Eric Bischoff: Tony Khan Is Manipulating Data To Make AEW Seem Competitive With WWE
The latest in the war of words between the two
Eric Bischoff has responded to Tony Khan's most recent remarks regarding the former WCW President's suggestions that the AEW boss should 'shut up' and let his wrestling promotion focus on what they're good at.
Bischoff and Khan have engaged in an 'exchange of ideas' over the past few weeks through different media mediums and Bischoff has now spoken again, highlighting that he likes Tony Khan and what he's trying to do with AEW.
However, Bischoff believes Khan is turning data and numbers around to try and appear competitive to WWE when, in reality, there is no-head-to-head competition between the two.
Speaking on the latest 83 Weeks Podcast, Bischoff said: “The core of this debate, and it is a debate, because again, I’m fully supportive of Tony and AEW and everybody there. The core of this though is not that Tony spoke out, not that Tony’s proud of his company, not that Tony even speaks out rather aggressively about his product. He should do that. I would be disappointed if he didn’t do that, but it’s the manipulation of data to create the impression that there is this head-to-head competition.
"This all started way before, and I never commented on this stuff before because I don’t have a dog in the hunt, and it’s fun to watch. To suggest as has been going on for quite some time that based on a percentage of a demo compared to a show that’s on a completely different night against completely different competition that somehow that correlates to AEW being more popular or a better product, I have an issue with that. Not an issue with believing, as Tony obviously does, and the talent obviously does, as well they should, that they’re a better product. Subjectively, I would agree in many cases and have many times on social media. I’ve been equally as, I’m going to use the word critical but I don’t mean to be critical, it’s more of a constructive criticism.
"I’ve spoken out consistently about the WWE product and what I feel is wrong with it from lack of storylines, lack of structured storylines that have an arc, build, and create anticipation. To me, that’s a huge problem with WWE, and I’ve been more than free with my comments in that regard, both before I went to work for AEW this last time from that cup of coffee I had in Stamford and afterwards.
"But the idea of, that number one, AEW, and more often than not, it’s the Dave Meltzer’s and the Bryan Alvarez’s and those of that ilk, that are trying to twist and turn data, and interpret data in a way to try to create this impression that they’re actually in a competition. That’s where I throw a flag personally. But, for the first time, I’m going to explain exactly why unlike previous comments that were very similar that I’ve heard on social media, and from Tony, and from people in AEW on social media, this is the first time that I reacted the way that I did.
"What pulled my trigger was Tony came out before the head to head, it’s not even head to head competition, before the Friday night in question. He reacted, and I don’t blame him for reacting the way he did. But part of his reaction included a comment that really p*ssed me off. When Tony came out and said, ‘If Ted Turner knew 1% about what I do about professional wrestling, WCW would still be in business’ That lit my fu**ing fuse for a couple of reasons. For all the people I’m guessing that are tuning into this podcast to hear what my followup is, let me remind you, let me point out a couple things.
"I’m 99.9999% Tony Khan doesn’t have fu**ing idea what he’s talking about in terms of if Ted Turner was a wrestling fan. I know I don’t. I can find out. I can call his son Teddy, and I probably will soon because I’m curious as to how far back Ted Turner’s relationship with professional wrestling started. Was Ted a wrestling fan growing up? I don’t know, and neither does Tony. So right off the bat, Tony made a statement that was misleading and ignorant. Ignorant in the literal sense of the word.
"I’ll say the same thing that Tony said about Ted. Tony said, ‘Ted Turner may be a lot smarter than I am, but if he knew 1% about wrestling.’ I’m sure Tony is a much more intelligent person than I am. Tony’s a really brilliant guy. I’m pretty smart. Tony’s really, really smart. So when I use the term ignorant, I’m meaning lack of information and knowledge, which is I think the definition of the word ignorant and its application here.
"Number 1, it was an ignorant statement. For Tony to compare himself to Ted Turner, if there’s anything that’s laughable, that’s it. The last time I checked, the T in TNT and the T in TBS stands for Turner, which is a media empire that Ted started from scratch. For Tony to be in the position he is, and AEW is, on a Ted Turner network, to come out and suggest Ted knew nothing about professional wrestling, which he doesn’t know if that’s true or not. What made it worse, and this is like the height of the literal definition of ignorance, and this one is self-inflicted, for Tony to suggest that if Ted knew as much about professional wrestling as Tony Khan does, then WCW would still be around? I’m going to ask Guy Evans to send Tony The Nitro book that he wrote. Guy interviewed over a hundred people from Turner, who at that time, some of them worked for me. They were people that reported to me. Some of them didn’t even report to me. They reported to others who reported to me. They were down the corporate food chain so to speak. The flowchart if you will.
"But Guy also interviewed people that were way, way above my paygrade that were hands on instrumental in Turner at the time of the AOL-Time Warner merger and all of the things that represented, and most of them were very negative. Those executives know why WCW isn’t around. All of that is in the book, and all Tony has to do is read that book, and Tony would realize that it wasn’t because Ted Turner didn’t know 1% of what Tony Khan knows about professional wrestling. That was a really stupid comment to make. I was very disappointed to hear it. I’ve said stupid things. I’m capable of that. I’ll probably say some stupid things on this podcast. I get it when you’re emotionally charged, and you’re involved and in the fight. Sometimes dumb sh*t comes out of your mouth. Guilty as charged. But that one lit me up. I reacted viscerally. It was an honest reaction on our podcast. I still feel as strongly about it today as I did last week. That was a really dumb comment. Tony Khan, I know Ted Turner, and you are no Ted Turner. That’s what made me go, ‘You know what? Whatever it is, just for my own entertainment, I’m going to put this s**t in context.’
"AEW is not in head-to-head competition. They are just not. They are in the same industry. Now, you can say, ‘Well they came at us, they extended that half hour into our time slot and that was an aggressive move’, and that would be a fact. But to somehow spin that and try to suggest that you are a more popular product, you are a more successful product, you are winning some kind of a ratings war that only exists in the minds of dirt sheet writers and people that want to try to spin reality, that’s not right. Another disclaimer here, I am not encouraging Tony to go head to head with WWE. I think that would be a bad move. It’s just not time yet. They’re only a two year old company. They have a long, long runway ahead of them to grow their audience and grow their product. But right now, arguably, they haven’t done such a great job of growing that audience. Let me clarify that. Clearly, based on comments I get, people don’t really listen or think too much about what I’m saying. They react emotionally. They have a long way to go before they’re head-to-head competition.
"All I’m suggesting is, rather than claiming you’re competing against, and somehow you’re competing favorably because you’re comparing a percentage of your demos on your Wednesday night show to a percentage of the demos on Monday Night RAW, notice they don’t talk about SmackDown too much. But on Monday Night RAW, when they go against Monday Night Football, which probably has the highest concentration of male 18-49 year old than just about anything else on TV in any given week, is a false equivalency. It just isn’t real. It’s data gymnastics.
"I hope Tony and I can maintain our relationship. If we do, I’m grateful for that, if we don’t, that’s life. I have no real skin in the game. I’m just trying to clarify my position. I did take personal umbrage to the fact that Tony would compare himself the way he did to Ted Turner. I just think it was just a dumb move."