During a recent episode of Strictly Business with Eric Bischoff, the WWE Hall of Famer talked about AEW and NJPW announcing a major pay-per-view called Forbidden Door for June 26 in Chicago. Bischoff mentioned why he doesn’t think this show will grow AEW’s audience and why he thinks the show is another example of the company booking for the internet wrestling fan more so than casual fans.
“I don’t think so,” Bischoff said, on if Forbidden Door will grow AEWs audience. “What AEW has been doing and what, at least up until the last episode I watched about two weeks ago, is kind of internet wrestling community-centric. They’re booking for internet wrestling fans more than they’re booking for the casual audience and I would venture to guess, and it’s just a guess, but they’re satisfying an audience that they already have. And they’re doing a phenomenal job of doing that but how many people watch New Japan wrestling? How many people watch the New Japan product on a weekly basis [in the US]?
“How is merging a television property that’s only getting 200,000 viewers a week with AEW, how is that going to increase or attract the casual viewer that AEW doesn’t have? I don’t know, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, I kind of dig the idea from a wrestling fan’s perspective, and I’ve spent a lot of time in Japan and have a lot of good memories and experiences working with New Japan. I love the Japanese style of wrestling but that doesn’t mean it’s going to grow an audience.”
“It may work, again I’m not being critical of the idea. My belief is no, it’s not [going to increase casual viewership].”
Fortunately for Tony Khan and NJPW, the pre-sale tickets for Forbidden Door sold out in just 40 minutes, showing significant interest for the collaborated show. The current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada spoke about the show, stating how it would make no sense to have the show without involving him in it.
Continuing to talk about the partnership between AEW and NJPW, Eric Bischoff spoke about the differences between AEW and WCW’s relationship with the Japanese wrestling company and why there is a difference.
“Going back to my strategy for Nitro from early on was to be as different from the WWE as I could be,” Bischoff said. “To target a different audience, present the format in a way that was completely unique to WWE, completely different. One of the things that I wanted to do early on was to give WWE a more international vibe and feel. I want to make it clear, other people in WCW before me worked with New Japan Pro Wrestling but it was different, it was an occasional shot here and there. It was interesting, it was cool.
“I wanted to expand that and I wanted the relationship with New Japan to be more than just okay, we’re going to agree to exchange talent. For me, the strategy was bigger and broader than that, we wanted to create licensing opportunities, I wanted to integrate NJPW into a storyline, sustained storyline so they would have a sustained presence in WCW. Even if wrestlers from New Japan weren’t on the show every week, we quite often talked about the events that were coming up two or three times a year whether it was WCW going over to Japan or Japanese wrestlers coming over to the United States, it was just a bigger feel. My reason for doing it was more strategic than it was creative, by that I mean strategically I wanted WCW and Nitro to have a bigger and broader international feel and I think that’s what I did differently than my predecessors in WCW.”
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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