Yesterday, the ratings came out for the first “battle” of the “Wednesday Night War” between WWE’s NXT on USA and AEW Dynamite on TNT.
Unsurprisingly, for most I hope, AEW was the big winner in the ratings. Dynamite scored a 0.68 rating (in the 18-49 demo), bringing in 1.4 million viewers. NXT scored a 0.32 rating (also in the 18-49 demo) with 891,000 viewers.
This marked the lowest rating NXT has gotten yet on USA. The first week they scored a 0.43 rating with 1.2 million viewers, and the second week scored a 0.32 rating with 1 million viewers.
A lot has been made about this, and it’s largely getting blown somewhat out of proportion.
The good news here, wrestling had over “2 million viewers” on a Wednesday night. It’s in quotations because these are numbers, and despite what Scott Steiner says, the number’s do in fact lie. With the way Nielsen ratings are calculated, that 2 million was most likely a lot of cross-over fans who watched a little bit of both.
And that’s not trying to take away from AEW’s number. For sure, AEW has definitely tapped into an audience that had become jaded to the WWE product and likely hasn’t watch much wrestling in years. That they’re bringing some of these folks back is good for both AEW and the industry in general.
Too many fans, especially the fanboys on either side, are getting a little too excited and worked up over this supposed Wednesday Night War.
I get it. I was a child during the Monday Night War. It was an exciting time, possibly the most exciting time in wrestling in my life thus far. We’ve all longed for that feeling again.
But it’s 2019, not 1999. The ratings don’t matter, at least not nearly as much as they did back then.
Back then, if you wanted to watch both, you either had to flip between the two, have two TV’s going, or you watched one and recorded the other on a VHS tape.
Today, you can watch the programs whenever you want to. NXT becomes available for on-demand viewing on WWE Network on Thursday. AEW Dynamite had a replay immediately after it went off the air. You can watch it on-demand with the TNT app. There’s more replays of it coming to TNT, TBS, and TruTV throughout the weekend and into early next week.
Television has changed dramatically since the Monday Night War. WWE has ratings that back then would’ve been terrible, and yet they’re getting billion dollar TV deals today.
There’s too many ways to watch the programs today, be it streaming devices and the Internet, DVR, and so forth. You can comfortably watch both, and many people probably already have or will.
I’ve seen both. In my opinion, NXT was the better show and it really wasn’t that close. AEW won presentation wise; the well lit arena with a bunch of people in it comes across better on TV than a dark studio. Of course, I like the look of Dynamite better than RAW (and presumably Smackdown too since that hasn’t aired yet). Dynamite had a distinctly early Nitro presentation to it, and I love that.
From an in-ring quality standpoint though, NXT delivered a show that was in the same category as a TakeOver. No match on Dynamite came close to matching the quality of the in-ring work seen on NXT.
AEW on the other hand delivered a fairly safe, standard show with an ending that was right out of the playbook of TNT’s former wrestling show some 20 years ago.
Of course NXT can’t deliver TakeOver quality shows every week. That they had the better in-ring show and lost means little.
NXT gambled by putting on a stacked card with limited commercials, and the quality spoke for itself. However, doing that week one probably wasn’t the smartest move considering that curiosity and the novelty of a first ever show was always likely to trump a stacked card.
While this “war” is a joke compared to the one between WCW and WWF, in the grand scheme of things given how TV is these days. The first night isn’t the one that matters most for AEW, nor NXT for that matter. The real test comes from seeing how AEW does two weeks from now and two months from now. That will give a better indication of how the “war” is going during the early battles.