The news of the Bischoff hiring and the promotion of Heyman that broke Thursday was of such a surprising and potentially impactful nature that I recorded a special bonus episode of Total Engagement that was released today, Friday June 28th to address certain questions that remain to be seen and/or are left unanswered regarding this most surprising news.
Is it purely a symbolic move?
The hiring of Bischoff and promotion of Heyman on the surface appear to be, if nothing else, an amazingly effective PR move. I can’t even begin to think of a headline which would make an impact on the minds of wrestling fans who have turned away from the product more than the one we saw on Thursday. It really does tell everyone, “Hey we know we need to make some changes, here are two guys who created product that millions of you watched before, and we want you back.” Similarly, if as rumors have it, Fox executives are getting antsy about declining ratings and plummeting attendance, this move could possibly be done just to send the TV folks a message of “Hey, we know there is a problem, we are taking steps, and here’s a couple guys that anyone with even a peripheral knowledge of the wrestling business know that can instill some confidence.” On the surface there’s a lot going on symbolically, but is that the only or primary reason for this taking place?
What does this mean to Triple H’s position and his future?
It strikes many as at least a little strange that Eric Bischoff is overseeing the creative of a $1 billion show in SmackDown Live on FOX, (with a reported $4 million per episode budget) while the heir apparent to the WWE is overseeing the developmental department. Is Paul still the guy, or are the moves we have seen lately—with reported NXT call-ups happening without his knowledge, combined with the recent shake-up—indicative of a decrease in power? What does this say about the potential for a different future for the fed than what we have assumed would eventually happen? Also, consider everything he’s already got his hands on; did Triple H even want to be Executive Director?
Are ‘Paul E’ and ‘Easy E’ the right guys in 2019?
There is no doubting the history, success and credibility of Bischoff and Heyman, but are they in touch enough to be successful in 2019? It’s one thing to maintain the status quo, but the trends in WWE—whether creative, ratings or attendance—need to be turned around. Are these two legends, who enjoyed the height of their creative success some 20 years ago plugged in enough to culture, trends, and 2019 pro wrestling enough to catch fire with new fans and bring back the old ones? Perhaps some fundamentals are timeless, but times change. Have Paul and Eric changed enough with them to understand the relevances and the “cool factor” integral to the spark needed to turn things around?
Can these three guys work together?
When Eric Bischoff went to work for WWE in 2002, he was a talent only, no backstage or executive involvement beyond being an entertainer. In 2002, that was seen as the ideal role for Bischoff, what has changed? Paul Heyman is 0-2 at being able to navigate the often unpredictable and challenging day to day WWE creative environment. Eric is known for being a political wonderkind, but Vince is something a little different. Will Eric be able to stomach having his ideas be dismissed or changed at the last minute? The brand split is effectively over (or is it…), so Paul and Eric will have to collaborate and coordinate creative efforts—how exactly will that relationship work? Finally, and most importantly: WILL VINCE BE ABLE TO STEP BACK? Many questions, and no answers…and very few indicators from history that these relationships will be easy or fruitful.
What brought about this decision?
One can reduce the possibilities to two when trying to figure out what brought about this very significant change in the WWE creative hierarchy. Was this brought about by FOX, or did Vince come about this decision on his own by seeing recent trends and perhaps being nudged by those close to him? It’s intriguing to think about what triggered this famously stubborn man to make such a dramatic change.
So many questions… but it will be interesting is all we know for now.
Right now on Total Engagement (Totalengage.net, MLWRADIO.COM, iTunes, and all your favorite podcast platforms) I ask these questions and many more with our special guest, wrestling insider Brad Shepard. In addition to that, I make my ‘locked in’ prediction of the outcome of the news (spoiler—it’s dire). Listen now and tweet me at @mattkoonmusic.
Fans can subscribe to the podcast via TotalEngage.net or on Audioboom, . Total Engagement is presented by MLW Radio and Powered by Wrestlezone.com