During an interview with the New York Post, Tony Kahn said the gloves are off when it came to AEW’s battle with WWE. However, that is not a good strategy to follow. Instead, he should follow the same strategy the company uses on Wednesday nights for Dynamite. Because as we have seen hot-shotting or counter booking only hurts a wrestling company in the long run. And with Rampage needing viewers this is not the best strategy to take.
But why would AEW Owner/President Tony Kahn say something like this? Well, that is because WWE Smackdown is moving from Fox to FS1 the next couple of Friday nights because of MLB playoffs. And this week’s edition of Smackdown will be two and a half hours. WWE wants to take viewership away from AEW Rampage by loading up the final half-hour of Smackdown and making it commercial-free. WWE is making another reactionary move because they have finally viewed AEW as competition.
But on the other side of the coin so are Tony Kahn and AEW. Normally, AEW Rampage comes on at 10 pm on TNT on Friday nights. However, this Friday, AEW will have a “Buy-In” show on Friday on Youtube during the 9 pm hour of Smackdown. On the “Buy-In” we will see Minoru Suzuki vs. Bryan Danielson attracting viewers to change to Rampage. And that Rampage show will see CM Punk in action along with the Inner Circle taking on American Top Team as Junior dos Santos makes his wrestling debut.
And Kahn has made no bones about it that he wants to beat Smackdown on Friday night in the ratings.
— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) October 9, 2021
Originally there was not going to be a “Buy-In,” but Tony Kahn wants fans to tune in for a big weekend of wrestling. But with WWE continuing to counter-program his company, he felt the time was right to take the gloves off. Rampage kicks things off Friday night. With AEW Dynamite moving to Saturday night because of the NHL being on TNT for the next couple of weeks on Wednesday nights.
But during the Wednesday Night Wars with NXT, AEW just focused on themselves. And as Kahn points out, WWE moved NXT to go head to head with them right away. However, that strategy did not pay off for NXT in the end. They were too worried about what AEW was doing, that they hurt their own programming. I stated all along for NXT that if they had concentrated on their own product and made their own product better instead of worrying about AEW, then NXT would not have fallen off as hard as they did.
Because on big nights, they were hot-shotting and counterprogramming AEW to win in the ratings. Some weeks it worked but in the end, it was not the right strategy. Tony Kahn can not make the same mistake. AEW has its fan base. Yes, would he like Rampage ratings to be better sure, but going to war with Smackdown is not the answer. Just put out the best possible product and focus on AEW Rampage and make that better instead of worrying about Smackdown for a handful of weeks.