While AEW and NXT have consistently traded places on top of Wednesday night's viewership, the hottest topic of conversation has been the target demographic. AEW stars like the self-proclaimed 'Demo-God' Chris Jericho has taken to Twitter to defend AEW's viewership numerous times, citing the 18-39 demographic as the important statistic, not the total viewership.
AEW Executive Vice President and current TNT Champion Cody Rhodes recently spoke with Busted Open Radio about the coveted 18-39 demographic, saying bringing strong numbers to that target audience was AEW's ultimate goal.
"That's the thing we wanted to do the most," Cody said. "That's the vindication and the validation that when people could feel the rumble in the ground, like this tremor that was happening three or four years ago with independent wrestling and the world, that's the validation that this was bubbling. This was about to happen and there have been some wonderful studies by our company and third parties in terms of families in their homes watching. We're high up in terms of our data's way higher than anticipated. ITV in the UK just sent us a report with stats that are mind blowing in terms of we're going to plug on the show tomorrow."
While Cody is not as outspoken as Jericho when it comes to demographics, he still reiterates how proud he is to see strong statistics in those categories.
"I know I once said I'll never talk about demos, but every Thursday, I get this wonderful report on what people liked," Cody said. "I love that they're coming in, the young, the new, different outlook. I love the classic wrestling fan. I love every fan, the lapsed fan, the casual fan, the friend who comes along."
When it comes to AEW roping in all those different kinds of fans, Cody attributes that to AEW's consistently diverse cards, saying there's something for everyone.
"I think when we mention the flavor profile, I think it's talent diversity," Cody said. "If you just look at the show tomorrow, you got a World Championship Match with a super heavyweight in Lance Archer, a mega-star in Jon Moxley and then, you've got this really--kind of like, execution base match with [Hikaru] Shida and [Big] Swole for the title [AEW Women's World Championship].
"You have an absolute mismatch with Orange Cassidy and myself. That robust flavor profile, I think it makes everybody at home and makes that younger crowd like, 'Oh, there's somebody they want to plug into.' 'There's a connection to somebody.' That's the number one thing. I have seen it in my career in the last three-four years as I want to reach across the barricade and connect. I don't care if they're booing me or cheering me. I want to be connected to them because I found that's the hardest thing. The spots aren't the hardest thing. It's that connection. It's the hardest thing to get. I feel like I'm just now, touching it and I never want it to go away."
As Cody mentioned, he will be defending his TNT Championship against 'Freshly Squeezed' Orange Cassidy this Wednesday on AEW Dynamite. Cody says his preparation for this match is unlike any match he's prepared for before.
"it's such an absolutely different side of styles, Cody said. "In my preparation for what we're going to do this Wednesday, and it being the [one year] anniversary episode, you got to put the absolute best face forward. I came across this startling fact that Orange Cassidy in AEW has never done a collar and elbow lock up. He's never tied up. Never. That is so grossly offensive to me and I like Orange Cassidy. I respect the guy who put two losses on Chris Jericho.
"So, in looking at this match, there's all the basic strategy in terms of I'm considerably bigger, I'm taller, I'm going to make him carry my weight, I'm going to keep him away from anything that got danged up in the Dog Collar Match because I certainly didn't get out of that. Just willy nilly, but he is going to lock up for the first time and I'm forcing to lockup. If anything, that's the number one thing on my mind, leaving with the TNT title and I think the bigger perspective for me, I'm not overlooking Orange Cassidy by any means."
In his first reign as TNT Champion, Cody introduced a weekly open challenge to his title. The American Nightmare is committed to carrying out this open challenge week in and week out, but stressed that he takes each match one at a time.
"You cannot think about what's next week or even what's further, Cody said. "We're approaching Full Gear, and for me, I have sat out of All Out. I sat out of the pay-per-view and that was eating me alive. So, I really am looking up to Full Gear and thinking about what that would be, but [I'm] not taking Orange lightly. It's not like how I approached the Darby [Allin] match in terms of somebody his speed and his size, but that son of a bi--h is going to lockup."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the Busted Open Radio and give a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.