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Rob: Wednesday Isn’t Monday

Rob is back with some much needed perspective on Wednesday nights and the “war” unfolding before everyone.

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Wednesday Night War

Rob is back with some much needed perspective on Wednesday nights and the “war” unfolding before everyone.

We are now almost four months into the much hyped but largely mundane Wednesday Night Wars, and at this point anyone trying to make a big thing out of the ‘competition’ is grasping for straws in a major way.  Seriously folks, unless you are a viewer of one or both NXT and AEW Dynamite then there really is nothing to see here folks.  Here’s the best way to sum up what’s been a mostly meh competition between the two shows:

  • NXT is good for somewhere between 700,000 and 900,000 viewers a week.
  • Dynamite is usually good for somewhere between 800,000 and 950,000 viewers a week.
  • Neither show is in danger of getting cancelled.

That’s it.  If you want to count the people who flip between the two as separate viewers the two shows top out around 1.7 million viewers combined. By contrast the lowest ever, oh no the sky is falling number that the third hour of RAW got a few weeks ago was like 1.8 million.  This past Monday, with no more Monday Night Football around to drain viewers RAW did 2.1 million viewers.  Smackdown, when it was on Tuesday Night and once a month was the third or fourth straight night of WWE programming, hovered around 2 million viewers even when up against NBA games.  And finally WCW Nitro at it’s end got 2 million viewers.  The two shows have yet to top 2 million combined, even if you cheat and double count the flippers.  If you needed a wake up call about the so called Wednesday Night Wars that should be it.  They don’t beat RAW at it’s worst, Smackdown when it was on a bad night, or Nitro on it’s deathbed.  And its likely to stay that way.

The Wednesday Night Wars will never be that big of a deal…

So what has or hasn’t happened here?  AEW was supposed to be ushering a new day and reaching out to the proverbial lapsed fan by offering up a show that did not fall into the traps that many accuse WWE programming of living in, and NXT is in the eyes of a lot of smart fans the best that WWE has to offer.  Why are they just cannibalizing each other instead of both expanding in their own ways (AEW getting lapsed fans and NXT grabbing WWE fans who want a no frills approach to their wrestling programming)?  If Raw and Smackdown are as bad as the internet claims they are then why do both shows continually outrate and outdraw what are supposed to be two superior shows?  I have a few ideas:

The Names Aren’t The Same

When Nitro started off in 1995 WCW employed the two biggest, most recognizable names in the entire business in Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.  They also had the two biggest name WCW holdovers in Ric Flair and Sting.  On the other channel the WWF had the brand name recognition (yes, they pushed the brand over any individuals even then; don’t fall for the revisionist history you hear about that today).  In 2019-2020 AEW has Chris Jericho who is about as big today as Sting was back then, meaning that wrestling fans all know him and a few people who’ve seen him outside doing other things, but that’s it.  That’s it, really.  No one else there has any real station outside the wrestling bubble.  On the other side NXT is the third WWE brand, and one whose biggest supporters have often tried to pretend is not owned by the same company.  So in other words we’ve gone from the big names on Nitro vs the brand name on RAW to mostly no names on Dynamite vs a lesser brand name in NXT.  That’s a like a football game where the two backup quarterbacks are starting.

Lapsed Fans Aren’t Coming Back

The lapsed fan has been held up as a prize to be claimed by anyone who was able to provide a wrestling show that had all of the good stuff they remembered minus all of the things that we’ve been told WWE has done to drive people away.  Well I’m here to tell you that chasing those fans is fool’s gold.  Why?  Because most people who quit watching don’t do so because of booking decisions, they do it because the people they most wanted to see aren’t there any more.  You can go back to Bruno Sammartino’s first retirement and Vince McMahon Sr asking him to come back almost four years later because business had dropped off as proof.  In the mid 90s Hulk Hogan going away led to another dip, and his presence on Monday Nitro kicked off the next resurgence.  Then in 2002-03, the Rock and Steve Austin going from full time to no time took more people away.  Most recently John Cena’s absence has undoubtedly had an effect.

Yes some people do fall off if their favorites don’t get booked the way they want or the content gets too risque or gets too clean for their tastes (the end of the bra and panties era of women’s wrestling resulted in some people going away, too).  But at the end of the day it’s primarily about there being people you want to see on the show and not all the stuff your favorite podcasters, sheet writers, etc like to tell you.  Let me tell you I didn’t come back in 2012 because I heard they were coming up with great storylines or anything, I came back because the Rock came back.  Now I stuck around after that but he was the hook.  It ain’t rocket science and there isn’t some magic formula to convince people to come back; to get them back you need somebody that got them to watch before.

Is There A Way To Turn Things Up?

Well sure, but it’s not what I think AEW fans in particular would want.  If you really want to be WCW reborn then they’ll need to rerun the big plays that their inspiration did and sign some big name, recognizable people.  But who’s out there?  Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, and AJ Styles have all re-signed.  So have the New Day, Kevin Owens and Braun Strowman.  They would have to sign someone like………..

John Cena.

That’s it.  Not the Revival, or Luke Harper, or Marty Scurll (who is reportedly staying with ROH).  Cena would easily put Dynamite around 2 million just like he’d put RAW back over 3 million were he to come back there.  That’s the kind of earth shattering move that could shake the foundations of the business, not bringing anyone in who’s appeal is already baked into the cake.

Looking Back

You have to remember just how big Hogan and Savage were back then.  They were known in every household, not just among wrestling fans.  Savage was making so much from Slim Jim commercials that WCW barely had to pay him anything.  You go up to people today who have never watched a minute of pro wrestling and ask them to name one, Hogan is one of the names that will come up.  No one today, not even Cena is like that.  That’s how WCW was able to launch Nitro and compete with RAW from day one.  It wasn’t because of how well anything was booked.  Hell, even during the fabled 83 weeks RAW was quite often the better booked show of the two.  And it wasn’t until Rock and Austin took off that they were able to put WCW away in the ratings war.

So when you’re trying to think of whether or not the Wednesday Night Wars will ever reach the heights of the Monday Night Wars, let me save you some time.  No, they won’t.  So stop worrying about that, watch your show or shows of choice and have fun for a change.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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