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Eric Bischoff On WWE’s Struggle With Consistent Storytelling, Importance Of Telling Stories In Wrestling, Why Steve Austin-Vince McMahon Story Worked

September 3, 2020 | Posted by Blake Lovell
WWE Steve Austin Vince McMahon

In the newest edition of 83 Weeks, Eric Bischoff discussed storytelling in wrestling, WWE’s struggle with consistent storytelling, why the Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon story worked, and much more. You can read his comments below.

On why storytelling matters in wrestling: “If you look at where the wrestling business is today across the board. I think great storytelling – right now, it’s really good – there are stories I see that I really like. There are matchups that I see that create anticipation for me even if its subconsciously. But storytelling is what’s gonna grow the audience. Action is what’s going to sustain it. Great action, great wrestling – as you put it, bell to bell – your core audience. People that love that – they watch wrestling because they love the action in the ring and love the physicality and athleticism – that’s your baseline. You’re not gonna go anywhere provided you keep producing great matches. But in order to take it from 5 to 8 or 3 to 10 – in other words, to grow that audience and bring in people you don’t already have – that’s gonna require really great storytelling and consistent storytelling. That’s when people get emotionally involved.

On using the Stone Cold Steve Austin/Vince McMahon angle as an example of great storytelling: “Whatever the angle is you wanna pick as one of the best storylines ever – let’s use Stone Cold Steve Austin as an example – people love the character. That’s always important. If people don’t like the character, it doesn’t matter what story that character is in. They aren’t gonna buy into it. But when you’ve got a great character and now you’re telling the story between Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon – that story was the foundation. It’s like if you’re building a house, you’re building the foundation. Well, the deeper and stronger that storytelling foundation is, the easier it is for two great characters to reach a great level like we saw with Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon, or the nWo angle. Pick your favorite angle. They had a great story. Today there’s so much emphasis on great action and not enough emphasis on structural basic storytelling. When those two things sync up – the phenomenal presentation we’re seeing in the ring combined with a really solid storytelling foundation that’s consistent – that’s when you’re audience is gonna go from 2 million to 4 million.

On how WWE and AEW could use better storytelling: “Right now it seems we’re servicing the baseline. It seems like the producers of wrestling are servicing their baseline – they’re satisfying their existing customers really well. But I’m not seeing anything that makes me go ‘Wow, even if I’m not a wrestling fan, I’m gonna check this out.’ Or maybe I was a wrestling fan 5 to 10 years ago and I lost interest, but this is really good. I will tip my hat to AEW in that case. We’re seeing more of it there, but we need a lot more, especially I think in WWE. The fundamental storytelling is lacking. I know they can do it. There’s a lot of great writing talent in WWE. I think the world of them and have the utmost respect for them, but for whatever reason, that talent and the ability that they’ve aggregated isn’t able to get that story on paper and get it to TV. Sometimes you’ll see glimpses of it – OK, they’re on it – they’ve got a great one here. Two weeks later, it’s almost gone. It’s frustrating as a fan.”

If using any of the above quotes, please credit 83 Weeks with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.