On a recent episode of Grilling JR, Jim Ross talked about the recent increase in viewership that AEW has experienced due to the end of the Wednesday Night Wars. While the latest episode was down against President Biden’s speech, the prior two week averaged over 1 million viewers without opposition from NXT. Ross said it was surprising to see how well they did on their first night without NXT on television, and hopes that success continues down the road.
“I was surprised that we did as well as we did,” Ross said. “I thought we might do [900,000], I thought that was being generous. But to do 1.2 million, that was pretty phenomenal. Hopefully we will earn the trust and the dedication from the audience and the only way we’re going to do that is to have a hell of a show every week. Is that possible? I don’t know, but I know the effort will be there.
“As long as Tony Khan has got these crazy ideas, I think we’re in pretty good shape to do that.”
Ross noted one of the reasons for the continued success of AEW, citing Darby Allin as a major reason. The AEW commentator said Allin continues to get over with the crowd and when he’s on screen, he’s generating viewership and buzz around him.
“A lot of our young talents are getting better, they’re getting over,” Ross said. “I think they’re getting better and assuming their roles better. Look at the ratings, quarter hour ratings for Darby Allin was extraordinary and he’s a home grown talent. Some people say you can’t make stars in this generation, but you can if you do it right and the talent executes and creates a unique presentation and certainly Darby Allin is a unique competitor, he reminds me a lot of Jeff Hardy.”
Also on the episode Ross covered Backlash 2001, which was the fallout pay-per-view of WrestleMania 17 where Stone Cold turned heel and aligned with Vince McMahon. In the lead up to the show, WWE purchased WCW and began to run their show on Mondays without competition. Ross talked about WWE running a show on Monday’s without WCW and doing 7.41 million viewers, and compared that era to the current one.
“We celebrate, as we should, our 1.2 million viewers and we’re very proud of that number,” Ross said. “Second most watched show of the night of any show on cable, but 7.41 million viewers? That’s how good it was, as much as WWE celebrated the NXT numbers the show did unopposed, as well as we did unopposed, those numbers were great and rank well but this show 7.41 million viewers, that’s healthy.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.