All Elite Wrestling on TNT…Curse or Blessing?
**Guest Post: Written By J.D. Phillips
The heavy rumor is that the newest future competitor to the WWE juggernaut, AEW, is rumored to be signing an agreement with Turner Network Television to broadcast their weekly television wrestling show on Tuesday Nights this fall. Obviously, with WWE moving Smackdown Live to FOX on Friday nights, AEW has no competition to affect their viewership. But, will it follow a wrestling predecessor that went out of business in 2001?
It’s no longer the mid-1990s. We all know what happened the last time a wrestling show was on TNT… it was World Championship Wrestling. WCW went on a dominant run with TNT, including beating WWF/E in the ratings for 83-straight weeks. That was a much different time than now.
In 2019, we have a multitude of wrestling options other than WWE. In those days, the only main games in town were WWE, WCW, and ECW. When Ted Turner sold WCW to Vince McMahon, the wrestling world changed. There was no competition. Then as the years progressed, you had the emergence of TNA Wrestling, Ring of Honor, New Japan was available online and other indie promotions became accessible for the average fan. And now, the creation of All Elite Wrestling is projected to be the WCW of 2019, but can it be that much of a competitor?
Is WWE Worried?
Let’s be honest…Vince McMahon would tell you to your face that he’s not intimidated by what is going on outside his company but in actuality, he’s watching. He’s noticing. How do I know this? Because of the number of WWE superstars wanting their releases and WWE freezing the contracts of Neville/PAC and now possibly Luke Harper and maybe Sasha Banks, tells you all you need to know. McMahon has right to worry behind the scenes though.
The Bucks, Cody and Brandi Rhodes, Adam Hangman Page as well as Kenny Omega have changed the wrestling world in their own ways and left people with a different product outside of WWE. From five-star matches to multiple championships to now this new promotion centered around these people and the new stars that they either want to create or help to build into megastars. They won’t take down WWE. No one can do that even with AEW’s billion-dollar backing… That doesn’t mean they can’t make a dent.
But with the aforementioned names as well as confirmed stars like Chris Jericho, PAC, Jimmy Havoc and some really good potential stars, AEW has a shot to do something big. They even have their first official PPV at the end of the month, Double or Nothing, the follow up to their historic All In PPV. Add to that, a rumored All In 2 show that the Bucks and Omega teased at a comic-con event a few months ago. This endeavor shows promise.
The Problem for AEW
Would the devotion and dedication from the fans be able to generate enough interest to please TNT executives? Everyone in this world knows WWE is the Father of Sports Entertainment. Their popularity is engrained in the minds and hearts of millions of people around the world. If you asked a casual or an old wrestling fan what wrestling promotions there are besides WWE, you probably will not get an answer. All Elite Wrestling has its established stars like Kenny Omega, The Bucks and Jericho and even Cody Rhodes…but all these newer wrestlers the random non-wrestling fan wouldn’t know or recognize.
AEW has to promote these wrestlers at Double or Nothing. They have to make this roster relevant. They have to sell this to fans and even loyal WWE diehards like myself. They need to differentiate themselves from WWE and NJPW, all the while, not being listed as just another Ring of Honor or Impact Wrestling that is clinging to life.
If AEW doesn’t do the best they can to put over this roster, with their backing and make TNT money with ratings, I’m afraid the WCW curse could occur in less than five years and by 2025, AEW could be a thing of the past.
For loyal pro wrestling fans like myself, I honestly hope that isn’t the case.