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AEW ‘Dynamite’ preview: The show to impress the Warner Bros. Discovery people

aew jan 11
Photo: All Elite Wrestling

The people who run the company that broadcasts AEW TV will be in the house on Wednesday with “Dynamite” emanating from the Kia Forum in Los Angeles.

The TV contract expires at the end of 2023, and Tony Khan is jonesing for a big bump in the $44 million annual payout, which barely pays for production, if it does that.

“Dynamite” does well enough on Wednesdays, consistently drawing in the 850,000-1 million viewer range, but it’s definitely plateaued after a hot start in 2019, and the bump from the arrival of CM Punk in 2021.

“Rampage,” the hour-long 10 p.m. ET Friday night show, meanwhile, struggles to get half the “Dynamite” audience most weeks, but when you do the math for both shows, they’re worth more than what WBD is paying for them.



That’s when you consider that WWE gets $200 million-plus each for its weekly “Raw” and “Smackdown” shows from NBCUniversal and Fox.

“Raw” draws between 1.5 million and 1.8 million viewers a week; “Smackdown,” which benefits from being on Fox, a broadcast network, gets between 2 million and 2.6 million viewers each week.

Back of the envelope math suggests AEW’s three hours of weekly TV should be worth between $125 million and $150 million annually to a broadcast partner.

The economics of pro wrestling are front and center in 2023, with AEW seeking a big deal, and WWE now setting itself up for a possible sale as its own media rights are coming up next year.

Warner Bros. Discovery could be a player in that bidding, for all we know, which makes Wednesday’s “Dynamite” all the more intriguing.

The WBD higher-ups will get a chance to kick the tires on the AEW product before thinking through their other options.

News and Notes

We get the seventh match in the trios title best-of-seven between The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks) and Death Triangle (Pac and the Lucha Bros).

They’ve already done no-DQ and falls count anywhere; anything short of a game of thermonuclear war will be hard to get over.

Aside on Omega: what a match he had at “Wrestle Kingdom 17” with Will Ospreay. Easily the best match he’s had since … he left New Japan in 2019? I’d ask why we can’t get that quality of match from him in AEW. He wasn’t even near as good as he was last week in Tokyo in his run as the AEW world champ.

The tag match with Britt Baker/Jamie Hayter vs. Saraya/Toni Storm is also on the card. This is either a meh segment going nowhere, or a vehicle to introduce Mercedes Mone (the former Sasha Banks) to the AEW audience. The bet here: it’s a meh segment going nowhere.

Jon Moxley and “Hangman” Adam Page finally meet up. I don’t know that I care about either.

Bryan Danielson faces Konosuke Takeshita. No build here, and we know that Danielson is going over, because he’s headed toward the main event at “Revolution” for a shot at AEW world champ Maxwell Jacob Friedman. Takeshita always puts on great matches on “Dynamite” and “Rampage,” and always does the job in those great matches. It would be nice to see something different out of him at some point, because the kid is good.

Finally, Jungle Boy/Hook vs. Big Bill/Lee Moriarty. Is there a better looking big man who has been consistently as poorly booked (in WWE, Impact, now AEW) than Big Bill?

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Chris Graham

In addition to being the editor of Augusta Free Press, I've written seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For my commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, youtube.com/chrisgrahamAFP. Want to reach me? Try [email protected].