IN THE late 90s wrestling was mainstream. With the WWE and World Championship were going toe to toe every Monday evening some twenty million fans in America were tuning in to either WWE Raw or WCW Nitro. The period made household names of WWE stars Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock as well as their WCW counterparts Goldberg and Sting. It was undoubtedly the highwater mark for modern wrestling but could we be set for another war, this time on a Thursday evening?
By Craig Wilson
With the debut recently of the WWE Network it throws up the possibility a ratings battle between WWE NXT and TNA Impact that surely spells nothing but bad news for the number two American promotion.
TNA previously made an attempt at starting a wrestling war in 2010 when they moved Impact from its traditional Thursday berth to Monday night in order to go up against Raw. The early signs were positive… The January 4 episode of Impact averaged 2.2 million views with 3 million tuning in for the Hulk Hogan segment with episode of Raw averaging 5.6 million.
On the March 8, 2010, Raw beat Impact! with a 3.4 rating which equated to approximately 5.1 million viewers, while Impact did a 0.98 rating meaning 1.4 million viewers. The following week on the March 15 edition, Impact! scored its lowest rating in nearly four years when it drew a 0.84 rating. The night after WrestleMania XXVI, Raw scored a 3.7 rating, up from last week and Impact! scored a 0.62. After these declining ratings, Spike executives announced the April 5 live Impact! would air an hour earlier than Raw.
The first war between two promotions airing a TV show at the same time since March 2001 ended in just over four months.
Dixie Carter and co at TNA towers must, then, be wary of the extra promotion that the WWE is giving to its Thursday show NXT. The first episode of that on The Network, NXT arRival, featured a host of former WWE superstars, a scintillating encounter between Cesaro and Sami Zyan and Newcastle’s Adrian Neville winning the NXT Championship from Bo Dallas.
It can be no coincidence that since the debut of The Network TNA Impact has found itself below 1.0 in the ratings once again. With the subscribers to the Network getting access to every WWE, WCW and ECW PPV as well as TV shows for $9.99 a month is there really any reason to bother with any other wrestling on TV?
Many wrestling fans, and those within TNA, would be hoping that this year would yield more success than last year. Financial troubles forced the company to lay off a number of talents, cut down its PPV output and take Impact off the road.
Now with the Network released, NXT being promoted more and declining ratings then morale can’t be too high in TNA towers.