Looking at a one week viewership comparison between a pair of series that will seemingly be going head to head for months (if not longer) is a fool’s errand, and is definitely not something we’re going to be doing here week after week. But Wednesday night was the first head to head matchup between WWE NXT on USA and the upstart AEW Dynamite on TNT, and the initial battle went to AEW in a walk.
According to The Wrap, AEW’s TNT debut drew 1.4 million viewers, while NXT drew just 891,000. It’s undoubtedly a strong debut for AEW, especially when you realize that NXT only drew 1.18 million viewers two weeks ago in its debut in the Wednesday evening timeslot on USA. You can’t just point at the strong AEW debut, claim it’s only because this was the first episode, and move on. Dynamite’s debut topped NXT’s debut, and it beat the WWE product handily in their first head to head matchup. That’s damn impressive.
This also has to be considered disappointing for WWE, given that the first two NXT episodes to air on USA were only an hour long thanks to the final season of Suits. Wednesday night was the first two hour NXT, and it just did not get the traction that WWE wanted. It’s also worth noting that this is WWE’s #3 show that AEW beat on Wednesday – it’s not as if the company went head to head with Smackdown’s Fox broadcast premiere and kicked its ass.
Much has been made about WWE’s decision to move NXT to Wednesday to compete head to head with AEW, and fans seem excited for the possibility of WWE being legitimately challenged on national TV for the first time in years.