The Wednesday Night Wars in the professional wrestling world may be coming to an abrupt end.
Yesterday, it was announced that NBC Sports Network will be no more going forward, and their sports lineup may be moving to either the USA Network or the Peacock. That is their streaming service for those wondering. Peacock! Yay. Anyways, that is big news for the National Hockey League in particular. Their games draw pretty well over there and are usually placed on Wednesday nights. Like the National Football League (NFL) dominates Sunday afternoon and Monday nights, Wednesdays are for hockey.
Well, that is bad news for WWE NXT, as they regularly air live on Wednesday nights in primetime on the USA Network. Currently, they air in a little bit of a battle with rival channel TNT, which airs wrestling shows AEW Dynamite. All Elite Wrestling premiered there in Fall 2019, just as NXT was on Wednesdays, later going live for two hours on USA Network. A back and forth ratings war began, as fans got a kick out of it every Thursday afternoon when the numbers were released. More often than not, AEW has won. NXT may squeak out a win on occasion, just as they get close regularly. In terms of who ‘wins’ between them though, AEW has come out ahead without much of a struggle on a regular basis.
In my opinion, the role of NXT has obviously been to get the biggest ratings possible. However, its secondary reason for being on USA Network has been to halt any kind of momentum AEW Dynamite may gain or grab extra viewers. Both hover in the 600-800,000 viewership range regardless. Say NXT goes away. Guess what? That is a lot of potential viewers who may tune in to TNT that night instead. Ditto for the opposite. A lot of viewers which may hover over to NXT to check it out. You see why both may want to stay on the air, just to combat the other.
To be fair to that nonsense though. We have seen the numbers when the other had a rare night off. It didn’t really change much. Maybe a small uptick but nothing huge. Still, that talking point remains.
Well, that may be all changing soon as Dave Meltzer from The Wrestling Observer reported that the WWE NXT/USA Network contract is up in October. That would mean it was a two year deal, again starting in Fall 2019. Well, do the math folks. With the NHL being big on Wednesdays and potentially heading to the USA Network soon, that means bye bye to WWE NXT. No more for them on Wednesday (or at least on USA) and say bye bye to any kind of wrestling war.
A big shake up for sports programming may be dropping in the near future. Keep in mind this is a BIG IF because NHL’s contract with NBCSN is also coming due in a couple of months. Who knows what will happen with them as well? A lot to see unfold yet.
Personally, I watch NXT over AEW, so it would not alter my viewing too much. There isn’t any ‘war’ to me. It is just a fancy tagline to draw attention to both shows who are doing well on their respective networks. I also do not watch NHL, so that concerns me NONE. Whether NXT is moved to Peacock, SyFy, or live on the WWE Network, I will tune in. NXT is my favorite wrestling show of the week, so if the deal is up soon and not getting renewed, all the best to them. Time will tell though.
What do YOU think? What will this sports shakeup lead to…and does it change the NXT/AEW Wednesday night battle?
By Justin Watry (TWITTER: @JustinWatry)