Is WWE Ready to Accept Defeat in the Wednesday Night Ratings Wars?

As we approach a year since the launch of AEW Dynamite and the start of the Wednesday Night Ratings Wars between AEW and WWE, one thing is clear: WWE has lost the war. Yes, one could argue that the purpose of putting NXT on the USA network on Wednesday nights against Dynamite was not necessarily to win but to prevent Dynamite from growing too big. The fact is that NXT has lost consistently in the ratings by a wide margin, beating AEW only a few times in overall viewership and often losing the 18-49 demo by double. And WWE isn't taking it well.

The official logo for WWE NXT.
The official logo for WWE NXT.

In an attempt to compete with AEW, WWE has changed a lot of the things that made NXT special in the first place. Screwjob finishes, big matches on free TV with no real build, and a general evolution of booking into something closer to WWE's other two brands rather than the alternative it was once presented are all the result of WWE being unable to handle losing. But despite all of that, they're still losing. It hasn't been working.

But there's a bright spot. For the past three weeks, due to scheduling changes to accommodate the NBA and NHL playoffs, Dynamite and NXT have not competed head-to-head. For Dynamite, the ratings held steady when airing on Thursday and Saturday (their ratings on an unopposed Wednesday will be revealed later today). But for NXT, the numbers went up, by a lot. And they went up not only on Wednesday unopposed but on Tuesday as well. There are two main takeaways from the past few weeks. First, that AEW Dynamite's viewers are loyal and will follow it with schedule changes. And second, that some of them will watch NXT if it's not airing at the same time as Dynamite. Two hundred thousand of them, in fact — enough to put NXT in the top ten cable shows for the night.

And it hasn't gone unnoticed. This week, reports started to surface on the dirt sheets claiming the USA Network is interested in moving NXT to a new night, and WWE isn't necessarily opposed to it. And also, that this week and next week's NXT on Tuesday is being viewed as a trial run. Now, those are reasonable conclusions that one could draw just by looking at the ratings, but the sources of these reports are ones with track records of getting backstage stories right: WrestleVotes, and Fightful (paywalled).

So you can draw your own conclusion from those sources, or from common sense. However, it's starting to look like it might be in WWE's best interest to concede the Wednesday Night Wars to AEW Dynamite. Perhaps it's time to take up a new battle, one they're more suited to because they'll be in a position of extreme advantage as they like it: taking on Impact Wrestling on Tuesday nights.

About Jude Terror

A prophecy once said that in the comic book industry's darkest days, a hero would come to lead the people through a plague of overpriced floppies, incentive variant covers, #1 issue reboots, and super-mega-crossover events. Sadly, that prophecy was wrong. Oh, Jude Terror was right. For ten years. About everything. But nobody listened. And so, Jude Terror has moved on to a more important mission: turning Bleeding Cool into a pro wrestling dirt sheet!