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Ricky Jackson

The Wednesday Night War

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Maybe just me, but always wondered if wrestling fans like to argue about ratings, as it's, *in theory* a rare metric for being able to say the company you like is 'better' than another?

For example, if you're into sports, then people love arguing about why team A is better than team B, or why say the Premier League is better than La LIga or Serie A, and the way they do that is normally by looking at how many goals a player has scored or how many trophies a team has won compared to another, but in the world of a fake sport you don't have those stats to use. Hell, even in entertainment, you could argue film A is better than film B as it won more Oscars,  or artist A is better than artist B because they won more Grammies - but in wrestling, with no industry wide awards (and no, I'm not counting the WON end of year stuff...) or anything independent to allow people to say something is better than another - and that's what fans like to do, debate this kind of stuff - then TV ratings is a very rare, tangible measure that someone could point to if they wanted to say something was better than something else. 

Now of course it's often films/TV/music that get the most critical acclaim, to be less 'popular' than things that can get criticised for being low brow, but that's another argument...but it may just be part of the reason why wrestling fans get so caught up in talking about ratings and "who's winning the ratings war!". Just a theory.      

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10 minutes ago, TonyPulis'Cap said:

Hell, even in entertainment, you could argue film A is better than film B as it won more Oscars,  or artist A is better than artist B because they won more Grammies -

That's really a dumb as fuck argument though.

But yeah, you're probably right. Which really paints a dire picture of pro-wrestling fans average intelligence (well human beings maybe). "Hey, the company I like is better because more people watch it bro." 

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There's definitely a finite, limited number of fans willing to be invested in a wrestling product now - it's probably the least 'popular' it's ever been in America, even though the ones who are invested are willing to spend a lot of money, and the internet existing naturally leads to more space for content, which means wrestling is often talked about by the media. 

You need a Hogan/Austin/Rock level star to turn things around. Wrestling has always been at its most popular when there are massive individual stars; it's one reason 50:50 booking is so annoying. 

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2 hours ago, MoS said:

You need a Hogan/Austin/Rock level star to turn things around. 

I'm wondering if this is even possible in today's context. These three became stars because of the power of TV. They were TV stars. Today, are teenagers even watching TV anymore ? I have a 16 years old nephew, he's always watching stuff on Youtube on his phone, he very seldom watches TV I believe. The way of consumption of entertainment has changed a lot in the 15/10 last years for the new generation. It's not a wonder why WWE's demographic is so old. Everything seems to be more scattered than ever before, there's not the TV that is getting all the families & friends together around one program. In that context, I don't see how it's clear what the next big thing in pro-wrestling could be. Pro-wrestling exploded thanks to television. It had to evolved from the kayfabe era to a form of self-consciousness to keep the interest of new fans alive, which means more toward performance art with the focus on matches-for-their-own-sake as the main point of drawing interesting.

Which is why also real feats (of strength, athleticism, stiffness, stunts or comedy) have become way more prevalent. Whereas the perception of pro-wrestling has never leaned more toward the fact it's a performance (hence, "fake" from the old standpoint of "hey, this is a sport"), the actual performances have never been more real, and as much as people like to make fun of "movez" and "flippity flips", pro-wrestling has never been a more difficult task in term of actual athleticism and in-ring talent (and so it is an actual sport now way more than ever before). In a way, pro-wrestling has never been more real, which is why what passed for "realistic selling" (which really wasn't realistic at all when you think of it more than three seconds) is now taking a backseat to the actual, real, extremely arduous kind of action that is becoming the meat and bones of pro-wrestling today. Maybe it's just a necessity out of an entire context evolving.

Anyway, just ranting...

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I would argue the fact that the Elite are YouTube stars (to an extent) is the next evolution of things. Similarly, I think any "boom" period that happens now would look really different than ones before. It won't come in terms of TV ratings, because nothing besides real live sports (which wrestling may argue it is, but it isn't) does big TV ratings. It's exceptionally easy to be a casual fan of something now, and watch a few YouTube clips, or check out the big matches or an occasional show when your friends invite you over.  I do think wrestling has sort of boomed in the last few years, to the extent that it's sitting more comfortably in a mainstream conversation, but the metrics aren't what they used to be.

