“Dynamite” averaged a 0.68 rating in adults 18-49 and 1.4 million viewers over two hours, compared to a 0.32 rating and 891,000 viewers for NXT. This week also marked the first time that NXT has aired its full two-hour show on USA. NXT has previously aired exclusively on the streaming platform WWE Network, but the first hour began airing on USA beginning Sept. 18 with the second hour remaining on WWE Network until last night.
“This is a league that at its core is created by wrestlers for wrestling fans and I am incredibly energized by the enthusiastic embrace the fans have given to the AEW talent and experience,” said Kevin Reilly, president, TNT, TBS, and truTV, and chief content officer, HBO Max. “AEW won the night with a high quality, incredibly engaging, sports-centric show that will continue with a seamless partnership between AEW and TNT.”
Both shows ranked among the top 10 shows on cable Wednesday night in the adults 18-49 demographic. For further comparison, this week’s episode of WWE’s flagship show “Monday Night Raw” averaged a 0.89 rating and 2.57 million viewers over three hours in Live+Same Day.
“Congratulations to AEW on a successful premiere,” WWE said in a statement. “The real winners of last night’s head-to-head telecasts of NXT on USA Network and AEW on TNT are the fans, who can expect Wednesday nights to be a competitive and wild ride as this is a marathon, not a one-night sprint.”
WWE’s flagship shows are “Raw,” which also airs on USA, and “SmackDown,” which will begin airing on Fox Fridays this week. AEW announced it would begin airing its weekly series on TNT on July 24. On Aug. 20, WWE and USA announced that NXT would be moving to the cable network.
Pro wrestling fans have been waiting for some time to see how the two companies would match up in the ratings, hoping for a repeat of the so-called Monday Night Wars of the 1990s and early 2000s. In that period, WWE went up against the Ted Turner-backed World Championship Wrestling (WCW), which also aired on TNT. The competition between WWE and WCW led to what many view as a new golden age of pro wrestling as well as strong ratings for both companies. Fans have already begun referring to the AEW-NXT matchup as the Wednesday Night Wars.
This first win bodes well for AEW, which is fronted by wrestlers and company executives Cody Rhodes, Brandi Rhodes, brothers Nick and Matt Jackson (who wrestle as the tag team The Young Bucks), and Kenny Omega. Other top AEW stars include WWE veteran Chris Jericho, Nyla Rose, and Jon Moxley, who formerly wrestled under the name Dean Ambrose. Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham F.C. executive Tony Khan serves as president and CEO.
NXT is the brainchild of WWE’s Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who developed the brand to serve as a developmental territory for new and upcoming talent. Current NXT stars include Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Shayna Baszler, the tag team of Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish, Matt Riddle, and Keith Lee.