AEW’s One-Sided ‘Ratings War’ With WWE Makes It Look Like WCW Jr.

The year is 1996, the place is World Championship Wrestling (WCW). With the New World Order, made up largely of former WWE stars, reigning supreme, WCW Nitro took the ratings lead over WWE Raw--a streak it would hold onto for 83 weeks. In that time, WCW regularly boasted about trouncing its competition in the ratings. After all, when you're the king of the wrestling mountain, why wouldn't you want to talk about it? That said, wrestling fans know how this story ends. WCW ultimately falls apart, with a long list of reasons for its downfall, from ego to a corporate merger. The story remains the same, though: For all of its non-stop bragging, the company lost.

Fast forward to 2020 and there's something intriguing happening on Wednesday nights. When All Elite Wrestling (AEW) launched in October 2019, it looked to be an exciting alternative to WWE's programming. And, thankfully, in many respects, it is. Many of the wrestlers are interesting and new, having not appeared in a major role in WWE before--from the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega to Private Party and Orange Cassidy. However, as time goes by, AEW seems to be borrowing more and more tactics from WCW's playbook, and it's starting to get grating.

This is most evident with the TV ratings. Pretty regularly since its debut, AEW has topped WWE's NXT in the 18-49 TV rating demographic, the one typically seen as the most important factor to TV advertisers. For the majority of its existence, the company hasn't let that become much of a factor in its storylines. After all, WWE doesn't tout when it beats AEW--which would largely be seen as punching down--so what good would it do for AEW to start doing so?

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