Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Is WWE, AEW Viewership Strife Reaching Climax?

Wed 13 Oct 2021 | 11:00 PM
Rana Atef

There is no doubt that the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) corporation is the biggest name in the history of the industry for long decades. According to Variety Magazine, WWE started meeting the most fierce competitor in decades, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and its founder Tony Khan. This Friday, WWE Smackdown, and AEW Rampage will come face to face.

Classic Competitions VS Media Restrictions

The newly-founded corporation drew the attraction of thousands of fans in Europe and the US. Lately, AEW shows started to be also recognized and analyzed by wrestling fans in the Middle East.

The rising, independent company succeeded in attracting free agents who contributed to the history of the WWE such as Rob Van Dam (RVD), the Big Show, Chris Jericho who thrilled the scene by bringing his Fozzy's hit "Judas" to the ring, Captain Charisma Christian Cage who did a glorious history in the scene of tag teams with Edge who is still competing in the WWE, and Matt Hardy who also introduced to the history the greatest and the most popular tag team of all time, the Hardy Boyz.

Moreover, the company managed in helping its talents to participate in various indie shows, for example, Matt Hardy made a number of appearances in various shows across the US, in addition, the AEW took advantage of Total Non-Stop Action (TNA) stars' participations.

So, the AEW became an open and welcoming space for all wrestling talents who search for an opportunity, alongside, presenting strong, various, and vintage-like competitions which the current wrestling fans miss in the recent WWE shows after various restrictions of creating a friendly, and entertaining family suitable shows.

In the same context, AEW holds in its roaster a number of successful and promising tag teams such as the Young Bucks which Hardy Boyz praised their presence on the stage.

On the other hand, WWE is somehow suffering from various issues starting from the economic losses due to the COVID-19, un-organized releases from the NXT, and other performing centers, and poor-written scripts that didn't meet the audience's expectations. One of the most attacked segments was involving Hardy in the 24/7 Championship which raged all audiences on social media.

However, the leading company is still keeping a number of popular faces such as Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, John Cena, Edge, Seth Rollins, Rey Mysterio, and Becky Lynch which give WWE somehow the upper hand over the rising show, in addition to the wide emergence of the WWE.

Unfortunately, all those lovely and popular faces could be not well situated in the latest WWE events, for example, WWE scheduled a competition between Goldberg and Bobby Lashley at SummerSlam, but the run of the such a segment was shortly suspended and the match ended in a shocking way which is Goldberg's injury that enabled him to continue the match.

One of the most horrific segmants' ends is the end of Finn Bàlor and Roman Reigns' match for WWE Universal Championship. Bàlor almost introduced to the fans what they really needed and looked for, until the rope of the ring was cut strangely! The demon's fall caused his defeat!


The Strife Begins

The strife began between both corporations by the appearance of old WWE strong faces who made their way to the AEW such as Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and Adam Cole that supported the cards of the recently founded company.

Therefore, Khan was announced as the Best Wrestling Booker in the year as he managed to set strong event cards and receiving crowds across the US. Several AEW shows were almost sold-out shows.

Recently, AEW made its first milestone by receiving views close to the WWE NXT, and the oldest WWE main roaster Monday Night Raw. In addition, it became the second most-watched wrestling show after WWE Smackdown which got more than two million views per week.

[gallery jnewsslider_title="Samples from AEW, Smackdown, RAW Viewership Charts" ids="278556,278557,278558"]

Although WWE didn't show considering AEW as a real competitor, many acts that the WWE did prove that they aimed to restore its leadership once again such as calling John Cena in a short-run segment against Reigns, and getting Goldberg back to the ring for challenging Bobby Lashley, and the comeback of Lynch.

Another move was pushing strong WWE Draft to pull more talents to the RAW show as a rescue. Moreover, it created a mutual strife between Reigns, Lashley, and Big E to attract more viewers.

In the same context, it situated several championships competitions in short time, for example, Damian Priest defended his US Championship title for more than 5 times in a few weeks, two of them were against Jeff Hardy in two Raw shows, one against Sheamus, one in a triple threat match that saw Hardy and Sheamus' participation! And, an extra time in a local un-aired show.

