The year is 1996, the venue is World Championship Wrestling (WCW). With the New World Order, made up largely of former WWE stars, reigning supreme, WCW Nitro took the lead in the ratings on WWE Raw – a streak they would stick with for 83 weeks. At that time, WCW regularly boasted of beating its competitors in the rankings. After all, when you are the King of the Wrestling Mountain, why wouldn’t you want to talk about it? That said, wrestling fans know how this story ends. WCW ultimately collapses, with a long list of reasons for its downfall, from ego to corporate merger. The story remains the same, however: for all its non-stop bragging, the company lost.
Fast forward to 2020 and something intriguing happens on Wednesday night. When All Elite Wrestling (AEW) launched in October 2019, it seemed like an exciting alternative to WWE lineup. And, fortunately, in many ways it is. Lots of wrestlers are interesting and new, never having played a major role in WWE – from Young Bucks and Kenny Omega to Private Party and Orange Cassidy. However, over time AEW seems to be borrowing more and more tactics from the WCW playbook, and it starts to get irritating.
This is more evident with television ratings. Fairly steadily since its inception, AEW has surpassed WWE’s NXT in the 18-49 demographic, the one generally considered the most important factor for TV advertisers. For most of its existence, the company didn’t let this become a big factor in its storylines. After all, WWE doesn’t brag when it beats AEW – which would be widely seen as a punch – so what good would it be for AEW to start doing that?
Then former WWE and AEW Champion Chris Jericho started tweeting about it. It all started during the COVID-19 pandemic, when NXT’s total audience steadily outpaced AEW’s. At this point, Jericho started tweeting that it didn’t matter as AEW still had the coveted demographic.
He’s not wrong, but a little background would help. First of all, you need to know how TV ratings are rated. Nielsen is the leading television audience measurement group. According to a 2019 article by The Hollywood Reporter, Nielsen ratings are determined based on a sample of 40,000 households (approximately 100,000 people) in the United States. The company then uses an algorithm to determine its rating numbers.
On the August 5 episode of AEW Dynamite, the show scored 0.36 among 18-49 year olds, which translates to 468,000 viewers based on Nielsen’s calculations. The same night’s episode of NXT, on the other hand, was rated 0.20, which equates to 256,000 people.
Both are decent numbers and both improved from recent ratings. What they aren’t, however, are numbers worthy to base your character on. After all, the two numbers represent a fraction of WWE Raw’s audience for that same week, which was 0.51 in demo 18-49 (652,800 viewers) and a total audience of 1.715 million.
Yet, over the past month, Jericho has taken his ratings tweet and incorporated it into his AEW character, regularly boasting about winning the “Odds Wars” and baptizing himself the “DemoGod”. He even released two different T-shirts with this phrase.
And to be fair, it’s well within Jericho’s rights. He, like all other professional wrestlers, is an artist who simply plies his craft on television every week. However, as a longtime connoisseur of this particular genre of art, it is a bit too reminiscent of WCW singing about its rankings in the 90s. It’s a nudge and a wink. to a tiny segment of the public that obsessively follows such things while leaving the majority of the public confused – or, at worst, uninformed about what is really going on.
Because, while the success of AEW’s rankings on NXT is somewhat notable, it’s also a biased victory. To get to the bottom of this, you just need to take a look at something other than AEW is doing that might remind you of WCW.
AEW’s list is one of the most impressive in the industry. They are a talented, promising group of wrestlers, mixed with an array of former WWE stars who have experienced varying levels of mainstream success. Does this sound familiar to you?
AEW with guys like Cody Rhodes, Jon Moxley (FKA Dean Ambrose) and Chris Jericho to raise their roster – in addition to Shawn Spears (FKA Tye Dillinger), Matt Cardona (FKA Zack Ryder) and FTR (FKA) The Revival) – is a really fantastic idea. It brings eyes to their product that recognize WWE talent, while also giving the company bankable stars to build on – to date the only two AEW World Champions have been Jericho and Moxley.
However, this is a list that goes one-on-one with NXT. For those unfamiliar with it, NXT was once considered the development brand of WWE. This is the place where new signers will learn how to wrestle WWE style and acclimatize to society before making their Raw or Smackdown debut. That perception changed as NXT started to be touted as WWE’s third brand and, in addition, a main star on the roster (Finn Balor) returned to NXT to help establish it.
That said, NXT remains a platform full of names that have had little to no exposure on Raw or Smackdown. So comparing the star value of NXT to that of AEW doesn’t make sense. That said, it also doesn’t make sense to compare AEW’s ratings to those of Raw or Smackdown, shows with decades of audience baked in the oven.
Ultimately, AEW’s ratings are something the company should be proud of on its own, regardless of what WWE presents each night – especially now, over the past couple of weeks, as they seem to be on. the right way to regain the lost audience. during the first months of the episodes filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic. As ratings for wrestling programs have fallen across the board, AEW (and NXT, to some extent) have both started slowly gaining lost viewers.
These gains are something Tony Khan, president of AEW, proudly spoke about on Twitter, thanking fans for tipping in and promising another strong show next week. This is exactly the right way to handle the situation
TV ratings are something the majority of the audience doesn’t care about and even more of the audience doesn’t understand. While proclaiming that you “win” is an exciting prospect, you’ll be hard pressed to find WWE doing the same, or even mentioning AEW and its other competitors. There is simply nothing to be gained from it. And those in the know understand that despite all of AEW’s bragging rights, they only manage to dominate the lowest rated show in WWE.
It’s just not what fans rate a wrestling show. They want characters they love and games that excite them. While AEW has plenty of them, one of the less interesting aspects of the series has become Jericho – who truly is one of the absolute greatest professional wrestlers of all time – looking forward to beating the lowest-rated brand of WWE in a demographic. by a few hundred thousand people. What’s so exciting about this?