Eric Bischoff has not held back in his views on the success of CM Punk since the former WWE Champion made his debut in AEW.
What had become the worst kept secret in wrestling was revealed at AEW Rampage The First Dance on the 20th of August when CM Punk made his AEW debut in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.
Since then Punk has wrestled on several occasions for the company, even tangling with Matt Sydal on the 15thvof October edition of Rampage that went head to head with WWE’s supersized SmackDown.
Now former WWE Executive Director Eric Bischoff has waded into the events of that night where AEW went head to head with SmackDown for the very first time.
Speaking on his 83 Weeks podcast [available early and ad-free at AdFreeShows.com] Bischoff says that WWE forced Tony Khan’s hand into putting Punk in position to go head-to-head with the blue brand and in doing so hurt Punk in the process:
“Great anticipation about CM Punk right? I put it over, I was excited about it. And I’ve never met CM Punk, I’ve never had a conversation with Punk but I’m well aware of the equity and value in that character and the way it was teased and the anticipation that was created, I was so excited about that.”
“It was the first time in a long time that I’ve seen a real orchestrated controlled build that really created the anticipation that I think is such a big part of what makes wrestling work. Since that time, they’re right back down to 500,00-600,000 viewers.”
“Tony says ‘Well, they decided they were going to go head to head with us and I was going to put Punk and Sydal,’ and this is not negative to either but what did it do? Not much arguably but what did happen, and this is the art of war part of this, is WWE forced by doing that overlap into AEWs time slot, forced a situation where now CM Punk is opening up the show.”
“WWE made a move that was the catalyst for Tony Khan to take his highest-profile piece of talent, arguably, and put him in that time slot and the show did less than a million viewers. How is that a f*cking win?”
“Burning up talent, putting someone into a match with no storyline, with no angle. It was definitely an in-delicious move but you’re burning up resources and you walked away with less than a million viewers.”
Eric Bischoff continued, reiterating his view that total viewers decides a win or a loss in the ratings rather than the demo, which AEW has often come out on top in:
“WWE delivered more viewers, which affects everything. Pay per view, merchandise, ticket sales, all the other metrics you want to identify. WWE delivered more viewers than AEW on a third or fourth-tier cable outlet than AEW did with one of their highest-profile pieces and new fresh talent and WWE outperformed them.”
“Now, if you don’t want to acknowledge that and you want to shift everybody on the internet’s focus to a key demo for a 30-minute period of time, hurrah for you. It’s not real, not when it comes to context. My point in this diatribe is that Vince caused you to make a big move that, in my opinion, was less than flattering.”
As far as CM Punk’s time in AEW so far, WWE Hall Of Famer Eric Bischoff doesn’t believe the Straight Edge Superstar has been a success – to say the least:
“Punk hasn’t delivered. Punk was the guy that came out and his first comments were ‘The addition of this talent was more significant than Scott Hall and Kevin Nash,’ constantly making references to WCW because they want to be the company that WCW was back in the mid-90s.”
“There’s these constant references to WCW. When Scott Hall and Kevin Nash came in, we took off. Punk, you came in and you sh*t the bed, in terms of ratings. It ain’t there and there’s nothing, in reality, to suggest otherwise.”
“You just need to be careful about what you say until you’re delivering. That comment that Punk made about these guys being more significant than Hall and Nash in 96 and then two weeks after Punk made his big arrival the ratings dropped by 40-50%.”