AEW President Tony Khan recently made an appearance on The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz. Khan reflected on what some fans called “the 30-minute war” where for 30 minutes, SmackDown went head to head with Rampage on cable due to SmackDown getting preempted on FOX. WWE announced those 30 minutes would be commercial free, and those 30 minutes featured a big Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks match and a contract signing with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.
Despite WWE winning in total viewers, AEW won the 18-49 demo, and in close examination, they won the demo in the quarter where the two shows went head to head. Khan reflected on AEW’s victory that night.
“CM Punk won his segment decisively, and then the second segment, which was Ruby Soho vs. The Bunny, two female wrestlers who fans had been just really mean to and said, ‘Your segments not going to do well.’ Ruby Soho is a big star who had been fired from WWE just months earlier,” Khan said. “And they went up against a contract signing of Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.
“If you look at it, they tied it, but in their 15 minute quarter, that’s where I pushed all six minutes of the commercials, so actually, without the commercials, they would have beaten that segment. And then the previous 15-minute quarter was CM Punk and Matt Sydal head to head with Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, and that is a big match. And our match was a big match too, and it decisively beat their match.”
The win further showed AEW’s fast-pace growth over the past two years of its existence. Khan talked about how AEW triumphed over WWE previously in the “Wednesday Night War”.
“I would have been very surprised, especially by how the whole thing happened because it was a small bite of what a lot of fans actually kind of wanted. For one night, fans were very interested in the head to head because typically, we haven’t gone head to head in a while,” Tony Khan noted. “There was head to head competition on Wednesday for a while. They had brought their show, NXT, to cable and gone head to head when Dynamite first debuted, and that went pretty well for us. I think it was 76 Wednesdays they were on head to head, and in the demo, I think we won 75 to one. And in the overall viewers, I think we won 66 to 10.”
Rampage opened up with CM Punk vs. Matt Sydal that night. Khan talked about how important the head to head battle was for CM Punk, who had left wrestling for seven years after he had left WWE.
“We won the half hour 0.25 to 0.22, I believe, and it was a decisive victory. And I was really happy, in particular, for CM Punk, who is a great person, and I’ve gotten to know a lot better in the past couple of years,” Tony Khan stated. “And he had been out of professional wrestling for a really long time, and he had been served a lawsuit by WWE on his wedding day. I think it’s been a long time coming for him to come back because he loves pro wrestling, and the pro wrestling fans really love him.
“And it’s been such a blessing for our business, and I thought it was a really cool moment for him to go head to head. And he was wrestling Matt Sydal; It wasn’t the biggest box office opponent I could have put against him necessarily, but the match drew really well because it’s a great wrestling match. Matt Sydal’s a great technical wrestler. He’s a great high flyer, and people were excited to watch the skill of the wrestling match and see the art of it, and see CM Punk in his element. It wasn’t necessarily about him wrestling the biggest name.”
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