(CBS New York/CBS Local) WWE has tapped Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff to serve as the executive directors of Raw and SmackDown, respectively. The move comes at a time when the promotion’s television ratings and attendance are both in steep declines and competition from All Elite Wrestling ramps up. The hires are seen as an effort to stop the bleeding.
Heyman, the genius behind Extreme Championship Wrestling, will oversee Raw on Monday nights and continue to serve as the on-screen advocate for Brock Lesnar. Bischoff, who is credited with turning World Championship Wrestling into the most watched promotion in the world for a time during the Monday Night Wars era, will oversee Tuesday’s show and remain with SmackDown when it moves to Friday nights on new network in October. Both will report directly to Vince McMahon.
It’s unclear how much creative control they will actually have, but a source told Mike Johnson of PWInsider that their roles will be similar “to Paul Levesque’s in NXT in that they will be in charge, but it’s still Vince’s company.”
There has been some criticism of the decision to hire Bischoff in particular as some feel he is out of touch with the modern product and paint him as a relic. However, the same knocks have been directed at McMahon. On the flip side, the former WCW leader has become extremely successful in new media since stepping away from the production side of the wrestling business. Podcast demographics tend to skew younger and capturing new fans is a critical component of WWE’s future. Bischoff’s notoriety, and Heyman’s for that matter, will likely pique the interest of fans who have tuned out over the years. Whether his name and ideas will be enough to keep them around remains to be seen. But the move isn’t going to hurt.