The Wednesday Night Wars officially began when AEW Dynamite made its debut on TNT last year. NXT made its debut on the USA Network two weeks prior to that. This is not the first time WWE had to face competition in recent memory.
On his 83 Weeks podcast, Eric Bischoff discussed this topic. He said that he disagrees with fans who say that AEW is WWE’s first competition in a long time. While Bischoff supports All Elite Wrestling, he mentioned how the company is not securing the level of ratings that he once saw. During his time working in TNA, the company managed to get over 1 million viewers every week.
“Times are interesting, aren’t they? Now you’ve got companies getting excited about half a million viewers or 700,000 viewers. I go, ‘Okay? I guess that’s important? I guess that’s really changing the world.’ But as much of a LOL as you put it as TNA was getting at the time, they were delivering, consistently prior to Hogan and I getting there and subsequent, 1.2 million, 1.4 million, 1.5 million. Hell, the ReACTION show that Jason Hervey and I produced that aired at 11 o’clock to 12 o’clock at night delivered a million viewers, that followed iMPACT at midnight. So it’s easy to become myopic and forget about facts relative to the past, but for someone to suggest that this is the first time that WWE has had competition?”
“I’m sorry. I’ll take exception to that. I’ll take a big exception to that! And again when any wrestling company – I’m not picking on anybody, and like you, I fully support AEW, there’s a lot of people there that I know personally, behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera, I’m fully supportive of them, I cheer them on, nothing negative here – but don’t get out over your skis and position yourself as something that you clearly not yet. AEW is highly competitive – in fact dominating, consistently dominating – the WWE development territory. ‘Cause that’s what NXT is. Let’s be honest and fair.”
“Let’s also be honest and fair and recognize that NXT has had a 10-year jump on AEW. NXT has been around for a long time. NXT has the full support and cross-promotional opportunities of both RAW and SmackDown. That’s something that AEW doesn’t have. But still, to suggest that this is the first time WWE has had competition? I’m sorry. Move over to the side here, I’m gonna kick you right in the balls.”
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected both AEW and WWE. Both companies have seen a decline in ratings consistently. People simply are not as eager to watch the shows when there is no live audience in attendance.
We can hope the situation will be contained as soon as possible and fans will get to see more wrestling with a live audience.