continues Tony Khan Criticisms, Thinks AEW Is “Spinning” Ratings Data

Former WCW President Eric Bischoff set the wrestling world ablaze when he called out AEW President Tony Khan over several comments he made, notably comparing himself to Ted Turner.

In a tweet, Khan said if Turner knew 1% of what he did about the professional wrestling business then WCW would still be in business today. Bischoff responded to the tweet on his podcast, stating that it was an ignorant statement from Khan to compare himself to the Turner boss.

On the latest episode of the 83 Weeks Podcast, Bischoff continued his stance regarding Ted Turner and Tony Khan, stating that the tweet lit a fuse under him. The WWE Hall of Famer said Tony doesn't have a clue what he's talking about in regards to if Turner knew anything about wrestling, and advised him to read Guy Evans' book, NITRO: The Incredible Rise and Inevitable Collapse of WCW.

"When Tony came out and said 'If Ted Turner knew one percent of what I do about professional wrestling, WCW would still be in business.' That lit my f***ing fuse for a couple of reasons," Bischoff said. "Let me point out a couple of things, I'm 99.9999% sure that Tony Khan doesn't have a f***ing idea what he's talking about in terms of if Ted Turner was a wrestling fan. I know I don't. I can find out. I can call his son Teddy and probably will soon because I'm curious as to how far back Ted Turner's relationship with professional wrestling and when did that start. Was he a wrestling fan when he grew up? I don't know, and neither does Tony. So right off the bat, Tony made a statement that was misleading and ignorant in the literal sense of the word.

"It was an ignorant statement for Tony to compare himself to Ted Turner. If there's anything that's laughable, that's it. The last time I checked, the T in TNT and the T in TBS stands for Turner, which is a media empire that Ted started from scratch. For Tony to be in a position he is and AEW is on a Ted Turner network, to come out and suggest that Ted knew nothing about professional wrestling, which he doesn't know if that's true or not. Then, what made it worse, and this is the height of the literal definition of ignorance and this one was self inflicted, for Tony to suggest that if Ted knew as much about professional wrestling as Tony Khan does, then WCW would still be around?

"I'm going to ask Guy Evans to send Tony the Nitro book that Guy wrote. Guy Evans interviewed over a hundred people from Turner who, at that time, some of them worked for me, reported to me, some of them didn't even report to me. Guy also interviewed people that were way way above my pay grade who were hands-on instrumental in Turner at the time of the AOL TimeWarner merger and all of the things that that represented. Those executives know why WCW isn't around, and that's all in the book. All Tony would have to do is read that book and Tony would realize that it wasn't because Ted Turner didn't know 1% of what Tony Khan knows about professional wrestling. That was a really stupid comment to make, and I was very disappointed to hear it."

The former WCW President stated that the post about Turner was the origin of what started his frustration with Tony and his constant comparisons of AEW to WWE. Bischoff also emphatically stated that Tony Khan is no Ted Turner, and that AEW is not competing with WWE.

"I've said stupid things, I'm capable of that," Bischoff said. "I get it when you're emotionally involved and in the fight, sometimes dumb s**t comes out of your mouth. Guilty as charged, but that one lit me up and I reacted viscerally. I still feel as strongly today as I did last week. Tony Khan, I know Ted Turner and you are no Ted Turner. That's what made me go, 'you know what? I'm going to put this s**t in context. AEW is not in head-to-head competition, they're just not. They're in the same industry. To somehow spin that and try to suggest that you are a more popular product, you are a more successful product, you are winning some kind of ratings war that only exists in the mind of dirt sheet writers and people that want to try and spin reality. That's not right."

Tony Khan responded to Bischoff's initial critical comments during an interview with Busted Open Radio where he also spoke about beating WWE in the 18-49 demographic on Friday night and how TNT was "over the moon" about it. Bischoff spoke about his main issue with Khan and AEW, and why he doesn't think the narrative about them winning this battle is true.

"It's the messaging, it's the narrative that they won," Bischoff said. "Keep in mind that SmackDown was on a third or fourth tier cable outlet, FS1. TNT is typically in the top five or ten of all cable outlets on a pretty consistent basis based on the time of year and things like that. FS1 is typically in the bottom third of cable outlets. Now, they can be available in almost as many homes but availability doesn't equate to, in a real world, popularity. I think the average daily audience for FS1 is probably somewhere around 184,000 viewers, where the average daily audience for TNT is probably in the 500,000-700,000 viewers. That's a big difference.

"To suggest when SmackDown, whether it's going head-to-head with you for 30 minutes or not, that you beat them while they were on a third or fourth tier cable outlet, is a little creative. It's not not true, but it's also not realistic either. It's not real head-to-head competition, and that is the core of my point. My whole "shut up and wrestle" comment was either go head-to-head with them– you've used the term head-to-head so often. Put your best show, which is Dynamite, up against them on USA, because USA and TNT are probably neck and neck on average daily viewers. Put it head-to-head and see what happens. Let the audience decide who's got the better product, and that's a real head-to-head competition. If you do that Tony, or anybody in AEW, you make that move and out perform WWE the way Nitro did, then by all means, brag your ass off. But when you're on the side lines and not playing on a level playing field, and you win a certain demographic during a limited period of time and try to spin that as a win? I'm sorry."

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