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By Dave Scherer on 2021-09-07 10:00:00

I saw your comment about AEW being competition.  It’s clear to me that it is as well. If you were tasked with explain to Vince McMahon how AEW is indeed a threat to his company, how would you do it?

First off, I wouldn’t.  I don’t have the patience to deal with someone like Vince McMahon.  He is just too obstinate for me to waste my time trying to reason with.  But, someone in his circle should because AEW is absolutely a threat to WWE.  I am not saying they will be out of business in a year, but AEW is definitely a threat, for many reasons.

Everything is competition.  In 2021, anything that captures eyeballs is competition for anything else that captures eyeballs.  Whether it’s a TV show, video game, etc, anything that is an entertainment option is competition.  With that said…

Vince may not believe it but both WWE and AEW are wrestling products. Vince believes he creates something different but he is the author of a wrestling product.  Wrestling has different types of fans, but they are fans of the same genre.  To think that a company in the same genre, owned by a multi-billionaire, isn’t competition is just crazy talk.  Vince can look down on their product as “rasslin” all he wants but wrestling fans are wrestling fans.  They love the genre and AEW may produce a different kind of wrestling, but it’s still wrestling.

His product is stale and he has lost a lot of viewers. Yes, there are a lot of reasons for viewer erosion across the board so a more accurate metric is TV viewership patterns.  Recently, WWE is stagnant at best while AEW Dynamite has been rising from where it was.  If I were Vince, knowing Monday Night Football starts next week and it always takes away from of Raw’s audience, I would certainly be concerned by AEW’s recent moves and concerned that if they could rise up to 1.5M viewers, they could pass Raw.  It’s hard to be cavalier about AEW if that happens. With that said, convincing Vince that his product is stale would mean getting him to admit it’s because his booking is stale.  I don’t see that happening.

As Bryan Danielson showed last night, it’s not just disgruntled or released performers who will jump to AEW. This is a big one.  Bryan and Adam Cole could have stayed in WWE.  They both decided to jump.  In Bryan’s case, much like with Chris Jericho, he took the chance of blowing up his relationship with WWE to go and do what he loves, wrestle.  Don’t underestimate how many people are unhappy being stuck in the WWE machine or how pretty much universally happy the AEW locker room is.  They get to do what they love and not get overproduced or fed ridiculous lines to recite.  In many cases, they get to do what they love in a way they love to do it.  They also will be working for a booker who is developing a reputation of not giving up on or losing interest in talents the way that WWE does.  Just look at Miro.  Once Vince McMahon decided what he was, that was it.  In AEW the initial version fell flat so Khan retooled him and now he is a monster.  Vince didn’t want Bryan or Cole to jump and yet, they did.  That is what happens when you have a competitor.

TV Money.  I saved the most important aspect for last.  WWE is a company where probably 90 percent of their revenue comes from TV rights fees.  In the US, they get $265M a year from NBCU for Raw and $205M a year from FOX for Smackdown.  They get another $200M from NBCU for The WWE Network rights on Peacock.  At this point in time AEW is a bargain.  There is a lot of talk that FOX is not happy with WWE since the Peacock deal started.  From what we have been told, they didn’t mind plugging Raw in return for NBCU plugging Smackdown.  That changed with FOX now plugging a second NBCU entity in Peacock.  WWE has three years left on their TV deals, with AEW in a similar position.  If AEW continues to do well and grows, what would stop FOX from saying to them that we will give you $100M a year for Dynamite (more than doubling what they get now), and saving $105M a year for what will be an audience that is pretty close to what they get from WWE now, especially if the relationship is deteriorating?  Nothing.  And even if FOX just kicks the tires on AEW and stays with WWE, it ups the price that they can get from TNT/TBS, making them stronger.

So Vince can think whatever he wants but AEW is absolutely a competitor.

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