By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Himanshu D sent the following recap of Eric Bischoff’s comments regarding AEW and TNA as competitors to WWE from the 83 Weeks Podcast.
“Times are interesting, aren’t they?, Bischoff asked. “Now you’ve got companies getting excited about half a million viewers or 700,000 viewers. I go, ‘Okay? I guess that’s important? I guess that’s really changing the world.’ But as much of a LOL as you put it as TNA was getting at the time, they were delivering, consistently prior to [Hulk] Hogan and I getting there and subsequent, 1.2 million, 1.4 million, 1.5 million. Hell, the Reaction show that Jason Hervey and I produced that aired at 11 o’clock to 12 o’clock at night delivered a million viewers, that followed Impact at midnight.
“So it’s easy to become myopic and forget about facts relative to the past, but for someone to suggest that this is the first time that WWE has had competition? I’m sorry. I’ll take exception to that. I’ll take a big exception to that! And again when any wrestling company – I’m not picking on anybody, and like you, I fully support AEW, there’s a lot of people there that I know personally, behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera, I’m fully supportive of them, I cheer them on, nothing negative here – but don’t get out over your skis and position yourself as something that you clearly not yet.
“AEW is highly competitive – in fact dominating, consistently dominating – the WWE development territory. ‘Cause that’s what NXT is. Let’s be honest and fair. Let’s also be honest and fair and recognize that NXT has had a 10-year jump on AEW. NXT has been around for a long time. NXT has the full support and cross-promotional opportunities of both Raw and Smackdown. That’s something that AEW doesn’t have. But still, to suggest that this is the first time WWE has had competition? I’m sorry. Move over to the side here, I’m gonna kick you right in the balls.”
Powell’s POV: If nothing else, WWE seems to be taking the threat of the Khan family owned AEW more seriously than they did the threat of TNA when they were on Spike TV. WWE entered a talent signing frenzy, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the NXT show was moved from WWE Network to USA Network two weeks before AEW Dynamite premiered on TNT. Speaking of which, the numbers that Impact drew on Spike did not have a WWE produced series airing as direct competition on a weekly basis (aside from the brief stretch when Impact tried to run head-to-head with Raw on Mondays). There’s no telling what type of numbers Dynamite would produce without NXT as weekly competition. All of that said, yes, Impact did attempt to compete with WWE before AEW did, just as WCW did before them.