All Elite Wrestling has once again dug into the “major announcement” bag. This time, though, the looming AEW announcement might be pretty significant.
Rumors have swirled around the 3.5-year-old company that they are planning another television show. The rumored show inched closer to becoming a reality this week. According to Andrew Zarian of The Mat Men Podcast, and occasionally a contributor with Figure 4 Wrestling/Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the company intends to announce the next show in May, right around the time the WBD Upfronts are set to take place.
Via InsideTheRopes, Zarian said:
“The announcement is most likely happening at the upfronts. So, I believe that’s May 17th. So a month out from the actual show. Which I’ve heard — different sources have said the same thing. I believe that’s happening. I don’t know if Tony [Khan] is announing it upfront or if Turner is announcing it upfront, but they are announcing it at upfronts.”
This is a fascinating idea for several reasons. It’s true that AEW’s main competition, World Wrestling Entertainment, operates out of the two-show method. Smackdown debuted on national TV in 1999, and three years later, the company decided to split the brand off from its flagship show, Monday Night Raw.
Since then, they’ve operated as if both shows were unique in their own right. They will have crossovers from time to time, but WWE has separate titles for the shows outside of the leading men’s title. The main men’s title has lived an ambiguous life lately, although mainly on Smackdown, as Roman Reigns seeks a 1,000-day reign as champion.
Fans were quick to buy into the split. In the case of AEW, a split offers positives and negatives. In the case of their opposites, it’s a bit more of a challenge. CM Punk is returning. Punk left the company under dicey terms last fall following an altercation backstage with Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson.
AEW has consistently not told its audience why Punk left – though by now, you probably do have an idea of why that occurred. All signs point to the former AEW World Champion returning and heading one of the brands. Anyone doing any guesswork could probably suggest that Omega and the Jacksons – better known as The Young Bucks – won’t be on that show either. It’s not unlikely right now for the company to have – or in some cases, not seem to lean into drama in and out of the promotion either. So what becomes of all that? We’ll have to wait and see.
On another level, viewership for AEW Dynamite and AEW Rampage has settled into spots lower than what they probably had hoped for. They have averaged just under 860,000 viewers – 857,375 to be exact – in 2023 on Dynamite. Rampage numbers have been low, which doesn’t come as a surprise given its time slot. Wrestling Observer Newsletter founder Dave Meltzer reported that WBD pursued Punk back, and wants him on the show, so the media conglomerate is in their favor.
But they’ll have to be careful not to take too much of a hit and hope this move doesn’t divide the audience. Literally. Anyone who takes a dip into the pool wrestling fans created knows that the hostilities between Punk’s fanbase and The Elite’s (Omega and The Bucks) are fresh, persistent, and not exactly tempered off. How much of that is felt outside of Twitter?
The other risk, of course, is they don’t want to induce fatigue. This is a promotion that, if they gain another show, will have AEW Dark, Dark Elevation, Dynamite, Rampage, and now the new show. With a pay-per-view, six days of any week could be occupied by AEW programming, which is a massive step for them. But it’s one that they will hopefully toe around comfortably. Oversaturation hardly ever helps.
Nevertheless, wrestling fans should prepare themselves for more on their televisions very soon, it sounds like.