AEW founder and president Tony Khan has fired back at former WCW supremo Eric Bischoff - and his suggestions that Khan and his team "shut up and wrestle" following recently battles with WWE.
“If Tony [Khan] were to call me and ask for any advice, here’s what it would be — shut up and wrestle, dude. Just put out the best product you can and you’ve proven you can. Focus on that. Now this is weird coming from me, right? The guy who challenged Vince McMahon. The guy who gave away their finishes. But here’s the difference. I was actually competing with him. I was going head-to-head. Real head-to-head. Like, my show started the same time his show started each and every week.”
Bischoff then addressed Khan's recent comment that his company was attempting to avoid making similar mistakes to WCW while competing with WWE. To this, he said that Khan and his wrestlers should "shut the f*ck up" until they are truly competing with Vince McMahon:-
"By coming out there and constantly comparing yourself or deriding your competition, but not having the willingness — I almost said balls — the willingness to say, ‘Okay, let’s go head-to-head. Let’s really compete. Let’s see who can get whose market share.’ That’s real competition. So, I’m a little disappointed in the rhetoric that I’m hearing out of Tony, as well as some of the talent. Man, shut the f*** up. Until you’re actually competing and you’re actually competing favorably — and by the way, Tony, in 1996 I was kicking WWE’s ass. Every week! In a real head-to-head competition, not a cosplay competition.”
Khan has now reacted to Bischoff's comments. Speaking on Busted Open Radio, the AEW chief claimed he was surprised, saying Eric was "probably the last person anyone would expect to say that they think the President of a wrestling company should be quiet," given his past. He continued, stating that he was "amused" by the situation (h/t Cageside Seats):-
“I was amused by Eric’s comments, and I like Eric when we’re together, but this is the ultimate example I think of glass houses in some ways knowing how Eric conducted himself when he was the President of WCW. And really, he did ask for the head-to-head competition, and I think he said publicly I should be going for that, but I don’t decide when the shows are on. This time slot, we had looked at a couple of different slots, and this was one they thought would do well and I was pretty supportive of.
Calling Bischoff's words "laughable," Khan pointed out that the former WCW executive is likely just trying to drum up controversy:-
“So for Eric Bischoff, of all people, the guy who got lowered down on a motorcycle from the ceiling, the guy who challenged Vince McMahon to fight him, to say that somebody should be quiet is laughable. Eric is doing an act. I respect it, but let’s be serious, Eric used to be a wrestling company executive, and now he is commentator. And as a commentator, he’s trying to stir up controversy, but I think it would be pretty naive of anybody to look at this, and not examine that the person talking is Eric Bischoff, who is the most out-spoken wrestling executive of all-time, and somebody who got a lot of heat."
Bischoff has appeared for AEW several times since August 2020, with his last segment going down on 28 May 2021, when he hosted a Dynamite party for Chris Jericho and The Inner Circle.
Khan, meanwhile, has been particularly outspoken on WWE as of late, though he has earned that right. For all the talk of "shut up and wrestle," the most aggressive moves made in this "war" have all come from WWE, not AEW, including the decision to put NXT on USA Network in 2019, hurriedly booking a Madison Square Garden show to counter AEW Grand Slam in New York City this September, and last week's Supersized SmackDown opposite AEW Rampage.