In a recent edition of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff discussed the differences between Nitro vs. RAW and AEW vs. NXT, the reason AEW should embrace the underdog role, and much more. You can read his comments below.
Eric Bischoff on Nitro going head-to-head with RAW: “I did think it was gonna take two years or more to catch WWE or even get close. It didn’t. That’s one of the fascinating things – I’m gonna be careful about how I say this – wrestling fans today, so many of them weren’t around during this period of time. The 90s when Nitro launched and when Nitro took over WWE. I have to remind myself to his sometimes because I have to remember how significant it was. To launch a show against Monday Night RAW, the flagship show of WWE, which had been there on USA Network a decade or so – it was a company that had been around 30 or 40 years at this point. We decided to go head-to-head with their flagship show on Monday in primetime. That was a ballsy move. Again, those weren’t my balls by the way. Those were Ted Turner’s. That was his call, not mine. I wouldn’t have chosen that fight. So, I’m not trying to pat myself on the back, but I will pat myself on the back for the success we had.”
On the differences with Nitro vs. RAW and AEW vs. NXT: “You see little dipshits like Bryan Alvarez getting so excited because AEW outperforms basically the developmental territory for WWE. They’re not beating Monday Night RAW. They’re not going head-to-head against SmackDown in primetime. They’re beating a third-string show, and that’s exactly what NXT is. It’s a developmental show. They’re not their top stars, whereas AEW has their top stars. And again, this is not a knock on AEW. This is more of a knock on the people like Bryan, who are continually trying to make the case that AEW is beating WWE. It would be like me in the early 90s when WWE had a syndicated show on the air and me putting WCW Saturday Night and putting it against a Saturday morning timeslot in syndication and saying, ‘I beat WWE.’ No, you didn’t. Not really. The reason I want to point this out is not to put WCW or Nitro over, but to point out just how significant it was at this point in time. It’s easy to lose sight of just how significant that success was, particularly in the time frame we were able to achieve it.”
On why AEW isn’t outperforming WWE: “I think the danger that is caused by fans that react to that type of thing and try to establish this ‘AEW is outperforming WWE.’ It’s great and it’s fun, but it’s kind of cosplay. It’s not real. It’s cool, and I’m very happy for AEW. I think it says a lot for them, having been in business for only one year, to be able to compete against a WWE product successfully. WWE has a lot of advantages that AEW doesn’t have. They’ve been around longer, they’ve got a built-in audience. You have such a massive audience that it’s easy to cross-promote their shows. AEW doesn’t have that advantage. WWE has established talent that have been big stars and important characters for decades, in some cases. AEW has a few of those, but if you look at that roster for the most part, 80 percent of the roster are relatively new, up-and-coming stars. That’s a credit to AEW. It still puts them at a disadvantage in terms of being able to compete.”
On why AEW should embrace the underdog role: “So, all of this is meant to say, as a wrestling fan and someone who wants to see AEW succeed, and I want to see everybody succeed…..be careful about trying to create this false sense of success or superiority. Be careful about trying to brag or present this false superiority for AEW when it’s really losing sight of the fact that they’re not competing against the ‘A’ game. They’re competing about the ‘C’ game for WWE. If you acknowledge that and embrace that and maintain the underdog vibe AEW has, because everybody wants to see the underdog win. That’s what makes it fun. That’s what made the Monday Night Wars fun is that competition. But the position AEW is in now, the biggest advantage they have is the disadvantage they have. Embrace the disadvantage and underdog status. Quit pounding the fucking drum….maintain that underdog status and you’ll find you’ll be able to grow your audience year after year after year, so at some point, you do become a viable competitor on a level playing field with either RAW or SmackDown.
“Look what we did with Nitro – probably started out in the mid-2s I’m guessing, and within 18 months, we’re at 4s and 5s. That’s what the business needs – not just AEW. The business needs that explosive growth…..I’m not throwing darts at Tony Khan at all. I respect the hell out of Tony, and I like him personally. By no means am I being critical of Tony or things he’s said. It’s the people in the orbit around him. Just be careful. Chris Jericho, be careful. Don’t bang that drum yet. Bang the drum when it’s time to bang the drum. Be the underdog. I respect the fuck out of Chris as a friend and as a performer. This is just me being honest and having been through the battles at a level that matters to a certain degree. Don’t make the same mistakes I made.”
If using any of the above quotes, please credit 83 Weeks with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.