One of the major problems fans on social media often cite with modern-day wrestling is the perceived lack of long-term storytelling, especially in comparison to years gone by. The debate has intensified in recent years, due to the increasing amount of wrestling content being produced on a weekly basis, and now former WCW President Eric Bischoff has had his say on the subject.
Speaking on a recent edition of his 83 Weeks podcast available via Ad Free Shows, Eric Bischoff described the current situation with regard to storytelling as “frustrating” before reflecting on his own experiences in producing wrestling.
“Real story. Story that has great structure and is managed appropriately so you get the important beats of a story so you’re building anticipation. You’re integrating all of the elements of any good story; whether it’s a movie, a book, a fu**ing My Pillow commercial has more story structure to it than 90% of the wrestling we see on television today. It’s frustrating for me because the audience is there.
When I first got into wrestling, when I was in WCW and WWE/F was at the top of the game, everyone that came over to WCW was like, ‘man they tell such great stories there, they work their stories out a year in advance, six months in advance.’ It’s story, it’s story, it’s story. I was in WCW at the time where story really didn’t matter because everybody involved on the creative side of things came from that weekly territory mentality where it was more ‘hot angle, payoff. Hot angle, payoff. Hot angle, payoff. Long-term storytelling was something that everybody understood, intellectually, but didn’t know how to do or apply. It took us a long time to get there and we didn’t get there till the mid-90s. 95, 96 is when it really started happening. I’m not suggesting there weren’t good stories in WCW before but they were more by accident than they were by design. They had a lot more to do with the talent than the people writing for the talent.”
Eric Bischoff went on to explain that without structure and without planning, writers are relying on getting lucky with creating a good story rather than following a formula to make them consistently.
“You cannot have a good quality story without a formula or structure associated with it… If you don’t have a plan, you’re just getting lucky every once and a while. I think that’s what’s missing.
People can convince themselves all they want that the reason people aren’t watching wrestling is because they’re getting all their content from so many different platforms and blah blah blah blah blah. It’s true, to a point. But guess what, there is a lot of great television out there right now that is delivering massive television numbers because they’re telling great stories with great characters and it can be done in wrestling. It can be. In some cases more easily.
It’s not because people don’t care or because people don’t necessarily have the talent or access to the talent, it’s because everybody is on this fu**ing treadmill and they’re producing so much content that storytelling becomes a casualty. What is good storytelling is now referred to as storytelling, but it’s really not, because there’s no structure to it, there’s no arc to it. When there’s no structure and no arc there’s no drama, and when there’s no drama there’s no passion. There’s a good match that somebody will give 5 stars to, but the audience doesn’t buy in emotionally and that’s the part that’s missing too often everywhere.”
The former WCW President has also recently offered his thoughts on the competition between NXT and AEW commenting that they’re not in a real war. Adding “Two shows head to head does not a war make.”