If there's one person who knows about battling WWE head-to-head, it's former WCW President Eric Bischoff.
In the 90s, Bischoff launched WCW Monday Nitro, which was a huge success for several years before rapidly declining. Before the downturn, Nitro went on an 83 week streak of defeating WWE Monday Night RAW in the ratings.
AEW found itself head-to-head with WWE's developmental brand, NXT, on Wednesday nights. While AEW has been able to garner a bigger audience than NXT on most weeks, NXT has seen somewhat of an upturn, while AEW numbers have been declining.
Despite the momentum shift for NXT, Bischoff spoke to Wrestling Inc. and said that he believes that AEW is the better TV product, due in part to the look of the show.
"The first time I watched AEW… somebody asked me the next day what I thought. I said I thought it looked great and the most important character in the entire show was the audience," said Bischoff. "The lighting director made sure the audience was a part of the show. When you have a live-action audience who's engaged in the product and feel like they're a part of the show, that's worth a lot. It translates to the viewer and makes them feel like they're watching something that's important. That sense is validated by the people's reactions that they see on TV."
Conversely, Bischoff feels like NXT's small crowd atmosphere will cost them in the future.
"Flip that over to a small, dark studio-type of venue, much like TNA or I had [with early WCW]. You have a small, sterile audience and it doesn't feel valid or important," Bischoff noted. "I use this example – take the best WrestleMania match and put that match in a high school gym in front of 120 people. Is it gonna feel like the same match? Is it gonna leave the same impression on the viewer? It won't. The live part of the crowd is so important and I don't see how NXT can begin to compete, long-term, just by producing the show in a studio environment. I know that because I did it in WCW...
"In terms of the television product, I think AEW is a winner hands down."
You can read Bischoff's full interview with Wrestling Inc. by clicking here.