As previously noted, Eric Bischoff and AEW President Tony Khan have publicly debated about AEW and if the brand is head-to-head competition against WWE.
During his latest 83 Weeks podcast, Bischoff commented further on the matter. Bischoff praised what AEW has accomplished so far but double downed on his opinion that AEW is not head-to-head competition…
“AEW is not in head-to-head competition. They are just not. They are in the same industry. Now, you can say, ‘Well they came at us, they extended that half hour into our time slot and that was an aggressive move’, and that would be a fact. But to somehow spin that and try to suggest that you are a more popular product, you are a more successful product, you are winning some kind of a ratings war that only exists in the minds of dirt sheet writers and people that want to try to spin reality, that’s not right. Another disclaimer here, I am not encouraging Tony to go head to head with WWE. I think that would be a bad move. It’s just not time yet. They’re only a two year old company. They have a long, long runway ahead of them to grow their audience and grow their product. But right now, arguably, they haven’t done such a great job of growing that audience. Let me clarify that. Clearly, based on comments I get, people don’t really listen or think too much about what I’m saying. They react emotionally. They have a long way to go before they’re head-to-head competition.
All I’m suggesting is, rather than claiming you’re competing against, and somehow you’re competing favorably because you’re comparing a percentage of your demos on your Wednesday night show to a percentage of the demos on Monday Night RAW, notice they don’t talk about SmackDown too much. But on Monday Night RAW, when they go against Monday Night Football, which probably has the highest concentration of male 18-49 year old than just about anything else on TV in any given week, is a false equivalency. It just isn’t real. It’s data gymnastics. I hope Tony and I can maintain our relationship. If we do, I’m grateful for that, if we don’t, that’s life. I have no real skin in the game. I’m just trying to clarify my position. I did take personal umbrage to the fact that Tony would compare himself the way he did to Ted Turner. I just think it was just a dumb move.”
Bischoff also talked about AEW being compared to WCW…
“The other thing that lit my fuse and inspired me was a catalyst for my response when Tony said, ‘We’re at WCW 1996 level. We’re at that stage.’ No you’re not. You’re not even close dude. You’re not even a distant number 2 to where we were at in 1996 because in 1996, in every measurable way that a human being can realistically measure something, not spin something, but measure something, WCW Nitro was defeating WWE in a real head to head competition, not a fragmented half hour when they were on Fox Sports 1 that hardly anybody watches and they were are on TNT.”
“AEW came into existence at a point in time when the audience was craving an alternative. They had a clean slate. They didn’t bring any negative baggage to the dance like WCW did when we launched Nitro…Nobody thought it would ever happen. On top of that, WCW had a very negative association with the audience. It was a mismanaged disaster of a company that was number 2 at the time, but they might as well have been number 152 to WWE. AEW didn’t have that issue. AEW came in with a massive amount of public support and goodwill. WCW didn’t have that. We had to fight up from out of the sewage to finally reach dry ground, and then try to find the mountain, and then climb the mountain. AEW didn’t have to do that. All they had to do was say, ‘We’re coming out and we’re doing this’ hire a couple of key pieces of talent, and they’re off and running. They had all this goodwill. What happens when you start putting yourself over, in my opinion prematurely, in the way they’re doing it, by constantly denigrating and comparing to WWE, is you start losing that goodwill because people see through it.” (quotes courtesy of WrestlingNews.co)
Data gymnastics. Not real competition.
— Eric Bischoff (@EBischoff) October 24, 2021