Best Pro Wrestling Star in the World is Elite

Khan received a new push that supported AEW stand in the competition against the WWE which is selecting AEW's Kenny Omega as the greatest wrestler in the world now, heading the whole list, even beheaded WWE's Roman Reigns on PWI list.

Selecting Omega drove thousands of wrestling fans to watch AEW shows to see the appearance of the best wrestling in the world. The match between Omega and Bryan received a five-star rank.

Empty Seats

Last month, the same venue in New York City hosted two wrestling events: one for the WWE Raw and the other was for AEW Dynamite. It was surprising that AEW sold more tickets than Raw's show. The problem continued till yesterday's show which led the WWE to add a free ticket for every purchased Raw ticket!

Iconic Wrestling reporter and analyzer Meltzer reported: “The WWE show sold about 750 on the pre-sale while AEW sold about 4,000 on the pre-sale.” Per WrestleTix (h/t Wrestling Inc), WWE Raw’s debut in the UBS Arena has sold 2,365 tickets while AEW has sold 6,1,67 tickets. With the Summer of Cena now officially over following his loss to Roman Reigns at SummerSlam, WWE’s drawing power has suffered. WWE’s full-time roster—which, for over a decade, has been promoted as second-fiddle to stars of the past like Cena and Brock Lesnar—is predictably struggling to attract fans.

Pressures from the Outside

The previously mentioned stages are not the only ones that controlled the strength of the two companies' competition, there is another dangerous and sensitive factor appeared to the surface, family.

The word family here can be classified into various levels. This word can be applicable to the rules or the recently adopted media and content codes by the WWE. Fans classified those rules as decreasing the presence of cruelty, or violent acts, for example, the latest WWE Extreme Rules, which used to be full of hardcore, or no hold bars matches, was simple and single matches except Reigns, Balour WWE Universal Championship contest. In addition, the presence of profanity during all its shows.

Aside from the continued comparison between WWE's attitude era, and the PG era, there are real family members inside WWE and AEW are pushing the matters up. For example, Matt Hardy's statements regarding his younger brother Jeff's stand in the WWE, and his chances to join him in the AEW.

Hardy asserted in various interviews that Jeff will join the AEW, and they will end their careers together as a tag team.

Moreover, Hardy headed attacked the WWE after setting Jeff with Matt Riddle in a tag team segment under the theme of "Hardy Bros." Matt Hardy accused McMahon of confusing the marketplace with another team branded as Hardy.

Another family's name appeared in the scene which is the popular Hart family. AEW set an agreement with Owen Hart's family. In September, the founder of the Owen Hart Foundation and the wife of the late wrestler Dr. Martha Hart agreed to organize an Owen Hart tournament at the AEW.

Both said in a joint statement: "The Owen Hart Foundation is extremely pleased to partner with AEW in this wonderful joint venture to honor Owen’s substantial international wrestling career and the lasting influence he and his craft has had in the sport. AEW’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament serves as a tremendous tribute to Owen and provides an incredible way for professional wrestling enthusiasts to celebrate his work in a most fitting way. We trust that Tony Khan and his amazing AEW team will do a brilliant job with this highly anticipated project. This OHF/AEW partnership is my special gift to all of Owen’s magnificent loyal fans who forever remember him and his inspiring repertoire of talents." 

It is widely known that Hart's family and WWE had a long history of clashes over the death of the late superstar in the ring after falling from 78 feet.

Nearest Action to the Climax

This Friday would see the closest interaction between both companies. WWE board decided to stretch the length of the two-hour-show WWE Friday Night Smackdown for extra 30 minutes. So, the last 30 minutes of Smackdown will be aired at the same time as the first 30 minutes of the AEW Rampage Friday's episode.

Khan thrilled the fight by announcing a strong pre-show card for AEW Rampage, TV host, and producer Denis Salcedo reported: "Tony Khan just announced BRYAN DANIELSON VS MINORU SUZUKI during the AEW RAMPAGE BUY IN SHOW."

Until now, all wrestling fans are looking forward to this Friday's shows as it would mark a face-to-face move between both corporations. AEW seems to have good advantages over the WWE, especially, after attracting fans who want to see harsher, and more classic-like shows.