wrestling / Columns

Csonka: Bischoff & Heyman Take Power Over WWE TV as 2019 Gets Weirder

June 27, 2019 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff WWE

The wrestling business is a weird and wonderful place in 2019, WWE is bigger than ever, NJPW is still growing while delivering amazing in ring content, Impact & ROH are still desperately fighting for a market share and, MLW was resurrected and has TV, Lucha Underground has been presumed dead, and AEW was born and scored a TV deal with TNT. WWE is still the biggest dog in the fight and will be for some time as they will be making billions off of TV deals, which were established before the approximately 20% year to year drop in ratings happened, before attendance started to decline both in live events and then TV & PPV, and before the groundswell of disappointment started to grow from a vocal minority to an angry mob that just want to be entertained as fans.

With AEW’s TV debut looming, you have seen signs of WWE showing concern; they don’t want to release talents who want out (Harper & Banks), they have greatly upped contract offers (Revival & Good Brothers) to keep people that they don’t need or add to the programs much (Mike & Maria) and locked them up for upwards of 5-years. Those are all signs of concern, but with under 90-days until AEW debuts on TNT, the big answer (so far) to fixing the programming is “the wildcard rule,” which just fucks the brand extension in the ass, and stopping wrestling during commercials with forced and contrived two out of three falls matches, which mean nothing, and will absolutely kill that stipulation.

And just when fans were wondering and questioning when real change will come (will Vince back off, will Triple H take more power, will some young go getter get a chance to reinvent their stale programming, something), the following headline appeared on June 27th 2019

Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff Named WWE Executive Directors, Will Run WWE TV

Heyman is set to become Executive Director of Monday Night Raw, while Bischoff will fill the same role for Smackdown Live. Both will report directly to WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. At this time, these are executive roles and the two will not be introduced as part of a TV storyline.

For everyone telling me that WWE wasn’t concerned over low attendance and declining ratings (and don’t give me that shit that they still reach #1 in cable many week) because declining 20% is fucking tragic, read that again. “Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff Named WWE Executive Directors.

Now I will say that the names involved make sense. Vince took much of his “attitude era” from Heyman’s ECW. Bischoff pushed McMahon like no one else had thanks to uncle Ted’s wallet and the nWo; both Heyman & Bischoff are also extremely great on screen performers, and can and likely will be assets working with talent. And I am sure that there will be people singing from the mountain tops that all is well and that the attitude era is back! I hope the hell not, because as great a time as it was to be a fan during that time, when you look back it was also extremely problematic and damaging to the business that left behind a lot of bad habits.

WWE’s love of going back to this era is obvious as they wank to it all the time on the network, telling their version of history as the victors, and mocking their past foes for their poor choices… while making many of those same mistakes themselves because they haven’t learned their lesson, they just take the victory lap. WWE has a disconnect with their fans base, they have lost brand loyalty with many who had previously followed, almost blindly, due to their fandom and love of wrestling. So instead of reinventing their programming, instead of breaking from tradition and the stale and sterile TV atmosphere that they have cultivated for years and going outside the box… or hell just keeping it simple and maybe trying (at least on one show) a more NXT styled format to see if it can thrive on the big stage, they will again reach to the past

I have a ton of respect and appreciation for Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff, and they may very well be the answer to fixing the WWE’s TV woes. And if they can improve Raw & Smackdown, can make the shows make sense, can bring viewers back and raise attendance, then my hat will be off to them. But I strongly feel that instead of reaching to the past that they should have looked to the future, tried something fresh and taken a real chance. It may work out with Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff, and again, if they are the answer, then so be it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this felt like a complete move made out of desperation.

Anyway, it could be worse…

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The 411 on Wrestling Podcast returns to the 411 Podcasting Network for episode 30. On the show, the good brother, Jeremy Lambert, joins 411’s Larry Csonka; the guys will review the WWE Stomping Grounds 2019 PPV, and then preview the ROH Best in the World PPV and AEW Fyter Fest events. The show is approximately 86-minutes long.

* Intro
* WWE Stomping Grounds 2019 Review: 2:20
* ROH Best in the World Preview: 34:50
* AEW Fyter Fest Preview: 52:30

You can subscribe and listen to the 411 on Wrestling Podcast via the above player on Transistor, or on the following platforms:

* iTunes
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* Stitcher
* Google Play