wrestling / Columns

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: AEW On TNT

May 16, 2019 | Posted by Justin Watry
aew all elite wrestling Tony Khan logo

In January, I wrote two columns with All Elite Wrestling being discussed. First was my new year Bold Predictions column (which is doing great so far in 2019). In it, I said that AEW would be the real deal. No false promises here or bogus hype. It was going to be something. Second was a week or so later, talking about their pep rally in Jacksonville, Florida and roster signings. Once again, I was ‘all in’ on the promotion BUT also was well aware of the challenges that awaited. With the big TNT news finally dropping on Wednesday, I feel it is time to talk about All Elite Wrestling once again. Good, bad, and ugly style…

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: AEW On TNT

THE GOOD: Upfronts – Lots of people were growing impatient on a television announcement. However, if you have been listening to the 411 Foresight Wrestling Podcast, you knew this news was coming here. May 15th, Wednesday. Patience is a virtue. The debut is not for another half year, so why blow it all on January 1st or WrestleMania Weekend when the news would be over shadowed? No use. Stall it out, send out a couple of junk reports, let the speculation grow, and then BOOM! Drop the hammer in front of television executives and a major day for entertainment. This was the perfect place to reveal the news, even if 90% of the people there were likely asking “Who the heck invited these guys?” 

THE GOOD: TNT Tweet – It may be a small thing, but with the right social media buzz, it can mean big things. TNT hit a home run with their initial tweet, logo, and quote used. Brilliant throwback to WCW Nitro but not an exact copy. That is something I hope TNT stays away from going forward (mentioning WCW) but for the first day and announcement, it fit. Loved the fire, flames, styles, words, etc. Seriously, it was just a single tweet, but that one sentence went a long way.

THE GOOD: Network – Heck, let’s talk about it. TNT is about as big as it gets for cable television. If you not from the United States, I can not be any more clear. When you think of cable and list off all the channels on any kind of tier, TNT is one of the first listed. Next to USA Network or ESPN, I could argue it is the top network with name value, dating back to the late 1990’s. Not just for wrestling but for anything. Sports, drama, movies, etc. Considering All Elite Wrestling is basically an upstart promotion with very little track record, you could not ask for much more. The press release notes Tony Khan helped negotiate the deal due to his connections, so his billion dollars is already paying off…without spending a single dime. Excellent landing spot for AEW in Turner – exactly as I said for months now.

THE GOOD: Streaming – There are those who think streaming is the future, and that may be true, but do not kid yourselves. If AEW did not land a television deal, this thing would have been a total 100% waste of time. You need TV. Sorry, but you do. WWE is not getting $2 billion from YouTube or their Facebook page. It is from FOX and USA Network wanting live programming on their station each and every week. That being said, the presence of the internet is hard to deny in 2019. Turner being linked with Bleacher Report (B/R Live) goes hand in hand. You get to be on TNT, plus you can stream shows on the BR App! Huge. Win win situation.

THE GOOD: No WWE Competition – One of my biggest gripes against Impact Wrestling in its worst days was all the shots it took at WWE. They were drawing 200 fans on the road, losing to 20 year old COPS reruns in the ratings and their paychecks were bouncing left and right, yet they felt it was cool to make fun of WWE. It was so silly and counter productive. Luckily, Cody (Rhodes?) has made it very clear their goal is not to take over the industry from WWE or start up some pointless ‘war.’ It was to provide an alternative. That is exactly what it should be. No pot shots at WWE or former stars shooting on the backstage drama. None of that junk please! Big turn off to me and feels like a ‘been there, done that’ kind of deal.

THE BAD: Haters – Raise your hand if you doubted AEW for the past few months. Raise your hand if you made jokes about them only selling t-shirts. Raise your hand if you mocked the false reports of them paying to be on TV. Raise your hand if you thought there was no TV deal during all these rumors. Okay, cool. Now all of you can officially go sit in the corner and be quiet. I understand the skepticism and not entirely believing all the hoopla, but it was pretty clear from day one that this thing had some legitimate legs behind it. If I’m saying something so positive about an independent wrestling company, you have to put stock in it. That being said, is this still considered an independent wrestling company? I mean, airing on TNT and all? Regardless, big win for fans of wrestling and a bad day for all the ‘haters’ out there…

THE BAD: No Timeslot – To be fair, nothing has been announced yet. Tuesday night is the rumored location, but TNT airs NBA that night. I highly, highly, highly, highly, highly doubt basketball is getting bumped for wrestling. No chance in heck that is happening. Maybe it could be a lead in for a late night game for the debut episode? I don’t know. Plus, isn’t there a new WWE studio show coming to FS1 in the Fall on Tuesdays? Wednesday is NXT’s night. With them targeting the same audience (diehards), it would be an interesting battle. Thursday is also NBA. Then there is Friday which feels like a bad idea (Smackdown LIVE on FOX in October). Monday would be a serious bombshell but one of those never say never moments. Love it or hate it, that is Raw. Dealing with a billionaire and a cast of rebels, sure would be fun. Long story short, I am super curious where AEW fits on the schedule, and that is assuming it actually will be weekly…and potentially live.

THE UGLY: Double Or Nothing – I do not care if it is the pay-per-view provider or AEW itself. Doesn’t even matter in my book. Charging fifty bucks for a single wrestling show in 2019 is nuts. You could get half a year of WWE Network for that price. Absolutely ludicrous. If the super duper, dedicated fans of Cody and The Young Bucks want to shell that much out, go for it. Be my guest. I am sure the event will be grand, with a surprise or two. No doubts it will be very good. For $49.99 though? Please make that a one time thing and don’t expect that on a regular basis. Not the way to win over new fans or keep current fans happy.

UNDECIDED: $$$ – The jury is still out. It is GREAT news that All Elite Wrestling is not paying for its’ time slot. That would have been disastrous. It is awesome that they are reportedly getting production costs covered. At the same time, I think it is cool that there is no money on the line right off the bat. If that were the case, there is a lot of pressure to deliver ratings on day one. With the supposed ad-split deal (like the XFL 2020 TV deal), it benefits TNT and keeps their heads above water. At the same time, it lessens the burden on AEW’s shoulders in terms of costs. I am not going to lie. I did expect SOME kind of payment. Even if it was a couple million bucks a year. This will be fine though. To be on TNT and B/R Live as an upstart promotion, this is more than fair for a compromise.

SUMMARY: Lots to like about AEW to TNT. It wasn’t surprising or anything, but it’s nice to finally get some concrete information on the new promotion. At the same time, still more questions to be answered. Perhaps at Double Or Nothing. What do you think?

article topics :

AEW, All Elite Wrestling, TNT, Justin Watry