Since the inception of the Wednesday Night Wars last year, the obvious comparisons were made to the late 1990s when WCW went head-to-head with WWE.
NXT ultimately changed to Tuesday nights and thus many declared AEW as the winners of the Wednesday Night Wars. Although many, including Eric Bischoff, notably stated that WWE’s C-show was facing AEWs A show. AEW does still remain on Wednesday nights, and now the war has transitioned to Fridays between AEW Rampage and Friday Night SmackDown.
On the latest episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, AEW Commentator Jim Ross spoke about his former boss Vince McMahon and what his thoughts are on competition. Ross mentioned how frustrated he believes McMahon would’ve been when AEW beat NXT even just one time, and why that was a major factor in them moving the show to Tuesdays.
“It motivates him, he doesn’t like to lose,” Ross said, regarding Vince McMahon and his opinion on WWE having competition. “I think the battle on Wednesday nights is indicative of that statement. That’s why they moved to Tuesday, he didn’t like getting his ass beat every Wednesday night. And I know we didn’t win every Wednesday night, but we won most of them. Winning one is too many for him. He’s very competitive, he believes he owns the genre.
“He is the godfather and I get it, I understand it, and I respect and appreciate his competitiveness. He works better when there’s a little pressure on him and I think that’s been proven time and time again. He’s a different breed of cat when it comes to that stuff. Reading on Thursdays who’s got this audience and which show got that audience, I can promise you it was an issue. It was definitely an issue without question.”
Ross continued to talk about the current competition between AEW and WWE and why he believes it’s ultimately good for the wrestling business. With the latest signings of Adam Cole, Bryan Danielson and CM Punk, Ross believes that those wrestlers have given AEW the relevancy to battle with WWE.
“I think that’s good for pro wrestling, period,” Ross said. “I’m not going to over analyze it, I’m not going to analyze their ticket prices or any of that sh**. Why can’t we all just be happy if our business is good? That’s what matters, the healthier pro wrestling is, the healthier Grilling JR is going to be. It’s a trickle down, we all share in the success of our business and I’m really glad that we’re in this stage. Who the hell would’ve thought two years ago that we’d be talking about it in these terms? All of a sudden, AEW has become very, very relevant and I believe that’s all to do with Tony Khan’s opening up the check book and signing some of the best talents in the world.
“I don’t say that in a knock to the other guys, but that’s how wrestling fans take it. ‘JR is knocking the WWE guys,’ I’m not knocking them, all I’m saying is two years ago when AEW started its journey, I don’t think any of us, including me, perceived it would grow to the level it has grown in this length of time. It’s pretty astonishing. The winners of all of this are the fans. Some fans just don’t have that mindset, and I think that’s a sad state of affairs.”
Unlike WWE who has seven hours of wrestling a week, AEW just has Dynamite and Rampage, giving them four hours less each week. Ross talked about why Tony Khan would never make Dynamite a three hour show and why Rampage will also remain an hour.
“That one hour show on Friday nights, it seems like it flies by,” Ross mentioned. “I think that the one hour format still has its place, but two would be my absolute limit unless you’re doing a pay- per-view because you’re paying for more, and you get more on a PPV. I think the one hour thing still works. I don’t see Rampage going to two hours, I don’t see any of Tony Khan’s over the air content ever going to three hours. Who the hell knows, but I would be surprised if that ever happened. I think we’ve all learned good lessons about these three hour RAWs. It’s not done for artistic benefit, it’s done for the money. USA is paying a lot more money for that third hour of primetime television. It’s live every week, but to me, it’s a little long.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.