With All Elite Wrestling’s weekly show set to debut on TNT this October, and NXT moving to the USA Network later this month, wrestling is about to experience another weekly ratings war between two giant companies. As both shows will air on Wednesday nights, the two companies will be looking to attract the most viewers possible. Most wrestling fans will agree that this competition will be great for the sport.
As the Monday Night Wars from the ’90s proved, the competition isn’t always friendly. The competing companies want to put their opposition out of business, which is a great business model, but not the best for the sport overall. In the early 2000s, WWE officially beat World Championship Wrestling, driving the latter company out of business and bringing an end to what was arguably the best time in history for sports entertainment.
According to Cody Rhodes, though, AEW will remain focused on its own product instead of thinking about how to conquer Vince McMahon’s promotion.
In an interview with IGN, the “American Nightmare” revealed that AEW believes their product is strong enough to compete against the big player, and that by providing a real alternative to the sports entertainment elements of wrestling that WWE is synonymous with, fans will gravitate towards the new company.
“Our focus is still on providing the best AEW, providing the best alternative. We haven’t switched over to ‘Well how can we compete?’ because we already felt like we had a product that people wanted to see. We want to provide bell-to-bell sports-centric pro-wrestling. That’s going to mean longer matches. That’s going to mean stories being told between the ropes. That means no invisible camera backstage. That’s gonna mean more of a live-sports approach to our product. That’s 100% what we’re doing, so I want to avoid any reactionary elements.”
Rhodes also admitted that he isn’t under any illusions. He knows that AEW will have its work cut out for it going up against the WWE machine, but he’s confident that his company has the talent to succeed.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) September 6, 2019
There’s no reason to believe that both companies can’t coexist, either. Back in the ’90s, television networks were more reliant on attracting live viewers than they are today. The number of people that watch shows using on-demand and time-delayed viewing methods has increased dramatically, meaning that fans would potentially be able to watch both programs in their own time, even if they are aired simultaneously. This means that fans could still be loyal to WWE while also catching the new storylines on AEW.
On top of that, YouTube streaming and other factors can now be taken into account. While AEW and NXT will both want to appease their networks by achieving high ratings, they don’t have to strive to be each other’s death knell either.
But this is wrestling. Although AEW has never claimed to be in competition with WWE, all of that could change in the coming months.