Many wrestling fans will remember the industry-changing Monday Night Wars between WCW and WWE at the turn of the century. WWE announced Aug. 20 its developmental brand, NXT, will make the jump to television on Wednesday nights and compete with All Elite Wrestling. AEW executive vice president and former WWE star Cody Rhodes told B/R Live he believes this rivalry could help revitalize the wrestling industry similarly to how WCW and WWE did.
"I think the most important night in all of wrestling is now Wednesday nights," Rhodes said. "The best wrestling is going to be happening on Wednesday nights. It's destination TV, and when's the last time wrestling was destination TV? It's now must-watch, and I'm not going to complain about that. ... Wrestling fans now have a choice, and I hope they choose us."
In May, AEW announced it will begin airing a live weekly show on WarnerMedia's TNT with the start date later revealed to be Oct. 2.
AEW is following in the footsteps of World Championship Wrestling, which first aired WCW Monday Nitro on TNT in 1995. WCW became WWE's chief rival, and it beat WWE in the Monday night ratings war for 83 weeks in a row before falling off the pace. WWE purchased WCW in 2001.
WWE's NXT will begin airing as a live two-hour show every Wednesday on USA Network on Sept. 18. NXT previously only streamed on the WWE Network. The move is perceived as a direct response from WWE to AEW's weekly show.
Not only will both AEW and WWE televise shows on the same night, but they'll also fill the same time slot from 8 to 10 p.m. ET. This is the first time since the Monday Night Wars between WCW and WWE that two high-profile wrestling promotions will compete for ratings on the same night at the same time. According to Alfred Konuwa of Forbes, AEW may be anticipating the new rivalry by purchasing the "Wednesday Night War" domain.
"I'm oddly intrigued to see what Vince McMahon does with NXT," Rhodes said. "My dad was instrumental in building the NXT brand. For a long time, it had been a developmental project. For Vince to now bring it to the USA Network as if it's a full brand, I'm just intrigued by it."
WWE's decision to have its developmental brand compete with a new company backed by notable names in the wrestling world such as Rhodes, Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho is an interesting one. McMahon could be trusting his wealth of experience in the business and relying on up-and-coming talent like Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Shayna Baszler and Johnny Gargano to put it ahead. He might also be using the same tactic he used in the 1980s when the then-WWF would schedule high-profile shows to compete directly against the NWA and play hardball with cable operators.
The nostalgia of Monday Night Wars will likely increase fan interest in both brands early. It's too early to tell which company will get the upper hand, but in the short term, fans will be the winners.
All Out, AEW's final event before its weekly show begins, takes place Aug. 31 and features a stacked card including Jericho vs. Adam Page to crown the inaugural world champion, Rhodes vs. Shawn Spears and the Young Bucks vs. Lucha Brothers. Fans can order the event on B/R Live.