Speaking on the most recent edition of his “83 Weeks” podcast, Eric Bischoff discussed the absence of cohesive and coherent storytelling in the company. He also shared insights on what constitutes a story in wrestling.
Singling out the annual signature ‘AEW Grand Slam’ show at Arthur Ashe Stadium, he began,
“Brandon Thurston posted a really interesting graphic earlier this week that talks about AEW’s ticket sales. And I’ll do a poor job recapping it, but I think summarizing it, if you go back and you look at all of the markets there have been more than once over the course of two years. Every one of them, there’s been a deterioration in ticket sales, some of it very significant. Arthur Ashe is probably the most significant at this point. You go from 20,000 down to about 6,000 a week before the show and you’ve already scaled it down to 12. If that doesn’t tell you that you’re not satisfying — not only you’re not building a new audience, which is absolutely critical at a television show and it’s absolutely critical in a live event business. If — at the very least, hold on to your audience. But they’re losing the audience in significant quantities, while at the same time WWE is selling out live events, selling out their television shows, putting 12,000 people in for a Monday Night Raw or Smackdown. And Tony Khan put in, what, 3800 for Dynamite in Chicago? Didn’t sell it out after coming off of Wembley?”
Bischoff acknowledged that while AEW All In 2023 at Wembley Stadium in London was a remarkable feat, to attribute it to AEW’s current state of product and Tony Khan’s booking would be inaccurate. He also shared his prediction for All In’s attendance next year. He said,
“It’s not just me screaming at the clouds. It’s my perspective based on 30-some odd years of experience and both success and failure. And Tony’s refusing to look at it. And until he does, he’s going to experience — you know, just keep doing the same things over and over and over again, and you’re going to get the same results over and over and over again. All you want is that you’re a great storyteller or a great television producer. But it’s not showing up on screen, and it’s not showing up at the gate, and it’s not showing up anywhere else. Yeah, Wembley was a fantastic feather in Tony’s cap, but that’s all that it was. And you laughed at me last week when I said if they go back — maybe it was you, maybe it was somebody else. But I made the comment, Yeah, they did 81,000. They should be, you know, blowing out their shoulders, patting each other and themselves at the back for doing so because they deserve it. But if they return next year, they’ll be lucky to hit 40 or 50,000. Not that 40 or 50,000 is a bad number, but a 30 or 40% drop is bad.”
Regarding the current state of All Elite Wrestling, Bischoff stated,
“It’s not working. And you can spin it. You can — not you but the collective you, we — spin it all we want because we like Tony. And he’s a swell guy. He’s just good for people. And those are all those are all true things that I believe. And I don’t really know the man well, but I know some of the things he’s done, as we all do. But it’s not working.”
In a recent episode of his “83 Weeks” podcast, Eric Bischoff discussed the lack of cohesive and coherent storytelling in All Elite Wrestling (AEW). Bischoff, who has decades of experience in the wrestling industry, shared his insights on what constitutes a compelling story in professional wrestling.
Bischoff specifically pointed out the annual AEW Grand Slam show at Arthur Ashe Stadium as an example. He referred to a graphic posted by Brandon Thurston, which highlighted a decline in ticket sales for AEW events in various markets over the past two years. The most significant drop was seen at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where attendance decreased from 20,000 to about 6,000 a week before the show. Bischoff emphasized the importance of building and retaining an audience, noting that WWE continues to sell out live events and television shows.
While Bischoff acknowledged the success of AEW All In 2023 at Wembley Stadium in London, he cautioned against attributing it solely to AEW’s current product and Tony Khan’s booking. He predicted a decline in attendance for next year’s event, suggesting that AEW needs to address its storytelling issues to maintain its audience.
According to Bischoff, AEW’s current state is not working. He emphasized that while many people like Tony Khan and believe he is a good person, the lack of effective storytelling is evident on-screen, at the gate, and elsewhere. Bischoff encouraged AEW to evaluate its approach and make necessary changes to improve its product.
The discussion on Bischoff’s podcast highlights the importance of storytelling in professional wrestling. Engaging storylines and character development are crucial elements that keep audiences invested in the product. Without compelling narratives, promotions may struggle to attract and retain viewership.
As wrestling fans, it is essential to recognize the significance of storytelling in shaping our favorite wrestling shows. By demanding well-crafted narratives and character arcs, we can contribute to the growth and success of the industry.