Wrestling on TV: In Three Movements

This article is late. It’s been a hectic month. I’m sure I’m driving my editor crazy, and for that, I’m terribly sorry. We’re about to enter the last quarter of the year, which usually means there’s a lull in the world of wrestling. All of New Japan’s major tournaments are over, except for World Tag League (no one cares). WWE has only one of the it’s “Big Four” PPV’s left, Survivor Series (no one cares). ROH only has Final Battle coming up (seriously, who cares?), and Impact has Bound for Glory (some folks care, but they never keep the momentum). Besides a few marquee event, the wrestling world gets pretty relaxed while we wait for the new year, Wrestle Kingdom, Royal Rumble, and so on.

But this year is not like most years. So many things are happening, I can’t even keep count. The landscape of wrestling on TV is changing rapidly. There are so many stories to keep track of, I couldn’t make a clear distinction as to what to write about. So, I’m writing about everything. Here are three things happening in pro wrestling that you need to know about.

WWE Is Moving To Network TVAnd They Have Competition

Pro wrestling being on network TV is a huge deal, any way you slice it. Basic cable is great. But to have a wrestling show on free TV that’s available to just about everyone in the U.S.? That’s a major win and a ratings boom. Will that make WWE’s on air product better? Who knows. It’s been reported that FOX wants something edgier and sports-like, which is something Vince hasn’t done in a long time, but after taking FOX for over a billion dollars, he’d better deliver. Oh wait… isn’t there an edgier sports-like wrestling promotion coming out around the same time?

We’re totally not scared of competition…you believe us, right?? RIGHT?!?! 

Yep, AEW is going to premier it’s new show next month. And that whining sound you hear right now is WWE fans screaming insults and criticisms at a wrestling company that has disrespected the McMahon family by existing. And instead of going to severe detail on the intellect, or lack thereof, that I feel most of these people have, I’ll simply say this: they should thank their lucky stars that AEW is here. Why?

Because it is an undeniable fact is that WWE always does better when they have competition. I’ve heard plenty of theories in the past, but the simple truth is, anyone that was around during the Monday Night Wars will tell you, storytelling was much better when WCW was around and was dismal when TNA was around. And basically non-existent in the past few years. Even if you’re a WWE fan, AEW being successful is a good thing for you. It means that WWE will see them as competition and step their game up. Oh, you don’t think WWE sees AEW as competition?

AEW Has A Chance To Prove It’s Metal

On October 2nd, AEW Wrestling will premiere on TNT, marking the first time since WCW that TNT has aired wrestling. And since it’s premiering in our nation’s capital (and my hometown), I’ll be in attendance. My seats suck, but that’s beside the point. The point is, AEW has been posturing and angering internet trolls for months with Being The Elite, All Out, Fight for the Fallen, and Double or Nothing. They’ve had amazing debuts like Jon Moxley and Awesome Kong. But now, it’s time to put up or shut up. 

There’s been a lot of undue hate on AEW, mostly from WWE fans that refuse to accept change, but if we’re being really honest, AEW is a good idea that has not been proven yet. It’s a theory. It hasn’t been tested yet. Yes, the PPV’s have been mostly good, although honestly, I wasn’t impressed with All Out. And the roster of full time AEW people is not that long. Say what you want about WWE, but they can keep throwing talent at you until the cows come home. Guys like Private Party, Jack Evens, Angelico, and Jurassic Express are really entertaining, but if you plan on running a weekly show, you’re gonna need more than that. If you plan on trotting out the same 10 guys every week, you’re no better than Vinny Mac. And a $50 PPV was easy to stomach 5 years ago, but with the advent of the WWE network and online streaming, I don’t know that people are going to want to shell out that kind of money on a regular basis, even if you’re only running 4 PPV’s a year.

So even though I’m very excited about AEW, I don’t think they’re the end all be all of pro wrestling, and I don’t think they’ve already proven they’re going to dominate. This is something that’s going to take time. I think it can be done and I’m rooting for them in a major way. But WWE, like it or not, is King of the Mountain. And there’s a pile of old wrestling promotions that can tell you: if you wanna come at the king, you’d better not miss.

IMPACT Wrestling: Jesus Christ, It’s Still Alive!

I’m not even trying to be rude or make a joke, but IMPACT should be dead. This thing has come back from the dead more times than Jesus, Power Rangers franchises, and Marvel characters. If you haven’t been keeping score, IMPACT Wrestling is the former TNA Wrestling which was started and almost destroyed by Jeff Jarrett, who conned Dixie Carter into buying into it, then they together almost destroyed it. Then, they invited Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff to try to destroy it, which they almost did, but then Dixie tried to destroy it on its own, but then Billy Freakin Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins came in and gave them a bunch of money, but they still went bankrupt and everyone thought this would finally be the end of it, until Anthem Sports bought it! Then they had the bright idea to air it on a hunting channel that few people in the U.S. had ever heard of and we were all sure that would be the last time we saw anything about IMPACT.

If IMPACT Wrestling was a person, it would be a zombie.

But IMPACT Wrestling just won’t die. Last week, it was announced that Anthem Sports, the parent company of IMPACT, has bought a controlling share of AXS TV. That’s huge news. Unlike IMPACT’s former TV homes (the Pursuit Channel and POP TV) a lot of people get AXS TV. It’s on all the major streaming and cable services. IMPACT coming to AXS TV is huge news for them. It means people might finally see their product and it gives them more of a level playing field with AEW and WWE. While AXS TV is not nearly as prominent as TNT, USA, or FOX, it’s leaps and bounds ahead of what it was.

But there’s another part to this story that’s significant: AXS TV is also the U.S. home of NJPW. That’s what we like to call a conflict of interest. In fact, AXS TV airs NJPW as well as WOW: Women of Wrestling. One channel having three wrestling promotions? It seems like it won’t work, but who knows? WOW is women’s only wrestling and NJPW is a foreign promotion, so they don’t exactly run in all of the same circles. Still, there’s plenty to speculate on, especially since NJPW has very publicly stated they don’t have any intention of working with IMPACT Wrestling, since their still a bit sour about the whole “Okada Excursion” (if you want to know more about that, @ me).

So there it is. Sorry for the delay, but good things take time. And, somehow, “just ok” things take longer. Next month, I’ll be reviewing the very first episode of AEW DYNAMITE and hopefully sharing some pics of the event. But don’t expect quality photography, I’ve got an older iPhone and my seats are straight up nosebleed. But I’ll do my best!

Alex Watts

Alex is a lifelong sports fan and writer that has (against the better judgement of several producers and program directors) appeared on ESPN Radio and CBS Sports Radio. He lives in Washington D.C. with his wife, 1 child, 1 cat and an unhealthy amount of video game consoles.

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