Eric Bischoff has opened up about the notion that the age of a wrestler matters, suggesting that you’re never really too old to hold a championship.
Speaking with Conrad Thompson on his 83 Weeks podcast via AdFreeShows, the former WCW President would say that, while he was only scratching the surface on the argument of age, that the Monday Night Wars showed how an increase in age doesn’t necessarily correlate with a decrease in ability when it comes to talents.
“I think the whole idea of age is, I mean it’d be worth a discussion and maybe even a show specifically about this topic. I think it all started with the Monday Night Wars. I think it all started when Vince McMahon, thinking that Hulk Hogan no longer had any value, that Randy Savage no longer had any value, that Roddy Piper no longer had any value, that Ric Flair no longer had any value, that so many of the established big names were, just kind of like it was time to put them out to pasture. You could go all the way back to Warrior and Hulk Hogan in WWF when Vince wanted to put the belt on Warrior because he felt that Hogan was done. When was that, 1991? 92? When Hogan was 37, 38, whatever he was. Once part of that roster came to WCW and started kicking Vince McMahon’s ass on a regular basis, what did Vince do? He started framing and contextualizing aforementioned talent as being too old and washed up and has-beens. Billionaire Ted skits, where Vince made fun of the age of a lot of the performers that we were using to beat his ass. That kind of perpetuated throughout the peripheral wrestling media and age became a subject.”
Eric Bischoff would use the analogy of Sons of Anarchy, saying the average age of the cast had no correlation with the age of the demographic watching, as the people watching the show don’t feel the same way about age as those watching do.
“Look at some of the biggest hits, and I’m going to pull a couple that are older now because I’ve kind of analyzed them over the years but they still hold up. Sons of Anarchy on FX. The average age of the cast on Sons of Anarchy was probably 55 years old. It had the strongest 18-49-year-old male demos of any show in its time period at that time, or close to it. So I think when people who don’t know f*** all about television, really, because they’ve never really done it start talking about granular aspects of television like the relative age of the characters compared to the target audience, they run themselves into a ditch because they don’t know what they’re talking about. The audience doesn’t feel the same way about the age of talent as the people who write about it do.”
Bischoff would say it takes talents who are under 35 years old up to a decade to connect with the audience, pinpointing the relationship between Darby Allin and Sting in AEW as a prime example of utilising older talent to help younger stars.
“If you look at the other end of it, it takes young talent, and I’m talking about guys that are under 30 and under 35 years old, it takes them a good 5, 8, 10 years to really connect with the audience in a way where they’re really viable, consistently high performing characters. It takes a while. The young talent that everybody talks about grooming, yes, absolutely. You need to bring that talent up. You need to brush them up against a Sting. You need to be Darby Allin getting that rub from Sting in AEW. That’s how you utilise guys like Sting because the audience is still invested in Sting. AEW just signed Big Show. I said, ‘What’? What the hell? But they did. Why? It was a good calculation. Big Show is a name with a ton of freaking equity. Now, will they use him in the ring? Probably not, and if they do it’ll be the occasional thing, which is fine.”
The former RAW General Manager would say that time spent focusing on age is essentially time wasted, pointing to several actors who have become timeless, and drawing comparisons with AEW star Sting.
“I think anybody that spends so much time focusing on how old, especially at 52 years old, look, you’re a television star. Look at Tom Cruise. Who’s the British guy that plays James Bond? 007. He’s my age for crying out loud. Doesn’t matter! The audience digs the character, that’s all that matters. If the character happens to be 52 years old or in Sting’s case today 62 years old, doesn’t matter. The audience still digs it because there’s still equity there. So no, I wasn’t concerned then and I think people are overly concerned now. It’s something that people in the peripheral wrestling media who don’t know fuck all, its something that they can talk about because it an opinion. It’s a subjective opinion, but they can try to take that subjective opinion and make it sound like it’s based in science or it’s based in fact, and it’s not based in fact, it’s the opposite of that.”
Speaking with Inside The Ropes‘ Kenny McIntosh, the former WCW President would also recent discuss why Sting connects with an audience, whereas Goldberg doesn’t garner a similar reaction, pointing to Goldberg “never really cementing” his relationship with the audience and getting over much quicker than other stars.
“I think there’s a couple of reasons. Number one, I don’t think Bill ever really cemented his relationship with the audience. When Bill first came out, he was new, it was different, it was exciting, the energy, the Pyro, it was powerful character, did a great job with his character, his matches were fast and decisive. Those were all things that got him over, right? But once you get over, staying over is a much bigger challenge. Getting over sometimes is a lot easier than staying over. Bill got over very quickly and part of that was because of timing. Bill came to WCW at the peak of WCW’s success – under Hogans and Stings and Lugers and Savages, and all kinds of other top talent for Bill to work with and to get the rub from.”
Eric Bischoff would add that the difference between Goldberg and Sting is actually that longevity and the way it’s played out in terms of progress on-screen and connection with the audience.
“The difference between Sting and Bill Goldberg is the audience has watched Sting since, what? Late ’80s. ’89, whatever it was, ’90 with Ric Flair, and watched him grow and progress, and they’ve been on the journey with Sting for a long time, and because they’ve been on the journey with them, they feel closer to him, they identify with him. Sting has maintained his integrity. He hasn’t done any really stupid things out in public. He hasn’t said things he has regretted, like some of us have, myself included or Bill Goldberg in some cases. Sting has always maintained his integrity as a professional human being.”