Well, it seems that All Elite Wrestling has drawn first blood against WWE in the Wednesday Night War, as it’s being reported that the debut episode of Dynamite went home with the ratings lead over NXT this past Wednesday.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) October 3, 2019
AEW’s ‘Dynamite’ Tops WWE’s NXT in First Head-to-Head Ratings Matchup https://t.co/a0M0nGsF6G
— Variety (@Variety) October 3, 2019
The reports indicate that Dynamite garnered an average of 0.68 viewership in the 18-49 demographic, with 1.4 million viewers over two hours, while NXT earned just a 0.32 viewership rating in the same demographic, with 891,000 viewers over it’s first full two hours on the USA Network.
WWE reportedly released an amicable statement saying, “Congratulations to AEW on a successful premiere…” while following that up by stating that the “… real winners of last night’s head-to-head telecasts… are the fans,” and that the Wednesday night competition between WWE and AEW is, “… a marathon, not a one-night sprint.”
Though it might come as a surprise that WWE acknowledged this defeat to their new competitors, it also shows that they are not taking this Wednesday night fight lightly and are on notice.
But it also cannot be understated that this is a big win for AEW. As fans are aware, the last true competitor to truly challenge WWE for wrestling broadcast supremacy was WCW back in the mid-to-late-90s. However, they were not the last company to try and challenge WWE. Total Non-Stop Action (now iMPACT) Wrestling elected to, perhaps foolishly so, moved their weekly television program Impact from Thursday to Monday nights in an attempt to directly compete with Raw. The best ratings that Impact managed on Monday nights was their initial episode (which, at the time was not a permanent fixture, only a one-off challenge to gauge their audience’s reception on the move) on 4 January 2010 with 2.2 million viewers, peaking at 3 million viewers during the opening segment featuring Hulk Hogan. TNA made its permanent move to Monday nights starting on 8 March of that year and scored 1.4 million viewers and then never peaked past that number again until they moved back to Thursday nights on 13 May 2010.
It will be curious to see how this new battle heats up. The Impact move to Monday nights was touted as the “New Monday Night Wars,” but it never ended up having the same juice that the real Monday Night War did. But AEW seems more measured in their approach, taking on a more capable opponent first before (perhaps) moving on to the bigger challenger.
But that’s getting a little ahead of what’s going on right now. As I said, WWE appears to be on notice, and that usually means that the best creative choices come out when that’s the case.
We just have to sit back and see who scores the second fall.