Wrestling & MMA

This old fashioned, pro wrestling TV ratings war is different and similar than the first

It’s official: Vince McMahon is bringing back the XFL in 2020

WWE CEO Vince McMahon is bringing back the XFL, the famous football league that had only one season in 2001. McMahon is promising a faster game that is also "family friendly."
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WWE CEO Vince McMahon is bringing back the XFL, the famous football league that had only one season in 2001. McMahon is promising a faster game that is also "family friendly."

Business is about to pick up.

So put on your big boy pants everybody, because pro wrestling fans are gearing for another head-to-head TV ratings war.

It’s not the Hatfields vs. the McCoys nor McMahon vs. Turner.

It’s the Levesque/McMahons vs the Rhodes/Khans. WWE NXT vs. AEW.

We’re again talking talented talent and money, big bucks in more ways than one, just like the old days of the Monday Night Wars. And Turner is still involved, sort of.

And the winner is

Pro wrestling flourished during the Monday Night Wars when Vince McMahon’s WWE “Monday Night Raw” on USA Network went head-to-head with Ted Turner’s WCW “Nitro” on TNT. McMahon won that battle, buying WCW at a very cheap price.

Many fans watched both. Some only one. Some fans watched one live and set their VCRs for the other. Others changed the channel quickly (back-and-forth). Some watched WWE live and Nitro later on replay.

There will be options this time, too.

We will see if those involved in AEW have learned from WWE’s successes and WCW’s mistakes. This is where pros such as Billy Gunn, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Jim Ross becomes extra valuable to AEW.

AEW does not want this to become future footage for the WWE Network.

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Photo By Jim Varsallone

USA vs. TNT

The day has changed, but the networks remain the same.

Wednesday nights will see WWE NXT on USA Network (a division of NBC Universal) and AEW on TNT (under the Turner Sports banner).

Of course, both will be live, airing from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Since both are live, the competing live show can not reveal ahead of time Mankind (Mick Foley) winning the WWE title and have it backfire with strong ratings for taped WWE.

The home base

Like “Nitro,” AEW is a traveling circus, going to a different town each Wednesday for its live TV show.

Unlike “Raw,” NXT will remain at its usual spot each week, Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando. Instead of TV tapings there every several weeks for the WWE Network, NXT will go live every Wednesday from Full Sail for USA Network.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Photo By Jim Varsallone

Take me to your leader

NXT, under the direction of Paul “Triple H” Levesque, will have an advantage out of the blocks with the experience of working behind the scenes on taped and live TV shows, but AEW has a quality group in place, led by Cody Rhodes.

Another advantage, NXT is starting its new show first on Sept. 18. AEW’s first show goes live on Oct. 2.

TNT will broadcast an AEW special at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30 (the night before All Out). The one-hour special will give viewers an introduction into AEW.

Competition is a good thing

Competition keeps everyone on their toes. Can’t rest on your laurels.

It can also create more interest, more opportunities, more jobs and bigger stars.

There’s the free agency factor, too. Where will he or she land? Surprise, surprise.

Not just about the ratings

Especially with various ways to watch a TV show these days, i.e. websites, YouTube, social media, both can thrive and survive. The ratings war will be interesting, but because the landscape has changed, it will be one factor, not the only factor of how many people are watching.

Dollar wise, take into account that when a show is on TV, advertisers have their own websites and social media. If a TV show can also entice advertisers by growing that advertiser’s website and social media, that’s another attractive selling point.

The goal is to get more people seeing, knowing and hopefully buying the product. Whether it’s via TV, social media and/or both, the advertiser just wants to sell its product. Very important to take that into account, because the TV rating is one of a few determining factors -- not the only one.

Also, because of so many channels, ways to watch and other types of viewing options, you don’t need a monster rating to survive on television.

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The right night

I like Wednesday night for this live viewing challenge. It’s an excellent night for pro wrestling, because the NFL and NCAA do not have football games Wednesday nights. Football is strong in viewership and social media in America. Why make it more difficult for sports fans to watch AEW or NXT.

Not to get off track, but with WWE “SmackDown Live” moving from Tuesday nights to Friday nights — when it debuts on Fox in October — I was thinking “Raw” on Tuesday nights on USA Network to avoid clashing again with Monday Night Football on ESPN.

But WWE does like to run a live TV show on Monday nights, especially the night after their much-hyped live shows (including SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, WrestleMania) on WWE Network.

NXT on WWE Network

You can still watch NXT each week on WWE Network.

The new two-hour show will be available on demand on WWE Network every Thursday night beginning at 8/7C.

Internationally, it can be watched on WWE Network on Thursdays as well.

NXT TakeOver

NXT TakeOver events will continue to stream live exclusively on WWE Network from various cities.

My Pro Wrestling Talk on the Web and Social Media

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Jim Varsallone covers pro wrestling, something he’s done since his college days in the late 1980s. Spanning four decades, he currently covers WWE (Raw, SmackDown and NXT), Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, Lucha Underground, MLW, WOW, FSCW, AEW and the South Florida indies. He also writes MMA -- mostly profile stories and video interviews with American Top Team talent in South Florida. As for pro wrestling, he writes feature stories and profile pieces, updates upcoming show schedules in South Florida, photographs the action and interviews talent (audio and video) -- sharing the content here and via social media on his Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channel: jim varsallone (jimmyv3 channel).
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