On the latest episode of his Grillin’ JR podcast, Jim Ross told host Conrad Thompson that WWE picked a bad time to try and slow AEW’s progression and growth. Calling WWE “uninteresting”, the idea was that WWE should worry about their own product.
While talking about the history of the Clash of Champions, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania pay-per-views, specifically those PPV’s back in 1988, the two hosts of the show talked about the spirit of competition and WCW going head-to-head with WWE pay-per-views and free tv. When WWE saw WCW offer a PPV, they tried to air Royal Rumble beside it for free. When WrestleMania came around, WCW came back with Clash of Champions on free television. It was tit-for-tat game between the two, trying to knock each other’s viewership down a peg.
Ross noted, “To the average Joe, wrestling is wrestling in a lot of ways and if it’s free wrestling, that’s automatically going to be better than paid wrestling.” Ultimately, more fans ended up watching Clash of the Champions over WrestleMania IV since it was on free television.
As healthy competition might often breed, Ross said that at that time, “Obviously McMahon was very interested in making sure that WCW did not grow.” He then compared it to what Vince is trying to do now against AEW. But, J.R. added, “Unfortunately for him, he picked a time where his business is somewhat uninteresting to a lot of people based on the ratings. Timing for him on this one is not real good.”
Essentially, Ross is saying that while strategy might have worked in 1988, today, WWE needs to improve their own show and their own ratings before trying to take viewers from AEW.
He’s got a point. During wrestling’s heyday and back when the WWE and WCW Monday Night Wars existed, essentially, what gave WWE the edge was that they simply had better programming and a better product. If they don’t worry about what they do with their own talent and their own shows, it might not matter who goes to AEW and who doesn’t.