Eric Bischoff is no stranger to planning the debut of a star who has jumped ship from a rival company. During his time in WCW he oversaw the introductions of Scott Hall, Medusa and Randy Savage to name a few. The former WCW President has now given his thoughts on 2021’s biggest surprise debut, that of Christian Cage in AEW.
“I was disappointed for Christian, in particular Christian. Because I agree with you, this is where the art of being a promoter comes in. It’s not cut and dry; it’s not building blocks; it’s not assembly – it’s an art. The art, and this is where instinct comes in, part of it is experience, but mostly it’s instinct and feel. Managing expectations, first of all creating expectations or creating anticipation, therein lies the art in promotion. Making people want to see, making people want to feel – that’s the art part of, I think the biggest part, component of being successful in anything in entertainment.
Managing anticipation or expectation, and they’re kind of one and the same in some respects, but managing that anticipation or expectation is the most important thing you can do when you’re planning for a big moment. Whether that’s a big event, a main event match, introducing a new character, you want to get people excited about it but you have to manage that. Because if you make the mistake of ‘whoaaaa, I can’t wait’ and you fail to manage the velocity of all that enthusiasm, and you underdeliver this much based on the unrealistic expectations, by the way, that you’ve created. You have created these unrealistic expectations and when you aren’t able to fulfil them, it’s a let-down. That’s a reality.”
Eric Bischoff went on to explain that he felt that AEW had hyped up the debut of the “hall of fame worthy” star so much that no matter who arrived, it was almost certainly going to be perceived as underwhelming. In essence, AEW had backed themselves into a corner creating unrealistic expectations that they were never going to be able to match.
“Had Christian just shown up in an impactful way without any advertisement, without any promotion, without any expectation or anticipation – guess what would’ve happened. He would have been the hottest topic of conversation for the next six months, well, two months. Everybody, the audience, would have looked at Christian from an entirely different perspective or angle. ‘Holy sh*t!’ because they would have been getting something that they didn’t expect or anticipate. AEW would have overdelivered on expectations instead of creating an unrealistic one and then underdelivering. That’s experience and it’s instinct and you have to understand the audience. You have to understand the risks when you introduce somebody like that or create these big moments that you’re intentionally raising expectations about.”
After showing up to sign with AEW at Revolution, Christian Cage made his debut on the following episode of Dynamite confronting Kenny Omega. AEW World Champion Omega offered a handshake to Cage, which the debutant refused, he then dodged a cheap shot from the champion before attempting to hit his Killswitch in return. Omega escaped from the ring, but Cage was left holding the world championship belt aloft.
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