Even before the final Friday night cable ratings hit yesterday (Oct. 18) and brought a new round of hype from AEW boss Tony Khan, there were folks in the wrestling community who’d had enough of TK’s cheerleading.
Among those was a former Dynamite guest star, and the man who led the last real competition Vince McMahon & WWE had in the pro wrestling space - Eric Bischoff. Easy E used the opening segment of his latest 83 Weeks podcast (which began as a chronicle of the span of time when Bischoff’s WCW Nitro beat McMahon’s Raw in the ratings) to address Khan, and members of his roster who trash talk WWE.
“If Tony were to call me and ask for any advice, here’s what it would be — shut up and wrestle, dude. Just put out the best product you can and you’ve proven you can. Focus on that. Now this is weird coming from me, right? The guy who challenged Vince McMahon. The guy who did all the — gave away their finishes. So people listening to this are going, Yeah, but that’s hypocritical... what the hell?’
“But here’s the difference. I was actually competing with him. I was going head-to-head. Real head-to-head. Like, my show started the same time his show started each and every week.
“And another thing Tony came out and said ‘We’re at the 1996 stage of WCW, and we’re just gonna not make their mistakes.’ Tony, you’re inventing some mistakes, brother, by coming out there and constantly comparing yourself or deriding your competition, but not having the willingness — I almost said balls — not having the willingness to say, ‘Okay, let’s go head-to-head. Let’s really compete. Let’s see who can get whose market share.’ That’s real competition. So I’m a little disappointed in the rhetoric that I’m hearing out of Tony, as well as some of the talent. Shut the fuck up. Until you’re actually competing, and you’re actually competing favorably — and by the way, Tony, in 1996 I was kicking WWE’s ass. Every week! In a real head-to-head competition, not a cosplay competition.”
WWE loyalists and folks who are tired of hearing Khan (or Chris Jericho, or The Young Bucks) boast about AEW’s demo ratings have obviously latched onto this clip. And as someone who comes from the “act like you’ve been there before” school of celebrating competitive success, Bischoff’s message does resonate with me.
But I do have some quibbles with it.
For one thing, Khan’s WCW quote (which methinks got under Eric’s skin just a little bit) is mostly about how his business plan was to recreate the Nitro vs. Raw banter he found on message boards in the late 90s. It certainly seems he’s done that, and whether it irks me or Bischoff or Roman Reigns’ fan groups on Facebook... it’s really hard to argue with TK’s business plan at this point. That in two-and-a-half years he’s brought AEW to the point we’re seriously making WCW comparisons is remarkable.
To Bischoff’s “cosplay competition” jab, even if he wanted to, I’m not sure Khan can just kick in the door at WarnerMedia and demand to be put on Monday nights. And Tony is on record as not wanting to. Not because he’s afraid of Raw necessarily - although he’s probably smart enough to have learned from Eric & Hulk Hogan prematurely deciding to move TNA to Mondays - but because he doesn’t want to compete with another business partner in the NFL. And because he says he doesn’t want to keep fans away from other wrestling products, including WWE. Whether that part is legit or just spin, who knows? But to this point, AEW hasn’t been the company putting its shows on opposite the other company’s live television offerings.
But that’s just my opinion on Bischoff’s opinion. Let us know yours. Does Eric have a point? Or should Tony keep talking his shit?