Former WCW president Eric Bischoff spoke last month at a TEDx conference and examined how the news media is stealing from the pro wrestling playbook. Bischoff’s talk, which was posted online last week, detailed how pro wrestling is designed to make fans feel, rather than think, and he offered a persuasive argument that the news media of 2018 operates in a similar fashion.
“I was a little concerned that the talk was going to be so obvious that no one would feel like they learned anything,” said Bischoff. “It’s become more and more obvious over the past two years, especially going into the last election. It’s just a slugfest.
“The launch of CNN was designed to report news from all over the world. Then the networks realized it is far less expensive when have you three or four people sitting around arguing or discussing the news as opposed to having people going out and reporting it. That was a dollar-driven economic evolution, and now everybody has gotten used to people who aren’t journalists giving their opinions of the news. They’re giving you information, so they have to create emotion or no one will watch, and that’s what they’re doing.”
The beginning of the talk felt as though it was opening a Nitro from 1998, as Bischoff cut a promo on the live audience in Naperville, Illinois.
“That brought back the butterflies and the fear,” said Bischoff. “But I like living in that space, so it felt really good.
“I had an entirely different talk laid out until the night before, and I woke up early in the morning and decided on the spot that I was going to completely change it up. Since I had so little time to prepare for it, I improv’d a lot of that, and it reminded me so much of the way we used to do some of the best promos we ever did.”
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Bischoff is well versed in politics, yet his TEDx talk remained bipartisan, highlighting how both parties are guilty of ripping away integral parts of pro wrestling and embedding them into news coverage.
“When I watch the news now, I bounce around quite a bit and I’m not anchored to one network, and they’re all guilty of the same thing,” said Bischoff. “They just approach it differently.”
Bischoff embraced the opportunity for the TEDx speaking engagement, relishing the challenge of capturing an audience.
“This was something I’d never done before, and I felt like I needed to get out in front of a live audience,” said Bischoff. “It was a unique challenge and I have no plans to do it again, but never say never.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.