During a recent episode of Strictly Business with Eric Bischoff, the former WCW President spoke about the idea that the casual wrestling fan is gone and why he does not believe in that idea.
The WWE Hall of Famer took the topic many are discussing and mentioned what his definition of a casual wrestling fan is.
“How do you define the casual fan? I don’t know if there’s one definition and everybody will have their own definition,” Bischoff said. “I’ve always considered casual fans within the context of research as people who drop in once or twice a month and always have. They still like it, if there’s nothing going on if they have some time and they don’t have anything else they’re really interested in doing at that moment.
“They might almost habitually check out wrestling. They probably don’t go to live events or go to one or two pay-per-views a year, but they still have an affinity for the product and will tune in occasionally. That’s a casual fan to me but I’m sure for other people they might have a different definition of that.”
CM Punk made headlines in November during the AEW Full Gear Post Show Media Scrum, stating that he does not believe the casual wrestling fan exists anymore. Eric Bischoff blasted Punk for his statement, saying that he doesn’t belong in the television business if he believes that to be true.
“The casual fan is still out there,” Bischoff said. “If you build it, honest to god as corny as it sounds, if you build it, your audience will show up. They will, that lapsed fan is another term I’ve heard in a lot of research that I did. ‘I used to watch wrestling but I don’t watch that sh** anymore.’ Sometimes it’s just life, your job, your kids, whatever. If anybody’s going to try to convince me that you can’t find that audience again, they shouldn’t be in the wrestling business.
“All due respect to CM Punk, CM Punk never spent five minutes in the television business. He knows a lot about what’s going on in the wrestling ring, he knows a lot about building a character, more than I ever will in terms of executing it. But to make the casual statement that ‘I think the lapsed fan is gone and I don’t think they’re ever going to come back,’ what the f*ck are you doing in the television business then dude? It makes no sense to me, I don’t believe it’s true.”
Continuing to talk about the “casual fan”, Eric Bischoff mentioned how WCW dealt with the concept in the early stages of its inception. The former President of the company said he heard several people say there were no casual fans, then WCW build an empire that defeated WWE for 83 weeks straight.
“I heard the same thing going back to pre-Nitro,” Bischoff said. “All I heard was ‘Wrestling’s dead, I know it used to be really really popular but if you look at the ratings it’s going down and down every week and it’s not as popular as it used to be, it’s a dying format.’ I heard executives in Turner trying to convince me of that and it wasn’t true and I wouldn’t allow it to be true and I wouldn’t allow them to say it out loud if I had any control over it. They’re out there, it’s your job as producers and entertainers to get them talking about you again.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Strictly Business with Eric Bischoff with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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