One of the biggest questions for professional wrestling fans heading into 2019 is when does AEW debut and what television network will carry their show?
While a lot of WWE fans might have doubts that AEW will be any better than Impact Wrestling or Ring of Honor, the latest news indicates that they will get a lot better TV deal than either of those promotions.
Impact Wrestling has aired on Spike TV and since dropped to lesser networks — first Destination America and now Pursuit. Ring of Honor is on Sinclair networks — the company that owns a stake in the organization.
What TV channel will AEW be on?
Some huge news hit when Dave Meltzer (who has a close relationship with the Young Bucks) reported that there are two different TV deals on the table right now for AEW to discuss.
While there are plenty of WWE fans who are mocking AEW wrestling and acting like they will be lucky to get something as good as Impact Wrestling’s smaller TV deal, Meltzer said that is not the case.
According to Meltzer, the two TV deals are “real money and real stations.” He also said that it was bigger than Spike TV in terms of prestige, adding “by a long shot.”
If that is the case, fans who predicted WGN-America might be way off.
Looking at the TV numbers (via Statista), Spike TV (now known as Paramount) has an average 507,000 viewers. Compare that to USA Network, home of WWE Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, which has an average viewership of 1.51 million.
Now, if these TV deals are bigger than Paramount, there are some really interesting options and a few of them really pop off the page.
First, count out networks like FX (903,000) and AMC (921,000), as neither of those seem to be in the market for professional wrestling. AMC had a chance for a Billy Corgan wrestling reality show a few years back, Resistance Pro Wrestling, and passed on it. FX seems more interested in dramatic television.
However, move up the list and the three most likely destinations for AEW wrestling is TNT (1.32 million), TBS (1.39 million), and a very interesting option in The CW (1.41 million).
TNT and TBS are both Turner networks and long-time fans might remember that Turner is who owned WCW. If they are ready to get back into the wrestling business without the worry of financing it themselves, either of those could be an option for AEW wrestling.
The CW is the biggest wildcard. Stephen Amell, the star of Arrow, wrestled at the All-In PPV in Chicago and is close friends with Cody Rhodes, one of the vice-presidents of AEW. Rhodes himself appeared on Arrow as well.
This gives them an in for The CW, and the idea of AEW wrestlers appearing on shows on The CW as a co-promotional tool is alluring for both sides. Imagine Chris Jericho popping up as a veteran hunter on Supernatural.
When does AEW debut?
So, when does AEW debut?
Following the All-In PPV in Chicago, the news that Double or Nothing was coming this year broke. Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks announced this at their initial press conference.
On February 7, there will be another press conference, this one announcing ticket sales for Double or Nothing in Las Vegas (and possibly introducing Kenny Omega as their latest signing as well as Pentagon Jr and Fenix).
AEW Double or Nothing will be the first show for the new professional wrestling company and will take place at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 25.