Eric Bischoff is a veteran in the pro wrestling business and is undoubtedly one of the greatest minds to have ever worked in it. He is well aware of the changing landscape of pro wrestling as well.
Ever since its inception in 2019, AEW has strived to provide an alternative product to the WWE. This includes AEW having violent hardcore matches from time to time, you varying degrees of success.
While speaking on the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff talked about AEW possibly having issues due to their hardcore matches.
Bischoff mentioned the issue WarnerMedia sponsor Domino’s Pizza had with the pizza cutter spot during the death match between Chris Jericho and Nick Gage. Bischoff stated that such incident happens again then it might lead to to a major issue with AT&T, the parent company of WarnerMedia, not wanting to air AEW on Turner.
It’s much to do about something that is really important. These bloody hardcore matches, you do have two risks that are out there. The first risk is that you turn off your audience, I made reference that for every one person that may enjoy this bloody hardcore type of match, you run the risk of alienating two or three others that don’t. I’m also the guy who has been saying, just because I don’t like hardcore matches and generally I do not like hardcore matches unless motherf*ckers, it’s a logical part of a storyline, then I’m all in. But random hardcore matches for the sake of random hardcore matches, particularly when they get as gory as the AEW episode I saw when Moxley and whoever his opponent was were digging at each other with a fork. Okay, if you’re going to go that far in your presentation of a hardcore match to satisfy whatever percentage of your audience that really digs that stuff, you’re taking two calculated risks. You could turn off your audience and I will say a lot of people agreed with me by the way. You’ve got to service your audience, wrestling has to be a buffet. There has to be enough of everything for everybody to keep an entire audience happy so I get hardcore matches and why they’re important because there’s a portion of that audience that digs it. But, you could go too far with it.
Then enter the second risk: you turn off advertisers or sponsors. The story breaks that Domino’s was upset and I understand why they would be, I would be if I was a Domino’s shareholder. I would be a little hot, I would question what the f*ck is my advertising agency doing? How did this happen? Because it’s not good folks, take it from the guy that wrote the book ‘Controversy Creates Cash’, there is some controversy that really works in your benefit. And particularly in the state of affairs that we find ourselves in today, there is a lot of controversy that can kick your ass and not be a benefit.
I think if it happens again and again then I think there’s a much bigger risk of it having an adverse effect on AEWs business in the long term. Let’s fast forward, I don’t know when AEWs contract is up with Turner, but let’s just for the sake of argument say it’s two years from now, at the end of that two years if AT&T has made the decision that this is not the kind of content we’re comfortable with, much like I faced with AOL – Time Warner. When they looked at wrestling, it wasn’t from the financial perspective that everybody thinks, and said ‘Well, we just don’t want that product in our catalog because we’re selling something else and this doesn’t fit with what we’re selling.’
We will have to wait and see if AEW will learn to reduce the number of hardcore matches or not in the future.
Tony Khan didn’t seem too torn up about Nick Gage’s deathmatch with Chris Jericho. AEW hasn’t lost a corporate sponsor yet either. Still, we’ll have to see how long it take before AEW goes back to ultraviolence during primetime television.
h/t to Wrestling Inc for the quotes.