Eric Bischoff: "AEW Is Well On Its Way To Being Legitimate Competition For WWE"
International revenue has to increase, though
All Elite Wrestling are arguably the hottest wrestling promotion in the industry at the moment. The company has two of the highest-rated shows on cable TV and the promotion is riding a wave of momentum following CM Punk's return to wrestling on August 13, which only looks set to continue with Daniel Bryan's expected debut at All Out.
Eric Bischoff has been full of praise for AEW over the last month and the former WCW president believes Tony Khan's promotion are well on their way to being "legitimate competition" for WWE.
"I think it already has been [a watershed moment for AEW]. No doubt about it. AEW has the momentum in their corner and if they keep doing what they're doing, I think AEW is well on its way to being legitimate competition for WWE. I didn't think I'd ever really hear myself say that, and they've got a long way to go," Bischoff said on 83 Weeks.
Bischoff noted AEW will have to draw more revenue internationally to truly become competition for WWE, though.
"Let's keep things in context. If you look at WWE's business footprint, their revenue, where they are, who they are and what they are, it's hard to realistically, objectively say that AEW is competition right now, in the sense of revenue, distribution and all of that. But domestically here in the US, which is really the most important thing for both companies, the reason that WWE is so successful internationally is because culturally they are recognised as great American entertainment and that still has value around the world," Bischoff continued.
"American programming is still a very viable thing around the world and because WWE for such a long time has represented the United States and the sport really or the product, they got a big jump on AEW when it comes to international distribution and touring and all the things that go with their television footprint. AEW has a long way to go before they can close that international distribution gap but that's just a matter of time. The interesting thing about where AEW is at now, because domestically here the buzz is so high that AEW is going to be able to close that gap in terms of its international distribution.
"This is just my opinion, I don't know f*ck all, I'm just giving you my gut instinct from a fan sitting on the outside watching from the outside looking in. Based on what I know and my experience though, if AEW continues the success they are having, they will build upon the momentum they have currently, they're going to be able to close that international distribution gap relatively quickly. Once that happens, they become legitimate competition. Not just competition here in the United States for the hearts and minds of the wrestling audience, but I'm talking about from a revenue perspective."
Bischoff would later compare AEW's current momentum to the Monday Night Wars and he believes AEW will continue to close the domestic ratings gap as 2021 continues.
"I'm seeing a lot of comparisons, wrestling fans love to and I'm not making fun of this or denigrating it in any way because part of the excitement of being a fan is to engage and share your opinions and support your local team. AEW right now is about half of the total viewing audience of WWE here in the United States. But as I experienced and we all experienced back in the 90s, it's possible to close that gap. I didn't think I'd hear myself say that, at least not this soon, but they are on the verge. AEW is on the verge of doing some really really big things a lot faster than I thought they would. Kudos to Tony Khan, to the entire team."
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