Chris Jericho says WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon was smart to dismiss the idea of AEW being strong competition last week.
As noted, McMahon was asked about WWE seeing AEW as competition during last week’s Q2 earnings call with investors. The investor noted that AEW seems to be making significant investments with their roster, and they are gaining in viewership, especially in the 18-49 key demographic. He asked Vince how WWE currently views AEW as competition, and if he feels WWE needs to counter AEW’s investments with their own additional roster investments, seeing as how WWE and AEW could be competing for media rights in the future, or if this is a “rising tides lift all boats” type of situation like there was back in the day with WCW.
“Well, it certainly is not a situation where ‘rising tides’ because that was when Ted Turner was coming after us with all of Time Warner’s assets as well,” Vince responded. “That was a different situation. AEW is where they are. I don’t really know what their plans are, all I know is what our plans are. I don’t consider them competition in the way that I would consider WCW back in the day, not anywhere near close to that. And I’m not so sure what their investments are as far as their talent is concerned, but perhaps we can give them some more.”
Jericho spoke with Kenny McIntosh of Inside The Ropes this week and said Vince was smart to say what he did.
“Well, what else is he going to say? You know, and to respond to that, we don’t see WWE as competition. And he was smart to say that,” Jericho said.
Jericho added that AEW is not worried about WWE, and haven’t been since the beginning. He also commented on how the AEW vs. WWE NXT war ended in a “total abysmal failure” for WWE’s black & yellow brand.
“We’re not worried about what WWE is and we haven’t been since day one,” Jericho said. “We weren’t worried about what NXT did. The whole time with the NXT vs. AEW war, which ended in a total abysmal failure for NXT, we never once had a TV screen watching what they were doing when we were doing it. We didn’t know what segments they were in. We didn’t know any of that.
“Now, the WWE way is you’re watching what the competition is doing when they were on, we didn’t do that. And it was no disrespect. We just didn’t care. We were too busy worrying about our own company and about our own stories, and about our own show to care what anybody else is doing. And that’s one of the reasons why we did so well is that we were concentrating on AEW, not anything else.”
Jericho said AEW couldn’t control the fact that NXT was put up against Dynamite, but AEW worked hard to improve what needed improving, and they have found success because of that.
“We could not control the fact that NXT was put up against us,” Jericho said. “We couldn’t control the fact if, you know, there’s a Beatles reunion put up against us, you know, whatever. We can’t control that. All we can control is our own show on the quality of what we’re doing.
“And we’ve worked very hard to improve the things that need improving and to focus on the things that we’re doing great. I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve gone as far as we have and why our demos have crept up to where they are and where our ratings have crept up to where they are.”
Jericho believes Vince does see AEW as competition to WWE. He also said WWE is not competition for AEW.
“So WWE is not competition for us,” Jericho said. “We’re competition for ourselves. So for Vince to say that – to me, it’s probably reverse psychology and that he does see us as competition. But deep down inside, what does it really matter?”
Jericho then looked ahead to when he says there will be competition, when AEW’s key demo ratings start to top what WWE is drawing.
“The WWE is the WWE and they have billions of dollars locked in TV deals and we are working towards that,” he said. “Now when our demo ends up beating theirs and TV deals start coming in for us at the billions, then I truly think there will be a lot of competition because now you’re fighting for money, you’re not just fighting for bragging rights – and bragging rights don’t mean anything.
“It’s the money that you make from it that counts. So we’ll see what happens.”