During a recent episode of the Strictly Business podcast, WCW Legend Eric Bischoff spoke about the recent condition of Tony Khan’s AEW after they got rid of CM Punk for causing yet another controversial backstage incident at the All In UK pay-per-view.
All Elite Wrestling established a soft brand split sort of thing between Dynamite / Rampage and their Saturday TV show AEW Collision, to avoid future conflicts between CM Punk and others, like The Elite.
Eric was asked if he thinks Khan will end this brand split, now that Punk is gone.
Here’s what the 2021 WWE Hall of Famer replied:
“I have no idea. You know, I don’t know. I do know that unless Tony Khan delegates some creative authority, it’s going to be more of the same. Nothing is going to change. Tony is not the booker that Dave Meltzer promotes him to be, the Booker of the Year.
When it comes to creative Tony is, I think he’s missing the mark and doesn’t understand the broader television product or the television audience. He may be targeting people just like him and like he was when he was a teenager and used to go to wrestling and as a kid.
But you don’t usually find success producing, writing, creating for an audience of one. And while I think Tony’s approach is very ECW-ish, we saw that, you know. It doesn’t lend itself to a broader commercial television product. It just doesn’t, and I think a large part of that is because Tony doesn’t understand television.
Being a wrestling fan all your life does not necessarily mean you automatically understand how to build a wrestling project, or brand, or company. It just doesn’t. Those two are not joined at the hip. There’s a lot of wrestling fans out there that have been wrestling fans all their life and could sit down and detail, probably on a blow-by-blow basis, matches that happened 15 years ago.
Doesn’t mean they know how to produce a television show. And I think the thing that I’m most excited about, as negative as that sounds. The thing that I’m most excited about is, and I don’t know why I’ve heard this, but if there’s any possibility that Bryan Danielson is going to get an opportunity to run Collision, or at least have a serious voice on the creative side of that show.
I think it has much potential just because it’s a different creative perspective. And Bryan Danielson clearly, vis a vis his experience in WWE, understands television. He has learned it under some of the best that have ever done it. So why would you not tap into that? Bryan Danielson is not the only one. There are other phases.”
He was then asked what Tony Khan should do going forward after firing CM Punk.
Here’s what Bischoff had to say:
“Look, you’ve got a situation where to my knowledge, they still haven’t negotiated their new deal, right? So there’s some pressure there. I would think, I firmly believe, that Warner Discovery owns 30% of AEW. And until I hear somebody from either Warner Discovery or Tony Khan himself deny it, I’m pretty sure I’m right. But you’ve got to perform. And right now, Dynamite is flatter than piss on a plate.
It’s actually deteriorating for the most part if you look at it, we both follow Brandon Thurston and every week he puts out all kinds of data. And it’s fascinating, and he does an amazingly thorough job at it. But you don’t have to necessarily believe me and or anything that I say. You just have to look at the data.
You know, I’ve been saying for a year and a half, the show is not going to grow if it doesn’t start becoming more interesting from a creative perspective. Better storytelling, disciplined storytelling that includes arcs and plot points, and are designed to peak at certain points and times.
Until that happens, it’s just dream matches and dream, you know? Eh, I would think it will be what it is. I would think that, whether it’s on the Warner Discovery side or the AEW side, somebody’s got to go, ‘You know, maybe we should take a different approach to creative because it’s not working’.
Not only is television not working, but if you look at ticket sales for their live events, they’re deteriorating as well. We’re two weeks out from Arthur Ashe Stadium and I think they’ve got 6,000 tickets sold out of 12,000 in a building where they sold 20,000 in 20 minutes the first year. Doesn’t that tell you something?
I mean, it should, or do you just ignore it? Because the small circle of people around you are telling you you’re doing a great job. The numbers do not lie. They don’t. And at some point, you need to wake up and have a cup of coffee and go, ‘Okay, as much I like what we’re doing. Apparently, the audience doesn’t. So let’s fix it’.”
Eric Bischoff used to work for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association (1986-1991), Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (1991-2000), WWE (2002-2005) and Dixie Carter’s Total Nonstop Action! (2010-2013).
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