In an appearance on Busted Open Radio, AEW President Tony Khan discussed AEW Rampage defeating WWE Smackdown in the 18-49 demo when the two shows went head to head for 30 minutes. Khan made a point to again state he didn’t seek out this fight and that AEW Rampage was in the timeslot to avoid competing with WWE, but once that happened, he felt AEW needed to respond and win.
“I don’t decide when the shows are on,” Khan said. “(For) this time slot, we had looked at a couple different spots and this was one that they (TNT) thought it would do well, and I was supportive of, because it allowed for there to be a really good block of wrestling on Friday nights. I knew there would be a good amount of people watching wrestling on Friday anyway, and it was effectively an opportunity for people to watch everything in one night. When we got the head to head competition, I thought, ‘we need to respond, we need to win’, and we did. I was surprised that the competition was going to be commercial free. I wasn’t able to go completely after talking with TNT, without them, but I was able to get it scheduled to where we could do Punk vs. Sydal commercial free.
“But I thought it was even more impressive given that I was forced to take a couple breaks. It was really great of TNT to work with us, I thought, on short notice to push our breaks back, so we could have that match uninterrupted. To me, it’s not up to us when the show is on. In this case, somebody moved aggressively into our timeslot and it was really important for us to do a good number and win the night. And we did. I really wanted to rally the fans and put some attention on it. I also really believed we were going to win, and we did. We’ve done really well in the demo, which is the thing advertisers and the TV networks use to rate the shows. I know TNT was over the moon and very excited about what we did.”
Khan also revealed a conversation he had with someone in AEW who compared Rampage competing with Smackdown to putting all their chips in and winning. Ultimately, Khan credited the AEW wrestlers, the AEW crew. and the AEW fan support for why they emerged victorious in the key demo.
“We put our chips in,” Khan said. “A really smart person in wrestling said this to me a few days ago, someone who works in AEW, and what’s cool about AEW is I don’t think it’s just my chips, it’s everyone’s. We’re a team. and if you’re on the AEW team, these are your chips too. Somebody said to me, ‘Tony, you put all of our chips in. You made this bet and we won. And it’s awesome, and we’re all so happy about it. This is a great time for us.’ He was right. We won because of our wrestlers and the great people that work here, and especially the fans.
“I know Friday night isn’t always the easiest time to watch a wrestling show, especially 10 o’clock. But the fans have been turning out in different ways. There’s a lot of ways to watch Rampage, whether you watch it at home on TV, or at a tablet, or at a bar, on their TV, or on your smartphone. Anybody, for the most part, with a phone these days can get the TNT App if you have cable or a streaming platform that subscribes to TNT, you can watch it on your phone on the TNT App. A lot of people tuned in on Friday to watch the show. I’m very gratified by the support. I haven’t said much about it since we won, other than just thanking people for the support and some very brief celebration (tweets) as the numbers came in. Which is really, in this world, is really at the buzzer. The post buzzer celebration. Since the numbers came in, I really haven’t’ said much because I think those numbers speak for themselves. I’m just really proud that we won that head to head. We didn’t make the choice to go head to head for 30 minutes against the competition, especially when they decided to do 30 minutes commercial free. And they lost. I think it was great for us.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open Radio and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription