Vince McMahon is never one to back down from competition and that is evident by him putting NXT on the USA Network to go head-to-head with AEW. It’s created a Wednesday Night Wars situation and Ryback talked about WWE doing this when Wrestling Inc’s Raj Giri joined him on his podcast.
“It’s great for all the NXT talent getting that exposure, but now I’m curious about whether or not they are going to reconstruct their deals now that they are going to get television time. From a WWE standpoint, they have now taken the developmental territory, which has evolved as the years have gone on, and have turned it into their own brand,” Ryback said.
“When we were down in Florida Championship Wrestling, we didn’t have a lot of what these guys have now and pay structure is also different. These guys have merchandise and things of that nature. Now that they are on television, they are now going to be able to do their actions figure selling better and being able to market their talent better now that they do with Raw and SmackDown.”
Ryback said that with WWE’s strong marketing team, he thinks NXT will do very well. However, he isn’t sure how hands-on Vince McMahon will be and if he will let Triple H run things with NXT like he has thus far.
“I think it’s good for pro wrestling in general because they are not going to have an easy ride in all of this. WWE is not going to make it easy for them and they shouldn’t, why would they? It’s very personal with Cody Rhodes, Hunter and Vince McMahon and him leaving and how everything went down with that,” stated Ryback. “They aren’t going to just sit back and say, okay, you have already taken two of our biggest stars in Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley, there’s no way WWE is happy about that that two of their top guys have left for another company and again, them having the majority of the roster is from the independents they are going to have a real challenge on their hands.”
He then praised AEW for adding Tony Schiavone to its commentary team to go along with Jim Ross. Ryback said AEW needs name value and those two are as well-known as any wrestling broadcasters.
But what WWE has is name value with its Superstars and they can always call on someone like Roman Reigns to boost ratings for NXT.
“Their marketing power, if WWE goes all out with this the way they do with everything else and then you have Vince McMahon. If Roman Reigns shows up in NXT, WWE has a roster full of names where those ratings are going to get to a certain level; I think it is going to be a big challenge for AEW,” admitted Ryback. “I think they can do it, but it’s going to raise the competition between both organizations and like I said this is the best thing for pro wrestlers, especially with our generation who were screwed over because we didn’t have anywhere else to go with viable options. Now prices go up because they don’t want people going to the other place, so it’s a beautiful thing.
“For the talent’s sake they should be looking at cutting down live events, especially with the way AEW is going. They’re not going to go the full-blown 4-5 days a week. I think that formula is outdated now, there is too much going on in the world. Obviously, WWE has figured this out from a business standpoint, they’re making a billion dollars in revenue, which they are set for this year, it’s going to be around that and it’s going to go up if they keep doing things like this. If live events aren’t working out just cut them back, make them more of a special thing, why not? Nobody is going to get rusty. It’ll increase longevity of the wrestlers. There’s a lot of room for improvement in all this. They cut these TV deals and the talent doesn’t get a cut in this. That’s the thing, it’s because of the talent that this is all possible, so reward the talent by helping them with their health by having fewer live events. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Ryback then talked about how WWE’s plans could change if AEW beats NXT in ratings or if NXT lacks the arena atmosphere that Raw and SmackDown have.
“WWE is not going to want to lose this one way or another because NXT is a reflection of the WWE brand. It is WWE, so I don’t know how long they keep the current format but I think if they go in, I think they are going to be shocked if they go into the losing end in all of this,” said Ryback. “If they do, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if they do switch the format where they record NXT on a Raw or SmackDown brand and they adjust things where they have the big crowd currently there. I think they will definitely look for something if they think they are losing because of the live audience. They are not going to want to keep losing in the ratings, I know that much. Vince McMahon is very highly competitive so I think they are looking at it like this is a good way to slow down AEW with NXT.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Conversations with the Big Guy Ryback with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.