Darren Rovell Steps Into WWE vs. AEW War, Gets Mauled

While a significant portion of journalists and wealthy Americans fight for their side in the culture war, some have shifted attention to an equally vile battle: wrestling.

For the first time since WCW, Vince McMahon’s WWE faces competition with Tony Khan’s two-year-old AEW. AEW’s quick rise has led WWE to hotshot programs and superstars. On Friday, WWE extended SmackDown by 30 minutes merely to compete head-to-head with Rampage, AEW’s B-show, from 10 to 10:30 pm ET. SmackDown aired from 8 to 10:30 on FS1 (the MLB playoffs bumped WWE off Fox for the week), while Rampage aired from 10 to 11 on TNT.

With widespread interest in the ratings, Twitter guy Darren Rovell refused to sit out. Rovell tweeted the next day that “WWE got a big victory last night over AEW,” citing fast national data. Except, fast nationals don’t matter — they are only preliminary, thus don’t count toward ad rates.

Despite Rovell’s logic, WWE did not earn a “big victory” over AEW. In the 30 minutes the shows competed, Rampage drew 328,000 viewers among adults 18-49, compared to SmackDown’s 285,000.

Companies and agenda-driven journalists like Rovell routinely spin ratings. It’s part of the process. WWE will say it was on FS1 and easily drew more total viewers than Rampage. Meanwhile, AEW can say WWE had a two-hour head start and a 40-year advantage. Both promotions put on good shows Friday. I’m a fan of both products. That said, television executives rank programs based on their ratings among adults 18 to 49 — that’s how networks sell advertisements.

In this case, SmackDown and Rampage competed for only 30 minutes. Thus, Rampage won by beating SmackDown in the 18-49 demographic during the period in which the two shows aired against each other. That’s not taking a side — that’s how industry experts view the battle.

So Rovell’s claim that WWE picked up a “big victory” is false, any way you spin it.

Also hilarious is the timing. Last week, multiple reports surfaced that AEW detractors were using writers by leaking Rampage’s fast national ratings, knowing viewership is lower before the final data is calculated. Get this: for the first time in a few weeks, not a single wrestling outlet reported Rampage’s fast national numbers. Of course, someone else did…

Whether you are Team WWE or Team AEW, you will enjoy the wrestling world dunking on Rovell hard:

Before people lose their minds, Friday does not suggest WWE is in trouble. It’s not. WWE is printing money and is the No. 1 wrestling brand in the world. Because of broadcast deals with Fox, USA Network, and Peacock — AEW will likely never compete with WWE financially. WWE remains the default term when non-wrestling fans hear the word “wrestling.” People “Google it” like they say “this isn’t WWE, stop jumping off the couch.”

At the same time, AEW has exceeded all reasonable expectations. AEW is years ahead of where a new promotion should be. Behind Tony Khan, AEW has caught WWE’s attention in ways TNA and RoH never did. Ultimately, WWE vs. AEW is fun, but not a zero-sum game. 

Anyway, these tweets do prove one thing in the bigger picture: in a battle between AEW and WWE, Darren Rovell walked out as the night’s biggest loser.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

One Comment

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  1. Let’s all pretend Tony Khan isn’t a trust fund bitch playing with daddy’s money and Dave Meltzer isn’t a massive Coronabro just to dunk on one of Clay’s Twitter detractors.

    By the way, this is terrible for both companies, maybe they should both just shut up.

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