Eric Bischoff On Areas Where AEW Can Improve

Appearing on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, Eric Bischoff was asked to compare AEW to WWE in the current wrestling landscape. Bischoff, who worked for WWE in 2019 and has made a handful of appearances on AEW program, said that they're not promotions that can really be compared. Despite that, Eric Bischoff stated he favors AEW's production more than WWE's and believes the promotion has been really successful.


"I don't think you can really compare them. It's not apples to apples," Bischoff said. "Obviously AEW has been really successful over the last two years. They've gone from 'what AEW? Is that like a plumbers union?' to being a very successful program in primetime television on a major network? That alone is a major accomplishment. But how do you compare that to the billion dollars a year that WWE is making and returning to its shareholders? It's two different things, so I don't want to compare them that way.

"I'll just say what I like about AEW. I've been saying for the last fifteen years that WWE is too overproduced. It's too perfect, it's so perfect it no longer feels real. I can't connect to it. In my opinion, this is just my opinion based on 30-some-odd years of being in the industry, I think wrestling works as a TV product for a lot of reasons. But one of the core reasons and wrestling has been around since the beginning of TV time. It was one of the most successful TV programs at the beginning of TV history. And the reason for that, and it's a lot of the reason why live sports works as well as it does, is it allows the viewer to feel like you're in the arena. You're not. You're sitting in the comfort of your own home.


"But live TV, live-action TV, especially wrestling, allow the home viewer to feel like they're in the cheap seats. Not at ringside necessarily, but in those seats just above. You feel like you're there. And when you start feeling like you're there, it makes it easier for one to enjoy the story that's playing out in front of them or the characters that are playing out in front of them. AEW does a great job of creating that sense, allowing the viewer to feel like they're there even when they're not. When I watch WWE, I feel like I'm in a movie theater watching the producers of Disney on Ice. It's too glitzy. Let me see something I shouldn't see. Don't shoot around every little imperfection. Don't spend quite as much money on all those lights. This is making me feel like I'm in a movie theater and not in an arena. I've never been in an arena that looks like that unless you're watching a wrestling event from WWE. I don't like that."

Later, Eric Bischoff was asked if there's anything AEW could learn from the promotion Bischoff used to help run WCW. He doesn't believe that to be the case, though there are things he feels AEW can improve on.

"I don't think there's anything necessarily to learn," Bischoff said. "What's AEW called, their number one show? Dynamite? Kind of like Nitro, right? There are so many things about Dynamite that, I don't want to say — it's not a rip-off, but there's a reflection of a lot of what made Nitro work in the AEW product. There should be things in the AEW product that work in WWE. Go ahead and take that too. There are basically seven original ideas on planet earth. Every other idea that's out there is a derivative of one of seven. Take whatever is good from whomever, and figure out a way to make it your own and feel like it's your own and be successful with it. That's why I didn't want to say derivative even of WCW, but I think there are elements that made that show work that we do see in the AEW formula, as I would expect it to be.


"I don't want to say I worry because I have no skin in the game, but man, they're stacking a lot of talent. And the nature of talent is they want to be talented, they want to perform. And there's kind of like this math formula that says you have this amount of TV and this amount of talent, and you've got to kind of fit this amount of talent into this amount of TV. It's great to have backup and development talent, and have those backup quarterbacks if you will that are ready to go in case there's an urgent injury, or a contractual conflict, anything. You've got to have a backup. But there's a lot of talent there that I think a year or a year and a half from now that are going to go, 'I thought I was going to get an opportunity to be a star.' And that can create its own kind of challenge that has to be managed.

"I would really like to see a more structured formula because I'm seeing a lot of the same flaws in AEW's approach to what is referred to as storytelling that isn't, in terms of its structure and discipline. The bad thing about that is it's leaving money on the table. You're running through matches, but you're not throwing any story up on the wall that's sticking in a way that's growing the audience. That's the hard part. How do you grow the audience? Now how do you satisfy an existing audience? That's called preaching to the choir. You want to expand the congregation and attract people that are otherwise not attracted to you, and the only way to do that is with great stories and great characters."


Another question Bischoff was asked is where he sees AEW in five years. He kept his answer simple; he's not sure.

"I have no idea and I don't think anybody has an idea," Bischoff said. "TV is changing so fast. Let's just assume for the sake of this question and discussion everything pretty much stays the same. Streaming platforms, the relationship between current streaming and TV, everything stays the same. Based on what I can see, admittedly, I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, I don't know what the larger strategy is if there is one. I have no idea. I'm just sitting on the outside, watching it like everybody else."

One thing Eric Bischoff is more sure about is the future of WWE, which he does believe is heading towards a sale. That makes him interested in who will run WWE after owner and chairman Vince McMahon, and Bischoff believes none of the potential candidates are likely to end up in the position McMahon currently holds.

"If you had asked me that question six months ago, I probably would've been able to answer it," Bischoff said. "But right now, I'm leaning towards, I don't know, Disneyworld? Like I said, six months ago we would've argued about this and I probably would've not budged on my position, but I'm becoming a little bit more open to the idea that it probably or could be at least partially true. And just look at the moves. And I also look behind the scenes. It's like, we've all had this conversation in one shape or form. What happens if Vince leaves? If he go out on the job, which is probably the way he'd want to go, or does he decide to buy a yacht and go to Barbados? Who's going to step into that spot? Is it going to be Triple H? I don't think so. He would've already been there. Is it going to be Stephanie? Been there, done that, she's a mom now. Is Bruce Prichard going to do it? Who's going to do it? Nick Khan, he's in and out. He's in there to make a deal happen and move on down the road."


If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette and provide an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription