Eric Bischoff is enthusiastic about the WWE creative direction under Paul “Triple H” Levesque, feels Tony Khan books like a 14 year-old, says AEW is not competition to WWE, looks back on nearly hitting rock bottom


By Jason Powell, Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Interview with Eric Bischoff
Host: Shakiel Mahjouri
Video footage available below or at SHAK Wrestling YouTube Page

Eric Bischoff’s enthusiasm for WWE’s new direction under Paul “Triple H” Levesque: “I’m extremely enthusiastic and somewhat prescient at the same time because while I was hoping that those things would happen, they have happened, right? To a noticeable degree over a relatively short period of time… But Paul has already made it clear publicly that he’s going to let talent have a little more freedom and be less rigid in the stick to the script, word for word, comma by comma approach that has been pretty much the norm for the last 10, 15 years. That in itself is kind of exciting because you’re going to have talent that are going to bumble. They’re going to stumble, they’re going to trip over a word…

“Guess what? That feels gritty. That feels a little more real. That’s live TV. I’m looking at some of the episodic elements of the most recent formats where a story starts out early on in the show and then threads itself through. It’s sort of a three-act structure, which I’ve been begging for the last seven years. We’re seeing a three-act structure within a three-hour show. Imagine that. Episodic storytelling. It’s that kind of discipline to detail in story and format — because you can’t have a good story if you don’t have a good format and vice versa — That kind of commitment to discipline and format and structures, I think going to create a lot better television and it’s already happening.”

Eric Bischoff says AEW is not competition to WWE: “Tony Khan refers to WWE not as WWE, but as ‘the competition.’ Tony. Wake the F up. You are not competition. You have not taken any market share. Your audience is not growing on television. There is not even a comparison from a financial perspective in terms of revenue-generating conversation. So exactly how are you competitive if you’re not taking market share and you’re not even in the same conversation from a revenue point of view as a business? That’s the beginning and the end of the big competition conversation. You’re either taking market share or you’re not. You’re either equal to or closing in on your competitor’s revenue. And they’re not. They’re not even close.”

The impact that WWE’s new direction may have on AEW: “If Tony Khan is smart — and I know he’s very, very smart, a lot smarter than I am in a lot of ways, no question about that — I don’t necessarily think that he’s got a creative instinct in his body. I think what he’s doing is reliving a childhood memory of ECW and the independent scene and super matches. He’s booking, in my opinion, like a 14-year-old would who has a lot of toys and a lot of things that he can play with. But I’m not seeing a story. We see what the wrestling audience, or the AEW audience in particular, calls a story. But it’s not. It’s an excuse for having a super match or a dream match.

“If Tony Khan is really smart in his goal is really to compete, then he’s going to look at what’s working in WWE from a storytelling perspective, in a format perspective. He’s going to wake up one day and realize that being a dirt sheet booker and catering to the Internet wrestling community is a wonderful thing because your name is on the Internet all the time, but it’s not going to grow beyond the point that it currently exists because you’re only serving a small segment of the audience and you’re not reaching out to the broader base audience and the more mainstream audience. Not everybody lives, eats, sleeps and breathes wrestling as the Internet wrestling audience does. There’s a more, I don’t want to say passive, but less committed viewing audience out there. That’s really important.”

Eric Bischoff on a potential WWE return: “There’s no need for me. What I have to contribute at this point, we’re beginning to see on television. Maybe this is just me being so hyper-optimistic because the last ten years of wrestling has bored the F out of me. It’s so hard, you know, I want to be excited about it. I want to be interested. I talk about it. I’ve been in the business for 35 years or 30-some-odd years. Damn, I want to be excited about the business, but it’s just bored me to death for such a long time. I had a little bit of hope with AEW. I had some hope there. Up until probably six months ago or eight months ago, I kind of threw in the towel because I started seeing the same pattern of whatever over and over again. I thought, ‘Okay, something different, something different.’ But there’s been nothing different out of the WWE either. I’ve been pretty critical of WWE as well. I make more headlines or I’m critical of AEW, but I’m actually just as critical of WWE.

“Maybe just because I’m getting a little bit of an indication that something really good is coming, I’m overly excited. But if I’m right, then what the hell would I have to contribute? They don’t need me. That discipline and that story structure and a commitment to format and episodic television is the one thing that separated me from everybody else that was doing it for a long time. But if they’re figuring that out in WWE, they don’t need to spend a plane ticket on me.”

Eric Bischoff on nearly hitting rock bottom: “About 2015, the wheels started getting a little wobbly on the TV business. All of a sudden our TV business started going, ‘Woah!’ Margins started crashing. It became more and more difficult to sell TV. My partner and I realized this is not it anymore. We can’t do this any longer. We both decided to get out. The wheels went from wobbling to falling off. I pretty much — I don’t want to say I hit rock bottom, that would be too big. But I was bouncing. I bounced off the bottom a few times. We’re getting close financially.

“All of a sudden I’m 60 years old and I’m considering having to file for bankruptcy because of a couple of big investments I made that just didn’t work out. I risked my own money. I had a lot of it and I risked it and it didn’t work out. I’m thinking, ‘I’m 60 years old. Most of my friends are retiring. It was tough. I just went through this period I had to pull myself out of this because I was pretty negative. Kind of tough to reinvent yourself when you’re 62 years old and you spent 30 years in a wrestling business. Not a skillset you can take down the road too easily…”


Readers Comments (3)

  1. I never knew Bischoff’s strength was episodic storytelling, but you learn something every day.

    However what he says about AEW and Tony Khan is totally on the money.

  2. Says the man who jumps at any opportunity to be on AEW TV. As for “storytelling,” is he referring to WWE putting on the same matches between the same people, that go absolutely nowhere for 4-8 months at a time? If so, pass.

  3. So Eric is correct about the diversity in viewership groups and figuring out a way to keep all of them engaged in order to build up ratings.

    The other thing though about him getting bored after a period of time; well that’s just wrestling in general much of the time, including when he was running the show with WCW. 1993-1995 had an established roster of talent but was just as much miss as hit with eye-rolling moments aplenty, especially with how Hogan was booked.

    1996 and some real intrigue with the WWF invasion and takeover angle building up to the betrayal from the WWF’s biggest superstar, and that and the aftermath was effective for several months if not over a year. Then the entire NWO angle and associated storylines got stale and tiresome real fast and it was predictable and boring, same old shit, type of broadcasting.

    Wrestling has always come in waves and then is offset with tapering periods; Eric B. is no exception to that.

    For AEW though they better hope that they don’t lose MJF to WWE.

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