I'd also add that hardcore fans being willing to spend more money is part of a boom. There's more money in the business at the moment because fans are excited. Sometimes I think people take that for granted - "hardcores will spend more" - but that wasn't really true 5 years ago. People flying to a city for an AEW show and gorging on wrestling all weekend is new. No other promotion was engendering that sort of support (and even the WWE only really lifted business in a city on Wrestlemania weekend, whereas now all the big four seem to get indy add on shows).

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AEW got 851k viewers and a 0.32 rating in the target demo. NXT got 845k and a 0.26, although it actually very slightly beat Dynamite in a couple of demos apart from 50+, which they must be pleased about. https://www.f4wonline.com/aew-news/aew-dynamite-slightly-regains-viewership-lead-over-nxt-298871

If both companies can keep getting these numbers consistently, they will be very happy with their ratings, especially since even Raw and SD get between 2-3 million viewers these days.

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Great numbers for both shows. Let's hope it remains that way for the foreseeable future.

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So after everyone on social media dogpiled on Dave for suggesting AEW's drop was due to it being a night most of their target audience being away from home, it seems he was right since the number bounced back the next week. 

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So is the lesson here that both AEW and NXT are doing somewhere in the vicinity of 850,000 viewers a week, but NXT's viewers tend to be older than AEW?  To me, it looks like they are pretty much even now ratings wise, but maybe I'm reading things wrong.

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4 hours ago, The Thread Killer said:

So is the lesson here that both AEW and NXT are doing somewhere in the vicinity of 850,000 viewers a week, but NXT's viewers tend to be older than AEW?  To me, it looks like they are pretty much even now ratings wise, but maybe I'm reading things wrong.

The second part is definitely true. The first part seems about right, but it feels like the numbers have bounced around enough that a few more weeks of data might be necessary to confirm that's where they'll settle in.

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I think that I am over the Wednesday Night Wars already.

This past Wednesday, for the first time, I didn't watch either shows. I had other things going on... and I didn't feel like I missed anything. I got caught up on anything that happened thanks to social media & none of it jumped out at me as something that I needed to go out of my way to watch.

AEW is the new thing but they're not doing a lot of wrestling that grabs my attention. I don't think it's for me, as a fan. I like a lot of the stuff they do that's non-wrestling, I think Cody & Jericho are both really good as entertainers & storytellers, but I don't care about hardly anything AEW does in-ring. 

NXT is the opposite. They're pretty good about the in-ring but it's all the storytelling & non-wrestling segments that they struggle with. A lot of their characters feel bland & lifeless & just have matches that blend together. Adam Cole is a perfect example of this.

So Wednesday night TV to me is no longer can't miss. And I gave up on RAW & Smackdown awhile ago. I'll still catch PPVs but I don't think I care about any televised wrestling right now. Anything important will be clipped & posted on Twitter & I don't have to watch 4-hours of TV each week. It's just... so much easier.

I hope AEW catches fire soon because it feels like their buzz is going in the wrong direction. At least NXT feels like it's gaining some momentum... I just don't know if they'll keep it with Survivor Series over. I highly doubt WWE will continue to use RAW or Smackdown to talk about, let alone put over, NXT.

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If we can learn something from this week, is that AEW don't really act like they are in any kind of war. After the worrying ratings of the previous weeks, they just kept business as usual, doing their show and building their talents, with single Penta & Fenix matches (which can be big deals at one point, but not now, especially not against other tag workers in single like Trent & Daniels), Joey Janela in the main event, another squash match. They did not even sell last week's ratings. To me it's a good thing. Yeah, the buzz is fading, but you can't sustain a buzz for ever, especially when your aim is long term. I happen to watch the former Monday Night Wars TNA shows right now to get a grasp out how badly they fucked this up (it's amazing to watch BTW, what a disaster) and they are doing the polar opposite. They never went into a war themselves, they just are getting a company on the ground and try to make it viable. I take long-term over quick buzz any day.

As someone who had quit watching weekly wrestling TV for almost 15 years until LU showed up in late 2014, I'm just glad I get 2 weekly shows I'm looking forward to (IMPACT & Dynamite) at this point.

