Eric Bischoff Says Bret Hart Was Never a Main Event Draw
Eric Bischoff on Sting winning the TNA title back in 2011 and critics of AEW and other companies featuring older wrestlers: “I think the whole idea of age is…..I think it all started with the Monday Night Wars. I think it all started when Vince McMahon, thinking Hulk Hogan or Randy Savage or Roddy Piper or Ric Flair no longer had any value, thought that it was kind of time to put them out to pasture. You could go all the way back to Warrior and Hogan in WWE when Vince wanted to put the belt on Warrior because he thought Hogan was done when Hogan was 37 or 38. 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 the aforementioned talent as being too old and washed up. That kind of perpetuated throughout the wrestling media and age became a subject. 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 demo of any show at that time or close to it.
“I think when people don’t know f***-all about television started 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. If you look at the other end of it, it takes young talent a good 5, 8, 10 years to really connect with the audience where they are viable, high-performing characters. It takes a while. That young talent, 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 utilize a guy like Sting because the audience is still invested in Sting. AEW signed Big Show. Why? Big Show is a name with a ton of freakin’ equity. Will they use him in the ring? If they do, it’ll be an occasional thing, which is fine. The audience digs the character, and that’s all that matters. If the character happens to be 52 or in Sting’s case, 62 years old, it doesn’t matter. The audience still digs it because there’s equity there.”
On Bret Hart’s drawing power as a top star: “To this day, I do respect Bret, many aspects of Bret Hart as a performer. I still think in the ring today, and I’ve said this before and I’m not going to change my opinion. Nothing will change my opinion, no one will change my opinion. Bret Hart, in my opinion, is one of the best technical performers in his generation. Not the biggest star. His drawing power in WWE is well documented by anybody who wants to do the research in an objective way. He was not a main-event draw in WWE. That’s it, that’s a fact. It’s not my fault. I wasn’t there, and I didn’t book him. It just didn’t work. He was the champion, he was the face of the company, and he was the least successful world heavyweight champion, or at least one of, in WWE history, which is a long freakin’ history. So, it is what it is. Bret Hart is that guy that has to have somebody to hate in order to have something to talk about. That’s it.