AEW Dynamite cruised to another dominant victory over WWE NXT Wednesday night with 1.018 million average viewers, down from last week’s premiere of 1.409 million. WWE NXT’s viewership sunk for the fourth consecutive week as the suddenly struggling Wednesday night showcase amassed just 790,000, falling under 800,000 viewers for the first time since debuting on the USA Network on September 18.
AEW remained in the Top 10, ranking No. 8 in the Top 50 original cable telecasts in the 18-49 demographic, while NXT fell to No. 27.
AEW Dynamite has managed to pull off being both the new kid on the block and the biggest show in town given its decidedly larger-scale production than the minimalist NXT in Full Sail University.
As NXT continues to pack 400 fans in a small sound stage at Full Sail University, while AEW played its second consecutive sold-out arena inside the 7,200-seat Agganis Arena of Boston, Mass, squarely in the backyard of WWE’s headquarters of Stamford, Conn.
The promotion has has benefited from extreme momentum, both due to its grassroots approach of cultivating a loyal, underground following into a more mainstream wrestling audience, and also due to WWE’s own self-inflicted wounds of late. With the scars of WWE Hell in a Cell still fresh in the minds of many frustrating fans now looking for an escape, AEW immediately emerged as the biggest beneficiary.
Though this has been repeated ad nausea, it’s one of the rare tired talking points among the homogeneous pro wrestling media that bears repeating: WWE could not have picked a worse time to screw with its audience to the biblical proportions it did on Sunday.
AEW’s number, while lower than the 1. 409 million it premiered to, serves as an indictment to WWE and its now seemingly impossible-to-shed reputation as a promotion that has an adversarial relationship with its audience. One that lingered long before AEW arrived, and arguably co-opted the arrival of a national wrestling rival for the once-monopolist giant.
As of this writing, WWE’s failure to book a logical finish in the main event of Hell in a Cell between The Fiend and the morbidly unlikable Seth Rollins—thus sending fans home from Hell in a Cell without a finish for the second year in a row—has garnered a whopping 50,000 dislikes. That’s more dislikes than views for any YouTube video from last week’s AEW Dynamite premiere on the All Elite Wrestling YouTube channel with the exception of one.
The debacle also doubled as an impromptu commercial for the upstart promotion as embittered fans chanted “AEW!” among other unsavory anti-WWE rhetoric.
Amid snarky tweets from adult entertainment and enhancement companies that appeared to have hired the same joke writer (”Finishes!” Get it?!), AEW also piled on the worldwide leader in its own way with veiled shots by WWE Hall of Famer and AEW announcer Jim Ross. Shortly before signing off, the lead announcer passionately stated that AEW was “giving fans what they want, what they need [and] what they deserve!”
From Day 1, and even before then, AEW’s goal was always to exist as “the people’s promotion,” thereby committing to the equally admirable-yet-dicey idea of putting the power in the hands of pro wrestling fans.
But regardless of whether or not that was the goal, WWE has, at the very least, blown the door wide open for fans to seek an alternative. And with AEW defeating WWE NXT for the second week in a row, many fans are taking WWE up on that offer.