Last Wednesday was perhaps the most anticipated weeknight of wrestling in decades with AEW Dynamite debuting on TNT to go up against NXT. Ryback was as stoked as anybody for AEW's premiere, so much so that he didn't even bother watching NXT.
Ryback talked about Dynamite's premiere when Wrestling Inc's Raj Giri joined him on his Conversations with the Big Guy Ryback podcast.
"I watched AEW solely and I missed a few parts - a good part of the main event and caught the end because I was working. I was thoroughly impressed with the TV presentation that I thought was above even what the pay-per-views were," said Ryback. "I really just dug the presentation and, in that arena, it really brought back memories for me of WCW Nitro and that excitement. But the crowd and that older audience, when you see the crowd at the AEW Dynamite show it was mostly young adults and adults for the most part, whereas the WWE audience is more kid-friendly. The whole vibe, I was thoroughly impressed, and when I saw that I don't know what it was but I said that they were going to pull in a very decent rating during this and sure enough they did.
"I did not watch NXT; I didn't see anything. I had no inclination to go and even switch what was going on because I know what NXT is and what it brings to the table. I wanted to see as much of that AEW show as possible. I really enjoyed that they had promos mixed into the shows and some character development so I was very happy to see that. I know the wrestling talk and the competitive nature of it, but it seems that they do understand for television they do need character development, which is massive for professional wrestling, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show that they put on for their first episode. This is great for pro wrestling and for pro wrestlers and pro wrestlers are going to be making the money that they should, a lot more than when even I was there and the money is going up and what not because of the competitive nature that it is going to be bringing."
After AEW beat NXT in ratings, WWE was quick to point out that this new "war" is a marathon not a sprint. Ryback is also interested to see how the ratings play out in the long term and if AEW can keep this momentum going.
"Time will tell. It was the debut episode, yes, but I have seen people talk about when TNA had done a 2.5 million [viewers], but the wrestling audience as a whole has gone down. The wrestling audience during TNA's time, Raw was getting better numbers at the time so I think you have to take into the context of this is what Raw is doing every week and then you have AEW doing 1.4 million. Now I feel like they can get into the 2.0 ratings if they keep this up. Obviously, there is a lot more that goes into that, but still."
Off the heels of SmackDown's impressive ratings in its FOX debut, there is already some talk of the blue brand moving to Wednesdays to compete with AEW. Ryback weighed in on those rumors if the AEW ratings continue to rise and trounce NXT.
"What's going to happen is if NXT continues to fall, they are going to realize, 'F**k, this was a mistake, we overestimated our brand with NXT going against AEW in the small arena. It's just not working.' The pressure is going to come from Vince McMahon that we are going to have to do something. So, NXT is going to either have to go to bigger arenas and they are going to have to reshuffle that whole thing, and if they continue to lose then it's, 'Do we move SmackDown to Wednesday night to see if that can knock AEW down a bit?' If it can't then I don't know," stated Ryback.
"I am personally smiling so big at this, it's f***ing great to me, and I love the talent, but now is a good time to be a pro wrestler. My interest to want to go back to pro wrestling because if you want to make marquee names that are more interesting now, more enticing to me now because it wasn't fun before with the way the environment was. We get into this to be the biggest stars as wrestlers and you are capping everybody off because you don't want to pay everybody what they are worth so you can make more billions of dollars, f**k you. Now it's time to pay the piper, it's great."
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.