Since its launch in 2019, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has experienced a unique journey in the professional wrestling industry. Initially, AEW garnered widespread support, including from notable figures like Eric Bischoff, who recognized the value of competition in the wrestling world.
However, Bischoff, a seasoned wrestling executive and former executive director of WWE SmackDown, has raised concerns about AEW's current trajectory. Speaking on the latest episode of his podcast "83 Weeks," Bischoff reflected on the early days of AEW, recalling the enthusiasm within the wrestling community, including from WWE writers, during AEW's debut.
This initial excitement, which Bischoff terms "goodwill," is crucial for any new venture. Yet, according to Bischoff, this goodwill has a limited lifespan and can dissipate if not nurtured properly. Bischoff shared wisdom imparted to him by Gary Considine, former Executive Producer of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." Considine's advice was stark: once audiences start to disengage, winning them back is a formidable challenge.
This cautionary note is particularly relevant for AEW as it faces declining ratings for shows like "Dynamite" and "Collision," as well as a drop in attendance at events.
Bischoff Highlights AEW's Dilemma
The warning signs, as Bischoff sees them, are clear.
Declining ratings and ticket sales indicate a loss of audience goodwill. The concern is that this trend could become irreversible, with audiences choosing to engage elsewhere. Bischoff, however, doesn’t just critique without offering solutions.
With AEW approaching critical television rights negotiations, he advises a strategic shift in focus. Bischoff suggests that AEW's president, Tony Khan, should prioritize enhancing the quality of AEW’s creative content rather than expanding the quantity of programming.
This, Bischoff argues, is essential for strengthening AEW's position in upcoming negotiations and, more importantly, for regaining audience interest. Comparing AEW's situation to a beach house with a cracking foundation, Bischoff emphasizes the urgency of the matter.
The organization is at a tipping point where failure to address core issues could lead to a significant decline in audience engagement, akin to a once-desirable property losing its appeal.