The Wednesday Wars was the tentative name for the perceived battle between NXT and AEW. The two shows aired head to head on Wednesday nights, battling to keep hold of the wrestling audience for that night. AEW beating WWE seemed like a possibility, but recently the unthinkable has happened.
It was a fierce battle, but AEW remained ahead of NXT in ratings and in the preferred demographics for most of it’s run. Vince McMahon, angry at the ratings lost, eventually move NXT’s tv show to Tuesday Nights, and changed the entire outlook of the programme.
The logo, colours, the arena and the whole feel of the NXT show has changed, with an emphasis in “Under 30, tall” wrestlers who haven’t made their names on the independents.
AEW Beating WWE
AEW vs NXT
However, AEW didn’t just start beating NXT in the ratings. On the post-All Out AEW Dynamite, AEW impressed everyone by beating WWE Monday Night Raw in the 18-49 demographics. It was an incredible achievement, coming just two years in AEW Dynamite’s lifespan. AEW Ratings.
For comparison, when WCW first beat Monday Night Raw in the ratings, it was 1996. WCW had been in business since 1988, and took them 8 years to best Vince McMahon.
While they defeated WWE in the overall ratings with their TV show Monday Nitro, AEW only won in the key demographics. It will be a long time with a lot of hard work before AEW can beat WWE Monday Night Raw in the overall ratings, let alone Smackdown.
Being on Fox, Smackdown has a much larger reach than either Raw or Dynamite. It regularly pulls in over two millions views, over 500,000 more than AEW’s highest ever ratings number.
WWE Money Issues
AEW Beating WWE
Ratings, however, will not be at the forefront of WWE’s mind at the moment. Right now they will simply be counting the ridiculous amounts of money they are making. Their deal with Fox to broadcast Smackdown was for a billion dollars, and they have three years left on that deal. They are also making incredible amounts for Raw on the USA Network, as well as the ticket and merchandise sales at their huge events like Wrestlemania, now crowds are back.
However, the one deal that has WWE licking their lips is the Saudi Arabia deal. The Saudi Arabian Government is paying WWE a reported $50 million a show, for 20 shows, to broadcast an event live from Saudi Arabia. Despite the moral quandaries, it was an offer too huge to pass up.
To clarify how big this deal is, compare it to Wrestlemania. It was reported recently that the Saudi Arabia deal has already paid WWE more than all the ticket sales from every Wrestlemania combined. WWE built their business on Wrestlemania, so to see it now be overtaken by a vanity show for a Saudi Prince is an odd thing to see.
TV Ratings Issues
Drop in Revenue
However, the TV ratings could signal a worry for WWE in the future. With a company like AEW showing it can achieve similar results to WWE but commanding a much lesser fee, networks may be less inclined to may as much money to WWE for the rights to broadcast. And if AEW begins to take viewers away from WWE, especially in the key demographics, networks and advertisers will be paying less money to advertise on their shows.
Obviously, this is all “ifs and buts”. WWE is not going anywhere anytime soon. They are THE name in wrestling (not “Sports Entertainment” as they claim), and will surely be around for years to come.
But, as they say, no company is too big to fail. Blockbuster probably thought that wasn’t true, when Netflix started posting DVD’s to people’s door. And as we know, Blockbuster is still a household name while Netflix languishes as one of many companies that tried to take on the might of Blockbuster and fell to the mighty DVD rental sword.
So whilst AEW probably wont be putting WWE out of business any time soon, they may be consequences for Vince McMahon. Their income could drop if AEW start taking their viewers, and if the Saudi money dries up then their bottom line will take a hit.
It may force WWE to alter it’s practises, such as letting it’s wrestlers wrestle outside of WWE. We already saw this as an option for Daniel Bryan, with Vince reportedly letting him work the G1 Climax if he stayed in WWE. If they’d do it for a star like Bryan Danielson, they have the ability to. It’s only a matter of time before these privileges make their way down the roster to the undercard, or else see more stars leave WWE for pastures new.
Whatever happens, it’s an exciting time for WWE. With a battle between two companies, both will hopefully bring their A game and produces excellent television for all wrestling fans.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.