1:52pm PT by Rick Porter
TNT's 'All Elite Wrestling' Debut Scores Ratings Pinfall Over WWE
TV's pro wrestling wars may or may not be starting anew, but upstart promotion All Elite Wrestling scored a win over the more established World Wrestling Entertainment in Wednesday night's ratings.
The premiere of All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite brought in solid numbers on TNT, averaging 1.41 million viewers and a 0.68 rating among adults 18-49 for its two-hour run time. The demographic rating — equivalent to 878,000 people ages 18-49 — was second on all of cable for the night, behind only ESPN's American League Wild Card Game. (An encore pushed the show's total for the night to 1.8 million total viewers and 1.1 million adults 18-49.)
Dynamite also put the hurt on USA's WWE NXT, which drew 891,000 total viewers and 414,000 (a 0.32 rating) in the 18-49 demographic in its third week on cable (the show has aired on the streaming WWE Network for several years). NXT had averaged about 1.1 million viewers and a 0.38 rating in adults 18-49 over its first two airings on USA.
The stakes are not as high, but the AEW-WWE face-off on Wednesdays calls to mind the so-called Monday night wars of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when World Championship Wrestling and the WWE had a running battle for viewers. The ratings fight often spilled over into storylines on their respective flagship shows, TNT's WCW Monday Nitro and USA's Monday Night Raw.
That brawl ended with the WWE absorbing WCW in March 2001. AEW executives have downplayed any notion of going toe to toe with the much larger WWE — and, for what it's worth, didn't go looking for this particular ratings fight. After AEW announced the Oct. 2 premiere date for Dynamite, the WWE and USA scheduled NXT to make its cable premiere two weeks prior to that.
The move of NXT to USA also keeps two nights of WWE programming on the NBCUniversal-owned cabler. WWE Smackdown, which had aired Tuesdays on USA for the past three-plus years, moves to Fox on Friday, with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and other pro-wrestling icons scheduled to appear and a stacked card for the show's first broadcast-network airing since 2010.