wrestling / Columns

Truths & Lies: NXT On USA vs. AEW On TNT

August 29, 2019 | Posted by Justin Watry
NXT AEW Dynamite

It’s official. NXT is moving to USA Network, starting September 18th. Not only that but the show will also go to two hours and be live. A lot to break down…

Truths & Lies: NXT Moving To USA Network

TRUTH: NXT deserves this. – Let’s be real. NXT has been the best brand in all of professional wrestling for the past few years. I am not just talking about the Takeover events either. The weekly show may not be as noteworthy, but it is still very entertaining. Nice and tight at one hour and usually filled with logic and sense. Isn’t that what we want in a wrestling show or any kind of show really? Then it all builds up to bigger things every few months on the WWE Network for a live three hour spectacle. That is the entire point of wrestling. Keep things interesting and pay it off at a later date inside the ring with great matches. That is NXT. They 100% deserve this promotion, and it has been a long time coming.

LIE: This is being done in response to All Elite Wrestling On TNT Wednesday nights – Sorry. We already know that NXT has been talking with television networks long before AEW was even a thing. Heck, remember the much discussed NXT on USA Network from over a year ago? Clearly a case where both sides were testing the waters. Also notice the show has been going a little bit longer and longer over the years. WWE knew that NXT was outgrowing their own network. Everybody knew it. When you break down the pros and cons, it was obvious that the company was going to do something with their third brand. The show already airs on Wednesday nights and has for years. Save me the AEW crap. More conspiracy theories and junk from those that want a ‘war’ that isn’t happening. NXT was moving on up with or without AEW – that is truth.

TRUTH: NXT moving to two hours and going live is a response to AEW. Alright, this I can buy. The problem is I also see the counter point. NXT has a boatload of talent on the roster. Like, a major amount. It is ridiculous how many guys and gals are NOT featured on NXT each week. It is mind boggling what the company could be doing with everyone if all hands were on deck. Only one hour though! It may be nice for us, but you can tell there is so much more that can be done. I think WWE decided to pump up the volume on NXT because of AEW starting in October. At the same time, it was the next logical step, right? Going live. Going to two hours. You need that ‘anything can happen’ vibe once you hit cable. WWE knows this better than anybody having gone through the Attitude Era taking down WCW and ECW. All the stuff with NXT was in motion long before AEW…but that doesn’t mean it didn’t help the final push.

LIE: Fox got screwed by USA Network. A part of me says yes. A part of me says no. Unless a deal was 100% signed, then there was no contract for NXT to air on FS1. Maybe they talked? Maybe they got far in negotiations? Maybe they THOUGHT it was a done deal? Like I said, the only way I can say for sure Fox got screwed was if a deal was reached but backed out of. On the flip side, I absolutely believe FOX feels a bit slighted. They are paying Smackdown Live a billion bucks to join their lineup. They have Roman Reigns front and center on all the ads (for ALL sports). They have the studio show coming Tuesdays. They are the ones going full board with the WWE love right now. I know USA Network is also paying a billion bucks…but there are two sides to every coin. In the end, WWE took whatever the best deal was, and as I will discuss next, USA Network is far better than FS1.

TRUTH: USA Network is better than FS1. – For those of you reading this NOT in the United States, yeah. It is not even close. USA Network surpasses FS1 by a wide margin. It is not even close in terms of availability, ratings, viewers, and most importantly – familiarity with wrestling. Viewers will not be hard pressed to look all over for NXT on Wednesday nights. USA Network, 7pm, boom. Easy peasy. On FS1? Yeah, I had to even check a few different places I know if they even carried it. This is not basic FOX or something well known. This is one of their off brand sports channels. UFC used to bring them decent/okay ratings. Then there is a rare sporting event that pops a number. Besides that…nothing. Check the weekly numbers – tell me when you see FS1 appear on those rankings.

LIE: NXT is still a money loser. – First off, I am not even sure I believe the notion that NXT is a ‘money loser.’ It makes sense with al the Performance Center costs and junk. However, they have been touring all over the country and hose sold out Takeover live specials. Regardless, whether you believe that notion or not, it is officially thrown out the door. NXT is about to get a reported $50 million per year from USA Network. If you look around, those number may fluctuate a bit. Any way you slice it, NXT is raking in the dough. Same with WWE. All thanks to television deals. Makes me think Johnny Gargano just might stick around…

TRUTH: NXT stars should now get pay raises. – I am of the belief that if you deserve a pay raise, you get one. Pretty simple thinking. You do hard work, show up on time, and all that fancy stuff, you get rewarded. The entire NXT crew has done that and then some for the company to be getting this $50 million. If you want to get technical about it, this all but confirms NXT is their third brand. Thus, the guys and gals need to be paid like main roster stars. I am not saying you start handing out million dollar deals but yes, they should all see a hefty bonus or re-structuring soon. As noted at the top, they deserve it.

LIE: NXT will tour every week on the road. – I wouldn’t. Not to start anyways. I know people are going to compare the big arenas over on TNT from AEW to Full Sail from NXT, but you can’t do that. What matters is the crowd noise. What matters is the energy. What matters is what happens inside that squared circle. I would stick with Florida for now but have bigger venues in mind for monthly ‘special episodes’ or whatever you want to name them. Not full blown Takeovers. Just big hyped up episodes. Those you could sell out a few thousand seat buildings, I’m sure. Do NOT get too excited and start booking 15,000 seats arena thinking you are running NXT Takeover every Wednesday night. Don’t run before you walk. Run the same formula you have been for years. Trust me; that is a winning formula. Like I mentioned, it has been the best wrestling show, so obviously what they are doing is working.

TRUTH: NXT will beat AEW in the ratings. – This is what everybody wants to talk about, so here it is. Personally, I’m not too concerned with it. Both will be live. Both are on a major television network. Both have big backing. Both are catering to a certain audience. Both will need to take that niche audience and grab the rest of the world through the TV screen. Both are more than willing to take on anybody head to head. Both are confident and probably have an ace or two up their sleeve. That being said, NXT being on USA is a different ballgame than NXT being on FS1. NXT on FS1 means AEW on TNT wins hands down in the weekly ratings. There is no question. I guarantee you NXT would have been looking at just a few hundred thousand viewers. Not anymore. Being on USA Network is huge for them. Huge. AEW on TNT (for an upstart) is still massive, make no mistake. Just that it isn’t USA Network with the usual WWE machine and built in audience. I would be willing to place money on All Elite Wrestling “winning” the first week due to them going ‘all out.’ After the first few weeks though and everybody calms down a bit, who knows? If I had to pick, I’d say NXT on USA. Ultimately though, we all win. That is where I stand on this. If you love NXT, this is exciting news. If you love AEW, cool. If you watch both, awesome! I am pumped for all this but will try and avoid the inevitable back and forth “WARRRRR!!!” garbage.

LIE: NXT will change now that it is on USA Network. – I wanted to end on this because this is my main focus. I just want a good wrestling show. I go to a movie to see a good movie. I don’t care what else is airing across the cinema or who is directing or what behind the scenes drama took place or any of BS. I want NXT to be fun, exciting, entertaining and have great wrestling matches. That is all. If some main roster stars pop up for a ‘special appearance’ once in a blue moon, fine. If nothing is changed one bit and the NXT train keeps rolling, sweet! Like I said, whatever AEW is doing or if Vince McMahon, Triple H, or Justin Watry is writing the show, I don’t care as long as the product continues to deliver.

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