The former WCW President and WWE Hall of Famer isn’t done with AEW. On the latest edition of his 83 Weeks podcast, Bischoff dug into the results of the Fri., Oct. 15 ratings, which led him to talk about CM Punk - and what impact Khan’s biggest roster addition has had on All Elite’s performance.
“Great anticipation for CM Punk. I put it over, I was excited. I’ve never met CM Punk and never had a conversation with Punk, but I’m well-aware of the equity and value of that character and the way it was teased and the anticipation that was created – I was so excited about that because it’s the first time in a long time I’ve seen a controlled build that really created the anticipation that is such a big part of what I think makes wrestling work. Punk debuted and [the ratings] were high. Since that time, they’re right back down to 500,000 or 600,000 viewers...
“Punk hasn’t delivered. Punk came out, and they’re constantly making references to WCW because they want to be WCW. They want to be the company WCW was back in the mid 90s. Punk said bringing in top talent was more significant than Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. [Hall and Nash] came in and we took off. Punk, you came in and shit the bed in terms of ratings. It ain’t there, and there’s nothing, in reality, to suggest otherwise.
“So, you just need to be careful about what you say until you’re delivering… this is what lit my fuse when Punk came out and said it’s gonna take five years for the effect of this talent to significantly show up in the ratings. Are you fucking kidding me? Is anybody gonna believe that nonsense? It’s gonna take five years?”
In the course of making his case, Bischoff also argues that Vince McMahon got TK to “burn up” CM Punk vs. Matt Sydal as the opening match of Rampage by extended SmackDown two weeks ago. That resulted in a win in the 18 - 49 year old demographic, which Eric acknowledges is important, but that he says isn’t as important as total viewers. In Bisch’s telling, not reaching 800K to one million viewers on Oct. 15 was “indie-licious”.
Khan and AEW supporters would tell you Punk vs. Sydal was always the plan. Most outside observers would probably say expecting a million viewers for that match on 10pm ET on a Friday night under any circumstances is a pipe dream. But Eric is delivering “hard truths”, and as much as he rails against TK presenting television numbers without proper context, he seems to do it himself when it serves his point.
From my perspective, he’s right that what felt like a seismic shift in the business at All Out has settled back down to pretty much where things were pre-”The First Dance”. AEW is on WWE’s radar, but it’s not like we find ourselves in 1997. The landscape is absolutely different than it was two years ago, though. Painting what Khan & company have achieved as disappointing because they’re not routinely pulling seven figures in viewership from their Friday night death slot is skewed thinking.
Mostly though, this banter is fun for many of us, because pro wrestling is a business driven by conflict, and as Bischoff is fond of saying “controversy creates cash”. But none of it is going to change the mind of anyone who’s dug in on Team AEW or Team WWE.
So grab some popcorn, and wait for TK and/or others from his side to respond.
H/T 411mania for transcription