Eric Bischoff calls ROH a parasite that is diluting the AEW product.
In March 2022, AEW CEO Tony Khan announced that he had acquired ROH after the company went on hiatus at the end of 2021. For the next several months, ROH titles were often featured on AEW programming. The crossover has lessened somewhat in 2023, as ROH's weekly television show has returned. Some fans have been critical of the new era of ROH, and others have pointed out that the company has struggled to sell tickets for ROH Final Battle on December 15.
Speaking on 83 Weeks, Bischoff was asked whether he had an opinion as to how to build more interest in the ROH brand.
"No. It was a bad decision to buy it in the first place, and there’s nothing anybody’s going to do to make it interesting or important, outside of the hardest of hardcore Internet wrestling community fans. That’s it. There is no solution. If it was a horse, I’d put it out of its misery and move on. I would take the resources that are going into Ring of Honor, which is never going to be viable, ever, I would take the resources that are being dumped into that, and put it into my core product, Dynamite. By putting Bryan Danielson and the rest of the people that they put into this thing, you’re diluting their characters. You’re making them look like independent wrestlers. You’re not elevating their characters in any way, shape, or form. In fact, you’re doing exactly the opposite. It’s really unbelievable to me, and I don’t know what the drive is. Is it ego? Is Tony [saying], ‘I did this and I’m gonna prove I can make it work’? It’s certainly not because it’s a great revenue opportunity. It dilutes the core product. It’s being shoved down the audience’s throat, and they’re gagging on it," Bischoff said.
Bischoff went on to discuss how AEW has struggled to build the viewership for its core product. He stated that fans are not spending more time with the product for a variety of reasons, and he argued that ROH is a distraction that dilutes the core product.
"AEW did what, 850,000 viewers with Christian and [Adam Copeland] last week? After they did their best to build it up, and that’s all you can bring in? You gotta ask yourself why. Why aren’t fans spending more time with the AEW product? Why is Dynamite unable to break a million viewers more than once or twice or three times a year? What is it about this brand? It the product. It’s the way characters are being developed or not being developed. It’s focus, it’s vision, it’s a lot of things. But Ring of Honor is just a distraction, and it dilutes the core business, it dilutes the characters that are part of it. It’s almost embarrassing that it’s happening. I don’t understand it all. I hope it works. I hope a year from now, ‘Remember when you said,’ and I’d have to admit that I was wrong. But so far, when it comes to AEW, I’ve been right far more often than I’ve been wrong, and for two years, it’s, focus on the core product, focus on Dynamite, not all these other shows. You don’t have the creative infrastructure or a formula or a vision that’s working. So if you don’t have a formula or a vision that’s working, and you don’t see any kind of upward growth in your product, why would you expand it? I don’t want to hear about the money because I hear Dave Meltzer talking about, ‘Oh, AEW’s grossed all this….’ Gross doesn’t mean shit. That’s such horse shit. Net revenues, yeah. Let’s talk about those numbers. They can’t possibly be making money. How’s that video game doing? Have you heard? Yeah, neither have I. Neither has anybody else," Bischoff said.
The WWE Hall of Famer went on to encourage AEW to focus on the core product and build a strong foundation. He shared his belief that Tony Khan is trying to build a mansion on sand without a foundation. Bischoff then emphasized that having top-tier talent on the ROH brand dilutes them and dims their star power.
"It’s, focus on the core product. Get your foundation underneath you. It’s like Tony Khan’s trying to build a mansion on sand with no foundation. Find the right property, find solid ground, build a solid foundation. Then build your house. Tony’s trying to build a mansion, and he hasn’t put the basement in yet, or he hasn’t put the foundation in yet. It’s crazy to me. But hey, he’s got all the money in the world, so I guess it’s doesn’t matter. But it does matter to the talent that are participating in it because their lights are being diminished. The shine on their stars are being dulled by being involved in things like Ring of Honor. Bryan Danielson in Ring of Honor? Excuse me? So often, you hear the Internet wrestling fanbase talking about how someone is used right or not used right. Here you got a whole collection of top-tier talent that are recognizable just about anywhere in the world to wrestling fans, and you’re putting them on Ring of Honor? By the way, you sold 1,000 tickets? What does that tell you? More importantly, what should that tell you?" he said.
Bischoff also made it clear that he believes AEW and ROH should be kept separate and treated as two separate companies to avoid diluting the product. He called ROH a parasite that is harming the core brand. Bischoff also stated that he doubts fans will see a successful ROH in this lifetime.
"You have to build the brand. It has to stand on its own, it has to perform on its own, without diluting the core product. Right now, Ring of Honor is like a giant freaking parasite on the AEW brand, and the more focus they put on the parasite, the more that parasite is going to diminish or harm the core brand. Maybe there’ll be a time down the road when that makes sense, but I just think they bumble-fucked it up so badly that we won’t really see a successful Ring of Honor any time in our lifetime," Bischoff said.
ROH Final Battle will air on December 15. Fightful will have live coverage of the show.
Click here to see what Bischoff had to say about CM Punk's return to WWE.
Check out Athena's comments on reaching one year as ROH Women's World Champion here.
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