If you haven’t yet read ‘Nitro: The Incredible Rise And Inevitable Collapse Of Ted Turner’s WCW’ then we urge you to do so immediately.
It truly is a remarkable book telling the in depth story of WCW’s Nitro years with genuine insight from many of the real power brokers from up and down the Turner organisation.
Before that though, why not go and have a listen to the latest episode of our ‘Because WCW’ podcast which sees hosts Liam Happe and Dean Ayass conduct an exclusive interview with the book’s author, Guy Evans.
This interview sees Evans expound on his thoughts in the book about all things Nitro. Happe and Ayass also brought the discussion up to date with a conversation about AEW Dynamite, the first wrestling show to broadcast on TNT in the USA since Nitro’s demise in 2001.
Evans suggested that AEW might have missed an opportunity in attacking WWE at a relatively low ebb, ratings wise, when they launched in September 2019 by electing to debut their programme on Wednesday night rather than directly against Raw on Monday.
He voiced that unlike when TNA attempted the same in 2010, WWE’s recent ratings drop leaves them a ‘wounded animal’ that could have allowed AEW to make a real statement by pulling a strong audience against WWE’s flagship show that has dominated Mondays since 1993.
“With the resources AEW (have), I’m not saying it would have been a Nitro/Raw thing but I think it would have been very interesting just to gauge what the numbers would have been for that first episode, and maybe you take a different strategy after that.
But I think WWE was at such a weak point, it was kind of a wounded animal and that would have been the ideal time to test the audience and see what would have happened.”
Now of course, it is likely that the choice wasn’t AEW’s to make. TNT’s programming scheduling looks very different to how it looked in 2001. Primarily, it is now a significant broadcast partner of the NBA so maybe Mondays simply were not an option, even for one week.
But it is interesting that Evans, a man who has spent more time than most studying the actual business of the Monday Night Wars, believes WWE are in such a place with ratings that going head to head with them may have been effective.
He went on to state his opinion that WWE’s business model allows them to ‘rest on their laurels’ and he hopes something can come along to shake up that situation. He said:
“You look at WWE and they have a very nice cushion at the moment. Between the network, between the Saudi money, between the TV rights fees they’re able to command now which wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind in the (Monday Night Wars).
They’ve got a huge margin for error in terms of they’re not under tremendous pressure to present incredibly compelling programming. Their business literally doesn’t survive on that the way it did decades ago.
To this point they still haven’t got out of resting on their laurels and they seem to be very complacent about things. I would like to see something come along that would force them to up their game as I think that would be good for wrestling, good for the industry overall.”
AEW have accomplished a significant amount in the 9 months since their launch, particularly in terms of critical acclaim. Fans have embraced the new promotion led by billionaire Tony Khan, Cody Rhodes & The Young Bucks and for the first time since WCW’s demise, there is a genuine sense of competition for the eyeballs and the wallets of wrestling fans.
It will be fascinating to see how the pro-wrestling landscape looks in terms of weekly broadcast television over the next 12-24 months.
Please cite hookedonwrestling.co.uk and Because WCW if you wish to use these quotes.