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How AEW Has Done in the Ratings Since ‘NXT’ Left Wednesdays – and CM Punk Joined

”…and NEW champion?“

All Elite Wrestling, or AEW, burst on the professional wrestling scene in 2019. Immediately, the WWE alternative made its presence felt Wednesday nights on TNT. And in mid-April, “AEW: Dynamite” ran USA Network’s WWE show “NXT” off the same evenings. (“NXT,” which still essentially serves as WWE’s minor leagues, now airs on Tuesdays on USA.)

This season, before “NXT” blinked, “AEW: Dynamite” averaged 772,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen, with 395,000 of those coming from the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. “NXT’s” shoulders were on the mat on Wedesdays, averaging 664,000 overall viewers, of which 218,000 came from the demo.

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All numbers in this story come from Nielsen’s Live + Same Day metric.

Since it became the only game in town on Wednesdays, “Dynamite” jumped to 900,000 total viewers (+17%), with 437,000 (+11%) of those from the main demo.

“NXT” is also up since its move — just more modestly. The transfer to Tuesday nights increased NXT’s numbers by 6% in the demo and 7% overall.

So “Dynamite” on Wednesdays is demolishing “NXT” on Tuesdays — particularly among adults 18-49, where All Elite Wrestling’s show has an 88% advantage over the WWE property. (In overall viewers, the disparity is 27% in AEW’s favor.)

Yes, AEW has been on a bit of a rampage — literally, in one sense. The wrestling promotion launched its second cable-TV show, “AEW: Rampage,” in mid-August. The debut was a success, though not running away.

That changed the next week when All Elite Wrestling brought back WWE fan-favorite CM Punk, who left the sport more than a half dozen years ago.

The Nielsen ratings for Episode 2 of “AEW: Rampage” — Punk’s debut on the rival wrestling league — soared 75% in the key demo to 692,000 young adults. Total viewers, which counts anyone ages 2 or older, jumped 53% from the series premiere the prior Friday, to 1.129 million total viewers.

The bloom was a bit off the rose last Friday, however, when “Rampage” receded 32% overall and 37% in the key demo. And among the youngest adults, those 18-34, “Rampage” dropped 56% from Week 2 to Week 3. All of that is something to keep an eye on going forward.

Still, all told, the first three weeks of “Rampage” have averaged 863,000 total viewers, a 173% improvement from when TNT aired movies in the time slot over the previous four weeks. (The show also nabbed 507,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo, which was a still-remarkable 52% better than the movie era.)

Since Punk joined AEW, “Dynamite” episodes are up 34% in the demo and 32% overall.

We should point out here that WWE’s flagship programs for its main roster, “Raw” on Mondays on USA and “SmackDown” on Fridays on Fox, both draw more viewers — and demo viewers — than both AEW series.

For a snapshot comparison, this past Monday, “Raw” drew 1.906 million total viewers, with 709,000 in the key demo. Last Friday’s “SmackDown” scored 2.25 million total viewers, with 764,000 in the demo.

Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, left pro wrestling in the prime of his career. After a failed mixed-martial arts career, Brooks seemed unlikely to return to the ring. But at this Sunday’s “AEW: All Out” pay-per-view, CM Punk will wrestle his first match since January 2014 at the WWE Royal Rumble.

“AEW: Dynamite” airs for two hours every Wednesday night beginning at 8 p.m. on TNT. “AEW: Rampage” airs for one hour each Friday at 10 p.m. on TNT. Both shows will move to TBS next year.

“NXT” airs Tuesday nights at 8/7c on USA. “Raw” airs Monday Nights from 8 to 11 p.m. on USA. “SmackDown” airs Fridays from 8 to 10 on Fox.