The winner, and NEW champion: “All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite” on TNT!
Professional wrestling’s “Wednesday Night Wars” officially started on cable television last night, when the new weekly AEW wrestling show debuted to 1.409 million total viewers, besting USA Network’s “NXT,” which posted 891,000 total viewers (down 11% from last week’s show).
“Dynamite” more than doubled its competition in the key adults 18-49 demographic, scoring 878,000 viewers compared to “NXT’s” 414,000 (putting the USA wrestling series up 1% from its week-ago broadcast in that metric).
Also Read: Inside Pro Wrestling's Big, Huge TV Push: 3 New Shows, 4 New Networks Across 4 Nights
There’s an asterisk here, however. While “Dynamite” was a brand new series debut, WWE’s “NXT” has had an existing Wednesday night show for years. “NXT” moved its 8 p.m. hour to USA from WWE Network two weeks ago, nabbing 1.2 million total viewers (553,000 from the key 18-49 demo) in the process. The second hour of “NXT” followed suit for the first time this evening.
WWE sent TheWrap this statement on Thursday:
“Congratulations to AEW on a successful premiere. 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.”
Also Read: How Fox's WWE 'Friday Night SmackDown' Air Times Will Differ From USA Network Era
Tacking on an encore of “Dynamite,” AEW’s series premiere drew 1.8 million total viewers, according to Nielsen’s Live + Same Day ratings metric. Of those, 1.1 million were adults aged 18-49.
“NXT” did not air an encore last night.
USA and TNT are direct competitors, battling for basic-cable supremacy each year. USA still houses WWE flagship show “Raw” on Monday nights, but Fox’s broadcast network acquired “SmackDown” in a billion-dollar deal. The new “Friday Night SmackDown” debuts on Friday.
NXT began as a revamped feeder system — a minor league wrestling promotion — for WWE. It has since become much more than that and currently stands as a legitimate wrestling brand of its own.
Jennifer Maas contributed to this story.