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26 minutes ago, El-P said:

with single Penta & Fenix matches (which can be big deals at one point, but not now, especially not against other tag workers in single like Trent & Daniels)

Total aside here, but I was really impressed with both Fenix and Trent Beretta this past week.  I'd only ever seen the Lucha Brothers in tag matches in Impact, MLW and now AEW, and it struck me this week how much better Fenix is than Pentagon Jr. (in my opinion, of course.)  Fenix in really showed me something.  I always find that Pentagon seems more interested in mugging to the camera and doing that goofy hand symbol of his with the three fingers up and down than he is on focusing on the match.  As a team, I don't mind them at all (when they are actually forced to follow the rules and tag in and out) but after this week I'd like to see more solo Fenix.  And over the past couple of weeks, I've really dug Trent Beretta as well.  It would make me very happy if they got him as far away as possible from Chuck Taylor.  Just my opinion, but the Lucha Brothers and Best Friends both seem to be teams in which one member is significantly better than the other. 

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6 minutes ago, The Thread Killer said:

Total aside here, but I was really impressed with both Fenix and Trent Beretta this past week.  I'd only ever seen the Lucha Brothers in tag matches in Impact, MLW and now AEW, and it struck me this week how much better Fenix is than Pentagon Jr. (in my opinion, of course.)  Fenix in really showed me something. 

He is. Fenix is awesome. He was one of the big revelation, the biggest probably, of Lucha Underground to me. Penta can be hit and miss, but he has that character that gets over big time. He can be really freaking good or be on cruise control (he's older too). But Fenix totally outshined Prince Puma (who was Ricochet under a mask) as a babyface in LU after only a few shows. And when he turned heel (damn, now I'm sad I won't ever see the closure of the awesome Dark Fenix angle with Melissa Santos), he showed another side of his talent. The guy is simply one of the very best in the world. He's this generation's Rey Mysterio Jr. (but he can be a rudo too).

6 minutes ago, The Thread Killer said:

Just my opinion, but the Lucha Brothers and Best Friends both seem to be teams in which one member is significantly better than the other. 

I think there's a reason why they have been featuring Trent 'not Berreta anymore' two weeks in a row now, he's a future single worker they can push further than his tag-team.

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3 hours ago, El-P said:

I happen to watch the former Monday Night Wars TNA shows right now to get a grasp out how badly they fucked this up (it's amazing to watch BTW, what a disaster) and they are doing the polar opposite.

Time to pick up where your reviews left off!

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4 hours ago, El-P said:

If we can learn something from this week, is that AEW don't really act like they are in any kind of war. After the worrying ratings of the previous weeks, they just kept business as usual, doing their show and building their talents

Absolutely. They're clearly taking the long view on this, willing to put unknowns in the spotlight and resisting the urge to hotshot. It speaks well to management.

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14 hours ago, Coffey said:

I hope AEW catches fire soon because it feels like their buzz is going in the wrong direction. 

This is why I am really hoping that they kickstart Cody-MJF  soon. I have enjoyed every single episode of Dynamite, and there is not a single episode I would consider bad or even mediocre, but there is a difference between being good and having a hot program that makes people want to follow your product. They need to unleash MJF and Cody on the mic on each other. I'd also put Omega in a main event feud now, aligned with Cody.

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The Penta vs. Fenix this is weird to me. I massively preferred Penta in Lucha Underground but in AEW Fenix seems obviously better. I'm guessing that's because Penta's appeal came out of character, charisma, and great presentation, while the tag division in AEW is pretty much 100% focused on in ring athletics, where Fenix runs circles around Penta. It also seems like Penta is now happy to be much less exciting version of his brother, which is really too bad because I think he has way more to offer in a different way.

Basically I hope they split up as soon as possible and both get a chance to get pushed on the things they're good at.

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On 12/6/2019 at 3:01 PM, Coffey said:

I think that I am over the Wednesday Night Wars already.

This past Wednesday, for the first time, I didn't watch either shows. I had other things going on... and I didn't feel like I missed anything. I got caught up on anything that happened thanks to social media & none of it jumped out at me as something that I needed to go out of my way to watch. 

Same exact scenario with me last week. I wasn't really in the mood, and the only thing that struck me as "must-see" was that hilarious gif with Keith Lee rising up like a movie monster behind Finn Balor. 

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