One of AEW's Executive Vice Presidents, Cody Rhodes, spoke on a media call this week that Wrestling Inc. was a part of. During the discussion, Cody talked about how the company's focus will be totally centered around their Wednesday Night Dynamite premiere on TNT and not on NXT's 2-hour debut on the USA Network.
"We will be focused solely on our own show. I think it would be arrogant of us if we had a monitor on the 'go' position with what the competitor was doing at the time," Cody explained. "Of course, we're not living under a rock; we're going to be aware and what's matched up against what and how they did when you get to look at all that data on Thursday. But we've got to do us. We were always going to be on TNT, on a major cable network like this. So, this was always in our plan.
"[NXT's] move to USA - and this is not meant as a negative, so WWE die-hards, please do not freak out - was a reactionary move towards us. So, they can't watch us. We'll be taking care of our own business."
Cody revealed that he's been missing sleep and actually getting sick from the anxiety as they prepare for tonight's show. He commented on how important tonight is for not only AEW but the entire pro wrestling community as a whole.
"At this point, I've had about three sleepless nights in a row mixed with nervous puking," Cody admitted. "So yeah, my anxiety levels are through the roof for this event. I say it's the most important weekday in wrestling in my lifetime but really, as wrestling fans and wrestling journalists on this call, I can't think of a more important night than perhaps MTV and Rock n' Wrestling. I really can't think of a more important night when wrestling was destination, and we've got to keep it destination.
"So, I don't mind those nerves; I don't mind as long as they're not on my face when I come up the tunnel tomorrow nights, as long as I can perform," Cody continued. "I like to play into my nerves. Randy Orton taught me a term a long time ago called, 'The Red Light Guy'. When the red light is on, I can do just about anything and that's who I want to be tomorrow for this show, and that's who I have to be. A lot of people - I put a lot of pressure, fairly, on us. There were a lot of promises, and a lot of campaigning, and a lot of campaign promises to what Dynamite will be, what AEW will be, and the greatest thing about it is that the people making those promises are also the ones in the ring. So, it's my job to deliver. Nervous? Absolutely. Scared? Not one bit; I'm ready for this."
Cody does indeed have a goal in mind when it comes to the viewership ratings for AEW Wednesday Night Dynamite, however, he didn't share the number to listeners. He thinks that the crowd reaction in the Capital One Arena and online through social media will be a good indicator on what their ratings may be like when the numbers are released.
"I think there's a [ratings] number that we have in mind. I'm not going to be as naive as to say that number right now," Cody said. "I think wrestling is one of those things where when you come back through the 'go' position and you've had an absolute barn-burner of a match where the crowd was up and down and everything and they took that ride with you, when you ask how it was, truth is that you already know. You heard them out there. That's going to be the biggest test tomorrow, is that live audience.
"I think that giving them this unbelievable show in a statement building like Capital One Arena will be a good indicator of what the next day will be when the inevitable ratings come in," Cody added. "I think Turner has high expectations for this and we have high expectations for this. We think this is a product people want to see, we think this is a product that will appeal to the several-million people that went away around 2001 and are now calling themselves 'Returners', which is my favorite term for them. So, I think we have a number in mind and hopefully we hit it."
Cody is adamant that AEW's in-ring work and the storytelling they do inside the ropes will be what sets it apart from the other pro wrestling that fans are accustom to watching. They aim to pair this unique brand of pro wrestling with a "human connection" that is inclusive and honest.
"The biggest strength [AEW has] is the in-ring action, for sure. It's the first thing you said, because I think the misconception now is that you can't tell stories from bell to bell, in-between the ropes," Cody said. "Stories like Ric Flair used to tell on a nightly basis, and you absolutely can tell those stories. I think that's the biggest thing we have going for us, is our bell to bell, our in-ring action and then, I spoke to it earlier, I think to accompany the in-ring action is the human connection. It's to find out who these people are.
"Our biggest strength is all the things we've been talking about, and complaining about for twenty-something years, if that makes sense. We've heard all that," Cody continued. "If someone were to spy on us and get the formula like, 'What are they doing? Why are people into this? I don't understand; this isn't good.' No, it is good. See the crowd? See the continued sell-outs? That's the value! It's a product people want to see, and we just want to spread that product and share it with these returners and casual fans that might, if not until now, will see it for the first time and see wrestling differently. But see something they recognize from way back, if that makes sense."
AEW Dynamite airs every Wednesday night at 8 pm EST on TNT. If you use any quotes from this article, please include a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.