Forbes’ Alfred Konuwa was on a recent episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast where he and Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman discussed WWE’s Q4 and Full Year earnings call. They also discussed the current headlines from WWE and AEW including NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal’s upcoming tag team match on Dynamite.
“I like the fact that they’re trying things out with Shaquille O’Neal. The Shaquille O’Neal thing is AEW and TNT,” Konuwa noted. “It really shows that TNT is giving them a vote of confidence in that they’re really all the way in and invested with AEW because this is more of a synergistic thing where they’re going to take one of the bigger stars on TNT, Shaquille O’Neal, and he’s going to be on AEW.
“And he has translated to ratings. I believe it was the highest quarter hour that they ever did was that interview, the weird interview where he got water thrown in his face, but they did over a million viewers for that quarter hour. I expect this match, because of the train wreck quality and because of the fact that it’s Shaquille O’Neal, to do really really well. It might be their highest-viewed segment ever, and I think they’re going to overachieve.
“I have a lot of faith in Cody. I think he’s just the pro’s pro, and I think he’s gonna know how to use smoke and mirrors. His dad was a genius in pro wrestling, and I think he has those genes. And I think he’s going to make it work with that segment. I do think there’s gonna be a lot of interest, and I do like that they’re going that direction.”
AEW currently has working relationships with other wrestling companies like Impact, NWA and NJPW. Konuwa speculated that these partnerships could build up to an AEW streaming service noting that if AEW put out a streaming service now, there would not be a lot of content since they’ve only been around for a year and a half.
“It depends on why he’s (Tony Khan) doing it. We don’t really know why,” Konuwa pointed out. “I like the fact that we’re in a new dynamic where it’s Kumbaya. I want to work with other people. I don’t want to be too political. That’s good, I think, because the money in pro wrestling is about content and you kind of have to be an arms dealer. It’s not a pay-per-view business anymore. It’s a content business.
“I don’t know anything about AEW’s business operations or whatnot, internally what they’re doing. I think the long play might be to build an AEW streaming network and incorporate New Japan, Impact Wrestling because AEW doesn’t have much of a tape library. There’s very little value that they can get out of a streaming service because they’ve only been in business for a year. What if he wants to work with all these different companies and they are on this maybe piece of the pie, just like how WWE works with Progress Wrestling.
“If Tony Khan was to work with different wrestling companies for an AEW streaming service, I think that might be the long play and why he is working with New Japan and Impact Wrestling. This is just speculation. This is why I think he’s doing it. I think he’s got this in mind because if AEW’s going to make the type of money that WWE is making, it’s going to be on content. It’s going to be in streaming. They’re not going to make this money on pay-per-view.”
On the NXT side of things, Hausman and Konuwa discussed Edge’s appearance on NXT. When Hausman asked about NXT’s low viewership numbers having Edge on the show, Konuwa pointed out that Edge’s appearance was not heavily advertised and was only just a tweet that Edge put out.
“It’s a barometer of what I think is just nonsensical, basic advertising by WWE. I don’t think that’s an Edge problem,” Konuwa admitted. “He promoted by going on social media saying, ‘I think I’m gonna stop by and say hi to my wife and maybe I’ll be on NXT.’ That was the big promotion of Edge.
“Yes, we all expected Edge to be on NXT. If you’re a hardcore viewer of WWE, you go on WWE.com [and] you’ll see a picture of Edge suggesting he’ll be on NXT. There was no announcement about this on RAW. They didn’t use any other television to say Edge is coming to NXT. That would have helped move the needle.
“Instead, they just relied on social media, similar to what they did with Randy Orton vs. Edge on RAW where there was no promotion of this huge pay-per-view caliber match. They promoted this on the third hour of RAW. I’m like, ‘wait, they’re doing that tonight?’ And if you look at the third hour of viewership, yeah, it kind of held up but nowhere near what they should have done for Edge vs. Randy Orton on free TV.”
The NBC Sports Network is set to shut down pushing NBC’s live sports content to USA Network. This has many fans wondering what the future of NXT will be since the NHL’s Wednesday night block is a marquee program for NBC. Konuwa said that he doesn’t see NXT moving nights this year but in future years, things could change.
“I could see it at the end of 2021,” Konuwa stated. “Further than that, when it comes time, I know they have a hockey deal where they like airing hockey on Wednesday nights, so who knows what’s going to happen. I think they’re going to try to keep NXT on the same night, and I think because of how much they have invested in WWE, NXT is going to be more of a priority than maybe an NHL or any of the other sports because I just think that they have a long-term plan to really make WWE a hot entity so that more people could be interested in investing in NBC Peacock. So I don’t see NXT moving nights anytime soon. Definitely not this year but it’s not out of the question for when they shuffle up the deck a few years from now.”
You can follow Alfred on Twitter @ThisIsNasty. Konuwa’s full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here. You can find the full audio from today’s show, as well as the video from Nick’s interview with Konuwa, below.