Tony Khan has fired back at Eric Bischoff after the former WCW President told him to “shut up and wrestle.”
On the latest episode of his 83 Weeks podcast, Eric Bischoff sounded off about Tony Khan’s recent comments about competing with WWE. On October 15th, the first 30 minutes of AEW Rampage overlapped with the last 30 minutes of an extended ‘Supersized’ SmackDown.
In the lead up to the head-to-head AEW President Tony Khan was in fighting mood, saying that a recent episode of Raw “sucked” before taking issue with WWE for running the final 30 minutes of SmackDown commercial free.
Speaking on his podcast, Bischoff said that Tony Khan should “shut up” and put on the best product he can. Furthermore, he suggested that the AEW boss wasn’t really in competition with WWE, unlike WCW who went head-to-head with Monday Night War every week from the mid 1990’s.
Appearing on Busted Open Radio, Tony Khan was asked what did he think about keeping quiet? It turns out quite a lot.
Khan began by explaining how WWE brought the fight to him, before speaking highly of the card that was presented on Rampage.
“That’s a great question. I really like Eric and I was kind of surprised by Eric’s comments. Eric Bischoff is probably the last person anyone would expect to say that they think the President of a wrestling company should be quiet. When it comes to head-to-head competition, we were in a head-to-head competition this past week, it was only 30 minutes and I didn’t ask for it. We were in our time slot and somebody came into our time slot aggressively, and it wasn’t the first time they made a pretty aggressive move like that. We’ve generally responded pretty well and have been very successful.
This is the first time on a Friday we’ve gone head-to-head like that and I thought it was pretty aggressive what they came in with, they loaded it up with the biggest stars they have and I had to make that choice; do I change up the card we have, which has some big stars like CM Punk, who is one of the biggest names in wrestling, against Matt Sydal, who is a great high-flyer and technical wrestler and very respected, but not the biggest box office name in all of wrestling. That’s a great match for the fans.
I had to think if I should change that to a crazy box office match and go head-to-head, but I didn’t, I stuck with the matches we had because I believe in our wrestlers, even if it wasn’t necessarily the three most stacked matches. The irony is, this week’s Rampage also came in very stacked, whether there was going to be competitive or not. I generally try to make it a strong card and that card was announced before I had any idea we were going head-to-head.”
Continuing on, Tony Khan said he was amused by Bischoff’s comments, especially in light of how the former WCW boss acted during the 1990’s. In addition he said that AEW needed a win, and they got one.
“I was amused by Eric’s comments. I like Eric when we’re together, but this is the ultimate example of glasshouses, knowing how Eric conducted himself when he was the President of WCW and he did ask for the head-to-head competition, he said publicly I should be going to that, but I don’t decide when these shows are on.
This time slot, we looked at a couple of different slots and this was one they thought would do well and I was supportive of because it allowed for a good block of wrestling on Friday night and I knew there would be a good amount of people watching on Friday and it was effectively an opportunity for people to watch everything in one night. When we got the head-to-head competition, I thought we need to respond and need to win. We did.
I was surprised the competition was going to be commercial-free, I wasn’t able to go completely, after talking to TNT, without them, but I was able to schedule doing Punk vs. Sydal commercial-free. I thought it was more impressive given that I was forced to take a couple of breaks. It was great of TNT to work with us on short notice to push our break back so that we could have that match uninterrupted. It’s not up to us when our show is on. In this case, somebody moved aggressively in our time slot and it’s really important for us to do a good number and win the night and we did.”
Khan went on to praise AEW’s fanbase for supporting Rampage and the company as a whole by finding ways to keep tuning in to their programming. He also said that he was proud to have won the head-to-head.
“I’m just really proud we won that head-to-head, we didn’t make the choice to go head-to-head for 30 minutes against the competition, especially when they decided to do 30 minutes commercial-free and they lost. I think it was great for us.”
The AEW President wasn’t quite done with Bischoff though, saying that he is just trying to stir up controversy.
“For Eric Bischoff, of all people, the guy who got lowered down on a motorcycle from the ceiling, the guy who challenged Vince McMahon to fight him, to say that somebody should stay quiet is laughable. Eric is doing an act. I respect it, but let’s be serious, Eric used to be a wrestling company executive and now he is commentator and as a commentator, he’s trying to stir up controversy, but I think it would be pretty naïve of anybody to look at this and not examine that the person talking is Eric Bischoff, who is the most out-spoken wrestling executive of all-time and somebody who got a lot of heat…
If we’re going to be honest, the things I’m trying to do in terms of balancing these great stars we have like CM Punk, Chris Jericho, and Bryan Danielson and people who come in with years of experience and they’ve got lots of time on television as big TV wrestling stars.
Then we have the people who have emerged here and become TV wrestling stars in AEW like Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Page and the Young Bucks and we also have a whole crew of people who are the young stars and a lot of them are becoming young and established stars on TV too. Whether it’s MJF, Britt Baker, Sammy Guevara, Jungle Boy, and so many others, Darby Allin, in particular, just stars I’m committed to to keeping in AEW and not losing and building around.
When Eric says ‘focus on the wrestling,’ I am focused on the wrestling and pushing these people and not running them out of the company like Chris Jericho couldn’t get out of WCW fast enough and Eddie Guerrero was put in his place and the wrestlers were told by their boss that there is only three guys in the company, when Eric said that [Hulk] Hogan, [Randy] Savage, and [Roddy] Piper were the only three guys that had ever drawn money.
Of course, a slap in the face to a few other people in the room, but what does that say to the morale of the young wrestlers who are busting their asses every week? It just doesn’t make sense. I am happy and grateful to not go off like that every week and really only when there’s a call for it and when there’s competition brought to our doorstep and we have to respond.
I’m just really grateful for the fans for their support and there’s nothing to talk about now because we did what we had to do last weekend and now we can enjoy it and also look forward to great cards this weekend.”
On October 15th, SmackDown pulled in more viewers overall, but both shows drew the same rating in the 18-49 year old demographic. In addition, it was reported that Rampage actually beat SmackDown in the demographic during the 30 minutes that the shows were in direct opposition.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.