Jim Ross Talks AEW & NXT Going Head-To-Head

Jim Ross Talks AEW & NXT Going Head-To-Head

On the latest episode of his Grilling JR podcast, Jim Ross spoke with co-host Conrad Thompson about the news that NXT is moving to the USA Network starting Wednesday, September 18th.

Two weeks later, the war is on when AEW premieres on TNT and the two shows go head-to-head each week in prime time.

Ross says he’s not at all surprised that Vince McMahon made the call to move NXT to the USA Network right before the launch of AEW on TNT.

“I’m not surprised,” said Ross. “Knowing Vince as well as I do and working with him so closely as I did for over a quarter of a century, he ain’t gonna lay back and let AEW grow independently and freely. That was never going to happen. He feels threatened for some crazy reason and I think that’s interesting to me.

Jim Ross was adamant that All Elite Wrestling is focused solely on their own success and was not specifically looking to challenge WWE head-on.

“I’ve seen on Twitter where, well, AEW started all this because Cody busted up a prop, a throne or something, and the Bucks did something. You know, I can see where the point is made, but I don’t know if there were any gunshots at each other. But it did surprise me. Competition is good. It’s like a football scrimmage. Good vs. Good. We’ll be very happy to compete, it was going to be a competition all along, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road, but at no time in my interview process or short experience since March with Tony Khan and AEW, have i heard one person say, “We’re going to get WWE on this one. Oh, WWE’s not going to like this” It’s never been brought up. It’s brought up online. It’s brought up in the wrestling media.”

JR believes Vince moving NXT to the USA Network is a clear sign that Vince McMahon is at least ‘cautious’ about AEW’s early success.

“When Vince moved NXT off his own network, I’ve been a loyal subscriber to the WWE network since they started .. it tells us all we need to know. Is WWE is aware and cautious about the development of AEW? The answer is obviously, ‘yes.’ Should they be? I don’t really know if they should be or not.”

He continued, “No one is going to supplant WWE as the number one sports entertainment in the world. That’s just the way that it is. Big head start, great infrastructure, there’s power in numbers and they’ve got the numbers. But it’s irrelevant. The goal of AEW is to provide a great product to lapsed wrestling fans, among others, with an athletically-based old-school-oriented product. And to make, more importantly, a profit for the Khan family.”

“It’s all about [AEW] and not about them. So, I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t expect any less and this just shows you, USA paid a lot of money for the rights fees, so now they’re getting more cheese on their Whopper, and it’s also going to motivate our guys. Our guys should see this as a challenge. They should see this as a very competitive challenge and, “Are you ready to play?” All I give a damn about is how good our shows are going to be.” Bring it on. Bring it on, let’s compete and hopefully we won’t break down into some Mickey Mouse infantile bullshit, on either side.”

Conrad Thompson asked about whether or not NXT competing with AEW head-to-head will affect AEW’s storytelling. Without direct competition, they’d have more time to tell stories at a proper pace. If viewers are flipping back and forth between two shows, AEW might feel pressured to accelerate their presentation and re-evaluate their overall approach. JR said that was a good point and a good question.

“I would say, it’s on the radar big time, how do we write TV, how long are we away from action, factoring in how long a commercial break is, do we have a segment that’s only talking or no physicality? We might see less of those. But I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal for AEW anyway.”

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